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How can I monitor the overall status of the business process “email”?



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I monitor many devices and services with PRTG. These are responsible that the whole email system of my company is working properly. This includes, for example, POP3 and IMAP email servers, email round trip times, dozens of Microsoft Exchange database performance counters, the internet connection, traffic, and many more related parameters.

This creates a lot of sensors and is therefore too detailed to be shown to my management and non-technical coworkers. How can I get only one overall status for the whole process “Email” to see at a glance if the email system is working or not?

business-process email guides overall-status process prtg sensor-factory status tutorials

Created on Jun 25, 2014 9:34:33 AM by  Gerald Schoch [Paessler Support]

Last change on Dec 10, 2020 10:37:12 AM by  Brandy Greger [Paessler Support]

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This article applies to PRTG Network Monitor 19 or later

Monitoring the business process "email"

When thinking about how to ensure email delivery, many services and components in your IT infrastructure that you might want to monitor will come into mind. You can monitor them with various sensor types.

From POP3 and IMAP, to system hardware and bandwidth, to the details of an Exchange server regarding connections, queues, latency, connections, users, and so on—the sensors of PRTG show you the current states and values of all of them. One reason for this detailed monitoring is to be able to act before mail server failures occur rather than reacting after a whole server outage. Only a few minutes that you are not available via email can cost your company a lot of money.

So how can you get an overall status for all these essential email process components whose monitoring data is potentially distributed over your device tree?

A possible solution is the Sensor Factory sensor.

Get only one status for your whole business process “email”

The following step-by-step guide will show you how to create a Sensor Factory sensor in order to monitor business processes. As a sample use case, we explain how to monitor (parts of) the email process in your company as a whole. You can take the particular steps and examples below as a baseline and adapt them to your own application scenario.

The Sensor Factory sensor sums up the states of various sensors according to your needs. Basically, you just have to provide the “address” of the sensor channels you are interested in and the Sensor Factory sensor will use these channels as its own channels.
Furthermore, you have to define how to handle errors with the sensor. This way, you can exactly specify when the overall status of your email process will show an error. Then you are able to publish only one corresponding status icon for your colleagues.

Step-by-step: Creating a Sensor Factory sensor

Step 1: Find out the IDs of Sensors and Channels

Decide which sensor channels you want to include in your Sensor Factory sensor. An idea of which sensors you might want to cumulate into one common status is given above. First, you need the IDs of these sensors and their corresponding channels to create the channels for the Sensor Factory sensor. These IDs define the “address” of a channel. You can find

  • sensor IDs on the Overview tab of a sensor.
  • channel IDs in the respective channel settings. Write down these two numbers and enter them into the Sensor Factory sensor's Channel Definition field as described below. Other than these two IDs, you do not need more to create the channels of a Sensor Factory sensor. Of course, you have to repeat the task for all other desired channels for the overall email process status.

Step 2: Create channels for the Sensor Factory sensor

  1. Add a Sensor Factory sensor to any suitable device in PRTG, for example, the local probe device.
  2. Define the channels. You can create up to 50 channels in one Sensor Factor sensor—we do not recommend more because of performance considerations.
    Note: It is not possible to create a Sensor Factory for other Sensor Factory sensors. If you need data from more channels, you can create several Sensor Factory sensors and combine them by using the Sensor Status sensor (PRTG Tools Family).
  • The basic syntax for several channel definitions in one Sensor Factory sensor is
#<1st_channel_id_in_sensor_factory>:<name> [unit]
#<2nd_channel_id_in_sensor_factory>:<name> [unit]
#<nth_channel_id_in_sensor_factory>:<name> [unit]
  • For a basic Sensor Factory sensor, it is sufficient to provide only the “address” of channels (that is, without value calculations), so the <formula> tag would have a syntax like channel(sensor_id,channel_id)
  • Put all sensor and channel IDs together to create channels in the Sensor Factory sensor as indicated in the previous step, each channel definition in a new line. See the PRTG Manual: Sensor Factory Sensor for details.

Sensor Factory Channel Definition
Click to enlarge.

Note: The [unit] is optional (you can define any string), and you can use any text for channel names.

Now that you have identified which sensors and which of their channels are important for monitoring the email process status and provided them for the Sensor Factory sensor, you can specify when the sensor will show a Warning or Down status.

Step 3: Error handling

The easiest way to define a Down (or Warning) status is to use the predefined options. When at least one source sensor (the sensors whose channels you use in the Sensor Factory sensor) is Down, your “Email Process” (Sensor Factory) sensor will show a Down status (or a Warning status respectively). Depending on the channels you created, that is, only the essential channels for the process functionality, this option would be fine.

Sensor Factory Error Handling
Click here to enlarge.

Optional: Detailed error definitions

Optionally, you can define a Down status more precisely. For this purpose, use the Status Definition field of the Sensor Factory Specific Settings. For example, it will be okay for the “public” status if at least one of the mailbox sensors works fine (that is, either the POP3 or the IMAP mailbox is reachable). You can achieve this with the status() function of PRTG and Boolean expressions. The status() function only needs a sensor ID to get the status of a sensor.

The following expression defines that the Sensor Factory sensor will only show a Down status if both sensors are in a Down status: status(2760) AND status(3684)

Basically, the Boolean AND means that all sensor states that are connected have to be in a Down status to set the Sensor Factory sensor to a Down status. The status(<sensorID>) function determines the status of the sensor whose ID you provide as parameter and is resolved to true if the sensor status is Down. You can also use the logical OR and NOT.

Sensor Factory Status Definition
Click to enlarge.

For more details about how to use the status() function, see the PRTG manual: Sensor Factory Sensor.

Step 4: Show the email status to your staff, management, and other departments

You have defined sensors, channels, and error handling for your email process to get an overview of its condition in only three steps. Now you want to make this status public to concerned persons, for example, directly show them the green gauge of your created Sensor Factory sensor with the sensor message Email Process OK on the dashboards in your office.

Status Icons Sensor Factory

You can achieve this with PRTG Maps. Just open a new or already existing map with the Map Designer and add the Status Icon for your email Sensor Factory sensor. Then publish your map.

Now you can view and show an overall status that indicates if all elements of the business process “Email” are up and running.

  • Green: Everybody, including non-technical staff, knows that the email system is working properly.
  • Yellow: There might be delays in the email system but it is still working.
  • Red: There are currently issues with the email system, no need to tell the administrator that no emails are coming in. They already know it because of the big red icon on the wall.


Created on Jun 25, 2014 12:21:59 PM by  Gerald Schoch [Paessler Support]

Last change on Dec 10, 2020 10:39:39 AM by  Brandy Greger [Paessler Support]

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Disclaimer: The information in the Paessler Knowledge Base comes without warranty of any kind. Use at your own risk. Before applying any instructions please exercise proper system administrator housekeeping. You must make sure that a proper backup of all your data is available.