Tony Redmond's Exchange Unwashed Blog

Dec 13, 2012
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Outlook and Office 365: Where do SendAs items go? 5

Exchange allows users to assign delegate access to other people to send messages on their behalf. In an on-premises deployment you can use the Exchange Management Console (EMC) or run the Add-AdPermission cmdlet in the Exchange Management Shell (EMS) to set up the necessary permission. For example, we could run the following command to allow Tony Redmond to send messages on behalf of Deirdre Redmond: Add-AdPermission –Identity "’Deirdre Redmond’ –User ‘Tony Redmond’ –ExtendedRights ‘Send As’ Of course, you might have guessed that Add-AdPermission adds Active Directory permissions to an account, which is what you’d expect as Exchange uses Active Directory permissions behind the scenes to ensure that users can do what they should. But Office 365 doesn’t use Active Directory permissions and therefore a different approach is necessary, which is why Microsoft provides the Add-RecipientPermission cmdlet instead. To delegate SendAs permission for a mailbox we need to run PowerShell, connect to Office 365, and run a slightly different command. Add-RecipientPermission –Identity '’Deirdre Redmond’ –AccessRights SendAs –Trustee ‘Tony Redmond’ So good so far… but then you might just have noticed that my PowerShell screen shot reveals that I also ran the Add-MailboxPermission cmdlet to assign full access to the mailbox (the Add-MailboxPermission cmdlet is available for both on-premises Exchange and Office 365). This is because having the delegated access to send messages on behalf of another user doesn’t provide any ability to access that user’s mailbox. Exchange quite rightly separates the two abilities so as to provide granular control over the access that someone might be assigned to a mailbox. However, in practical terms it’s often necessary for someone such as a administrative assistant to have full access to another person’s mailbox and as we’ll see, that ability also affects where “sent as” messages end up. If you make a mistake and need to remove full access,...More
Dec 11, 2012
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Will Exchange fix ActiveSync to make sure that iOS mail cannot screw up calendars

Even with Apple’s best attempts to fix its malfunctioning email client in iOS 6.0.1 so that meetings scheduled in Exchange calendars aren’t “hijacked” and cancelled, the word I hear coming out of Redmond is that the folks in Cupertino still can’t quite understand that ActiveSync clients should not update the organizer field for a meeting. Evidence of strong feelings from Microsoft employees who have been affected by the bug come from a number of meetings involving literally hundreds of people that have been cancelled, simply because one of the potential attendees received a meeting request and then decided not to go, not realizing that iOS6 would go ahead and cancel the entire event. This resulted in everyone on a very large attendance list being spammed with a cancellation notice, which then led to the meeting being removed from their devices, in turn generating a further flood of cancellation notices. Clearly this kind of behaviour does not create a good user experience. Of course, you might wonder why quite so many Microsoft employees roam the Redmond campus equipped with Apple devices rather than showing allegiance to the wonders of Windows Phone, but let’s say that they’re doing in-depth hands-on competitive analysis for now. What’s clear though is that the problems created by the iOS bugs have affected Microsoft and that this has now gotten the attention of some relatively senior individuals, who have made their feelings clear to the Exchange development group that enough is enough and that steps should be put in place to stop badly-written ActiveSync clients screwing up user calendars, which is essentially what iOS is doing. I’ve been looking for Microsoft to take a more assertive role in dealing with ActiveSync licensees for a while now, so I’m happy that “something will be done” to stop clients messing with data when they should not. The problem Microsoft faces is that the profusion of ActiveSync clients means that cannot realistically ask ActiveSync l...More
Dec 6, 2012
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4 Points to Ponder About Outlook Web App 2013 Offline Access 1

What should we make of the introduction of offline mode for Outlook Web App 2013? Will it be useful in practice or is it simply another example of a “me too” feature included to keep Exchange’s browser client competitive with Gmail Offline, the equivalent feature offered by Exchange’s major opponent, Gmail. Exchange could be regarded as being a little late to the offline party as Gmail has had offline capability since November 2011. Right now it’s a little early to say because few people are using OWA 2013 in anger. Things will only really begin to clarify when companies start to deploy Exchange 2013 next year, soon after the release of the interoperability bits necessary to allow Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010 to co-exist alongside the new kid on the block. For now we can only make an initial assessment based on testing and the information released by Microsoft such as the informative post on the EHLO blog. With that in mind, let’s consider some of the most important aspects of OWA offline. First, the capability is built on top of industry standards and isn’t something invented by Microsoft. As I noted in a post last April, the W3C “IndexedDB” API is key to OWA Offline. This industry effort has contributions from Microsoft alongside Mozilla and Google to set out methods for the storage that browsers can use to cache data offline, similar in a simpler respect to the way that Outlook caches replicas of mailbox data in its offline storage file (OST)....More
Dec 4, 2012
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Exchange 2013 reaches general availability 2

