Tips for Understanding the Relationship Between a Web Application and SLAs

At the heart of any Service Level Agreement is the descriptions of the services you provided as well as the expectations a customer and business have regarding their work relationship. This is carried out by defining specific metrics regarding how parameters are measured as well as any and all guarantees. Generally, an SLA is a contract between a company and a customer, but it may also bet between different department found within the same company.

Regardless of the business industry, when it comes to understanding a Service Level Agreement, there are several steps you must follow. These include:

Understand the Descriptions of Services

Within the first portion of a Service Level Agreement are service descriptions. If you’re a new customer, this is where you’ll find specific descriptions for the services you are to be offered. It’s here you’ll understand what services are being offered and how they will be implemented.

Generally, within this section the business will create a catalog that describes exactly what they offer. This allows customers an easy way to determining a service is applicable to their needs. It’s not uncommon for this section to include provisions regarding applications, business functions and infrastructure.

Standards of Service

Once the services have been described, they must then be established using a set of standards. This is where you’ll find the standards by which a particular service will be rendered. Generally, this section includes information such as: availability of the service, reliability standards for the service as well as conflict resolution processes. For example, within this section you’ll typically find the communication hours of availability as well as the steps that must be taken should an emergency or disaster happen. Other pieces of information you’ll find include resolution processes and response times to help desk tickets. It’s important to read this section to determine if all communications are responded within a certain time frame or if response time is dependent on the reason for the communication.

Web Application Monitoring – How it Can Help

Just because your web app is online, doesn’t mean it’s functioning properly. Web applications can be intricate things, and there are often multiple steps that need to be tested to ensure that an app is working as it should be. Take for example, the web application that many people know about—a simple shopping cart. It can’t just be accessible, it needs to do a lot more than that. People need to be able to add items to the cart, edit their card, recalculate totals, adjust for shipping, and also check out. There’s a lot involved with that and if you aren’t monitoring your web app, it doesn’t matter if your SLA on it being up/down is at 100% because there could be other problems that are preventing it from working and causing a bad user experience. One of the best ways to mitigate things like this is to have some sort of web app monitoring in place that keeps track of your application and prevents any issues.

Responsibilities for the Business and Customer

This is perhaps one of the most important sections as it outlines the responsibilities that are expected by not only the business but also the customer.  When it comes to managing the expectations of a customer and a business, the waters can become murky. This is because the expectations from either party can dramatically vary. Therefore, look to this section to determine the exact responsibilities that are expected from both parties. For example, in this section you’ll discover if it’s the customer representative that has the responsibility of communicating specific points of information or if specific information must be solicited by the customer.

What Certificates Should My Microsoft Exchange Server Have?

Much like any other network application, in order to secure the functionality and safety of Microsoft Exchange Servers, it’s essential to adopt specific certificates. Due to the literally thousands, if not millions, of security threats bombarding your Exchange Server every day, these certificates ensure users have a safe messaging experience while simultaneously safeguarding your data and sensitive information from being intercepted. It’s important to note that as technology changes and adapts so does the type of ceritificates you should implement.

SSL Certificate for Unified Communications

While an SSL Certificate is essential for all websites, when it comes to the unique infrastructure of Microsoft Exchange Server, you must adopt a security certificate capable of safeguarding an entire transaction from beginning-to-end. The SSL Certificate for Unified Communications offers a vast array of security benefits, but perhaps one of the most acclaimed advantages of this certificate is its ability to secure client access for up to 100 various SAN, or Subject Alternative Names. This feature allows you to host various SSL websites on a single Exchange server without requiring multiple IP addresses.

Subject Alternative Names Certificate (SAN) 

The Subject Alternative Names certificate allows an SSL certificate to apply to multiple names. For example, an organization must use multiple DNS names. While it’s possible to have SSL certificate security on multiple DNS names, to manipulate the certificate administrators were required to engage in complex customization techniques. The larger the environment, the more complex and time-consuming this process would become. According to the website loadview-testing, this is where a SAN certificate comes into play. When adopted, a SAN certificate offers the flexibility of multi-domain protection without having to manually adjust SSL certificate attributes. Resulting in a significant reduction in time spent dealing with standard SSL certificate manipulation.

How to Establish an SSL Certificate

One of the most common questions asked by administrators revolves around establishing an SSL certificate. While each version of Microsoft Exchange Server differs in how an SSL certificate is applied, the basic steps are universal. However, always refer to the documentation specific to the version of your Exchange. This being noted, common steps to establish an SSL Certificate include:

  • Access the built-in SSL Certificate Wizard. This is found in Exchange Server 2010 and newer.
  • Once you’ve filled out the necessary information within the wizard, submit a certificate request to a Certificate Authority of your choosing.
  • After the request has been processed, install the newly issued certificate directly on the Exchange server.
  • Assign the newly installed SSL certificate on all applicable services within the Exchange server.

