Tony Redmond's Exchange Unwashed Blog

Mar 14, 2013
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Why Exchange Online hates journal mailboxes 6

Microsoft positions Office 365 as being capable of servicing the needs of even the largest businesses and offers proof points such as the recent announcement that Microsoft and HP will work together to move 600,000 users of the U.S. Veterans Administration to the cloud. All good stuff and I’m sure that the VA will enjoy using Office 365 over the five-year contract term. But not every customer finds the same joy in Office 365....More
Mar 12, 2013
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EDA, PinPoint DNS, and a chat about Exchange 2013

The release of updates for the Microsoft Exchange Deployment Assistant (EDA) to cater for the latest versions of Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2007 and the changing technical landscape (all explained in the EHLO blog) is very welcome. Generally I am a big fan of anything that helps to guide the deployment of technology in an intelligent manner and it’s good that Microsoft devotes the necessary resources to keep EDA updated....More
Mar 7, 2013
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The Exchange Reports Codeplex Project

I received some interesting comments after writing about the loss of the Messaging Tracking Explorer (MTE) in Exchange 2013. Some people felt that it was absolutely fine to junk MTE as the utility was long since passed its best-sell-by date and PowerShell is much more powerful and flexible when it comes to extracting information from message tracking logs. Others believe that many administrators haven’t quite steeled themselves to mess with PowerShell and will regret the passing of a utility that provides a graphical user interface to following the path of messages as they wend their way through Exchange’s transport system. Both sides are quite correct. Of course, the Get-MessageTrackingLog cmdlet is very powerful and does a great job of extracting information from message tracking logs. In the right hands, Get-MessageTrackingLog is faster and more precise than MTE. But that’s like saying that a violin produces great music, if only you know how to play it. The point being that if you don’t know how to use the Exchange Management Shell (EMS) and are unfamiliar with the way that PowerShell behaves, knowing that the Get-MessageTrackingLog cmdlet exists is not very productive when you have to find out whether a message was processed correctly. Which brings me to Exchange Reports, a Codeplex project dedicated to helping Exchange administrators extract information from various sources more easily than they can through EMS, including the interpretation of message tracking logs. Various other reports are included including distribution groups and mailboxes, all of which are produced rather more easily than if you had to code the PowerShell yourself. I ran the reports against Exchange 2013 on Windows 2012 servers, but it also supports reporting against Exchange 2010 and Exchange Online in Office 365. Of course, other reports exist that can be downloaded to make it easier to manage Exchange servers. My two personal favourites in this respect are Steve Goodman’s Exchange...More
Feb 28, 2013
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The loss of the Message Tracking Log Explorer and the denuded Exchange 2013 Toolbox

The Exchange toolbox has always been a loose collection of utility programs gathered from the highways and byways within Microsoft. Some of the utilities come from the Exchange development group, and some, including the extremely useful Remote Connectivity Analyzer (ExRCA) are developed by people who aren’t part of the product group. It seems like the general rush in Exchange 2013 to drop everything related to the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) framework and embrace the browser paradigm for management in the form of the Exchange Management Center (EAC) has caused a clear-out of the toolbox, which now boasts just three entries (see below) instead of the twelve provided with Exchange 2010. Dropping MMC wherever possible seems like a really good idea, especially in view of the fact that MMC caused some problems for Exchange 2010 SP1 last year. Of course, the move to EAC was well under way by then as it builds on the principles established by the Exchange 2010 Control Panel (ECP) and Exchange 2013 was ramping up for its beta versions and I doubt that anyone in the Exchange team shed any tears at the demise of MMC. It’s understandable that the reason to drop some of the utilities is “progress”. For example, it probably does not make much sense to continue shipping the public folder management console when a) it’s built on MMC and b) Microsoft would really like any of you who use public folders to try their super-duper modern versions, which can be managed through EAC. Of course, during the migration process you can continue to use the public folder management console on an Exchange 2010 server or a workstation where you have installed the Exchange 2010 management tools. Other utilities, such as the RBAC editor and delivery reports (aka message tracking), are now part of EAC. However, one big change – and one that removes quite a lot of value – is that the Message Tracking Log Explorer (MTE) is dropped. I can’t quite think of a good reason why this decision was t...More
Feb 25, 2013
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Next Microsoft Exchange Conference scheduled for April 2014 2

