Posted by: seanv | January 24, 2010

Enterprise Vault 8.0 MSCS Upgrade Issue

After a recent upgrade of an Enterprise Vault cluster, I was troubled to discover that all the Enterprise Vault clients believed they were communicating with the pre-upgraded version of the server.  After a little digging, I found that the registry hive HKLM\Software\KVS has reverted to pre-upgrade values.  A quick google then listed the following  bulletin: http://seer.entsupport.symantec.com/docs/323904.htm.  It basically states the issue I discovered and how to prevent it from occurring, which is to export the registry key HKLM\Software\KVS after the upgrade and before you turn on the cluster resources.  Once the cluster resources have been brought online, you then import the backup you took. 

This is a great workaround to prevent the issue, but most people upgrading their environment will likely run into this as none of the upgrade guides have been updated to include this information.  Furthermore, no where in this bulletin does it list the steps to perform in order to resolve the issue, therefore I will document it below:

  1. Take the EnterpriseVaultAdminService cluster resource offline for the affected Enterprise Vault Cluster.
  2. Run the applicable installation again from the binaries on all nodes of the cluster.
  3. Before turning the resources online, perform a backup of the HKLM\Software\KVS key.
  4. Turn on the EnterpriseVaultAdminService and EnterpriseVaultDirectoryService cluster resources online.
  5. Check the value of HKLM\Software\KVS\Enterprise Vault\Install\Version and make sure it matches the version of the binaries that you are installing.  If not, then import the registry backup taken in step 3.
  6. Turn the remaining cluster resources online, wait 2 minutes and check the event viewer for any errors.
  7. If no errors are reported, then turn all the resources offline and move the Enterprise Vault resource group to the next node in the cluster.
  8. Repeat steps 3 through 7 on all remaining nodes in the cluster.

The above issue impacts the upgrade of any Enterprise Vault cluster using Microsoft Cluster Services to 8.0 SP1, SP2 or SP3.

Your friendly neighbourhood Exchange Admin.

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Posted by: seanv | December 9, 2009

BlackBerry Enterprise Server support for Exchange 2010

 

Today is exactly 30 days after Microsoft released Exchange 2010 globally.  What does this date signify?  Well, Research in Motion promised an update in regards to support for Exchange 2010 on this date.  They not only held true to their word, bur rather they have actually announced a supported configuration!  This configuration is as follows:

Please note that as of the writing of this post, the link to download MAPI/CDO client has not yet been updated to reflect the new version; however, the link will be valid as soon as Microsoft updates the download page.  In addition, configuring the BES to use EWS for calendaring is not accomplished within the BAS (BlackBerry Administration Service), bur rather you need to use TraitTool.exe which comes with the installation media.  For further information on this announcement, please see the Exchange Team post and the following RIM website on Exchange 2010.

Your friendly neighbourhood Exchange Admin.

Posted by: seanv | November 30, 2009

BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0 SP1 Released

Research in Motion has publicly released BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0 Service Pack 1.  This release adds many new welcomed features such as:

  • Support for Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008
  • Support for Windows® Internet Explorer® version 8
  • Support for Microsoft® Exchange Web Services
  • Support for Open Document Format
  • Additional Language Support
  • Enhancements to the BlackBerry Monitoring Service inclusive of a dashboard which can be accessed by mobile devices.
  • Enhancements to the BlackBerry Administration Service inclusive of right-click menus.

For a full list of changes, check out the release notes.

You may have read an earlier post of mine called Exchange 2010 & BlackBerry Support, where I point out the current incompatibility problems and where RIM should focus their coding: EWS (Exchcange Web Services).  The release of BES 5.0.1 is the first release for RIM to incorporate EWS into their product.  At this point, we can use EWS to replace CDO & MAPI for the purposes of Calendaring, while the remaining mailbox functionality will still be provided by MAPI.  This is a great first step and we can look at eliminating the use of CDO which has been a source of frustration for many.  I am looking forward to seeing (if there are any) improvements on calendaring issues and Exchange performance by utilizing EWS.  I will also remind you all that the release of EWS support also paves the way for the highly anticipated announcement of Exchange 2010 compatibility.  We will hopefully receive an update from RIM on this within ten days.

Your friendly neighbourhood Exchange Admin.

Posted by: seanv | November 19, 2009

Scheduling Mailbox Moves in Exchange 2010

Over the past few days, I have answered some questions on the Exchange 2010 forums in regards to scheduling mailbox moves.   In Exchange 2007 and below, users would be affected by mailbox moves (which are required for migrations, fixing an issue with a mailbox or database, etc.), so we would be forced to either interrupt the end-user or schedule these moves in off-peak hours.  Once we are in Exchange 2010, we can now perform online moves which allows the user to continue to work throughout the move; follow the link for an excellent deep dive guide on online moves written by Amit Tank.

