EMS add-on tool generates graphical Exchange Server 2007 reports

Use the Power Gadgets add-on tool for Exchange Management Shell (EMS) to collect Exchange Server 2007 data and display it in graphical reports.

Although you can generate HTML reports in the Exchange Management Shell (EMS) to display Exchange Server 2007 data, such as mailbox usage, EMS cannot natively create charts. Using Power Gadgets, an inexpensive, third-party, add-on tool for Exchange Server, you can create charts and other graphics and add them to Exchange Server 2007 reports.

Power Gadgets is not an Exchange Server-specific product. It's is an add-on for Microsoft Windows PowerShell, on which the EMS was built. This can be problematic.

When you install Power Gadgets, it creates a special version of Windows PowerShell, which allows the use of commands specific to the add-on tool. This means that Power Gadget-specific commands aren't available through the Exchange Management Shell. There is, however, a workaround.

After installing Power Gadgets, open the Exchange Management Shell and enter the following command:

Add-pssnapin PowerGadgets

Executing this command makes Power Gadgets available through the Exchange Management Shell. So, how does the EMS interact with the tool? Power Gadgets adds three different commands to the Windows PowerShell: Out-Chart, Out-Gauge and Out-Map.

  • The Out-Chart command will probably be used most frequently in an Exchange Server environment. It allows you to create charts based on the data extracted from Exchange.
  • The Out-Gauge command allows you to plot the value of a single variable onto a dashboard-style gauge.
  • The Out-Map command allows you to plot geographical business data onto a map.

The syntax for creating a simple HTML report in the Exchange 2007 EMS is:

Get-MailboxStatistics | Select DisplayName, ItemCount | Sort ItemCount

When working with the Exchange Management Shell, anytime a command contains the pipe symbol (|), it means that you're taking output from one command and feeding it into a second command. Therefore, we can add a | to the end of the above command, and append the Out-Chart command.

We could use the Out-Chart command by itself, but there are some additional parameters that we can supply to make the chart look nicer. For example, the –Titles parameter allows you to specify a title for the chart. You will also recall that we have extracted two different pieces of information for each mailbox; the item count and the display name.

More on using the Exchange Management Shell (EMS):
A primer on the Exchange Management Shell (EMS)

We can tell Power Gadgets to use the item count as the value that is being charted by using the –Values ItemCount parameter. We can also use the display name as a label for the data that is being charted by using the –Label DisplayName parameter. The full command looks like this:

Get-MailboxStatistics | Select DisplayName, ItemCount | Sort ItemCount | Out-Chart –Title 'Total Items in Mailbox' –Values ItemCount –Label DisplayName

Figure 1 shows what the command looks like, and shows the command that was used to import the Power Gadgets into the Exchange Management Shell. The resulting chart is shown in Figure 2.

Out-Chart command in the Exchange Management Shell
Figure 1. Use the Out-Chart command in the Exchange Management Shell.

report generated by Out-Chart command in the Exchange Management Shell
Figure 2. A basic Power Gadgets chart in Exchange Server 2007.

Keep in mind: Power Gadgets is very flexible; this only shows a small sample of what it can do. All Power Gadgets charts are fully customizable. The syntax of the Out-Chart command also extends beyond what has been covered in this article. Power Gadgets licenses are $99 per seat.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, has previously received Microsoft's MVP award for Microsoft Exchange, Windows Server and Internet Information Server (IIS). He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal website at www.brienposey.com.

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This was first published in July 2008

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