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First published on TECHNET on Nov 30, 2010

The water boils yet

The frog swims. Monitoring
Server might help him.

According to an old story, if you put a frog in a pan of water and then slowly increase the temperature of the water, one degree at a time, the frog will never notice the difference. Instead, our doomed amphibian will continue frolicking along until he or she boils to death.

Now, admittedly, that's a morbid way to start out today's haiku, but don't worry: as it turns out, this story isn't even remotely true. The truth is, if you start turning up the heat on a frog it won't take long before that frog is thrashing around like crazy, trying to get out of the pan. (And if he does get out? Well, then you've got one angry wet frog to deal with.) However, in this day and age, it doesn't matter so much what's really true as what we'd like to be true. Therefore, we're going to pretend that frogs really will be oblivious to the change in temperature, because that will help us illustrate a very important point.

We just don't know what that point is.

Oh, wait: yes we do. And here it is: system administration is often like a frog swimming around in a pot of boiling water. After all, little things go wrong from time-to-time; that's a fact of life. However, as long as they're little things we typically don't pay much attention to them. Sooner or later, however, those little things reach a critical mass, and the next thing you know, Microsoft Lync Server 2010 is boiling over. And when that happens, your goose – or, if you prefer, your frog – is cooked.

So how can you prevent problems like this from happening? Well, if you were a frog, and if you were smart, you'd always have a thermometer with you: that way, you could periodically check the temperature of the water and get out of there before the temperature got too hot. (Although we suppose that, if you were a frog and if you were really smart, you wouldn't climb into a pan of water that's sitting on a stove in the first place.)

But what if you're not a frog; what if you're a Lync Server administrator? (Could you be both a frog and a Lync Server administrator? You know, believe it or not, that's a question that has never come up around here. We'll have to get back to you on that.) If you wanted to, you could probably carry around a thermometer and periodically check the temperature of the water, too. However, a better solution might be to install Monitoring Server. Monitoring Server provides a way for you to keep a close eye on your Lync Server infrastructure, and to identify – and resolve – little problems before those little problems have the chance to turn into big problems. According to the official documentation , Monitoring Server "… enables you to collect numerical data that describes the media quality on your network and endpoints, usage information related to Voice over IP (VoIP) calls, instant messaging (IM) messages, audio/video (A/V) conversations, meetings, application sharing, and file transfers, and call error and troubleshooting information for failed calls." If that won't keep Lync Server from boiling over, well, we don't know what will.

Note . Before you ask, no: putting two tablespoons of vegetable oil in your Front End servers won't work. That's how you keep spaghetti from boiling over.

Although, interestingly enough, putting a strand of uncooked spaghetti over the top of a pot is supposed to keep anything cooking in that pot from boiling over. We don't know if that's really true or not, but seeing as how we'd like it to be true, well ….

Now, if you're anything like us, your first thought on hearing about Monitoring Server was no doubt this: "That's all well and good, but what if I need to change the location of my Monitoring Server database or the URL for my Monitoring Server reports? What then?" And here's the answer to that question: if you need to change the location of your Monitoring Server database or the URL for your Monitoring Server reports all you have to do is call the Set-CsMonitoringServer cmdlet. You probably have heard about this cmdlet but thought that it was only for use in haikus. Far from it; you can also use Set-CsMonitoringServer, and a command like this one, to point your Monitoring Server towards a new database:

Set-CsMonitoringServer -Identity "MonitoringServer:atl-cs-001.litwareinc.com" –MonitoringDatabase "MonitoringDatabase:atl-sql-001.litwareinc.com"

Just make sure that you use the Lync Server service location (MonitoringDatabase:atl-sql-001.litwareinc.com") and not, say, the SQL Server path name.

And if you want to change the location for your Monitoring Server reports? That's just as easy:

Set-CsMonitoringServer -Identity "MonitoringServer:atl-cs-001.litwareinc.com" -ReportingUrl "https://atl-cs-001.litwareinc.com/reports"

And there you have it: use Monitoring Server, and the Set-CsMonitoringServer cmdlet, and you can help prevent little problems from turning into big problems. And what if you work with a frog who has slowly been turning up the heat in your office, one degree at a time? Well, to be honest, we can't do much about that right now. But we'll definitely look into it for the next release of Lync Server.