Problem Solving skills!

I could do it! I love the feeling of accomplishment after solving a problem by myself! My boss’s comment makes it even more exciting for me: That was not easy to solve! I am impressed!

So what was the problem? In our site, we have an application called Alarm and Event Analysis which is a part of a suite called Advanced Alarm Management. This application is used to generate reports on the bad actors in our site, the number of generated alarms in the control room, their average, etc.

This application also has the option of emailing the reports it generates. Initially we didn’t have this option configured. As I basically have the ownership of this machine, I decided to activate this option, to automate generating and sending a specific report to my boss’s boss! This may seem to be an easy problem to solve in the beginning … so you go and change some configurations to activate this option. This could be true on a normal environment, but when it comes to machines used in production world this is not just about setting up the application. There are firewalls which need to be configured between different networks, etc.

I started by reading the manual of the AEA. I have to confess that this was the most unfavourable part of the job! I was lucky enough that I had the PDF files, so I used the find command to look for keywords such as SMTP, Email, etc.

After reading the manual, as it was instructed, I installed the required windows component, and set up the IP address of the SMTP server in the application. Then I contacted the Client Support Center and asked them to open a ticket to configure the firewall to let the traffic pass from our server to the SMTP server through port 25.

Also the person who was working on the firewall change, contacted the server team and asked them to add the IP address of my machine to their SMTP configurations ..

Everything was done, but guess what?! The email would not be sent! I called Honeywell, to review what I have done, to make sure I have taken the right steps in the installation and configuration of the application. The person from Honeywell guided me to the events summary for this application which showed that the report gets generated but the target server refuses the connection on port 25. It was time to conference call the IT and server team, I was tired of them passing the ball into each others’ field. After a conference call, the conclusion was that the target server is configured correctly and was suggested that the problem is the Firewall configurations.

After many calls between IT and me, and asking my boss to join us, we found out that, the traffic doesn’t reach the firewall at all. This would happen just on port 25!!! My boss suggested that maybe the windows firewall is blocking the traffic? Of course disabling the windows firewall didn’t help. I could not even telnet a server on the same domain on port 25.

Eventually, I decided to do a google on: SMTP server gets blocked on port 25. bang! I found a person with the same problem for another application! Guess what?! It was one of the protective rules of McAfee which would block any application from sending emails through port 25, except the excluded ones …

I think my team and I had an awesome systematic approach to solve this problem! I consider it a success!

Final email sent on this:

I could narrow down the problem to McAfee 8.8 blocking port 25.

On the AEA server, you have to go to McAfee console, right click on Access Protection, Go to properties, Antivirus Standard Protection, Prevent mass malign worms from sending Emails. This is the rule that blocks port 25.

You have to exclude AEAReportLauncher.exe from this rule.

Everything seems to be working now!