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Best Practices for Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server White Paper

June, 2001 Document #: 154L-0601A-WWEN Prepared by: Compaq Customer Services Compaq Computer Corporation Contents Executive Summary…………………………… Introduction…………………………………… Best Practices Checklist ...................………… General Exchange 2000 Administration…. Exchange 2000 Physical Environment.….. Exchange 2000 Configuration…...........…. Exchange 2000 Resilience……….........…. Exchange 2000 Operation…............…..…. Active Directory/Windows 2000 Environment...…………………………… Network Environment ........................….. Appendix A: Microsoft Operations Framework

Best Practices for Installing and Configuring Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server
3 4 6 6 12 16 19 26 30 34 37 Abstract: This white paper provides a detailed description of the Best Practice recommendations and activities involved in successful implementations of Microsoft Exchange 2000. These practices result from the practical, first-hand experience of Compaq messaging consultants and are supported throughout the document by published references. Provided in a checklist format, the paper will take the reader through a step-by-step process that eases and streamlines implementation. With the proper installation and configuration of hardware, software and networking components, a company can ensure that their Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server implementation will reach its full potential.

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Notice
The information in this publication is subject to change without notice and is provided “AS IS” WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. THE ENTIRE RISK ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF THIS INFORMATION REMAINS WITH RECIPIENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL COMPAQ BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, OR OTHER DAMAGES WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF BUSINESS PROFITS, BUSINESS INTERRUPTION, OR LOSS OF BUSINESS INFORMATION), EVEN IF COMPAQ HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. The limited warranties for Compaq products are exclusively set forth in the documentation accompanying such products. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting a further or additional warranty. This publication does not constitute an endorsement of the product or products mentioned herein. The configuration or configurations described may or may not be the only available solution. This document is not a determination of product quality or correctness, nor does it ensure compliance with any federal, state or local requirements. Compaq and the Compaq logo are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Other product names mentioned herein may be trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective companies. ©2001 Compaq Computer Corporation. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.

Best Practices for Installing and Configuring Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server White Paper prepared by Compaq Customer Services First Edition (June 2001) Document Number: 154L-0601A-WWEN

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Executive Summary
Today, seamless information exchange is a business imperative. Companies must scale time, geography and technology barriers to provide knowledge workers with the information they need to be productive and responsive to changing market conditions. This business environment has made messaging systems the mission-critical application for today’s enterprise. It has also made building and supporting a reliable messaging infrastructure one of the most critical, demanding jobs for IT professionals today. As the only designated worldwide prime integrator for Exchange 2000, Compaq is uniquely qualified to assist companies in meeting this challenge and has played a pivotal role in creating best practices for the industry. The proven, documented checklist of practices provided within this document have been collected from experienced Compaq messaging consultants, who have implemented more Microsoft Exchange solutions than any vendor today. Based upon these qualifications and experiences, this white paper will introduce and describe the best practices involved in designing, planning, deploying and managing the most stable, scalable environment for Exchange 2000 Server. Where possible, each best practice references the following:

A page from a book entitled, “Microsoft Exchange Server for Windows 2000: Planning, Design, and Implementation,” by Tony Redmond. Redmond is Vice President and Chief Technical Officer at Compaq Global Services. The book documents practices and techniques that have been developed for managing the Exchange messaging application and for upgrading from Exchange version 5.5 to Exchange 2000. Readers have praised this publication and Redmond’s other works for their technical insight, frankness and completeness. The book is widely available for ordering through popular online booksellers. The Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), a collection of best practices, principles and models. The Microsoft Web site or other Web pages that provide supporting information.

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Introduction
For easy reference, the best practices checklist has been organized into seven sections: • • • • • • • • • • General Exchange 2000 Administration Exchange 2000 Physical Environment Exchange 2000 Configuration Exchange 2000 Resilience Exchange 2000 Operation Active Directory/Windows 2000 Environment Network Environment

Each section has also been divided into six columns: Item #: For reference purposes. Best Practice Area: This section is comprised of a list of questions. The reliability and maintainability of the Exchange 2000 environment will increased with each “yes” answer. Priority: This section represents the relative importance of each best practice. In general, Priority 1 items should take precedence over Priority 3. Examples of each priority are: Priority 1: Loss of server, major loss of mail, service interruption for long periods. Priority 2: Expect poor performance, some mail missing/lost, service interruptions. Priority 3: Inadequate implementation, unforeseen problems occurring, more time spent on maintenance and operation. • What Needs to be Done: This section includes suggestions and recommendations on how to interpret the best practice questions and how to get to "Yes." This section occasionally contains page numbers and other references. (See "page" bullet below for a fuller description.) MOF: Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) is a collection of best practices, principles and models. It provides comprehensive technical guidance for achieving mission-critical production system reliability, availability, supportability and manageability on Microsoft's products and technologies. For more information on MOF, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/TechNet/maintain/mofovrv.asp, published: February 2000 v1.6. See Appendix A for a list of MOF abbreviation codes used in this column. Page: This section lists some additional explanations of issues, solutions and planning on specific best practice areas. Unless otherwise noted, page numbers, section numbers, table numbers and numbers in this column reference Tony Redmond’s book entitled, “Microsoft Exchange Server for Windows 2000: Planning, Design, and Implementation.” References to Q numbers (such as Q123456) are references to the Microsoft Knowledge Base. Use the Web to go to Microsoft and search for the Q number or go directly to: http://search.microsoft.com/us/SearchMS25.asp and enter the number (e.g. “Q123456”) in the Search for box for more information on this issue.