The Four Pillars of Web Application Monitoring

The services offered by Microsoft Exchange Server are among the most powerful and dynamic out of any business support environment. While many businesses utilize Microsoft Exchange as a means of streamlining internal and client communications, the effectiveness of this solution is only as effective as its performance and availability. Email downtime can severely alter the foundational levels of business operations. Therefore, continual Exchange Server monitoring is essential when it comes to addressing concerns. Comprehensive Exchange Server monitoring is dependent on the usage of this platform; however, there are several key metrics to provide consistent and effective monitoring.

The Four Pillars of Exchange Server Monitoring

While each of these factors contains numerous subcategories of monitoring, when it comes to implementing an effective solution, each of these pillars must be tended to:

  • Queue Expansion – If you find the queue of sending or receiving messages is growing at a faster rate than it shrinks, it may be a sign that a connector is malfunctioning; resulting in queue growth. Monitoring solutions must manage Exchange Server queues to detect this accumulation and identify the source of its growth.
  • Available Disk Space – The space available on disks is an essential component of a fully functioning experience. Exchange Server infrastructure is largely based on disk availability. Therefore, as your Exchange begins to grow, having ample disk space is vital. Monitoring solutions must monitor available space and alert administrators when storage limits are being approached.
  • CPU Usage Rates – Have you noticed high CPU usage rates from your Exchange Server? If so, it may indicate a lack of resources available to execute requested functions. This could prove detrimental to the fluidity of Exchange Server functionality and performance. A monitoring solution must alert administrators when CPU utilization becomes This allows necessary resource expansion to happen before performance issues affect end-users.
  • Virtual Memory Availability – This is one of the most important pillars, as low virtual memory can result in a complete lack of functionality on Exchange Servers. The inability to perform actions and events could prove detrimental to business operations. Exchange Server monitoring alerts administrators when virtual memory becomes dangerously low. Some services available to monitoring web applications offer more available memory, while others offer less available memory. You can compare some of these various services on sites like Web-Application-Monitoring and Honkiat.

While the aforementioned pillars are essential to the performance of Exchange Servers, the actions needed to accomplish these monitoring goals differ based upon your implementation and utilization methods. Regardless, Exchanges of any size must adopt a comprehensive monitoring solution as a proactive way to maintain full functionality.

Three Elements to Remember When Establishing Your Nonprofit Microsoft Exchange Server

Microsoft Exchange Server is among the world’s most popular email messaging and collaborative systems. Due to its advanced-level structuring, yet user-friendly interface, it’s utilized by businesses and corporations of all sizes. While you may be familiar with Exchange, and perhaps you even utilize this service for your email communications, there are several elements you must remember while you integrate it into your business. By understanding the following three elements, you’ll have a greater hold on what Microsoft Exchange Server is and how it interacts with your business.

Microsoft Exchange Server is an Application Extension

Perhaps one of the most important elements all business owners should understand prior to integrating this system into their communications department is Microsoft Exchange Server is an application extension. That is to say, Microsoft Exchange requires the Microsoft Windows operating system in order to operate. Typically, the latest version of the Windows is recommended for enhanced compatibility – or if you’re planning to migrate Exchange into a pre-existing network. It’s essential that you check the operating system requirements for the Exchange version you wish to install. For example, the most recent version of Microsoft Exchange requires a 64-bit operating system. For the best integration results, it’s best to install a fresh version of Windows before you integrate Exchange into your system to avoid any complications.

Exchange Requires a Dedicated Active Directory

Another essential element you must be aware of when it comes to the installation and implementation of Microsoft Exchange Server is to realize that Exchange requires a dedicate active directory. That is to say, it must be physically installed and managed on a single computer. Prior to installing Microsoft Exchange, it’s vital that the active directory be properly configured. In the most basic sense, the active directory works as the domain supervisor. Selecting the domain name to install and host your Exchange Server is essential as it’s associated with all mailboxes within the Exchange Server. 

Ensure Your Exchange Server is Properly Optimized

This is especially important if you’re running a nonprofit and you’re using lower quality hosting, as hosting that’s often donated may be on underpowered or on overcrowded servers. Webhostingbuddy, a popular tech tips site says that it’s often best to ensure that you’re monitoring your servers to ensure that if your mail goes down, you know about it right away instead of finding out after it’s too late. You can read other details here about that.

Establish Sufficient Mailbox Quotas

While this may seem like a “no-brainer” for most IT managers, you’d be surprised how many enterprises encounter errors simply because they did not allow ample mailbox quotas. It’s important that your mailboxes be outfitted with enough storage space to save not only incoming message, but archives messages and sent emails. So what would happen if your mailbox quota was not large enough? The assigned account would no longer be able to send or receive messages. If you’re referring to the primary mailbox for customer interactions, this could prove to be detrimental as all email communications would cease until the mailbox quota is raised. As a general rule of thumb, the minimum mailbox quota for continued operation is 2GB.

Ensure that You’re Continuously Testing Your Apps

Continuously testing your web apps in an important thing to ensure that they are functioning properly. If you aren’t testing, you can’t improve. With that said, there are a number of free and paid options available for web app testing. Looking at sites that put this information together for you, or doing your own research online should help you decide on a solution.