Many organizations tend to skip a generation when it comes to upgrading technologies, therefore a lot of Administrators are now looking at moving from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010.   They are now realizing that while it is great that Exchange 2010 supports online mailbox moves, they still have to get there the old-fashioned way with an offline move.  Now here is where the dilemma comes in.  The interface for Exchange 2007 and below allowed for us to delay the start of the moves to a specific time, but the new-moverequest feature used for mailbox moves in Exchange 2010 has no ability to schedule the start of the moves.  Understandably, migrations from Exchange 2007 SP2 supports online moves to Exchange 2010, but how about the bulk of Exchange deployments which are Exchange 2003?  Read on as I have a solution for you.

The full execution of a mailbox move in Exchange 2010 involves three steps:

  1. Creating the move request.
  2. Checking that the execution of the move request completed successfully.
  3. Clearing the move request.

This can all be accomplished with a pre-built powershell script that is included with the installation of Exchange 2010 called MoveMailbox.ps1.  This script supports the ability to move a single mailbox or a group of mailboxes, but will only work for local move requests, therefore you cannot use this solution for cross-forest mailbox moves.  The script itself does not support the ability to schedule the mailbox moves, but it does simplify the move so that the entire move is performed in one automated command.  Once we have formulated our MoveMailbox.ps1 command, we can plug this into a batch script that can of course be scheduled by Windows Task Scheduler.

Lets say we have an Exchange 2003 server called Server1 with a Storage Group called SG1 that contains a database called DB1.  Now, assuming we have a default installation of Exchange 2010 that has a database called DB2, then the following executed in an Exchange Management Shell would move all mailboxes from the source database to the target database:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\MoveMailbox.ps1 -MailboxDatabase Server1\SG1\DB1 -TargetDatabase DB2

Taking this command and appending it to a Remote Exchange powershell execution would be accomplished as follows:

 PowerShell.exe -command “. ‘C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\bin\RemoteExchange.ps1’; Connect-ExchangeServer -auto; ‘C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Scripts\MoveMailbox.ps1 -MailboxDatabase Server1\SG1\DB1 -TargetDatabase DB2’

We can then place the above within a batch script and schedule it with Windows Task Scheduler, thus allowing us to schedule our mailbox moves.  Keep in mind that the mailbox moves will follow the settings contained within the following file C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Bin\MSExchangeMailboxReplication.exe.config which would default the maximum simultaneous moves to five mailboxes at a time.

Your friendly neighbourhood Exchange Admin.

Posted by: seanv | November 10, 2009

Exchange 2010 is now Globally Available!

As of yesterday, Microsoft annouced the global availability of Exchange 2010 at TechEd Europe.  Personally, I am filled with mixed emotions.  On one hand, it is an amazing product and I am excited that it is finally available for all to use, but on the other, I am saddened as the community of Beta testers that I have been involved with has now come to an end.  I wanted to extend a congratulations to the Exchange team for their best product to date and well wishes to all those that I have had an opportunity to work with.

To anyone that wants to try this product, by all means, go for it!  You will find that you will have a wide array of resources available in the form of articles and an amazing group of experts that are able to provide guidance and answer your questions.  Feel free to ask me anything or post a question on the Exchange 2010 forums.

Your friendly neighbourhood Exchange Admin.

Posted by: seanv | November 3, 2009

Office Communicator and InterWoven Compatibility

Microsoft released the Office 2007 Cumulative Update for October 2009 which includes an Outlook 2007 hotfix package.  This is of particular interest to any organization that uses a document management system like InterWoven and are looking to deploy Communicator to their end users.  The following bug is resolved in this patch:

You install an Office Outlook add-in to open Microsoft Office Word documents from Outlook 2007. However, when you run Office Outlook 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator at the same time, you cannot open Office Word documents by running the add-in.

What this fix refers to is the fact that Communicator tends to monopolize the DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) channel to Outlook which prior to this patch caused other applications to fail to execute a call to DDE.  For example, a document management system that uses Outlook to call Word would fail to launch Word because Communicator would be blocking the DDE channel.

Your friendly neighbourhood Exchange Admin.

While attending a recent workshop, a discussion on the topic of Exchange Unified Messaging and BlackBerry compatibility for playback of voice mail messages occurred. During this discussion, it was mentioned that BlackBerry devices require the audio codec of the associated dial plan to be set to either G.711 or GSM. While this is true for BES 4 and Exchange 2007, the playing field has changed in recent months. The introduction of Exchange 2010 and BES 5 has provided us some greater flexibility in the choice of codec for playback on the BlackBerry. Below is a table that I have created which outlines codec compatibility based on which version of Exchange and BES your mailbox/handheld resides on.

Codec

Exchange 2007 & BES 4

Exchange 2007 & BES 5

Exchange 2010 & BES 5

GSM Yes Yes Yes
G.711 Yes Yes Yes
WMA No Yes Yes
MP3 No No Yes
 
Please note that Exchange 2010 and BES are not compatible as of the writing of this post, but a voice mail in MP3 format will open through a BES attachment server. This allows the option of moving Non-BlackBerry mailboxes to Exchange 2010 and utilizing MP3 to encode their voice mails. If a user of an Exchange 2010 mailbox decided to forward a voice mail (MP3) to a user with an Exchange 2007 mailbox and BlackBerry, the recipient would be able to playback the voice mail on their BlackBerry. You should also be aware that BES 5 does require Windows Media Player version 9 or later installed on the Attachment Server to support voice mail messages encoded in WMA format.
 