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Introduction (Con’t.)
The following abbreviations are used within the checklist. The definitions are below: AD= Windows 2000 Active Directory ADC= Active Directory Connector ADC DC= Domain Controller DLT= Digital Linear Technology (type of magnetic tape transport) DNS= Domain Naming Service ESE= Exchange Extensible Storage Engine (Exchange storage database software) GC= Windows 2000 Active Directory Global Catalogs ITIL= MOF recognizes that current industry best practices for IT service management have been well documented within the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency's IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). LDAP= Lightweight Directory Access Protocol LDSU= LDAP Directory Synchronization Utility. Compaq utility used to integrate Active Directory with other directory services. MTA= Exchange Message Transport Agent OS= Operating System (usually means Windows 2000) OWA= Microsoft Outlook Web Access PSS= Microsoft Product Support Services PST= Mail user’s Personal Store RAS= Microsoft Remote Access Service SMF= Mof IT Service Management Functions SMTP= Simple Mail Transport Protocol SP= Microsoft’s product Service Pack SR= Microsoft’s product Service Release WINS= Windows Internet Naming Service

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Microsoft Exchange 2000 Best Practices Checklist
General Exchange 2000 Administration
# 1 Best Practice Area Is Exchange design reviewed on a regular basis? Priority 3 What needs to be done The Exchange (and the Windows infrastructure) design should be reviewed on a regular basis to assess the knowledge gained since the last review and the potential impact of any future developments. Some review issues: • Large companies often conduct a review every six months. • Should review Table 1.3: Elements of an Exchange deployment plan, pg. 27. • Should review Table 2.9: Major points to cover in a Windows 2000 design, pg. 133. • Should review design principle: pg. 135. • Number and placements of GCs in relation to the e-mail servers. • Bandwidth between servers, DC and GC. • Users message delivery expectations are important to Routing Group design. • Is AD replication schedule adequate to meet needs without taking excessive bandwidth away from other applications? • Review transaction log placement with an aim of assuring both maximum protection and performance.
2

MOF OPT-sl, OPT-cap, OPT-aval, OPR-admn, CHG-conf

Page 38, 27, 133, 135, 57, 102, 505, 125

Are new versions of software tested thoroughly before installing?

2

Never install a new version of Exchange, Windows, an application, or a service pack in a production environment without testing it first.

OPT-sl, OPT-aval

454, 551, 29, 33, 972, 987

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General Exchange 2000 Administration, (Con’t.)
# 3 Best Practice Area Are best practices followed? Priority 3 What needs to be done Using a set of best practices leads to a stable and maintainable Exchange deployment. Best practices need to be identified and followed during the design, planning, and deployment phases of Exchange 2000 deployments. See pg. 32 for consequences of not having best practices. See Table 1.3 pg. 27-29 for areas that should be covered by best practices. MOF OPR-admn, OPT-sl, OPT-cap, OPT-aval, OPR-mon Page 34, 27-29

4

Are escalation procedures documented?

3

Establish procedures for users to report problems to the help desk and how support staff processes the resulting job tickets. For high-availability, it's important that System Administrators have well-defined escalation paths so that they know what steps should be taken to resolve a problem. Identify how problems are escalated to Microsoft PSS and how hot fixes are tested before they are put into production.

SUP-serv, SUP-inic, SUP-prob, OPT-sl, OPT-aval, OPT-disaster

553

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General Exchange 2000 Administration, (Con’t.)
# 5 Best Practice Area Is virus checking enabled? Priority 1 What needs to be done Virus checking is important even on small isolated networks since users may be unknowingly carrying a virus on floppybased documents that gets into an e-mail message. Make sure that you are protected against mail-enabled or mail-transported viruses by running checkers on at least two of the layers in the messaging environment (backbone, server, client). Update the pattern files for the virus checker on a regular basis. It's essential that a corporation use the best possible antivirus product for the PC and Exchange environment. It also must be kept up-to-date to ensure that new viruses can be detected as soon they are known. Educate users, starting with the four simple tips on pg. 97. Make updates to Outlook client side security SR or SP. http://www.microsoft.com/TechNet/security /offsec.asp 6 Have message size limits been considered? 3 Administrators should impose limits on connectors, public folders and on individual mailboxes. The limits should be appropriate to the amount of resources needed. A 10MB limit on a connector seems reasonable when LAN speeds are used, but if there are low-speed links in the network, this may be much too large. When you limit users or restrict message sizes you should let users know what the limits are and the reason for them. OPT-aval 668 344, 983, 478, 529, 470, 477, 983 MOF OPT-sl, OPT-aval Page 667, 677, 680-1, 692201, 532, 696-7

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General Exchange 2000 Administration, (Con’t.)
#
7

Best Practice Area Are reasonable mailbox limits set?

Priority 3

What needs to be done Give users enough space to do their work. 50MB is an appropriate limit for most users, while power users and executives will require more. Being more generous with mailbox size can impact backup and restore times. On a regular basis, check mailbox sizes against quotas and let users know in advance if they’re going to exceed their quota soon. A personal contact is more likely to educate users and negotiate the quota they need. The best way to "help" people is education, and an effort should be made to instil good user habits from the day Exchange is installed. See sec 8.9. Education will reduce resource requirements and will help protect users from viruses. See good user habits table 14.1 on pg. 981.

MOF OPT-aval, SUP-serv

Page 399402, 569, 627

8

Are users actively helped to stay within mailbox limits?

3

SUP-serv, OPT-sl, OPR-admn

398, 665676, 981

9

Was a realistic pilot conducted?

3

A pilot implementation is useless unless it accurately reflects your planned Exchange environment. Make sure that all client platforms are included and that realistic network connections, including dial-in access, are tested. Ensure also that all thirdparty software is incorporated. Ideally, a pilot implementation spans at least three servers connected into two sites. (See pg. 974.) The pilot must also address issues such as directory synchronization and messaging interoperability, both of which become critical aspects of the migration period. The most important aspects to be validated during the pilot are list on pg. 969. Issues to consider are in list on pg. 970-2. Important points to consider in list on pg. 973.

CHG-rels, OPT-aval

29, 969976, 193

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General Exchange 2000 Administration, (Con’t.)
#
10

Best Practice Area How was the pilot brought into full production?

