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Exchange Server Disk Failures With Event ID 51 and 57

Just the other day I experience one of the worst system crashes that I had ever experienced with our exchange server. My Exchange Server DAG failed with event id 51 and 57 showing in the system logs.

I guess I should not call this “one of the worst crashes”.  I have experienced many in the pass.  This is normal, when working in an Information Technology department, especially working with exchange server.

Who was it that said that an Exchange Server administrator knows everything about exchange server?  Well, I for sure do not, or did I ever confessed to have known everything. Thanks to Microsoft, who always assist me when I am unable to resolve a situation as quickly as I should have. Many situation can normally be resolved, but when time is against you, researching the error thoroughly is not sometimes possible.

My Server Basic Configuration

Let me explain a little bit about my configuration first, so you understand what I am trying to explain regarding our system failure.  I have four servers in my environment.  Server A and  B are being used in my DAG configuration.  Are you familiar with Dags?  I will briefly explain.

DAG stands for Database Availability Groups. It is a build in component within Exchange Server created especially for redundancy.  Having a DAG setup in place is one of the best ways to minimize downtime and protect your system, in the event of a failure.

Most persons using a DAG configuration will say that backups are not required, as long as you have redundancy in the form of a DAG.  What if corruption of you data had replicated to all members of the DAG.  The only way to recover would have been from a backup.

Server C is used as an archive server while Server D is just there in the event I need to test an installation. Each server is setup with two controller cards so we can separate the log files from the databases.

Drive “C” on each server has the operating system with a raid one configuration.  Drive “D” is a partition on the same disk.  Drive “E” is where the databases resides in raid five (5) configuration.  This is where the failure originally took place. Server “A” was the server that experience the problem.

The Issue / Problem

Drive “E” on Server “A” where the databases resided were accessible, but we were unable to see any data.  I immediately went through a series of test including walking physically to the server room.  On arrival I noticed that only one drive on partition “E” where the database resided on was the only one showing a green light.   The remaining four drives on Drive “E” was showing no light at all.”

As I have mentioned earlier drive “E” was on its own controller card with a raid 5 configuration to protect in the event of a failed drive. Raid 5 requires that three or more physical drives are required to create the configuration.  My server had four drives in place.  As I said earlier only one drive in the configuration showed a green light, all others were dead.

On further investigations of the failed server, our system logs continually showed error messages in the form of event id 51 and 57.  These events are normally related to disk failures. These errors were later confirmed by Microsoft as being related to hardware disk failures.  Microsoft does not deal with physical system issues, so I had to open a case to HP, who created the server hardware.

HP later advised that one of the controller card had failed that the four drives were attached to.  We ran a series  of tests along with HP but could not find any physical errors with the controller card.

At first I suggested that we boot the server, but I hesitated because I wanted HP to physical check first. Eventually we booted the server and that did resolved the error. On boot of the server there was an error message acknowledging that the controller card had locked.  This could have also been as a result of the server running out of resources.  The server had about 12 GB of Ram.  I eventually doubled the amount of Ram.  The server is presently up and running.

I eventually rebuild the DAG on Server A, but did not fail-over the databases because I wanted to ensure that the server was okay.  My organization will continue running on Server B until I am satisfied that all has been resolved.

Conclusion

This day October 20, 2012, and a Friday eventing at that, will go down in history of one of my not to good days, as an Exchange Server Administrator.

The comforting part about this day is that everything happened for a reason.  If you have no problems with Exchange Server, then your will never increase your knowledge base as an Administrator. Of course as Administrators, we should never welcome problems.

Below is a final letter that I had received from Microsoft acknowledging my issues.  You may notice several links to documentation from Microsoft in relation to backups.  this is because I asked the technician to send me more information.

 

“Hello Andrew,

It was my pleasure to work with you on case# 1121———-.  As per our discussion, I will be archiving your case today as resolved . If you have any comments or questions regarding the handling of your case, please feel free to contact my manager Shivraj Chopra at 425-000-0000 Ext- 64228 or Email at: 

 Also, please remember that if you have any additional problems that are directly associated with your original issue, you may call back and have this case reopened at any time within the next 90 days.

Andrew, have a great day, and thank you for your continuing support of Microsoft products!. I am providing you with a summary of the key points of the case for your records.

PROBLEM DESCRIPTION:

====================

Passive database copies failed and change state to  FailedAndSuspended on DAG member “Server A ”

 RESOLUTION:

===========  

>Found all databases on passive node  were FailedAndSuspended except one database Exec_VP\Server A.