I’m sure by now that you’ll all have read the EHLO post announcing that Exchange 2013 has reached the point on its journey where it is now “generally available” (GA). In other words, the code is available for download on TechNet and should be easy to get hold of through other channels, such as local distributors. Reaching GA used to be an extremely important point in a product’s lifecycle. However, given that we live in a world where downloads are the usual way to get software, it’s less important now than it was when you had to wait for DVDs, or even worse, floppy disks, to be physically available. I still have the set of six disks used to distribute Word 6.0, kept perhaps to remind me that activities such as software procurement and testing are a lot easier now. Now that Exchange 2013 is “out in the wild”, I imagine that there will be an uptick in test activity as people install and play with the new software and figure out whether issues such as the reduction in the number of databases that a server can mount are important to you. Of course, it’s all testing at this stage unless you’re one of the rare beasts that have a greenfield deployment, in which case you don’t care that Exchange 2010 SP3 is not yet available to allow that version of Exchange to interoperate with its new sibling. Nor will you care that there’s no word on exactly what will be required to run Exchange 2013 alongside Exchange 2007. Microsoft says that all will be revealed in early 2013 so we shall just have to wait for the required bits to find their way to a download server near you around that time. But on the topic of greenfield deployments, it’s becoming harder to find such a situation. A number of reasons stand out as to why this should be. First, Exchange is the big player in the corporate email market and there cannot be too many large companies at this point who have not at least some experience of Exchange. Migrations from the likes of Lotus Notes and Novell GroupWise are less freq...More
Nov 29, 2012
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Visio stencils released but no news of Exchange 2010 SP2 RU5 or TechNet updates

On the good news front this week, Microsoft released the Visio stencils for Exchange 2013, SharePoint 2013 and Lync 2013. I’m somewhat amazed how many people use the “official” Exchange stencils with Visio to prepare documentation, but I can certainly understand how useful it is to have a full set of icons to use in diagrams and presentations, especially when you want to capture some of the look and feel of Microsoft’s documentation. In other not-so-good news, an updated version of Exchange 2010 SP2 RU5 has not appeared after its initial release on November 13 ran into choppy waters when some customers discovered a bug that affected Database Availability Groups after they applied the update. Whereas it’s great that the bug was found, the fact that it existed underlines the recommendation that you should never apply a roll-up update on a production server without testing it thoroughly first. Apart from acknowledging that a bug is present, there’s no word from Redmond as to what’s being done to fix the problem and get RU5 out the door again. I suspect that all heads are down trying to get Exchange 2010 SP3 released by the committed date of “early 2013” so that customers can begin the process of deploying Exchange 2013 into existing organizations. Then again, it might just be the case that the bug has proved to be trickier to fix and verify than first anticipated and that we’ll see RU5 appear in the near future. Time will tell. Microsoft is also very quiet on the topic of what they are going to do to heal the self-inflicted wound caused when they switched Exchange 2013 content into prime position on TechNet. The position taken is that they’ve heard the customer reaction and understand the difficulties that the switch has created for bloggers and others who reference TechNet, but haven’t yet said what course they will take. If I was a cynic, I’d say that the Exchange documentation team is sitting tight and waiting for the storm to pass. I hope that I’m wrong. Th...More
Nov 27, 2012
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Exchange 2013 DAGs, Windows 2012, and the CNO 2