Priority 3

What needs to be done A pilot implementation should be a realistic snapshot of the intended operating environment. Ensure that a deployment plan reflects this and ignore the temptation to “start over” again as this will inevitably encourage a less than realistic attitude to be taken to the entire pilot. Pilot or test deployments should establish best practice for administration, and it's important that these practices are not forgotten after production deployments begin.

MOF OPT-aval, CHG-mgmt, CHG-rels

Page 29, 197, 970-6

11

Are software configurations validated before deployment?

1

Test configurations of Exchange, Windows, service packs, and layered applications (such as backup products or FAX connectors) to ensure that everything works together before deployment begins. The complex interaction between Exchange, Windows and any third-party product emphasizes the need to test all combinations of software products (including patches) before being introduced to the production server. Add-on products (such as backup, anti-virus and document-management tools) can be expensive. It's important that you uncover all the situations where additional costs might be incurred before Exchange can be put into full production.

CHG-rels, OPR-admn, OPT-aval

193, 987, 52, 148, 454, 551, 691, 969, 973

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General Exchange 2000 Administration, (Con’t.)
#
12

Best Practice Area Has clustering for higher resilience been considered?

Priority 2

What needs to be done Cluster deployment provides a better quality of service to users through higher resilience and availability. However, there is a tradeoff between high cost and high availability. Areas of special consideration are: • Configuration: See list on pg. 595: • Similar or symmetric node hardware and from the same hardware vendor. • Special disaster recovery procedures for single server and full cluster meltdown. • Should run in test mode for a couple of months. • Best practice is to run a single virtual server on each physical computer, and use storage groups as the unit of transition. • It's a good idea to use a hardware partition for the quorum disk as the actual data hardly ever exceeds 100MB. • Exchange 2000 clusters use storage groups as cluster resources, so it’s best to place all of the databases for a storage group on the same volume. • The GC should not be located on a cluster node. • Is cluster hardware configuration on the Microsoft's Hardware Compatibility List (HCL)?

MOF OPT-sl, OPT-aval

Page 595-6, 99, 591, 572, 75, 32

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Is the support staff adequately trained?

3

With Exchange 2000, Windows 2000 and AD deployments, on-going training of the support staff is required. The Exchange 2000 environment is very different than previous versions; and will no doubt continue to change with SP and new versions. Even without change, technical training has a half-life of between 12 and 18 months.

All

29, 981984, 27

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Exchange 2000 Physical Environment
# 14 Best Practice Area Are the Exchange databases protected with RAID? Priority 2 What needs to be done Exchange databases must be placed on RAID protected volumes. Transaction log device should be large enough to hold several days of transaction logs in the event that the daily backup fails. Database: • RAID0+1 (striping and mirroring) delivers the best write performance for larger volumes and is highly resilient to failure. RAID0+1 can be more than twice as fast as RAID-5 in terms of writes operations. • RAID-5 is an acceptable compromise between resilience and performance while using fewer disks. • Do not have more than twelve (12) RAID-5 disks in the Exchange volume. Transaction logs: • Transaction logs can be adequately protected by using a two-disk mirror set (RAID1). • RAID0+1 is overkill for small systems, but useful if more than 1 disk is needed for log files. • RAID-5 will slow down writes. • Never use RAID0, as it is risky. MOF OPR-stor, OPT-aval Page 567, 562, 314, 402, 312, 28, 95, 566-8, 329

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Exchange 2000 Physical Environment (Con’t.)
# 15 Best Practice Area Is write-back caching enabled with RAID 5? Priority 2 What needs to be done Enabling the write-back cache on the controller increases the performance for RAID-5. However, do not use the writeback cache unless data in the cache is protected against failure. Protected against failure means that: If the controller fails, the cache can be transferred to the replacement controller. If the cache fails, then there is mirrored cache. If a battery is needed to keep the cache alive, then are their redundant batteries? Are the batteries checked periodically (once a month) and are they on a replacement schedule? Etc. Tuning of storage controllers can increase Exchange performance. Some controllers can be adjusted. Use between 10 and 20 times the 4K size used for ESE I/Os. A chunk size of 64K is just about right for the volumes that hold the Exchange data, pg 573. 16 Are dedicated Exchange Servers in use? 3 Whenever possible, use dedicated servers to run Exchange. The dedicated servers can be tuned exclusively for Exchange without affecting other applications. OPT-sl, OPT-cap, OPT-aval 28, 563 MOF OPR-stor, OPT-aval, OPT-disaster Page 562, 310, 567, 573

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Exchange 2000 Physical Environment (Con’t.)
# 17 Best Practice Area Is high-quality hardware used for Exchange Servers? Priority 1 What needs to be done Production-quality Exchange servers are not cheap. Use high-quality servers, disk controllers and disks to guarantee data security. Consider: • Hardware should be on Microsoft's Hardware Compatibility List. • Exchange is usually limited by I/O, not by CPU performance. • Insufficient memory can hit the disk subsystem through heavy paging. • Know how large the databases will grow. • Database size determines backup hardware selection. • Database size and hardware determine backup time. • Balance CPU, memory and disk performance. Too much or too little (memory, CPU or disk) will result in higher cost/performance. • In general, multiple CPUs are better than one very fast processor. • An extra CPU is a very cost-effective way of extending server lifetime. • Best to configure every Exchange server with at least two CPUs for peak loads and extended server lifetime 18 Is the system able to meet peak demand? 2 The hardware deployed should be capable of dealing with peak user demand. Make sure that enough CPU, memory and disk resources are specified, and then add 25% for growth. Peak demand usually occurs at the beginning of the workday, when users log on. OPR-mon, OPT-aval MOF OPT-sl, OPT-cap, OPT-aval Page 601, 551, 581, 280, 435, 137, 42, 32, 320, 398, 55, 555-8