>Identified that healthy database was store on different drive g:\ and all effected was on E:\

>Checked event found disk related events 51&57.

>Identified issue is with hardware.

>Fixing the hardware issue resolved the issue .
 

RELATED ARTICLE:

===============       

http://blogs.technet.com/b/ehlro/archive/2010/02/13/backup-issues-and-limitations-with-exchange-2010-and-dag.aspx

 

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd876851.aspx

End Microsoft Letter.

 

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What You Need to Know About Entry Level Information Technology Jobs

Inquiring about entry level Information technology jobs would not be something that a regular person would be doing.

Either you are considering changing careers, or you are probably a college graduate trying to get some experience in computers, so you can be equipped for your next big job.

The term Information technology is sometimes referred to as “IT”, and can relate to many career paths. Wikipedia, a popular on-line encyclopaedia defines this term as, “a branch of knowledge concerned with the development, management, and use of computer-based information systems”.

This article will approach this topic from the same perspective as Wikipedia’s explanation. The majority of jobs in the Information Technology field are centred on the management and development of computer systems, and technology. For this reason, many entry levels to advanced jobs are available in data centers around the world.

There are many basic characteristics present in all entry level information technology jobs.  Being armed with what characteristics to look for will give you the best chances of success, in finding a good entry level information technology job.

If you are in the process of changing careers then you may have some difficulty in finding the right entry level technology job.  This is especially true, if you have no knowledge or experience about information technology.  Always remember that once you have acquired some basic training in computers, then you would be in a better position to get the right entry level job, in an information technology department.

You should also be aware that if you have no degree, or experience in computers that you can still adapt and learn, as long as you have the desire to do so. Everyone has a chance, as long as they are shown the correct path to follow.

Experience has shown that many individuals who had only acquired a high school diploma or a leaving certificate, were able to advance through the ranks within a data centre, and into many advanced to medium tech jobs.

Listed below are the names, and basic details of some of the many entry level, to advanced tech jobs that are available in many information technology departments today. These jobs are listed from entry level first, to advance.

Entry Level Positions

Many of these positions that are listed below do not require a degree in computer science.  Sometime a high school diploma with the willingness to learn is all that is required.

  •  First Level Tech Support, or Help Desk Support Technician

Working in first level tech support represents one of the most basic entry level jobs that you can acquire. You do not even need a degree in computer science to fill this position.  A basic high school diploma may be all that is required, with some basic knowledge of computers.

Even if you have a bachelor’s degree in computers but no experience then this would also be a very good place to start.  Most employers prefer some experience, even with a degree.

First level tech support would be considered training grounds for second level technical support.  The day to day routine working in the tech support department consists of answering the phones when people call into the department for help, and taking clear notes about the customer issues.  This information is then passed on to the second level support technician.

  •  Second Level Tech Support, or Help Desk Support Technician

Second level tech support can also be classified as an entry level position.  A diploma may be required, but not necessarily needed. As long as you are able to demonstrate some technical ability in the area of computer repairs, then you would be considered teachable.

  •  Network Operation Support Technician

The network operations support technician assists with the monitoring of the entire infrastructure, and computer equipment of a company.  This monitoring is done using sophisticated monitoring appliances and tools.

All that is required to work as a network operation center personal employee would be common sense and the ability to act on issues as quickly as possible. No technical abilities may be required, but having some ability may be a plus.

  •  PC Repair Technician

A computer repair technician takes care of all computer related repair of desktop computers.  Persons working as computer repair technicians also work along with the system administrator when servers are being prepared for deployment.

Working as a PC Repair Technician is somewhat entry level in nature also.  Even though it is a specialized job it can still be filled in time by an entry level person.

Sometimes we have to separate abilities or gifting in areas related to repair, from persons that are gifted in software applications. In many organizations you sometimes will encounter individuals that are really gifted in hardware support.  If you try to fit an individual with talents in repairs into an administrative role, sometime that individual will fail.

Medium to Advance Positions

The positions listed below are advanced to medium and may require some kind of specialization to perform the duties required.

 This person normally works along with the System Administrators of a company.  This position requires trust and dedication.  Trust, mainly because you would have wide open access to every employees email, including the Vice President of a company.

The day to day duties include the administration of the company’s email system. An exchange system administrator sometimes administrates the active directory of a company in the absence of a system administrator.  This normally happens within small to medium organizations because of their inability to hire more employees.

This is also a specialized job function, but with some knowledge can be filled in time by anyone that has extensive understanding of email systems including Microsoft Exchange Server.

The beauty of being an exchange administrator is that you would be highly respected by management.

