If the phones in your office stopped working, would your company still be able to function? What about faxes and postal mail? Chances are your business processes would be delayed to a certain degree if these services were down, but your daily business functions would not come to a grinding halt.
If I ask the same question about Internet and email service, I think most folks would agree: If your company's messaging system goes down and employees cannot communicate, either internally with colleagues or externally with clients and prospects, then they might as well just go home -- and update their résumés.
[ Learn more about the lineup of System Center tools by reading J. Peter Bruzzese's "System Center is more than just a buzzword." | Keep up to date on Windows PC and server issues in InfoWorld's Technology: Windows newsletter. ]
In the past 15 years, the business community has seen a steady shift in the way organizations communicate and, thus, function. Phones, faxes, and letters are all important, but they are no longer integral when it comes to keeping your business in business.
It's obvious that Microsoft Exchange is mission-critical; no one would disagree with that. Most would also agree that in our economy, administrators are being asked to do more with less -- so the key is to be proactive about monitoring. Be ready for a problem before or at the moment it hits, and make sure even your lower-level admins or help desk can see the problem even if they aren't authorized to handle it directly.
Microsoft SCOM: A capable tool that's too hard to use
The key to keeping your business in business is to have a solid monitoring solution in play. As a Microsoft loyalist, my instinct is to lead people to System Center Operations Manager, or SCOM, formerly known as the catchier MOM. Despite my negative experiences with Microsoft's System Center tools in general (don't get me started on my Data Protection Manager nightmare), I look at SCOM somewhat favorably because of my positive experiences getting MOM up and running in the past. SCOM is a robust monitoring solution, and you can implement management packs for your various servers (like Exchange) to give you more reach and a more watchful eye over your Exchange environment.