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Using iMonitor to Perform eDirectory Health Checks

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Jim Henderson

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Posted: 27 Apr 2005
 

Introduction

Systems administrators perform a lot of routine maintenance and health checks of the systems they are responsible for in order to ensure they are operating at peak system efficiency. Of the two roles in which systems administrators spend their time--maintenance/repair and new system implementation--the maintenance/repair role tends to take the most time, but it also tends to be the less interesting.

In this article, we will examine how to reduce the time it takes to perform health checks against eDirectory in order to make time for the more interesting tasks.

Performing Health Checks - the Hard Way

In legacy NDS environments, running health checks was a time-consuming process that was extremely involved and required a number of steps. This process was so involved, in fact, that Novell Technical Support created a Technical formation Document that described this process. TID #10060600 (http://support.novell.com/cgi-bin/search/searchtid.cgi?/10060600.htm) describes the process in detail:

  1. Verify DS Versions
  2. Check Time Synchronization
  3. Check Server-to-Server Synchronization
  4. Check Replica Synchronization
  5. Check External References
  6. Check Replica States
  7. Check Schema Synchronization
  8. Repair Local Database

This type of health check provides a full set of detail, but requires the use of both DSREPAIR and DSTRACE, the operation of which varies from platform to platform. The verification of various background processes is done using the rather invasive method of forcing the process to run. In addition, in order to run this check on all of the servers in the environment, you have to connect to each server remotely in order to execute the commmands. If you have a large number of servers, this is a very time-consuming process that can take hours to complete.

Fortunately, there is now a better and much faster way....

Using iMonitor to Perform Health Checks

Starting with the release of eDirectory 8.5, Novell has included a web-based diagnostic tool called iMonitor, which can be used to perform eDirectory health checks. The beauty of this tool is that it behaves identically, regardless of the operating system used to run the eDirectory server.

The first method of using iMonitor to perform a health check is a very straightforward--but manual--process.

  1. Start with a server that holds a copy of the [Root] partition.
  2. Authenticate to the server as a user with administrative privileges.
  3. In the left-hand (assistant) frame, select Agent Health.
  4. Check the data frame for any errors.
  5. Select Known Servers from the assistant frame.
  6. In the data frame, select Agent Health to the right of the next server.
  7. Examine the health of this agent.
  8. Use the browser's back button or use the keyboard shortcut to return to the list of known servers.
  9. Select Agent Health for the next server in the list.
  10. Repeat steps 7-9 for each server in the list.
  11. When the health check is done, work to resolve any issues that were found during this procedure.

Even with a large number of servers, this procedure tends to run very quickly; in a 15-20 server environment, this procedure takes less than 5 minutes if all of the servers are healthy.

Automating iMonitor Health Checks

Automating health checks with iMonitor makes the previous procedure even easier--but there is an important caveat to using the automated procedure, which we will discuss momentarily.

To automate the health check procedure, do the following:

  1. In the iMonitor navigation frame, select the Reports button.
  2. Select Report Config in the assistant frame.
  3. The first report listed is a Treewide Server Information report; select the configure report option on that line.
  4. In the report options, enable the Health sub-report.
  5. To schedule the report to run on a regular basis, fill in the appropriate values in the schedule fields.
  6. Press the Schedule Report button at the bottom of the page.

Note: As noted on the report page, be aware that the report will run without authentication (that is, it will run as [Public]); however, for a health check report, this will be fine.

Additional options in the report can be enabled: server OS reporting and replica depth reporting both add additional and useful health information to the report. When viewing the resulting report, be sure to click the report icon on the page and not the links; if you follow the link, you will be taken to a live page rather than to the report page. Note the difference in this agent report page:


Conclusion

iMonitor provides a great set of tools to make it simpler (and quicker) to run health checks of your entire tree. The health check report can be scheduled. Even with the new command-line health check utility in eDirectory 8.8, the iMonitor health check is one of the best ways to ensure that your tree is healthy.


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