Monday, January 28, 2008

Upcoming Meeting for NY Exchange User Group

I am looking forward to this meeting, since I had the opportunity to test out Good Technology's wireless sync solution, and found it very impressive and better than my BlackBerry in a number of ways except for the hardware's battery life it ran on (Palm Centro). This caused me to abandon the use of it since my BlackBerry can go 3-4 days without a recharge, while my Centro w/Good could barely go a day. So, I'm back to using ActiveSync and a BlackBerry. Here is information regarding the upcoming meeting.

I'll also post a TechEd presentation that compared all 3 solutions as well (Good, BlackBerry, ActiveSync) in the next day or so.

Tuesday, February 12, 2007 Meeting Topics
Doors Open 6pm
Meeting Begins 6:30pm

Visit for more information.

Partner Sponsor is The Never Fail Group
Meeting Sponsored by Motorola's Good Technology Group

Presentation Topics
1) Good Technology will be presenting Good Technology's PDA wireless synchronization solution compared to Research In Motion's Blackberry Exchange Server & Microsoft's ActiveSync. See how one of the upstarts has one of the most feature complete solutions behind BlackBerry and ActiveSync. Speaker is Scott Davenport.

Folks attending will be able to win a various raffle items including Microsoft software. Free food, and open to all simply by RSVPing. We'll also run a LiveMeeting session for folks who cannot attend the meeting at the NY Microsoft office

Visit for details.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Thoughts on Upcoming Presentations at NY Exchange User Group Meeting (Tue 1/8)

Vendor Thoughts
The NY Exchange (Server) User Group ( is having a vendor presentation meeting by The NeverFail Group on Tue Jan 8, 2008 at 6pm start. I'm curious to see how NeverFail's solution handles Blackberry Exchange Server (aka BES) replication since there is a "license key" (aka SRP) that is not allowed to be released on the internet via more than 1 BES server (if it does, it disables both until you contact RIM & ask for forgiveness). So, we'll see how that works & I'll post back. This meeting follows a few other replication solutions we have recently seen at the public monthly meetings for NYExUG (e.g. DoubleTake [software], Teneros [hardware], & Asempra [hardware]). This unintentional focus on replication definitely has allowed members to be more informed and know what to look for in an Exchange replication solution. I know some folks might not classify the Asempra BCS solution as replication, but it has the capability to replace such, so I figured I would classify under that.

My Presentation
I'll be presenting on "Tips to fix Exchange 2003 database problems". This will be a case study on the steps used to solve a serious Exchange database corruption problem that a law firm experienced. It affected the entire company until it was resolved, so there was a lot of pressure to resolve it as quickly as possible with minimal downtime.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

First Hand Feedback of ActiveSync, Blackberry, and Good Wireless Syncing

I'm a heavy email user. Maybe heavy isn't accurate, excessive/addicted email user/admin. So, I'm always looking for the best client side PDA email solution for my needs (since Outlook is on my desktop and laptop).

I digress for 1 paragraph.... on the PDA side of things, my 1st PDA (Kyocera 6035) was Palm OS based and the concept of replacing/upgrading a PDA/phone and simply syncing it and watching all the contacts re-appear was such a great idea, I swore never to go back to a "simple" phone (e.g. Razor, etc). My current (as of Jan '08) phone is still based on Palm OS (I don't need to get into the religious wars on why now), but I recently upgraded from the Palm 700p to Palm Centro). If you're wondering why, the hardware & software is the same, it's the form factor. Oh, back to the point of the post.

Intro to syncing
When I first started using the Palm OS, Palm (technically a 3rd party) had licensed the ActiveSync functionality to allow syncing of one's calendar, contacts, and email to an Exchange Server. So, I tested that out, and it was fine until I started running into other problems when one adds SSL and make sure other security enhancements to IIS. This broke ActiveSync, and after spending many hours troubleshooting it, I resolved it. But, in the past few years, every so often an IIS update or other weirdness just happens and I need to troubleshoot what's broken (delete my IIS config and reload it [what a pain]). The other thing I didn't like was typing was too slow on the Palm hardware. On Research in Motion's side, the Blackberry (aka BB), I can touch type and type faster on my BB than many folks on a standard computer keyboard. In other words, the keyboard is excellent on the BB. It's simple designed for typing emails. My first jump onto the BB ship was the Blackberry 6750. Excellent BB, even though it's a bit tall, allows for a lot of email to show. I know it's B&W, but who cares when it's email (I have a color BB 7250 now, I don't need any donations ;-). Then about 3 months ago (Oct or so) I had the opportunity to test out Motorola's Good Technology. I've know about Good and have heard it's the most feature complete out of the BIG 3. I refer to those as Microsoft ActiveSync, RIM's Blackberry Exchange Server (aka BES), and Motorola's Good Technology's Mobile Messaging (aka GMM).

