November 2004


In order to provide a very high grade messaging service, it is critical to monitor the service and be able to take action where problems are detected. This white paper looks at various approaches to monitoring systems containing the Isode servers, and in particular looks at use of the Sentra product from Insider Technologies. It shows the close relationship between these products and in particular:

  • If you are running a system using Isode servers, the benefits of monitoring using Sentra.
  • If you are using Sentra to manage a (heterogeneous) system, the benefits of using Isode servers.
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Options for monitoring Isode Products

This paper looks at three options for monitoring Isode servers:

Option Advantages Typical Use
Use Isode Tools
  • No extra software needed
  • Full Isode management capabilities
Small deployment, where use of discrete management tools is acceptable.
SNMP plus Isode Tools
  • Overview monitoring of many components.
  • Use Isode tools for detailed monitoring and management
Large deployment, where operators can use SNMP for general monitoring.
  • Monitoring of many components from a single interface.
  • Detailed monitoring and control of the Isode servers.
Deployment where a single management interface and high service levels are needed.

Each of these options is now reviewed in more detail.

Monitoring with Isode's Tools

Isode MConsole tool, illustrated above, which provides monitoring and control functions for M-Switch. MConsole provides a graphical display, which shows a history of the loading of the message switch, and gives status of the various "channels" of the message switch, highlighting any problem queues or messages. It has sophisticated, configurable heuristics for classifying multiple levels of warning condition. It also allows control of the queue, and capabilities such as resubmitting and deleting

Isode provides high quality management tools, which give monitoring and control of one or more Isode servers from a single interface. Where a tool is required to monitor and control Isode servers, using Isode's own tools is an ideal solution.


Using the Isode management tools on their own is inadequate for many large deployments. There are several reasons for this:

  • The Isode tools are oriented towards single server management. They work well for a moderate number of servers, but are not so good for overview monitoring of a very large number of servers.
  • Large systems often contain applications from multiple vendors, all of which need to be monitored from a single view.
  • It is often desirable to monitor network and other system components from the same point.

SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) is an industry standard for network monitoring, that is widely supported. SNMP Management consoles, from vendors such as Sun, HP and BMC are designed to monitor large numbers of components.

Isode's servers support the Internet Standard MADMAN (Mail and Directory Management) SNMP MIBs (Management Information Base). These enable basic up/down status and basic operational characteristics of the servers to be monitored (such as message queue volumes and delays).

Use of SNMP will enable system operators to detect operational problems with an Isode server. The operator can then switch to use the Isode tools, in order to get more detailed information and if necessary to make the changes necessary to solve the problem.


While SNMP offers good general alerting facilities, it is generally used as a "lowest common denominator" approach and therefore lacks sophisticated management techniques, such as linking together the related aspects of a service outage. To achieve this you need to

Sentra from Insider Technologies is a sophisticated management and automation tool which has been optimized for use in service-oriented messaging environments. It includes support for:

  • SNMP, so that it can monitor devices that only support SNMP.
  • Application probing, so that it can monitor using application protocols (e.g., LDAP) to test server availability and to measure response times for commands, and latency for message switching.
  • Log analysis, for audit and tracking, including analysis of Isode audit and operator logs.
  • Integrated access to Isode-specific management features.

These capabilities mean that using Sentra can give the advantages of both of the two previous approaches. Sentra enables monitoring of multiple components from a single interface, and also gives detailed access to Isode management capabilities. The following screen shots are intended to give a sense of the capabilities offered by Sentra:

Overall view of System containing Isode Servers


Monitoring of System Parameters and Availability

Monitoring of System Parameters and Availability: Alternate View

Monitoring Isode M-Switch and Microsoft Exchange Message Queues

Controlling Isode Message Queue functions from Sentra

Alert and Event Monitoring

The screen shots show the monitoring capabilities of Sentra, in conjunction with the Isode servers, and handling of discrete components. As well as monitoring individual components, Sentra enables combinations of events to be monitored in support of Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

Why Isode is good with Sentra

The previous section has shown why Sentra is a good option for monitoring systems including Isode servers. The high level of integration between Sentra and Isode also means that if you have selected Sentra as a monitoring tool, there is significant advantage to using the Isode servers. This is because of the high level of integration between the products. This means that more information is available to Sentra for monitoring and reporting, and that the Sentra user has more control over the Isode products from within Sentra.


This paper has examined three approaches to monitoring and managing Isode's server products, and has shown the benefits of using Sentra in environments where there are high service requirements.