All DAGs are built on top of Windows Failover Clusters. All Windows Failover Clusters use a Cluster Name Object (CNO), an Active Directory computer object that essentially gives the cluster (and therefore the DAG) its identity. The CNO is also used for all communications within the cluster. You don’t have to know anything about the CNO to work with the DAG as this object is used for internal purposes within the cluster. However, you do have to create the CNO manually before you add any mailbox servers to the DAG if the servers run Windows 2012. This isn’t the case when you work with Windows 2008 R2 SP1 as Exchange is able to create the CNO when it builds out the DAG – or when you use Exchange 2010 to create a DAG on Windows 2008 SP2 or Windows 2008 R2. However, Windows 2012 made a change that restricts the creation of computer accounts that had an unfortunate knock-on effect of stopping Exchange 2013 being able to create the CNO, hence the need to pre-stage a CNO before you proceed to build the DAG. Quite a few people who are playing with Exchange 2013 (sorry, the professional words that I should use are “testing”, “assessing”, or “validating”) have run into the problem and discovered that things don’t go quite as smoothly as expected when they attempt to create an Exchange 2013 DAG. The steps to pre-stage a CNO for a DAG are straightforward. Here’s what you need to do: 1. Use the Active Directory Users and Computers console to create a new computer object in the desired organizational unit (OU). Often this will be the default “Computers” OU that is present in every Active Directory, but there is nothing to prevent you using a different OU, such as a new OU called “Exchange DAGs”. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/324949 provides guidance on how to redirect the default creation of computer accounts in Active Directory. 2. The name assigned to the CNO will be the name of the DAG. Do not use a name such as “Exchange” or “Email” as the potential exists that these...More
Nov 22, 2012
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Exchange 2013 and TMG explained

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! While you’re all tucking into turkey, the rest of us are sweating over hot keyboards (memo to self, time to look into laptop’s cooling capabilities) and interpreting the latest missive emitting from the EHLO blog. In this case, the ever-erudite Greg Taylor goes into print to explain how to publish Exchange 2013 to the Internet using TMG. The subject matter might strike you as strange, given that Microsoft announced their intention of discontinuing TMG alongside their other on-premises security products in September. Why therefore bother to go to the trouble of documenting how to use a soon-to-cease product (licenses still available until December 2012) alongside the brand-new-and-sparkling Exchange 2013 (which can’t be really deployed yet)? In fact, the Exchange team, in particular Greg Taylor, is simply repeating the advice given at MEC when he pointed out that: a) TMG is very popular in the Exchange community where it is extensively used as a reverse proxy b) Microsoft won’t stop mainline support for TMG until April 2015 c) Why worry, be happy, and something will come along that’s much better than TMG by then QED. Or for those who weren’t forced to ingest Latin at school, something that needed to be demonstrated, in this case the wisdom of continuing to use TMG. And that’s exactly what Greg shows as he explains the publishing rules that are necessary to make the wonders of Exchange 2013 available to the Internet. But there’s more. Buried in the text are two interesting discussions about new aspects of Exchange 2013. The first is the cloud app model, something that I know you’re all waiting to use as the prospect of being able to consult Bing Maps to find out where the sender of a message is located will bring joy to many. Or so the folks who demo the feature tell us. Greg says that the apps are cool and that’s good enough for me, but I do have a nagging doubt that Bing Maps will be able to cope with the more r...More
Nov 20, 2012
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Microsoft Office Filter Pack 2013 now available, but it's not needed by Exchange 2013

If you’re running Exchange 2010, you might have seen the recent announcement that Microsoft Office Filter Pack 2013 is now available for download and wondered whether you need to do anything. After all, Exchange 2010 requires that you install the Microsoft Office Filter pack on both hub transport and mailbox servers. The iFilters in the filter pack allow the Exchange search service to index the content of items in common Office formats (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and so on) found in user mailboxes. Exchange’s transport system also uses the iFilters to examine attachments when transport rules exist that act on attachments. Companies also install third-party iFilters to allow Exchange to process other common file formats that aren’t in the Office Filter Pack, such as Adobe’s PDF format. Up to now, Exchange 2010 hub transport and mailbox servers have required the installation of Microsoft Office Filter Pack 2010 (original version plus SP1), so the question is whether you need to move up to the new version. The answer so far is “no” as the Office 2010 Filter Pack is quite sufficient and no major format changes were made between Office 2010 and Office 2013. Out of the box, Exchange 2013 poses a different question because it uses the Search Foundation for content indexing and the Search Foundation is able to process standard Office file formats as well as some other third-party formats such as Adobe PDF without the need to install any iFilters. Therefore, you do not need to install the Office Filter pack on servers before you install Exchange 2013. However, the current version of the Exchange 2013 Setup program will protest if it finds that the Filter Pack is not installed on any server that hosts the mailbox role. You could ignore the squawks of protest from Setup (I did), but a lingering doubt might then exist that something else would be broken, so if you want to calm your nerves, go ahead and install the Filter Pack on the basis of  "if in doubt, best in...More
Nov 16, 2012
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Two PR disasters for the Exchange team in a week. Not good