  • Windows System Administrator (Microsoft Applications)

These persons normally administrate Microsoft systems, including Active Directory and other Microsoft applications. They also work with other third party application like Symantec Backup Exec, and Net backup Applications.

The duties of this person may include the daily administration of the company domain, including adding new users to the company network.

  •  Network Engineer

Network Engineers normally works in the Network Services department and takes care of the infrastructure and security of the entire network of a company. Persons working in the network services department are normally persons that have acquired some sort of Cisco Certification.

This position is very specialized and can only be filled by a certified Cisco person or someone that possesses the ability to learn quickly. These persons are also known as the gate keepers of the company assets.

If you would like to pursue Exchange Server as a career path please CLICK HERE.

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Microsoft Tech Ed Conference 2012 – An Experience I will never forget

Microsoft Tech Ed Conference 2012 was held in Orlando Florida this year, and I had the prestigious privilege, and opportunity to attend once again, for the fourth time.  This conference is a yearly conference that is normally held in North America, and Europe.

I am privilege because the company that I worked for considered me valuable enough to invest in my advancement in this industry, by allowing me to attend this conference once again.

I had attended three other Microsoft tech Ed conferences in the pass that were held in three other US States, but the Microsoft Tech Ed Orlando conference will be in my memory banks for many years to come.

I will never forget this experience, especially the “Closing Party”, which was held at “Islands of Adventures”, Universal Studios.  This was a private party held only for the attendees. The cost of the closing party was also included in the conference fees. Whatever city the conferences are held in, Microsoft always holds the closing party at a major attraction within that city.

My definition of the Microsoft Tech Ed conference may be different from other definitions. This is the definition according to “me”, and my experiences at Tech Ed.  The Microsoft Tech Ed Conference was created by Microsoft Corporation for the education and benefit of the Information Technology Industry professionals, who worked with Microsoft products and technologies.

Technologies like Exchange Server, Active Directory, Microsoft SQL Server, and many other technical tracks were available at the conference.  You can imagine where most of my time was spend at the conference.  You guess right.  I spend the majority of my time at every Exchange Server breakout session that was available.

Break Out sessions are similar to mini seminars.  These sessions are held individually for each technology at Tech Ed, and are always fill to capacity.  Sometime there are over five hundred persons in each session. No need to worry about seminars that you would like to attend if it conflicts with each other. All recordings are available afterwards for each technical track.

At Microsoft Tech Ed Conferences, upcoming Microsoft technologies are released.  These new technologies are only released to the attendees of the conference first, then to the general public.

If you are employed in an Information technology department, and working with Microsoft products, then you must attend a Microsoft Tech Ed conference. Attending technical conferences like Tech Ed will motivate you for months after the conference.

There were over seventeen thousand participants in attendance this year from all over the world. This year’s conference by far was one of the better conferences that I had attended.

This was also the 20th year that the conference had been held, so this one was called their 20th year anniversary celebrations.  I was so happy to have been a part of this year’s conference, because I had the opportunity to walk around the seminar with an alumni badge. Once you had attended two or more conferences, then you were considered an old scholar, or alumni. Microsoft Tech Ed North America offers you the opportunity to network with peers in our industry, especially the regular attendees.

I also had the privilege of spending my breaks through the seminar in the alumni lounge.  This lounge was specifically prepared for the comfort of the alumni’s.  Unlimited snacks and drinks were available at no cost to the alumni’s. In fact breakfast and lunch was served to all attendees as a part of the conference fee.  Imagine feeding over seventeen thousand attendees. I was really impressed with the services of the hostess and hosts that directed us to the buffet lines, which moved very fast, indeed.

You would have never “died of hunger” at the conference waiting in line because the lines moved by so quickly.  There were hundreds of buffet lines available in the conference meals hall for our convenience.

Tech Ed Orlando will go down in history as one of my most memorable experiences.  To get the best out of Tech Ed, all you have to do is focus on the technical tracks related to your area of expertise.

As I said in one of me earlier paragraphs.  My focus was on Exchange Server.  Tech Ed will deliver much more in relation to training that any other classroom training. It allows you the opportunity to network with the creators of the product.  Who knows their product better than the creator of the product?

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Exchange Server 2010 Certification Path for the Information technology Professional

Exchange server 2010 certification path was designed specifically with the Information technology professional in mind. Certification paths are available for Exchange Server 2007, and Exchange Server 2010, as off the writing of this article.

Hopefully, if you are searching for information on how to become exchange server certified, then you are probably not new to exchange server. If you are new to exchange server then I will assume that you have already done your research on what an exchange server is all about.  In the event you have not done your research, then I will briefly explain.