558, 555-6, 684, 672, 387

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Exchange 2000 Physical Environment (Con’t.)
# 19 Best Practice Area Have standard server configurations been deployed? Priority 3 What needs to be done Deploying servers according to predetermined standards drives down costs, reduces management and promotes recovery from catastrophic failures. Where possible, use extensible hardware products, keeping the number of different parts and vendors to a minimum. MOF OPT-sl, OPT-cap, OPT-aval Page 451-2

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Exchange 2000 Configuration
# 20 Best Practice Area Are Exchange databases stored separately from Windows 2000 files? Priority 2 What needs to be done The Exchange components and databases should be placed on different volumes for best performance and resilience. It is best if the following groups do share the same physical volume: • Operating system, page file, and other application “hot” files. • Exchange databases. • Exchange transaction logs. • AD databases. • AD transaction logs. • Store index. (See pg. 426) • SYSVOL. 2 The Exchange databases should be located on a separate physical device to their transaction logs. Dedicate a high performance RAID1 (mirror) spindle set to transaction logs. It's best if each transaction log is on a dedicated disk, so the logs aren't affected by any disk failures that corrupt the database. Consider: • When using multiple storage groups, you have multiple transaction logs sets. Verify that each transaction logs set is placed in a separate directory, one for each storage group. • On larger servers with multiple storage groups, dedicate a high-performance spindle(s) to each transaction logs set. • After changing the location of the transaction logs or database, you should take a backup immediately, as the previous transaction logs are rendered invalid by the move. • You should review log placement on a regular basis to assure both maximum protection and performance. OPR-stor MOF OPR-stor Page 313, 566, 426-7, 572

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Are the Exchange databases on a separate storage volume to the transaction logs?

313-4, 95, 566, 291-7, 329, 331, 302

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Exchange 2000 Configuration (Con’t.)
# 22 Best Practice Area Is Single Instance Storage of messages maximized? Priority 3 What needs to be done People from the same workgroup should be assigned to the same Exchange Server database. This ensures that single instance of messages stored in the Store is maximized and network traffic is minimized. Consider: • Single instance store is not maintained across multiple stores (and storage groups). • Carefully place all members of a workgroup or department mailboxes in the same database (this will minimize disk I/O). • Use storage groups when you need to apply different settings to the databases. • Be cautious in creating storage groups and databases until you fully understand how to balance the demands of CPU, memory and I/O to obtain maximum performance and resilience. MOF OPR-stor, OPT-sl, OPT-cap, OPT-aval Page 267-8, 400-1, 322, 326327

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Exchange 2000 Configuration (Con’t.)
# 23 Best Practice Area Is mail delivered to Exchange database (not PST)? Priority 3 What needs to be done Delivering messages to users’ Personal Folders (PSTs) is a “bad idea.” It has many disadvantages and fewer advantages. See table 9.5 on pg. 733. In general, delivering messages to PSTs restricts the options for client deployment and reduces the ability of the administrator to control (backup, restore, virus check) the user’s mail and gives the user more responsibility (and need for training) in maintaining their information. PSTs are sometimes used to offload serverbased storage. This approach presumes server-based storage is expensive and backup methods are inadequate. If you use PSTs, placing them on networked file services is probably the best approach because these networked disks are more easily backed-up to tape than local hard disks. 24 Is Circular Logging OFF? 1 Circular logging default is ON in the Directory and Information Store in Exchange 4.0 through 5.0. Circular logging default is OFF in Exchange 5.5 and 2000. If a production server creates more than five log files a day, you should leave circular logging set to OFF. For some small systems (such as Small Business Server edition of BackOffice, bridgehead, public folder servers and newsgroups servers or servers that don't support mailboxes) circular logging might be acceptable. OPR-stor, OPR-mon 315317, 294, 330331 MOF OPT-sl, OPT-cap, OPT-aval Page 458, 727, 730-4, 982, 746, 402

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Exchange 2000 Resilience
# 25 Best Practice Area Is there a recovery plan if the server runs low on disk space? Priority 1 What needs to be done Don’t use more than 50% of the volumes for databases and log files. Restore and repair utilities need work space; and it is safer to copy the database or transaction logs to a backup copy before attempting a restoration. Worse case, do not let the volume fill over 80%. Consider: • Put warnings on the volumes to notify administrators if these thresholds are exceeded. • An action plan to install new hardware or move files around. • Contingency plans for reclaiming disk space or adding extra disks to support your server's load. See list on pg. 413. • If you plan to reclaim space with ESEUTIL, remember that ESEUTIL needs extra disk space to work in (approximately 25-30 %). • Large empty files, like JUNK.DAT. See pg. 413. MOF OPR-stor, OPT-sl, OPT-aval Page 412-3, 299, 402

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Exchange 2000 Resilience (Con’t.)
# 26 Best Practice Area Do full online backups take less than 4 hours? Priority 1 What needs to be done Exchange databases are typically large and tend to become larger over time. Install the necessary hardware to ensure that full online backups take less than 4 hours. If backup takes 4 hours, a restore will take 8. More than one working day to perform a restore is unacceptable. To get the greatest performance out of your backup and restore process, you should use high-performance backup software as well as the fastest backup hardware you can get your hands on. Exchange 2000 allows for huge databases, a huge database is useless unless it can be backed up and restored in a reasonable amount of time. It is possible to run multiple concurrent restore operations. However, if you have the time, it is safer to concentrate on a single restore at a time to reduce the potential for problems. 27 Are full backups taken daily? 1 Every Exchange server should be backed up on a daily basis. Always perform online backups. A full backup is preferable because it ensures that any restore operation is faster and simpler, only requiring one tape (or one set of tapes). Backup automatically removes transaction log files, freeing up disk space. (Circular Logging should be turned off.) Depending on database size and media speed, the backup times may be too long for a backup every day. Be sure to monitor the backup times and plan for new hardware or strategy if times are getting too long. OPR-stor, OPR-mon, OPT-aval 432, 31011, 453 MOF OPR-stor, OPR-admn, OPT-aval Page 452, 311, 37, 450