Anyone who attended the recent Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) in Florida would agree that Microsoft did an excellent job of energizing the installed base with a mixture of news about new products (Exchange 2013 and the other elements of Office 15), engineering engagement, and good old-fashioned marketing. In short, MEC was a PR victory. Since then the PR has been spotty. Good news about Exchange 2013 reaching RTM, some disappointment that the bits necessary to deploy alongside Exchange 2010 wouldn’t be available until early 2013. But nothing that caused major problems. Until now. This week the Exchange team managed to shoot themselves in the foot. Not once. Twice. First, they posted a note on the well-loved EHLO blog to inform everyone that Microsoft had taken the decision to update all of the TechNet URLs that refer to Exchange to point to Exchange 2013. This remarkable service to mankind was motivated purely and simply through a desire to serve, and not at all in an indecent haste to stuff Exchange 2013 information down the throats of all who come seeking for knowledge. Microsoft uses “versionless” URLs to point to Exchange material and they have changed the URLs in the past as Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010 appeared, so this could simply be a case of business as normal – and you can easily understand how this would be a good thing to do at the right time. The timing was horrible. It’s not sensible to make the switch to give priority to information about software that hardly anyone can deploy, even if they wanted to. In addition, the phrasing of the communication was all wrong. It came across as all about Microsoft internal processes rather than the way a good PR person might have communicated the news – as making it easier for people to find information about all versions of Exchange by explaining how Microsoft organizes the information, etc. etc. The first point about not being the right time to switch still holds, but at least people might not have...More
Nov 15, 2012
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Not a good week for Exchange Online 1

It hasn’t been a good week for Exchange Online. The team running “the service” has done pretty well since the flurry of problems that emerged following the formal launch of Office 365 last year and the uptime performance for Exchange Online has run neck-and-neck with Gmail in the race to prove that they can deliver the best overall SLA. I haven’t seen recent data since Google claimed a 99.99%+ SLA for Gmail last year, but what’s sure now is that the recent outages have wrecked any chance that Microsoft has of claiming a 99.9% SLA for Exchange Online in 2012. The total allowed to meet 99.9% is 525 minutes annually (8 hours 45 minutes) and according to Corporate VP Rajesh Jha’s apology to customers, the outage on Tuesday, November 8 lasted 8 hours and a minute while the outage on November 13 lasted 5 hours and 2 minutes. A total of 13 hours and 3 minutes is not what the corporate scorecard required. Great fun can be had with any statistics and I’m sure that arguments will be made that the SLA for Exchange Online isn’t really that bad because not every user of the service was affected. There’s some truth in this claim. I use Exchange Online to host my email domain and totally missed the outage because my email is hosted in Microsoft datacenters in EMEA that didn’t experience the same problems. Thus, so far I  have enjoyed an Exchange Online SLA of 100% for 2012 while North American and South American customers might not use the word “enjoy” after the last week. It’s also fair to say that even in the affected geographies some customers continued to use the service without a problem. Not everyone is treated equally when a cloud drips some rain. Quite how the math wizards will determine lost minutes and the effect on the reported SLA is beyond the simple brain of someone like me. In any case, any discussion about the SLA delivered by a cloud service has to be framed in the context of whether an internal IT department could do any better. My theory is that most...More
Nov 13, 2012
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Exchange TechNet update unwelcome and unwanted 1

Looking at the outcome of some decisions, you’d wonder whether the folks who made them are affected by the foods or drink they imbibe. This thought came into my mind with the juxtaposition of the recent vote to approve marijuana in the state of Washington and Microsoft’s announcement of November 8 that they had revamped the URLs used for Exchange Server documentation in TechNet. This isn’t to say that the Exchange documentation team have any interest in mind-altering substances. I think this unlikely as their recent work to reveal the inner workings of Exchange has been very good indeed. However, the IT community has long been devoted to the influences of other substances – coffee, carbonated drinks, too much chocolate, and now caffeinated-sweetened drinks – so perhaps something was at play when the decision was made. The announcement proudly stated that: “Starting today, if you've bookmarked an Exchange 2010 article in the library (for example, http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb124558.aspx), it'll take you to the Exchange 2013 version of the article.” On the surface, there’s not much you can complain about here. The Microsoft team has made sure that you get the latest possible information if you go looking for something related to Exchange. And, as they go on to say: “… if an Exchange 2013 version of the article does not exist, the URL will still take you to the Exchange 2010 version.” All looks good until you start to consider what might flow as a consequence. Consider the folks who aren’t employed by Microsoft and write about their technology. Like me, for instance. We don’t have the resources necessary to go through previous blog posts and articles to check that any embedded URL that points to TechNet content is still valid. Could it be that Microsoft has nullified the complete body of Exchange blogging at one stroke? Not really, because the URLs still bring you to valuable content, but readers have to be more aware about what the material that...More
Nov 8, 2012
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Migrating an Exchange 2010 DAG to Exchange 2013 1