Basically, exchange server is a client server application that was designed for the enterprise, to run its mission critical email system.
To be successful as an exchange administrator it is advisable that you always strive to upgrade your certification to the latest available certification, once you have achieved it.

If your certification is not upgraded, then you will not be marketable, and your skills will become obsolete.

Levels of Certifications

Being certified in exchange server will let prospective employers know that you have the skills, and abilities necessary to manage and install an enterprise messaging infrastructure. Certification paths when followed correctly, along with many dedicated hours of study will lead to examination passes.

The exchange server 2010 certification path consists of four basic parts. The four parts or levels consist of the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialists, Microsoft Certified IT Professional, Microsoft Certified Master, and the Microsoft Certified Architect.

The first two parts are very easy to achieve, if followed correctly.  The other two parts require much more time, and in-depth study.
Paths to becoming certified as an exchange server professional will change, as the creator of the exchange product releases new updates to their software.
Using a planned certification path will simplify the direction that you should take in becoming certified, in any computer technology subject, not only exchange server.

To achieve the best success when preparing for an exchange server exam, it is advisable that you follow the certification path that has been designed by the creator of the certification. This is true with any certification track.  The manufacture of the certification track always knows the best path to take in order to pass their certification examination.

To achieve the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialists certification, or M-C-T-S certification you are required to sit and pass one examination.  The number of the exam is 77-662, and the name is “TS Configuring Microsoft Exchange server”.

The Microsoft Certified IT Professional or M-C-I-T-P exam is the second level of IT certification for exchange server 2010.  To obtain certification for this exam, you are required to sit and pass exam number 70-663 entitled, “Designing and Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010”.
To prepare for a successful pass in either of the first two examination tracks, Microsoft has recommended that you either seek to do Classroom Training, E-learning, or use a Microsoft Press Book for examination preparation.

If you are on a low budget, then purchasing a Microsoft Press Book will be less costly than the other two options. The only drawback of using the press books would be that you will have to setup some sort of virtual lab using virtual machines, to complete the exercises in the book.  If you are not one of those technically advanced individuals, then this would present a challenge.

E-learning can be used in place of not being able to setup a lab to complete the exercises, using the Microsoft press books. Virtual machines are automatically included online when doing the e-learning studies to prepare for the examination. If you are a person that learns by simulations, then this kind of training may work best for you.

Normally with the five days Classroom Training you may be required to travel to another town, or city to complete the training.  In my opinion, if you are able to afford classroom training, then I highly recommend this option.  With this option, you are able to ask the instructor as many questions as you wish. This will help in the understanding of the material much better. No need to worry about setting up virtual machines.  The virtual machines are available as a part of the course to complete the exercises, during the training. Virtual machines are setup using physical host machines.

When I mentioned host machines I am referring to a very large and powerful computer system that has many virtual machine installed. Virtual machines running on physical host machines can cut the cost of running many computers on its own physical machine tremendously.

Even though these preparation tools are suggested by Microsoft for successful completion of the exams, many other persons have successfully passed these examinations by using other third party tools, and instructional materials.

Third party refers to any material or software used to prepare for an exam that was not created, or recommended by the manufacturer of a program that you are using.

To locate other third party exam training solutions for either of the first two exams, all you have to do is type the keywords, “exchange server 2010 exam preparation “,into search engines like Google or Bing, and you will be amazed of what other materials are available on the internet, to train for this exam.
The third level of certification for exchange server 2010 is the Microsoft Certified Master, or M-C-M.  The requirement for certification for this level is slightly more difficult than the other two levels.

Before attempting to pass the M-C-M, you should have already achieved the first two certifications in the track.

You are required to attend a three week training program, and also sit and pass three computerized examinations during the training.  Then you will also have to pass a final lab examination for successful completion.

The fourth and last level of certification is the Microsoft Certified Architect, or M-C-A. All you have to do in order to achieve this certification is pass the M-C-A Board Exam.  The first three parts of the track is also required for entry into this program.  This exam is conducted by Microsoft, and other professionals working with exchange server.
Resource
Exchange server 2010 Certification path is the best path to follow if you really want to be successful in any exchange examination.

If you enjoyed this article, then you may also like reading another article that How Exchange Server 2010 Certification can benefit you as an IT Professional.

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How Exchange Server 2010 Certification Can Benefit You as an IT Professional

You may be wondering whether an exchange server 2010 certification will benefit you, as an Information technology professional.  Having a college degree is good, but having a certification lets an employer know that you are serious about your career.