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Exchange 2000 Resilience (Con’t.)
# 28 Best Practice Area Are backups checked regularly? Priority 1 What needs to be done There is simply no excuse for not taking backups, and no excuse for not ensuring that the backups can be restored. The backup log should be checked daily to verify successful completion. Verify backup tapes at least once a month to ensure that the content of the tapes can be used to restore a server. Monitor your backups, track the status of the database engine and the information store, and don't ignore error messages! Exchange 2000 allows individual databases to be restored separately; the verification should check this capability. New releases of the backup software must be qualified against existing versions of Exchange. They should also be qualified against new versions of Exchange when they are released. 29 Are full backups taken before and after ESEUTIL utility is run? 1 ESEUTIL is used to rebuild a database. Always take a full backup before and after you run the utility. The backup afterwards is needed because rebuilding a database invalidates the transaction logs. Exchange is designed to remain online all the time. Offline backups should only be taken with good reason, such as: • Preparation for an operating system upgrade. • Reduce time for backup and restore operations. • Large number of mailboxes have been moved off-server. • BCV techniques, such as snapshots or cloning. OPR-stor 384 MOF OPR-stor, OPR-mon, OPT-aval Page 309, 431, 453

30

Are offline backups only taken when necessary?

1

OPR-stor

432, 448, 386-7

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Exchange 2000 Resilience (Con’t.)
# 31 Best Practice Area Is the same backup process used on all servers? Priority 3 What needs to be done Do not use different backup processes and software across Exchange Servers in an organization. Using the same process to backup and restore allows backups from one server to be restored on another in case of corruption or catastrophic hardware failure. Mailbox-level backup should be avoided whenever possible. 32 Is the same backup configuration used on all servers? 3 In Exchange 2000, backups can be done to tape or disks and can use snapshots and cloning. Different backup products within an organization makes it much more difficult to move data between servers. Standardize on a single backup product and use the same backup media (tapes and drives) to gain maximum flexibility. You never know when you will need to move data onto a different server and you will need the target server equipped with a drive that can read the backup media. Use configurations that allow media from one server to be restored on another in case of corruption or catastrophic hardware failure. Currently, DLT drives are the best backup option for Exchange. Striped arrays of DLTs provide the best performance, but are expensive. Do not use DAT tape. Consider doing daily online backup to disk. Then, less frequently, backing these disks to tape. OPR-stor, OPT-aval 447, 451, 432, 311, 452 MOF OPR-stor, OPR-admn, OPT-aval Page 451 , 455

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Exchange 2000 Resilience (Con’t.)
# 33 Best Practice Area Is there a backup plan for all servers and files? Priority 3 What needs to be done A good backup plan covers more then the Exchange database and logs; it must cover the recovery of all files needed to restore Exchange to operation. It should cover: • • • • IIS metabase. Exchange binaries. AD. Windows 2000 system state. (See Q240363) • User data. • Other application data. What is needed will undoubtedly change over time, so be sure to read all of the information published by Microsoft about recovery operations. Regular backups of the databases and full monthly backups of the server as a whole (in other words, including Windows 2000, all the other applications, as well as the Exchange files) must be taken to assure integrity of the messaging system. 34 Have you considered a recovery server? 3 A recovery server is used to recover individual mailboxes, public folders, or specific deleted items that have passed their retention period. See list on pg. 457. This recovery server needs to be in a separate forest. OPR-stor, OPT-sl, OPR-admn 456-8 MOF OPR-stor, OPT-aval, OPT-disaster Page 435-6

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Exchange 2000 Resilience (Con’t.)
# 35 Best Practice Area Has a disaster recovery kit been created? Priority 1 What needs to be done A disaster recovery kit should be available for each server. The kit should contain all of the necessary items to allow a server to be rebuilt if problems occur. The kit includes software kits for Windows, Exchange Server, all relevant service packs, thirdparty products used with Exchange, software distribution media, license keys, passwords and server configuration. The kit should also document how to recover a server and outline the sequence of steps required. Make sure that the kit is accessible and that the administrators know of its existence. Keep the kit up to date as new versions of Windows, Exchange, service packs and applications are installed. You should implement a maintenance routine that enhances your chances of successfully recovering data in the event of an emergency. Knowing how to properly use and safeguard backup media is an important part of a backup strategy. MOF OPT-disaster , OPR-stor, OPT-aval Page 975, 29, 972, 553, 437

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Exchange 2000 Resilience (Con’t.)
# 36 Best Practice Area Are regular disaster recovery exercises conducted? Priority 1 What needs to be done Every six months or so, conduct a disaster recovery exercise to test the capability of system administrators and operators to recover a server and its data from a catastrophic hardware or environmental failure. Fix any problems discovered and publish the results, including details of how long it took for each step in the recovery to be accomplished. Restores are equally as important as backups, but all the attention goes on backup procedures and backup products. Some restore issues to consider are: • Before restore, copy transaction logs to a holding directory, just in case you run a recovery problem that requires you to restart. • The current transaction log must be available before any recovery operation can succeed. • Never attempt to replay transaction logs against a database other than the original. • Do not rename transaction logs or attempt to create a missing log to complete a set. • Disk controllers with write-back cache have special issues. (See pg. 310) • Exchange 5.5 servers may need to run ISINTEG utility. (See pg. 311-312) • The restore Windows system and Exchange software should be the same version as that of the backed-up system. • Validate the restore process in the lab This will require a fully configured recovery server. The exercise can be used as a training exercise in addition to a validation. MOF OPT-disaster , OPR-stor, OPT-aval, OPT-aval Page 29, 551, 975, 989, 436, 30812, 436

