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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Exchange Client Access Server Stress Test -- Zabbix Performance Counters

This simple example of and Exchange stress test uses Zabbix to collect performance counters to identify the bottlenecks on a Client Access Server.  Zabbix provides a fast and effective setup because, once installed, one simply uploads pre-formatted templates to record data and present it as screens and graphs.

The test environment consists of two Mailbox Servers, one Hub Transport Server and one Client Access Server which are stressed using Exchange 2010 Load Generator Outlook 2007 Online mode from a member server.  Each Exchange Server has a configured Zabbix Agent.

Exchange CAS Server Stress Test

Outlook 2007 Stress Test Topology

The Exchange Topology is illustrated below.  Each server is installed on an Oracle VirtualBox VM with two Intel i5 processors and 768 MB RAM.  While not an ideal environment -- due to shared SATA drive and limited RAM -- it suffices to display how Zabbix collects Windows Performance Counters and displays them in pre-configured graphs and screens designed for Windows Server and Exchange Hub Transport Server specific parameters.

This link provides the Exchange 2010 LoadGen Manual.  This link is the Exchange 2010 LoadGen Download.  Finally, this link documents Exchange 2010 Client Access Server Performance Counters.

Exchange Test Environment

The illustration below is an overview of processor loads on the four servers during an Outlook 2007 stress test.   EXCHANGE01 is the target Mailbox and EXCHANGE04 is the Client Access Server.  These both show heavy CPU loads while the Hub Transport and second Mailbox Servers show very low loads.
Processors on All Four Servers During an Outlook Stress Test

Detailed Stress Test Analysis

The video below illustrates the test and Zabbix data presentation.  As expected, the test environment is hardware-limited.  The data review at the end of the video illustrates:
  1. Disk performance is the limiting factor.  This is no surprise considering six VMs and a host share access to a single SATA drive.
  2. Processor load, while high, is not critically so.  However, if the test environment's disk subsystem were upgraded, two Intel i5 processors would soon be a bottleneck.
  3. The hardware limitations (and likely the Exchange 2010 LoadGen software) do not allow realistic tests of Outlook 2007 loads on the Exchange hardware-software system.
The reader is encouraged to review the video for a detailed data presentation.  The Zabbix Templates have not been fully validated and formatted.  However, the templates may be downloaded for testing.

Links to Exchange Server Zabbix Templates.

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