How to manage Unified Messaging servers?

Understanding the Unified Messaging role is vital.
The Unified Messaging role in Exchange 2013 enables users to receive voice messages, faxes, and e-mail in the user’s personal Exchange mailbox. This data can then be accessed from a telephone or a computer.
The Unified Messaging acts as the server in an Exchange organization.  The Unified Messaging server  merges the voice and the messaging environment. Because it allows users to receive voice message, faxes and e-mail in their mailbox, This allows the data to be accessed through multiple ways like telephone, mobile, computer, Outlook voice Access.

GSX Monitor & Analyzer main features

GSX allows the Exchange administrator to monitor Exchange servers that aren’t Client Access Server, Mailbox or HUB, by just adding a server without any role.
In doing this , GSX will make several checks and gathers statistics, in order to determine the availability of the server. As remote Synthetic transactions aren’t possible on the Exchange Unified Messaging server, GSX focuses its monitoring on other aspects.

Critical Windows Services

Unified Messaging server availability

Disk Space alert

Autodiscover test and user automatic configuration check

Monitoring maintenance set up

Real Time Statistics and reporting

Critical Windows Services

Each Exchange servers needs several critical Windows services to run. Some are common to every role, while some are specific.  

Services that GSX Monitor is checking constantly for the user include :

  • Microsoft Exchange Active Directory Topology: This provides Active Directory topology information to Exchange services. If this service is stopped, most Exchange services are unable to start. This service has no dependencies.
  • Microsoft Exchange File Distribution: This distributes offline address book (OAB) and custom Unified Messaging prompts. This service is dependent upon the Microsoft Exchange Active Directory Topology and Workstation services.
  • Microsoft Exchange Speech Engine: This provides speech processing services for Unified Messaging. This service is dependent upon the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) service.
  • Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging: This enables Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging features. This allows voice and fax messages to be stored in Exchange and gives users telephone access to e-mail, voice mail, calendar, contacts, or an auto attendant. If this service is stopped, Unified Messaging isn't available. This service is dependent upon the Microsoft Exchange Active Directory Topology and the Microsoft Exchange Speech Engine service.

Optional services to  monitor  for Unified Messaging role include:

  • Microsoft Exchange Monitoring: This allows applications to call the Exchange diagnostic cmdlets. This service has no dependencies.

Unified Messaging Availability

GSX constantly tries to access to your Unified Messaging server through PowerShell, which  basically pings the server in PowerShell to be sure it is available for any command.
PowerShell combines this test with the check of the availability of the Windows-critical service.

This is done  to be sure that everything is up and running. In addition, GSX collects system statistics through WMI to troubleshoot your server in case of any detected failure.

Disk Space Alert

GSX allows administrator to set up alert on disk attached to any Exchange server. The alert is sent if the space available is below a certain amount of MB – or percentage of the disk space.
It allows to be proactive, instead of  waiting for a storage disk problem to happen.

Autodiscover test and user automatic configuration check

This test checks if the user has the entire needed configuration to access to this services. It is made through the autodiscover test in the CAS section.  If it fails, the user  can be sure that they  will have a problem to access to this service. The user will  have access to this test in the Wizard section, and to the results of this test, in the Exchange Statistics view.

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Monitoring Maintenance Set up

As servers must have some maintenance windows, GSX provides the opportunity to set up monitoring maintenance windows with Time zone. During this time, GSX will not send alerts, and it will separate the statistics, so that they will not  interfere with the SLAs. Two set of statistics will be reported in Analyzer: normal statistics and maintenance statistics.

Statistics and reporting

In GSX Analyzer, the user has  the ability to see the performance and the availability statistics in the same way that for another Exchange server.

Therefore, Server Up, Down, average access time, longest downtime, network, CPU, RAM are statistics you can trend that are very useful, to calculate the server availability and detect System problems (CPU overload, not enough, RAM, problem of availability, etc..).

The user can also have all the statistics needed to manage the disk space attached to these servers to trend and forecast them as needed.

Finally, as the voice takes space on the mailboxes, the size statistics of mailboxes (showing the mailbox size and average space) will be more useful in managing this service successfully.