Microsoft won’t release Exchange 2010 SP3, the version necessary to interoperate with Exchange 2013, until sometime in early 2013, no one has yet run into the issue of what to do to upgrade an Exchange 2010 Database Availability Group (DAG) to Exchange 2013. This will be a pretty fundamental operation for anyone interested in Exchange high availability, so it’s a good time to start planning – or at least thinking about the topic. The big issue that you run into is that you cannot run mixed operating systems within a DAG, nor can you run mixed versions of Exchange. Therefore you can’t simply introduce an Exchange 2013 mailbox server into a DAG that is currently based on Exchange 2010. Or you can’t upgrade the underlying O/S from Windows 2008 R2 to Windows 2012. Nothing in life is as simple as it might seen. Given that Exchange likes to have its DAGs composed of member servers all running the same software, the approach that must be taken is to build a new DAG based on Exchange 2013 and then migrate mailboxes to the new Exchange 2013 DAG once it is fully operational. A general outline of what needs to be done is as follows: Create the new Exchange 2013 DAG and add Exchange 2013 mailbox servers to the DAG. Create mailbox database copies within the Exchange 2013 DAG as required. Move mailboxes from databases in the Exchange 2010 DAG to the Exchange 2013 DAG. As mailboxes are drained from Exchange 2010 databases and the databases empty, remove these databases and their copies from the Exchange 2010 DAG. As the workload reduces in the Exchange 2010 DAG, you can consolidate it on a smaller number of members and remove the Exchange 2010 DAG members that are no longer required. After removing a mailbox server from the Exchange 2010 DAG, you can run Setup to deinstall Exchange 2010 and remove the server from the organization. After all mailboxes have been migrated to the Exchange 2013 DAG, you remove the last remaining mailbox server from the DAG and...More
Nov 6, 2012
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Outlook's missing picture compression feature 3

It seems so long ago now, but when Outlook 2003 and Exchange 2003 combined to introduce “cached Exchange mode”, the new capability fundamentally influenced the way people could work with Outlook by insulating the client from the vagaries of network connections. Sure, it didn’t make a lot of difference when you had a nice solid Ethernet connection, but suddenly working on a flaky dial-up link (for those who remember such things) or even Wi-Fi suddenly became a lot easier. I don’t think it is stressing the point too much to say that without cached Exchange mode, it would be impossible to work with a cloud-based solution such as Exchange Online. Reliable as the Internet is today (in relative terms), there are still too many hiccups, drops, and other unexplained connectivity drops to allow work to proceed smoothly. Outlook 2003 introduced many other interesting features that I have grown to appreciate over time. For example, drizzle mode synchronization makes it possible for Outlook to keep a complete mailbox synchronized without affecting the responsiveness of the client to user input. And Outlook 2003 was the first client to support RPC-over-HTTP, the basis of Outlook Anywhere (OA). For those who haven’t heard, Exchange 2013 makes OA the only method that Outlook clients can connect to Exchange as RPC/TCP “direct MAPI” connectivity has been removed in Microsoft’s drive to simplify the server. Of course, Outlook 2003 isn’t supported by Exchange 2013 at all....More
Nov 2, 2012
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Apple releases iOS 6.0.1 to fix Exchange meeting bug

