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Why is the Email Slow?

Level 14

This is a common scenario in most organizations: end-users complaining of slow email performance. Sometimes all users experience it, or just a few people (maybe in a specific location, or just randomly). It could also be a home user connecting via VPN complaining that email Web access is slow. IT teams face different types of email performance issues, which arise due to a variety of reasons, fairly consistently.  At times, slow email is blamed on a slow network, even though the problem could very well be an application issue. So, where is the problem and who should attend to it – network admin or sysadmin? It could be:

  • A network issue that has nothing do to with email application.
  • The email server is experiencing a performance issue.
  • Some other IT infrastructure problem is affecting the email server.

Let us take  Microsoft® Exchange®, for example. Slow email performance does not always have to be associated with a root cause in the network, or the Exchange Server application. It could stem from any of the dependent IT components that support Exchange: the physical server, some OS processes, resource contention for the virtual machine running Exchange Server, or the storage array.

Even within the Exchange Server roles, it is difficult to know if it is a mailbox issue or a failed service in the CAS role issue. With so many possibilities out there, where do you start, and how can you fix the issue fast?

SolarWinds® AppStack™ dashboard and Quality of Experience (QoE) dashboard are helpful tools to quickly isolate the root cause of email performance issues.

  • AppStack is a combination of four SolarWinds products: SAM, WPM, VMan and SRM. An application dependency map presents the data in one view, which allows you to see how various infrastructure entities are connected to one another, from website transactions to applications, databases, physical and virtual servers and storage systems.
  • QoE dashboard is built into SolarWinds SAM. It gives you the ability to analyze network packets and measure network latency and application latency for specific application traffic types. This helps you isolate whether it is a network or an application issue.

The infographic below shows how IT teams can use the AppStack and QoE dashboards to determine the root cause behind slow emails and provide faster resolution.

Download the full infographic at the end of the blog.

Email 1.PNG

Email 2.PNG

Email 3.PNG

Email 4.PNG

To see detailed performance metrics on the AppStack dashboard, simply drill down to the specific application or server node, virtual machine, or storage array/LUN for further analysis and troubleshooting.


  • AppStack is NOT a separate product. It’s available as a built-in dashboard for SAM, WPM, VMan, and SRM. You can benefit from AppStack even when you are using these products individually. But when integrated, the collective insight across all IT layers will simplify IT troubleshooting significantly. Learn more about AppStack »
  • QoE is available as part of SAM and NPM. There is no additional license needed for this. It simply requires installing network and server packet analysis sensors (which are available with SAM/NPM) on your network to scan traffic for specific application types. Learn more about QoE dashboard »

Thanks for posting.  I see this as a good thing for the shops that have all for components to utilize appstack properly.

Yes, I agree. I love the infographic to go along with the write-up. The visualization of the possible causes clearly illuminates the umpteen different pieces that can cause email to go slow.

To further your point... I would NEVER show this to the end user. Making sure all of those umpteen different pieces are working properly is IT's job. To use my favorite and oft-used quote from the, and any, end user: "You make email go now!" Translation - the end user doesn't really care. They just want email* to work.

* feel free to substitute anything for "email". SAP, internet, laptop, smartphone, car, lawnmower, cable TV, downspoutsetc. We are all end users for something.

Level 14

I have been digging into this a lot lately.  There is quite a bit of tuning that needs to be done to get the the proper results.  There is an enormous amount of information being gathered by the underlying products in the AppStack environment.  I like what I am seeing.

Useful InfoGraphic.

Tools are allowing us to do better Fault Domain Isolation and moving away from "It's not working"

Level 14

Useful writeup.

Level 12

Very informative and and nice summation with good links.




Good read and nice graphics. Thanks


biggest complication nowadays when answering this question comes when you're using cloud based email providors

I want the time to install & test this.  I'm sure I could sell at least two IS Teams on it.

Level 14

If you don't already have the AppStack products installed, you can download them as a bundle from here:

Level 17

Very nice Post! We are very slowly getting closer to having all stack layers

I have access to the products, but not the time to work with them.  Need a job?  We're hiring!

Level 14

Nice post

And I always make a point of making sure that the alert trigger time is in the alert mail. I got fed up with mail engineers complaining that their mail system didn't deliver Orion's alert mail to them in a timely way when mail was the culprit. Now we have the alert trigger time and the email transit times.

Level 11

The Appstack really give you insight into the details.

Level 20

I'm getting there... adding SRM and expanding our virtman license will really get us there... the SRM is really the key thing I'm missing though.

Level 20


Level 15


Level 21

ecklerwr1 I would love to hear how SRM works for you.  I have looked at it before but feel I would get more bang for my buck with VMAN first.  Also, which storage vendor(s) do you use?

Level 20

@byrona We have primarily NetApp but also EMC.  It would be great to have that bottom layer of the app stack because with as much virtualization as we have now... I've noticed it's often storage problems that can bring everything grinding to a halt.  Any weakness in storage which houses all your VM's and wow o.O it's an unmitigated disaster!


If you can only get one right now then I think you are probably right with focusing on VMAN first. Even without SRM VMAN gives surprisingly good visibility into the datastores and their performance from the perspective of the virtual infrastructure.  As long as you don't share those storage resources with a lot of nonvirtual servers VMAN will usually get you pretty close to what people want to know, with the added bonus of actually getting all that sweet virtualization infrastructure data.  Then you can make the case for SRM down the line based on the savings your more efficient datacenter netted you

About the Author
Vinod Mohan is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at DataCore Software. He has over a decade of experience in product, technology and solution marketing of IT software and services spanning application performance management, network, systems, virtualization, storage, IT security and IT service management (ITSM). In his current capacity at DataCore, Vinod focuses on communicating the value proposition of software-defined storage to IT teams helping them benefit from infrastructure cost savings, storage efficiency, performance acceleration, and ultimate flexibility for storing and managing data. Prior to DataCore, Vinod held product marketing positions at eG Innovations and SolarWinds, focusing on IT performance monitoring solutions. An avid technology enthusiast, he is a contributing author to many popular sites including APMdigest, VMblog, Cyber Defense Magazine, Citrix Blog, The Hacker News, NetworkDataPedia, IT Briefcase, IT Pro Portal, and more.