Microsoft sneaked a notice onto the iammec.com site today to reveal that the next Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) will be held in April 2014. The announcement is a “teaser” similar to the way that the last MEC was revealed, with little other detail such as the exact dates or the location being provided. The intention is to inform people that the event is coming so that they can incorporate MEC into travel and training plans for 2014....More
Feb 19, 2013
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Exchange 2010 Datacenter switchover tool

I must have been asleep when Microsoft published the Exchange 2010 datacenter switchover tool last October as I have utterly failed to acknowledge its existence until now. Some have noted that this is not really a tool at all, largely because it has not been created by coding the steps necessary to switchover a Database Availability Group (DAG) across datacenters in some form of computer code and presenting the resulting knowledge as an executable program. The assertion is true, but only if you regard a tool as something that absolutely has to be an executable. I guess this is true, if you assume that tool in this context means a computer utility, but it’s not in the wider context if you regard a tool as something that helps you to do a job more effectively, which is what this tool does. Of course, you might regard PowerPoint as a language. Certainly, there are people who can make PowerPoint do things that I would never dream of, such as the PowerPoint MVPs. So perhaps the datacenter switchover tool, which is provided in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, really is a tool after all. Now that we have battered the semantics of the situation to death, the tool is the result of some pretty impressive work by Tim McMichael, someone who is well known as a true expert in the arcane art of the lesser-known corners of DAGs. Tim has presented at many conferences and his sessions are always content-rich and full of practical knowledge......More
Feb 14, 2013
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Cloud Computing Security Handbook

John Rhoton, someone who has held senior positions for cloud computing at HP and Symantec, has released the “Cloud Computing Protected: Security Assessment Handbook”. Jan De Clercq (who writes frequently about security for WindowsITPro.com) and David Graves also contribute to the book. John’s previous books in the same area are Cloud Computing Explained and Cloud Computing Architected, both of which are good reads for anyone who needs to understand the basic concepts that underpin this mode of computing. Given the rush to embrace the cloud as the preferred platform for a range of applications, it’s a good time to release a book to remind those considering the transition to the cloud that some work is necessary to ensure that data and access remains secure. One aspect of migrating to a multi-tenant cloud platform is that you cede operational control over your data. Consumers have been doing this for a very long time. It’s always interested me that people are quite happy to upload some of their most precious memories to online photo sites like Snapfish.com without any knowledge of who now has access to their photos, where the photos are actually stored, and what the long-term future of the site might be. In effect, consumers transfer control over their data without batting an eyelid. Companies can impose many requirements on cloud vendors before they transfer any data and demand that the cloud vendor demonstrates how access to tenant data is controlled and audited...More
Feb 12, 2013
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Exchange 2010 SP3 is released - almost ready for Exchange 2013 deployments

At last, the chocks have been released and the runway is almost clear for Exchange 2013 deployment. The missing places that have stopped existing customers introducing Exchange 2013 into their environment have been provided with the release of: Exchange 2010 SP3 Exchange 2007 SP3 RU10...More
Feb 12, 2013
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Is Exchange 2013 ready for the datacenter?

It is nice that Computerworld have come to the same conclusion as I did (January 17) when I advised customers to wait for Exchange 2013 SP1 before they deploy. But some of the logic that Computerworld use to support their case is a tad odd or simply not based on hard data....More
Feb 7, 2013
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Apple iOS 6.1 upgrades result in excessive transaction log growth 2

Some forums have started to register problems with excessive growth of transaction logs for databases hosting the mailboxes of iOS devices that have been upgraded to iOS 6.1...More
Feb 7, 2013
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Touchdown—a solution for BYOD email?