Buried at the bottom of the list of bug fixes in iOS 6.0.1 released by Apple on November 1 is the bullet saying “fixes a big affecting Exchange meetings”. I take this to mean that Apple has decided that their Mail application can’t hijack meeting requests and update the meeting organizer with the name of a device’s owner. I’m sure this development will be welcome by all and sundry. I’ve mentioned the hijacking problem before and concluded that, although Apple is obviously to blame because the reason why the problem exists is the way that their Mail application has implemented the ActiveSync protocol, it still seems that Microsoft should take a more active (no pun intended) stance on the many varied ways that ActiveSync licensees use (or abuse) the protocol. There’s no consistency across the range of ActiveSync clients from Windows Phone to Android to iPhone and all points in between. You can accept that the user interfaces will differ – in some cases radically – but it would be nice if consistency existed in actually sending and receiving messages, including calendar meetings. I’ve been told that Microsoft actively engages with ActiveSync licensees to help them to build better clients. I’m sure that this is the case and that in-depth technical debates rage over the connections between the different companies. It’s just a pity that the outcome has been less than perfect when code reaches the hands of end users, especially when it seems that bugs like the meeting hijack have been around for several versions of a licensee’s operating system. Maybe licensees just don’t listen or perhaps Microsoft isn’t emphatic enough. But enough of the doom and gloom. The bug is fixes and meeting organizers can sleep safely in their beds. Better news came when Microsoft released the evaluation edition of Exchange 2013 for download. Even if you’re not a TechNet or MSDN subscriber, you can now download the software for test purposes. Curiously, Bing wasn’t able to locate the page when...More
Nov 1, 2012
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Using Exchange Standard or Enterprise Edition to Build a DAG

A recent discussion amongst some Exchange MVPs asked whether it was a good idea to implement a Database Availability Group (DAG) using the standard edition of Exchange 2010. Although this is obviously possible because Exchange 2010 does not require the enterprise edition to form a DAG, I’m not sure that this is a good route to take. In passing, you do need the enterprise edition of Windows 2008 R2 to be able to use Windows Failover Clustering, the fundamental underpinning of the DAG. Companies do need to keep an eye on cash spent on IT and a natural tendency exists to restrict spending whenever it’s not absolutely necessary. A DAG built on the standard edition of Exchange 2010 can support five mounted databases on each server (mailbox and public folder databases count against the limit). Given sufficient DAG members to support three copies of each database (two copies deliver reasonable redundancy; three provide a warm feeling), it’s therefore reasonable to avoid the higher software license fees required for Exchange 2010 enterprise edition and go ahead with the standard edition. I agree with this stance up to a point. A small DAG (say, three mailbox servers) can certainly deliver good redundancy at an excellent price point, especially if you deploy JBOD-style storage. But then I start to think about why the DAG exists. A DAG is there to deliver highly available mailboxes, pure and simple....More
Oct 30, 2012
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Exchange 2013 reduces number of mounted databases to 50 2

I must have been asleep during Ross Smith IV’s Technical Keynote at the Microsoft Exchange Conference when the topic was apparently covered, but I certainly wasn’t asleep when Greg Taylor mentioned the fact that Exchange 2013 Enterprise Edition reduces the number of databases that can be mounted on a mailbox server from 100 to 50. Exchange 2013 Standard Edition maintains its ability to mount up to five databases. Cutting the number of mountable databases in half is clearly a pretty fundamental change that will affect the way in which some organizations have deployed Database Availability Groups (DAGs). For example, if you depend on mounting 60 or 70 databases on each DAG member in order to have three or four copies of each database, then your plans will have to change for Exchange 2013. But why has Microsoft taken such a step? On the surface, it would seem that this hamstrings the DAG a tad, but when you poke at the topic further you find that some reasonable logic has driven the decision. Although they share many aspects of the product architecture, Exchange 2013 is different to Exchange 2010. Take search for instance. Exchange 2010 uses the MSSearch component to create the content indexes of mailbox databases. Exchange 2013 uses the Search Foundation instead in order to share a common search infrastructure with other products, SharePoint being the most important because of the need to provide discovery searches across email and documents....More
Oct 25, 2012
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The Emerging Need for More Supervision Over ActiveSync Implementations