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Exchange 2000 Operation
# 37 Best Practice Area Is performance information collected regularly? Priority 3 What needs to be done Performance data should be collected on a regular basis to help plan future growth in the messaging system. This includes checking and monitoring of processes, including reviews of the event and other logs, such as the IIS logs. Databases on mail systems have a tendency to grow and never shrink as users store more mail. Check available disk space on the volumes that host the Exchange databases, logs and files. These volumes should never be more than 80% full. Decide how big you'll let your information store grow and manage it at that level. Exchange 2000 supports e-mail notifications and script notifications, making this job almost painless. 39 Is message tracking enabled? 3 Enabling message tracking on all servers across the enterprise allows Exchange to build a set of message tracking logs that can be used to trace the path of a message through an organization. This is a very useful facility for a very little cost. With large disk space installed on most servers today, the space occupied by message tracking logs is usually not a problem. If it is, you can reduce the retention time from the default of 7 days. OPR-net, OPR-mon, SUP-serv 947-8, 954 MOF OPT-sl, OPT-aval, OPR-mon Page 204, 552

38

Is disk space monitored constantly?

1

OPR-stor, OPR-mon

413, 295, 412, 573, 957-8

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Exchange 2000 Operation (Con’t.)
# 40 Best Practice Area Are Exchange services monitored constantly? Priority 1 What needs to be done Monitor all servers and check that all the important Exchange services are running. Establish a set of conditions that you wish to monitor on a server and assign a server to do the monitoring. Take immediate action to restart services if they stop. Understand the reasons why a service has stopped, for example, exhausting available disk space. Take action to stop problems happening again in the future. Set notifications on queue growth. See Table 13.3 on pg. 958. Exchange 2000 and Windows 2000 service availability products like NetIQ are very useful in filtering and monitoring servers. 41 Is the Event Log checked on a daily basis? 1 Review the Application and Security Event logs to ensure that everything is proceeding as expected. Check any error condition, understand why it has occurred, and fix the underlying problem before it becomes more serious. Probably the worst problem you can run into is a physical corruption that destroys your data. Physical corruptions to the database are serious because you can't repair them. To get your system up and running, all you can do is restore from backup. As a result, it's very important that you detect physical corruptions early and resolve the problems quickly. It is a wise administrator that uses automatic filtering monitor products, third-party products or scripts to automatically monitor the event log. OPT-aval, OPR-mon 552, 963-4, 990, 499, 444, 296, 387, 279, 309 MOF OPT-sl, OPT-aval, OPR-mon Page 957961

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Exchange 2000 Operation (Con’t.)
# 42 Best Practice Area Is the flow of mail monitored constantly? Priority 3 What needs to be done Never allow any queue to exceed 200 messages without understanding why. For example, the queue may be due to a network outage. Set notifications on queue growth. See Table 13.3 on pg. 958. Failures that cause the Information Store, MTA, Routing Engine, System Attendant, World Wide Web (IIS) Publishing Service, and SMTP or a connector to stop are considered critical and warrant immediate intervention. Make sure that system monitoring is able to flag critical failures to appropriate support staff. This may mean mechanisms such as a 24x7 arrangement to page staff. Maintain a log that contains details of configuration data, such as the Exchange organization, names of servers, IP addresses, parameters for connectors, and so on. Make sure that the log is updated each time a change is made. Windows and Exchange command-line utilities are powerful tools that operate at a very low level. Administrators should not use these tools without understanding the consequences of their actions. Make sure people are trained before using these tools. With a command-line utility like ESEUTIL it is too easy to type in the wrong combination of command line switches and end up repairing a database when all you wanted to do was check its integrity. MOF OPT-sl, OPT-aval, OPR-mon Page 957-8, 496

43

Are critical failures immediately flagged?

1

OPT-sl, OPT-aval, OPR-mon

957961, 958

44

Is a configuration log maintained?

3

CHG-conf

45

Is there a policy for using command-line utilities?

1

OPT-aval, OPR-admn

389, 377

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Exchange 2000 Operation (Con’t.)
# 46 Best Practice Area Are administrators familiar with the Exchange Resource Kit? Priority 3 What needs to be done The Exchange Resource Kit contains many useful tools. Administrators should become familiar with these tools and select appropriate ones for a deployment. Microsoft PSS does not support tools in the kit, so plan for some troubleshooting before they function as expected in the environment. The Windows 2000 Resource Kit also contains many useful tools needed by administrators. MOF OPT-aval Page 172, 809, 194, 512, 145

47

Is Windows 2000 a stable environment for Exchange?

1

Windows 2000 server environment should be stable to provide a solid infrastructure for Exchange Servers. In addition to stable hardware and software, a stable environment includes: • Good operational discipline. • Proper backup strategy and implementation (Exchange and AD). • Monitored event logs. • Isolating important files away from each other. • Applying service packs, hot fixes or upgrades to the operating system and applications in a timely manner. • Active Directory must be properly designed with Exchange 2000 usage in mind.

OPT-sl, OPT-cap, OPT-aval, OPR-mon

202, 581, 47, 54

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Active Directory/Windows 2000 Environment
# 48 Best Practice Area Is the same version of Exchange, OS and SP used throughout the Exchange Organization? Priority 2 What needs to be done Should only be using latest version, including relevant hot fixes (security is of prime concern). While different versions of Exchange communicate well together across a common protocol, it is best to use the same version of Exchange everywhere. Avoid version skew across servers. Skew can occur by copying files from one server to another, aborted installation, service packs or hot fixes. 49 Are there two DC per domain and 1 DC per site? 2 The minimum number of domain controllers in a domain should be two. This reduces the risk of a single domain controller failing and the domain "disappearing." There should be at least one domain controller for each Exchange site to ensure availability to clients. Should an Exchange 2000 server act as a DC? Microsoft’s position is that the client load could justify the Exchange 2000 server being a DC. http://www.microsoft.com/TechNet/exchang e/adinteg.asp On the other hand, an Exchange 2000 server is easier to configure, install, manage and restore if it is not a DC. (See pg. 435 & pg. 202). 50 Is the Name Space correctly designed? 3 Plan to build a flexible name space that can grow with a company and evolve to meet reorganizations. Establish and use a naming convention for Windows 2000 domains, DCs, computers, users, and some application services. OPR-dir 50, 70-1, 100-1 OPR-net, OPR-dir 435, 93, 202 MOF OPT-sl, OPT-ava Page 1007