Loss of control over the software run to connect to corporate services is just one of the issues for companies that’s exposed by the BYOD craze. Given the range of devices that people use, it’s practically impossible for administrators and help desk personnel to know the details of the applications that connect....More
Feb 5, 2013
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Performance Monitor and Exchange DAG replication queues

When I wrote about how the Exchange 2013 Administration Center (EAC) simplifies the management of Database Availability Groups (DAGs), Scott Schnoll, that well-known and much-travelled evangelist of Exchange high availability, pointed out quite correctly that none of Exchange’s management tools include any business logic whatsoever as all depend on calling whatever Exchange Management Shell (EMS) cmdlet is appropriate to manipulate information an object. This has been the case since Exchange 2007 embraced PowerShell and launched Exchange on the path that it has since followed. Not being picky at all, my sources within the EAC team tell me that they run EMS in a slightly different manner than an administrator does through an EMS window. It’s all to do with the way that browsers send commands to servers. At least, that’s what I remember from a lunch-time conversation at MEC in Orlando. Or maybe I was too concerned with eating to remember accurately. In any case, Scott’s point is well made....More
Feb 1, 2013
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Office 365 outages due to "routine maintenance" 1

I wonder whether the "routine maintenance" issue that affected Office 365 today, including Exchange Online, was a symptom of some of the preparatory work that Microsoft needs to do for the forthcoming migration to the Wave 15 set of products....More
Jan 31, 2013
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Office 365 for Everyone - how nice! 2

The interesting thing about the announcement of Office 365 for everyone, aka the chance to licence up to 5 PCs or Macs for $99/year (U.S. prices – those of us in the rest of the world can expect to see higher prices due to currency conversions and higher tax rates) was the lack of coverage for Office 365 for small businesses or enterprise. But then Steve Ballmer blogged that: “In fact, since we launched Office 365 for businesses only 18 months ago, 1 in 5 of our enterprise customers now has the service, up from 1 in 7 a year ago. Smaller businesses are also choosing Office 365 at a rapid pace, with a 150 percent increase in the number of small and medium-sized businesses using the service over the past 12 months. These businesses will get to enjoy the new Office 365 service for businesses beginning Feb. 27.” So perhaps we can read into this that Office 365 will be upgraded to use the Wave 15 product versions (Exchange 2013, SharePoint 2013, Lync 2013) from February 27? And that maybe Microsoft might release the much-awaited Exchange 2010 SP3 at the same time to allow hybrid customers the opportunity to interact with an upgraded Office 365? We shall have to wait and see. In the interim, two interesting points arise from Ballmer’s quote. First, that 20% of enterprise customers now “has the service”. He doesn’t say “use” the service, so my interpretation is that 20% of Microsoft’s enterprise customers have registered an Office 365 tenant domain....More
Jan 29, 2013
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What happened to Iammec?

The Microsoft folks made a lot of the fun, enjoyment, and enthusiasm that existed at the Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) in Orlando last September. Much of the excitement was due to the return of MEC after a ten-year hiatus, some of it was due to the imminent release of Exchange 2013. Or maybe it was the just the opportunity to dash around Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park running at 2% capacity, enjoying the sight of nerds going wild at the Harry Potter and other rides. For whatever reason, people enjoyed themselves at MEC. Microsoft vowed to keep the excitement going and the community informed through a brand-new web site, www.iammec.com. The site received a good reception when it launched but since then it’s proven to be rather a damp squib. I wonder why… Despite some recent glitches around TechNet content, the Exchange development group generally does a good job of communicating with its community through the EHLO blog, one of the most heavily trafficked blogs at Microsoft. It takes a lot of hard work to keep a blog refreshed, current, and interesting and the team responsible for EHLO excels at providing in-depth coverage of interesting topics. My suspicion is that so much effort goes into EHLO that little is left for Iammec. At least, that’s the impression that’s given. It could also be that some of the community purpose proposed for Iammec was already taken care of by the TechNet forums....More
Jan 24, 2013
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Mark Crispin, father of IMAP, RIP