Your friendly neighbourhood Exchange Admin.

 

Posted by: seanv | October 23, 2009

Exchange 2010 & BlackBerry Support

Exchange2010_BlackBerry

As Exchange 2010 approaches GA, RIM has created a news item where you will find their compatibility matrices available for download.  It states,

October 20, 2009 – Research In Motion (RIM) is pleased to notify you that we are working in close collaboration with Microsoft on compatibility and support for BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for Microsoft® Exchange Server 2010. Compatibility is expected later this year. BlackBerry® Technical Support Services for BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 is expected within 30 days following the global availability of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010.

This is excellent news for all those RIM customers out there that are looking to move to Exchange 2010.  Not only will we now be receiving T-Support for environments with Exchange 2010 within 30 days after the release date, but we know that RIM is hard at work with Microsoft to ensure BlackBerry Enterprise Server is compatible with Exchange 2010. 

Exchange 2010 brings about many changes to its architecture, but specifically replacing CDO, WebDAV, ExOLEDB, and Store Event Sinks in favor of EWS (Exchange Web Services) requires many 3rd party applications to update for compatibility.  Many might disagree with me, but in my opinion it is a great move for Microsoft to take this stance.  EWS is available and encouraged for use in since the release of Exchange 2007 and the public became informed that this is the technology that Microsoft will be investing in.  We now only need to learn one technology for all client applications instead of the multitude of protocols in the past.

Current versions of BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) make use of Exchange MAPI for all communication with the mailbox, with the exception of any additions, deletions or changes to calendaring data from the handheld which is handled by CDO (Collaboration Data Objects).  Many administrators for years have been struggling with implementations of BES within their environment due to problems with this method of communication with Exchange.  First, the additional load which the BES places on Exchange requires provisioning of additional resources on the mailbox server and second, CDO itself lends itself to a variety of problems with calendar operations.  Examining any Production Exchange mailbox server that includes a BES will  reveal that the application logs contains many 8206 EXCDO errors and you are likely to see a variety of calendaring issues in their environment.

As mentioned earlier, CDO support is now removed from Exchange 2010, therefore RIM will need to update the BES to make use of EWS for pushing calendar updates from the handheld.  Now, this is the minimum requirement that RIM must do for interoperability, but they may (hopefully) choose to leverage EWS for much more and potentially include the following based on current functionality:

  • Availability Service (Free/Busy Lookups and Publishing)
  • Folder Operations (Search/View mailbox folders)
  • Item Operations (Create, Update, Delete, Copy, Get, Move, and Send items that consist of either Message, Contact, Calendar or Task message classifications)
  • Notification Operations (Delivery of new content from the mailbox to the handheld)
  • Synchronization Operations (Message reconciliation, PIM Data synchronization)

Converting the BES to use EWS for as many functions as possible would be ideal as these operations execute against the Client Access Server, thus reducing load on the Mailbox Server.  Furthermore, all the EWS functionality listed above is backwards compatible with Exchange 2007, thus existing Exchange 2007 organizations could benefit as well.  RIM could also decide to include more features into their product as there are a whole array of additional features available with EWS such as integration with Unified Messaging, Delegates, Permissions, etc.  An MSDN article detailing these features can be found here, but please be advised that the documentation is still pre-release as of the writing of this post.

Your friendly neighbourhood Exchange Admin.

Posted by: seanv | October 22, 2009

Windows 7 & Windows 2008 R2 go GA

Today is the big day for many people involved with Microsoft technologies.  A major milestone is here.  Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 are now available to the public.  In recognition of the contribution of so many people, Microsoft is hosting launch parties around the world which can be viewed here, you can check out details on the earliest party in Japan this morning.

I personally would like to thank all those that I have had the pleasure of working with in these various products.  I strongly believe that this generation of products will be the best yet due to the scale of development, early adopters and all around feature set.   Just look at Exchange 2010, which has already been tested by over 10 million users, making it the largest Server Beta in Microsoft history.

Your friendly neighbourhood Exchange Admin.

IMG00003-20091016-1609

I took this picture while onsite at Microsoft Canada last week, count down to party time for the employees 🙂

Update: Exchange 2010 which is part of the same campaign should be launching early November.  Thanks to David Strome for the clarification!

Posted by: seanv | October 21, 2009

The pace of things…

It has come to my attention that days before Exchange 2010 is set to go GA (General Availability), we already have a book published on this incredible product: Exchange Server 2010 Unleashed.  The book itself is not published by Microsoft Press or written by any direct employee of Microsoft, but the authors themselves have a wealth of experience and knowledge.  This just goes to show you that the early adoption program not only benefits the success of these products, but how quickly materials can be made available to someone wanting to learn and implement the latest and greatest technologies.

Your friendly neighbourhood Exchange Admin.

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