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Active Directory/Windows 2000 Environment (Con’t.)
# 51 Best Practice Area Is the Active Directory database on a separate storage volume than the transaction logs? Priority 2 What needs to be done For best performance, resilience and recoverability, store the AD database and the log on separate hard disks. The AD database and logs must be protected with an appropriate level of disk (RAID) redundancy. SYSVOL should be on in a separate partition or disk to prevent it from consuming all available disk space. (Q222019) Windows 2000 automatically places the logs in the same directory as NTDS.DIT and doesn't make it easy for you to move them afterwards. “Don't make this mistake.” (Pg. 127) Change the location during DCPROMO or run NTDSUTIL after the fact to change location. 52 Is the Active Directory backed up daily? 3 DC can be rebuilt through replication; however doing this over a low-speed connection can be problematic. Practice good backup discipline on production servers and make sure that the AD is backed up daily on all DCs. You can't fully recover an Exchange 2000 Server installation without Active Directory, so make sure you have a backup strategy for the domain controllers on your network: Know how often and what kind of backups are being performed, who's responsible and where the backup files are stored. OPR-stor, OPR-dir 94 MOF OPR-stor, OPR-dir Page 90 127-8, 317-8, 197

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Active Directory/Windows 2000 Environment (Con’t.)
# 53 Best Practice Area Is the directory accurate and consistent? Priority 3 What needs to be done Making sure that the directory is accurate not only depends on GCs, DCs, replication schedules and network resources but also depends on standards for administrators to follow consistently when accounts are created. If synchronization is not possible across a standard Exchange connector or LDAP, use tools like LDSU to synchronize the Active Directory with directories of other e-mail systems. It is reasonably easy to attain a state of loose consistency, in which the directories are 99% synchronized. 54 Are changes made to the AD schema after very careful consideration? 3 Changing the AD schema is very serious and should only be performed when a change is justified and the ramifications fully understood. When a change is made to the AD schema, it is replicated to all DCs throughout the forest. It can be disabled (under certain conditions), but cannot be removed (this is expected to change in Whistler). Changes should be made at the AD schema master. 55 Are there more than 1 ADC agreements in each domain? 2 It's best to reduce the number of ADC servers to one per Windows 2000 domain to reduce management effort, complexity and replication traffic. When you need to run more than 10 ADC connection agreements on a single server, consider allocating a dedicated server for this work. OPR-net, OPR-dir 181, 180 OPR-dir MOF OPR-dir Page 188, 190, 624, 973, 137, 176

162-5

56

Are there more than 10 ADC agreements on a single server?

OPR-net, OPR-dir

180, 181

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Active Directory/Windows 2000 Environment (Con’t.)
# 57 Best Practice Area Are there individual replication schedules for public folders set? Priority 3 What needs to be done Public folders can be used to store many different types of content. A single replication schedule is unlikely to meet the requirements of all types of information, so set an individual replication schedule for each folder as it is created. Consider: • Increasing the replication schedule interval (greater then the 15-minute default) for public folders to reduce the message load on a system. • When selecting an interval, consider who the end user of the folder is, their folder needs and location. • Periodically check to determine how many replicas exist for each folder, especially those that might contain sensitive information, and where those replicas reside. • Statistics should be kept on the number of public folders, size and how they are being used. MOF OPR-net Page 298, 341-2, 353

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Network Environment
# 58 Best Practice Area Is message flow optimized based on the network topology? Priority 2 What needs to be done The Exchange organization must exploit the underlying network topology. Make data flow where network high-speed connections exist, and attempt to optimize connectivity so as to cause the least possible impact on the network. Adjust the connector settings to control message flow. Often settings (like Routing Group Connectors settings) are one-way. So it's important to make sure the same configuration is maintained at both ends of the links. There may be business reasons not to set them the same. However, if they are not the same, it may cause problems. For example, sending large messages from site A to B but not from B to A. 60 Are client accesses made through a firewall? 2 Clients are able to access Exchange through a firewall. However, registry and other settings must be changed to instruct Exchange to use fixed ports. Details of how to make the necessary changes are available in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: Q270836, Q155831, Q259240, Q280132, Q148732, Q176466. OWA only requires access to the IP port allocated to HTTP for all its processing. So, if you need or want to enable access to mailboxes through a firewall, you only need to open up whatever port is used for HTTP (80). See table A.1 A pg. 993 for list of ports used by Exchange and Windows 2000. OPR-net 786, 993 MOF OPR-net, OPT-aval Page 526530, 236, 534

59

Are connector settings the same across each link?

2

OPR-net

526544

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Network Environment (Con’t.)
# 61 Best Practice Area Is each Exchange server close to the GC server? Priority 2 What needs to be done Exchange should not run on the same computer as a GC because of the load that can be generated by other Exchange 2000 servers. Running Exchange on a GC or DC server can complicate restore operation in the case of a system failure. Each Exchange server should be in close network proximity to the GC. Consider: • Best to have one GC for each Routing Group or site. • Best to deploy at least two GCs per Windows 2000 site to allow for fail over should a problem arise (one should be a bridgehead). • If low-speed or poor-quality links are employed, it may be best to place a GC in a remote area. • The more GCs that are deployed, the more replication traffic is generated. When in doubt, start with fewer GCs and create additional GCs if required. • It’s a good idea to ensure that GCs are distributed in such a way that clients can always make local connections for LDAP lookups. • For Outlook 2000 load balancing across GCs. (Q272290). • A large Exchange cluster requires a GC close to the cluster but not on a cluster node. 62 Does TCP/IP function correctly? 1 In corporate deployments, Exchange depends on a solid TCP/IP infrastructure. DNS is essential to AD and GC location, as well as SMTP mail routing. Make sure that all of the components that contribute to the TCP/IP infrastructure (WINS, DNS, RAS) are in good shape. OPR-net, OPR-mon MOF OPR-net, OPR-dir Page 653, 436, 202, 77-78, 97, 81, 96, 790, 75