A college degree normally takes between two and four years to complete or longer depending on the degree that you are trying to achieve.  A certification may only require that you spend about six months of you time to achieve. Even though the length of time to achieve a certification is shorter, you should not underestimate the value of a certification.

Having a degree and a certification is better, but you do not need to have a degree in order to achieve a certification.

Many information technology employers recognize some certifications over a college degree.  These employers are aware that certifications are more specialized, and specific to a particular area of study. In other words, if you have a certification, then most of your study time may have been spend on just that particular subject.

Spending time in one area of study, rather than many other areas would make you and expert within that subject matter.  This is the true meaning of specialization, in my opinion.

Benefits of Exchange Server Certifications

There are many benefits to be realized as a certified professional, in the area of exchange server. This is also true in other information technology related fields.

As a certified professional you are normally the first to know whenever new technologies are introduced within your market.  Changes are communicated via of an email notifying you of the change in the application from the vendor, or the creator of the certification.

Another benefit of being certified would give you the license to include your certification credentials in your email signature.

A signature template would normally be received from the vendor that can be modified to include your area of certification within.

If at any time you need assistance with the product that you are certified in, you are given first priority over your peers, in the same field, that are not certified.

In addition to the benefits of being certified that are listed here, there are many more that I have not listed, because of the limitations of this article.

Disadvantages of Not Being Certified

Working as an exchange system administrator, without a certification can be compared to a doctor, with general knowledge of a topic. This does not mean that an exchange administrator working without a certification would not have extensive knowledge about exchange.

If you require medical assistance, would you go to a doctor that only has a general understanding of your problem? Or would you go to someone that is known to have specialized knowledge of the problem you are faced with?

I can assure you that the specialist will be of more benefit to you.  In fact, the general practitioner will recommend that you see a doctor that specializes, within the area of your health issue. Even the general practitioner recognizes certifications as being a valuable asset.

Having no college degree or certification in an area of study will put you at a disadvantage, when trying to find employment, even if you have experience.  This would also be true if you are older, in some cases.

The person without a certification will normally need some kind of recommendation and assistance, from another reputable professional, to be considered for a job, in some cases.

Exchange server 2010 certifications are beneficial as long as the company that you are employed with recognizes the value of the certification.  Sometimes employers have to be educated about the value of the certification that you have, for you to benefit.

Exchange Server Certification Prerequisites

Following the prerequisites for becoming certified as an exchange server administrator will make you a better administrator, once you are employed.

Many persons have attempted to take the exchange server examinations, without having prior hands on experience. These persons are known as “book smart” persons. Due to their lack of experiences in this area, they are unable to resolve problems that may occur while they are employed.

Studies have shown that the best administrators are normally the ones that already possessed some knowledge, in the area that they are trying to become certified.

Before you begin the process of acquiring any exchange server certifications, you should have already spent some time working directly with the product.  In fact, the creator of the certification recommends that you have prior hands on experience, before sitting the exam.

Whether the certification is exchange server, or any other technical certification, hands on experience will put you at an advantage, when sitting the certification exam.

Exchange Server Certification Paths

There are several paths to becoming an exchange server certified professional.  All you have to do is decide on the certification path that you are interested in. At the writing of this article, exchange server 2010 would be the latest certification to date.

Even though Exchange server 2003 is several years old, certification is also available with this version of the product.  Exchange server 2007 is also available to become certified in.

Any one of these certifications will be beneficial, because Microsoft always allows several years before any product is retired, or has reach its end of life.

I will recommend that you always try to stay with the latest versions of any software. If the company you work for is presently using one of the earlier versions of this software, then certification in that version should be fine.  The general idea should always be to move forward.

A “Microsoft Certified Professional” designation certificate can be achieved with exchange server 2003. You have probably heard this certification abbreviated as (MCP).

Another certification track is known as the “Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist”, sometimes referred to as (MCTS). This designation can be achieved with exchange server 2010, and exchange server 2007. This certification path demonstrates your ability to administrate, and validates your expertise in the exchange server enterprise environment.

The final certification for exchange server is known as the “Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional”.  This designation is sometimes also abbreviated as (MCITP).

Other certification designation that applies to not just the exchange server product includes the Microsoft Certified Master program, or (MCW).  This is the certification of all certifications.  This sets you above other professionals in the same field.

Certification tracks in any area, including exchange server may change as time progresses. Having an exchange server 2010 certification or any certification can be a very valuable asset.

Once you have acquired an exchange server 2010 certification, you should try to update your certification whenever possible, to new tracks that are introduced.

For other related articles please see other articles on my website the best email server and another recent article on what is an exchange server that I have also written.