Mark Crispin, father of the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) died on December 28, 2012. Due to the contribution Crispin made to email interoperability and access, his passing deserves the acknowledgement of the global email community. Although it’s now regarded to be an outdated protocol because it does not support the advanced features of modern email systems, IMAP still has a dedicated band of followers and is used by tens of millions of people daily to fetch email from Gmail, Exchange, Zimbra, and just about every other email server on the face of the planet. The major value of IMAP is its sheer ubiquity, with the golden rule being that if a client can’t access a server using another method, it probably can using IMAP. The world of email was very different when the first versions of IMAP were written at Stanford University in the mid-1980s. The vast majority of mailboxes were served by proprietary systems such as Digital’s ALL-IN-1 or IBM PROFS and the Internet was a loose collection of servers connected with dial-up telephone links. The Post Office Protocol (POP) existed then as it still lingers on today, but only allowed users to download messages from a server. This sufficed in many situations then – servers and clients alike were resource poor and it was deemed to be a good thing to remove items from server mailboxes to bring them down to clients for processing. Crispin conceived IMAP as a mail access protocol that advanced the state of the art by allowing access to more than an Inbox folder on the server, supported concurrent access to mailboxes, and offered much more functionality to manipulate messages than the POP protocol allowed. Originally developed in Lisp, a language much favoured by people working on Artificial Intelligence at the time, on a Digital TOPS-20 computer, the value of IMAP was realized in its fast evolution and adoption to the point where IMAP4 appeared in 1994. IMAP4 has been extended many times with additions by vendors (...More
Jan 21, 2013
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Looking for a book on Active Directory? 1

Active Directory has come a long way since its introduction with Windows 2000 in 1999. Of course, the Exchange community will tell you that AD is simply the old Exchange Directory Store (DS) as used in Exchange 4.0 through 5.5. There’s a lot of truth in this because the Exchange DS set down many of the fundamentals still seen in AD, such as the use of the Extensible Storage Engine (ESE) as its database engine....More
Jan 17, 2013
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Microsoft Dodges a Support Bullet with Exchange 2013 3

The more I think about the subject, the more I am convinced that Microsoft has dodged a support bullet by not making Exchange 2013 more deployable than it has been since its formal release last year. Of course, you can absolutely put Exchange 2013 into production today, but realistically speaking this just hasn’t happened. People are waiting for Microsoft to release Exchange 2010 SP3 and whatever update for Exchange 2007 is going to be necessary to co-exist alongside Exchange 2013 in an existing organization or they have decided to wait until Exchange 2013 SP1 appears. But getting back to the point in hand, the longer that I work with Exchange 2013, the more I think that this is software that was released before its time. The fit and finish of a truly well-rounded product is not there and too many flaws are evident to make anyone believe that Exchange 2013 is software ready for prime time. All software has bugs. New major releases of software products will have some areas that aren’t quite as well sorted as the parts that are present in previous releases. Exchange 2013 makes a big change in its management story as the old MMC-based console is replaced by the browser-based Exchange Administration Center (EAC). I genuinely like this approach. It makes sense to provide an interface to manage Exchange that can run on iPads, Android tablets, and Windows Surface devices as well as many smartphones. It makes sense to junk MMC and remove a dependency that has caused Exchange problems in the past. I get all that. But what’s causing some heartburn is the number of places where EAC is functionally deficient when compared to its predecessor or where it seems like the user interface was created by someone who has zero knowledge of what it’s like to manage Exchange for more than twenty or so mailboxes. Just look at the space allowed to populate the membership of a distribution group to see what I mean. This shouldn’t happen for the management tools of a product that’s been in p...More
Jan 15, 2013
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The meaning of FYDIBOHF23SPDLT

Have you ever wondered why different places in Exchange 2007, Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 still refer to a now-archaic structure called an administrative group that was used as the foundation for server management in Exchange 2000 and Exchange 2003? Even stranger, the administrative group features the strange string “FYDIBOHF23SPDLT” that’s exposed if you perform operations such as examining the legacyExchangeDN of a mailbox....More
Jan 10, 2013
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Exchange, EAS, and Outlook 2013 2

Those who pay attention to details (unlike me often) might have noticed that Outlook 2013 rejoices in its ability to connect to email servers using ActiveSync (EAS). And then they ask the question why can’t they connect Outlook 2013 to Exchange via EAS? After all, if EAS is good enough for Hotmail (aka Outlook.com), why isn’t it good enough for Exchange? After all, EAS worked in the preview version of Outlook 2013, so the block was introduced between the preview and final version....More
What's Tony Redmond's Exchange Unwashed Blog?

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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