I've mentioned the current set of ActiveSync problems experienced by Apple users a couple of times recently, including in a post last Wednesday and previously on October 9. The current stance of the Exchange development group is explained in their October 23 blog post and contains some interesting suggestions that will go down like a lead balloon with some users. For example, telling administrators to block iOS6 devices is absolutely possible, but explaining that Exchange includes this wonderful feature will be a hard sell to users. Or telling people not to mess with meetings or not to upgrade their devices when prompted by iTunes, switch to an IMAP4 client, or use Outlook Web App for now. All perfectly reasonable options in the eyes of those who don't use an iOS device while not being totally practical in the real world of dealing with users. In fact, the best advice is the last option - to wait until the mess is sorted out. The EHLO post hints that Apple is responsible without really saying that this is the case. I think that Apple certainly has to take action by adjusting some misbehaving iOS code to fix the "meeting hi-jack" problem (according to some reports, the fix is in iOS 6.01). However, it's also interesting to discover that some evidence is now emerging that Microsoft might also have to look at the way Exchange processes requests sent by ActiveSync clients. According to "The Unofficial Apple Weblog", the hijacked meeting problem is pretty old....More
Oct 24, 2012
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Exchange 2013 and Office 2013 Professional Plus available for download 1

If you're a TechNet subscriber, you can now download the RTM version of Exchange 2013 and Office 2013 Professional Plus, the version that contains the version of Outlook 2013 that exposes all of Exchange 2013's features. Microsoft released the code earlier today. Of course, there's lots of work to be done to prepare for the deployment of these products and some companies won't even touch the RTM bits as they will consider that waiting for the first service pack to be a much better plan (see this post for some reasons why companies wait). Even so, it's great that the code is now available to allow testing to begin, including the work that third party software vendors need to do to ensure that their products work well with Exchange 2013. Remember that you need updates for Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2007 to allow these versions to co-exist with Exchange 2013. Microsoft has not released this code yet. Exchange 2010 SP3 is expected in early 2013 and no details are yet available as to what software version is necessary for Exchange 2007. Remember too that you need to update the Active Directory schema to support Exchange 2013...More
Oct 23, 2012
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The road to economic competitiveness - ten years of I/O reduction for Exchange

It’s important not to get too carried away when you listen to the representatives of any company wax lyrical about the wonders of the company’s products. Unless of course you’re a member of a cult, in which case it’s probably a good idea to show an appropriate level of enthusiasm when being briefed about some new development or another. Microsoft holds that the reduction of I/O demanded by Exchange over the last three releases is a very good thing. Indeed, the claim made at the recent Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) is that the reduction is that Exchange 2013 is 99% more efficient than Exchange 2013 is when it comes to I/O operations generated by the Information Store. Many jokes were made that Exchange will soon be in the position that it will soon be giving I/O back to its customers, an odd situation should it ever come about. But as I listened to the claims, a horrible feeling came over me that the achievement of Exchange 2013 is simply a case of Microsoft catching up with Google in terms of operational economics. Let me explain why. When Google launched Gmail on April 1, 2004, they enjoyed the luxury of not having to deal with an installed base. They then took the advantage of being able to continually tweak a product that seemed to be in an almost-perpetual beta before removing the beta label in July 2009 in an attempt to make Gmail more acceptable to businesses. More importantly, Google enjoyed enormous economic advantages from the start by building Gmail...More
Oct 18, 2012
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Coping with Swelling Mailboxes: Why Outlook 2013 Changes Caching

It’s always fun to try and understand the logic followed by developers when they add features to a new version of a well-established product, especially when they change the behaviour of the product. I wrote about the change in OST caching enabled in Outlook 2013 Preview on September 6 and concluded that the way that Outlook 2013 only cached a year’s email by default had the potential to confuse users. People generally don’t like it when email vanishes, even when there’s a good reason why this happens, as in the case when Exchange 2010’s Managed Folder Assistant (MFA) diligently processes mailboxes according to retention policies. The “disappearing mail” syndrome can generate many help desk calls along the line of “I know I had that email yesterday and now it’s gone. Please get it back for me”. Outlook 2013 also changes the internal format of the OST to compress some data fields in an attempt to make the file smaller on-disk. You can’t argue that there is goodness here because large mailboxes lead to larger OSTs and the OST file format has never been the fastest. However, the downside here is the need to recreate OSTs to compress data. Easy enough to do when you have ten or so PCs to upgrade; much harder and demanding of network bandwidth when hundreds of PCs start to run Outlook 2013. Given the obvious problems that can be anticipated when the time comes to deploy the client, why have the Outlook developers decided to change the OST format and the way Outlook caches data...More
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On-premises and cloud-based Microsoft Exchange Server and all the associated technology that runs alongside Microsoft's enterprise messaging server.

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Tony Redmond

Tony Redmond is a senior contributing editor for Windows IT Pro and the author of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Inside Out (Microsoft Press) and Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Inside Out: Mailbox...
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