727, 705, 27, 933

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Network Environment (Con’t.)
# 63 Best Practice Area Do you understand the network and have the tools to help? Priority 2 What needs to be done Network connectivity (server-to-server or client-to-server) can sometimes be a black art. Make sure that someone on the implementation team understands how to use network tracing or other tools (like sniffers) to be able to determine the likely cause of problems if connections cannot be made. Windows 2000 "site" describes a collection of computers that are connected by a fast and reliable network. Servers in a Windows 2000 site should be connected over a LANquality link. For wider area sites, try to use 512 Kbps whenever possible, and try not to go below 256 Kbps. Design the network bandwidth to handle peak loading conditions and not for the average expected load. MOF OPR-net Page 141

64

Do you have the necessary network bandwidth within a site?

2

OPR-net

102

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Appendix A: MOF
Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) is a collection of best practices, principles and models. It provides comprehensive technical guidance for achieving mission-critical production system reliability, availability, supportability and manageability on Microsoft's products and technologies. For more information on MOF, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/TechNet/maintain/mofovrv.asp, published: February 2000 v1.6. The MOF column relates each of the four quadrants of the MOF process model to an Exchange best practice. These quadrants are further categorized as described below. The quadrants are: • • • • Changing (CHG) Operating (OPR) Supporting (SUP) Optimizing (OPT)

Changing This quadrant follows a release approved review: The final review before a proposed change is released into the target environment. That review covers items such as the readiness of the release itself, the readiness of the staff and the potential impact on other systems. If the release passes this review, then the following SMFs perform the release. • • • Change management. Identifies all affected systems and processes before the change is implemented in order to mitigate or eliminate any adverse effects. (CHG-mgmt) Configuration management. Identifies, records, tracks and reports on key IT components or assets. (CHG-conf) Release management. Facilitates the introduction of software and hardware releases and ensures they are planned, tested, and implemented. Works closely with the change and configuration management processes to ensure that the shared configuration management database (CMDB) is up to date. (CHG-rels) When the release is complete, the release readiness review evaluates the SMFs’ effectiveness.

Operating Assuming a successful deployment, the release is now operational. The following SMFs then begin the daily activities to run the system: • • • • Security administration. Responsible for maintaining a safe computing environment by developing, implementing and managing security controls. (OPR-secu ) System administration. Responsible for day-to-day tasks of keeping enterprise systems running and for assessing the impact of planned releases. (OPR-admn ) Network administration. Responsible for the design and maintenance of the physical components that make up the organization’s network, such as servers, routers, switches, and firewalls. (OPR-net ) Service monitoring and control. Observes the health of an IT service and acts, when necessary, to maintain compliance. (OPR-mon )

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• • • •

Directory services administration. Responsible for day-to-day operations, maintenance and support of the enterprise directory. (OPR-dir ) Storage management. Deals with on-site and off-site data storage for the purposes of data restoration and historical archiving and ensures the physical security of backups and archives. (OPR-stor ) Job scheduling. Assigns batch processing tasks at different times to maximize the use of system resources, while not compromising business and system functions. (OPR-job ) Print/output management. Manages the costs and resources associated with business output, and ensures security of sensitive output. (OPR-prnt )

The operations review happens periodically. It is an inwardly focused review of the IT staff’s ability to maintain a given service and to document its experience in a "knowledge base." Supporting Problems and issues inevitably arise after daily operations begin. The objective of the following SMFs is the timely resolution of incidents, problems and inquiries for end users: • • • Service desk. Provides first-line support to the user community for problems associated with the use of IT services. (SUP-serv ) Incident management. Manages the entire course of problem solving for all incidents that occur. (SUP-inic ) Problem management. Investigates and resolves the root causes of faults and disruptions that affect large customer populations. (SUP-prob )

The Service Level Agreement (SLA) review happens periodically and evaluates the staff’s ability to meet the service level requirements defined in the SLA. The staff takes corrective action to address those areas that fail the review and/or negotiates changes in the SLAs. In addition, the incident management and problem resolution processes drive changes to specific operational processes, tools and procedures. Optimizing The SMFs in the operating quadrant have started running the system and those of the supporting quadrant are resolving day-to-day issues. The SMFs in the optimizing quadrant take a longer view, evaluating current performance and forecasting needs one-to-six months in the future. Accordingly, ITIL categorizes the SMFs in the other quadrants as operational, and categorizes the SMFs of the optimizing quadrant as tactical: • • • • Service level management. Manages the quality of IT services by negotiating, monitoring and maintaining service level agreements between the IT service provider and its customers. (OPT-sl ) Capacity management. Plans, sizes, and controls service solution capacity to satisfy user demand within the performance levels stated in the service level agreement. (OPT-cap ) Availability management. Describes, manages, directs, and proactively maintains the availability of information and services at a reasonable cost and in accordance with agreed quality levels. (OPT-aval ) Financial management. Manages monetary resources to support organizational goals. Financial management may include cost accounting; budgeting; project investment appraisals; and, in some organizations, cost recovery. (OPTcost )

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• •

Workforce management. Recommends best practices to recruit, retain, maintain and motivate the IT workforce. (OPT-peop ) Service continuity management. Previously known as contingency planning, this SMF plans to cope with, and recover from, an IT disaster. (OPT-disaster)

These SMFs define changes (a new release) that will reduce costs while maintaining or improving service levels. The release approved review is the final review for those proposed changes. After that review, a new cycle begins with the SMFs of the changing quadrant.

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