Tips for reducing BES administration stress

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StressA reader just let us know about a Zenprise report they were going over, which included some crazy numbers about e-mail and stress in the workplace.

The survey found that 36% of respondents indicated that their job is ‘stressful’ or ‘extremely stressful’. However, when email is down, 74% of respondents indicated that their job is ‘stressful’ or ‘extremely stressful’. Only air traffic controllers and police officers were viewed as having jobs more stressful than that of an IT administator whose email system is down!

Wow. Respect to the IT admins out there who are dealing with stress levels comparable to that of cops. The report had a few pointers that might help keep that blood pressure down, like “be ready to assemble a cross-functional SWAT team to quickly resolve BlackBerry issues” and “consistently monitor & audit your Active Directory infrastructure”.

Thanks, Chris!

5 tips to ensure a healthy BES environment:

1. Ensure you have enough Exchange server capacity
Every BlackBerry user added to your environment can generate a fair amount of load on your Exchange server. An Exchange server that is overburdened with users and doesn’t have enough capacity will cause availability problems for BES

2. Whenever possible, co-locate your BES server and Exchange server in the same geographic location
There is a fair amount of network traffic between your BES & Exchange servers. Co-locating your servers reduces risk of outages attributed to slow/unavailable network connections

3. Consistently monitor & audit your Active Directory infrastructure
Changes made to permissions within Active Directory can cause users to no longer be able to send/receive emails.

4. Judiciously apply patches on the Exchange server as these patches can break BES
The BES server requires the same version of files that can be found on the Exchange server. Patches applied to Exchange that update file versions will cause problems with BlackBerry

5. Monitor your end to end BlackBerry infrastructure
Set up a monitoring system to detect carrier-related outages or outages with the RIM network. This allows you to quickly identify whether the problem is in your infrastructure or outside your infrastructure.

Top Tips for Fast Recovery of BlackBerry issues:

1. Isolate the scope of the problem
It’s important to quickly identify whether the problem is impacting a single user on a given BES server, multiple users on a BES server, all users on a BES server, all users across all BES servers. Knowing the scope of the problem helps focus the troubleshooting steps taken.

2. Develop an early warning system of common problems
Proactively monitor a variety of performance and fault indicators across the BlackBerry infrastructure. Performance often degrades over a period of time before a full blown outage occurs. Proactively identifying these performance degradations as they occur ensures IT can quickly resolve issues before users are impacted.

3. Be ready to assemble a cross-functional SWAT team to quickly resolve BlackBerry issues
More often than not, the root cause of BlackBerry issues is somewhere outside the BlackBerry server. Develop formal process to assemble cross-functional support teams for any BlackBerry outages to ensure problems are quickly isolated and resolved. Team members should include representatives from BlackBerry, Exchange, and network teams at a minimum, ideally should also include representatives from the Active Directory & security teams.