Testing out GMM (Good's Mobile wireless sync solution)
Most folks would probably watch a flash demo and read the product datasheet. I decided it was worth the time to see if I could combine all my needs on 1 device, my Palm Centro running the Palm OS and replace my Blackberry (FYI: Palm hardware can run Palm OS or Windows Mobile OS. Palm is now a hardware vendor. It's confusing, I know). Many folks are amazed I carry 2 devices, then again they probably think about productivity & efficiency like I do. So, I fired up VMware Workstation on my test computer and powered on an available Windows 2003 Server OS and started the install of GMM (there were a # of steps in between, such a VPN site a site to site link so I could connect to my Exchange Server at the colo facility it's housed in and test to insure the latency was low enough, it all passed). Then I started testing GMM on my Centro. The GMM functionality is impressive but you need to use the Good applications which are loaded on the handheld (Pro & Con) wirelessly of course. They run a bit slower (e.g. switching between views, opening, closing, etc) than the built-in ones (e.g. calendar, contacts, etc), but have features that BES & ActiveSync 5 with an Exchange 2003 server don't (e.g. flagging, searching, etc). I was very impressed with GMM except for the fact the hardware's battery usage on EVDO (on Sprint) can barely handle a day of usage & password protected units take about 2 seconds to unlock (not sure why it's so slow, but that's AFTER you enter the password and click OK). So, after almost a whole day of syncing (I receive about 150 messages and send about 100 messages a day), battery life was almost dead on a new fully charge Centro. Based on that usage, the battery life was a serious issues. So much, I had to give up the Good functionality and returned to the basic ActiveSync on my Palm for quick reviewing of email on weekends when I might step out without my Blackberry.

- the GMM is an excellent synchronization solution for devices & users usage that can handle the always on network needs. I would consider it the most feature complete solution among the big 3.
- Good has better documentation than Microsoft & RIM on implementation (it's so detailed they explain how to uninstall and remove GMM, impressive)
- RIM's Blackberry hardware is a generation ahead of Palm & Windows hardware for battery usage on always on email
- RIM's Blackberry hardware allows for the fastest typing and I would consider it the gold standard for email synchronization
- ActiveSync is a good solution for low usage and companies not willing to pay for additional functionality besides the basic email, calendar, contacts, etc sync (e.g. more support, functionality, logging, etc).
- Good's sync is partnered with Palm & Windows Mobile hardware, which is a strength & weakness as I explained above. Good previously had RIM similar hardware, not sure when they stopped offering it.

My Final Thoughts
GMM is excellent, the probably is the hardware. So, if and when a hardware solution is smaller than a Blackberry with full keyboard and offer similar or battery battery life, I'll consider returning. Until then, I'll be waiting since I'm not a big fan of the current Mobile devices. I consider them too large or with keyboards that simply don't match those of the efficiency of RIM's Blackberrys.

Here is a photo comparison of my wife's Blackberry Pearl and my Palm Centro. I had originally hoped this Centro would be the sole device I carry. No thanks, I'll happily carry both (Centro & BB).

Ever wondering what happened with an Exchange Server database corruption?

I presented this blog entry (ways to solve Exchange database corruption) at the upcoming NY Exchange User Group meeting on Tuesday, 1/8/08 at 6pm (see for more info).

Since I work with numerous clients and every client of mine uses an Exchange Server (in-house or hosted), I see a lot of things relating to Exchange most typical IT techs do not see. So, about a month ago, a client's Exchange 2003 Server starting showing signs of being non-responsive. The server would take an hour or so to boot-up if it did, and then when it did, logging in remotely was extremely difficult (it would hang after user/pwd login, or extremely slow refresh periods) via RDP (aka MS Terminal Services). My first thought was hard disk failure or other disk related problem. It was running on a RAID 1 setup with SAS 15k drives but those showed no signs of issues.

Found Issue
After reviewing the Event Logs, I saw reports of disk non-responsiveness. So, I checked the Dell OpenManage status for the disk subsystem, and it reported everything as fine. So, nothing there. I then performed a basic search with last modified date to last day, and reviewed all the recently modified files. Everything looked good until I saw that the 20 person's company's Public Folder Store had grown to 12GB from about 114MB. Yes, 114MB to 12GB! Information Store database files looked fine. So, I started reviewing the backup logs and noticed the Public Folder Store database was growing hundreds of MBs a day. Something was out of definitely wrong with it.

Approaches to Solve Corruption Problem
Before you do anything. Dismount the database in question. Then shutdown the Information Store service and copy the .edb & .stm to another hard drive or at a minimum to another folder. Then attempt to use the Microsoft's utility of Eseutil. Eseutil is a dangerous tool, so please make sure you thoroughly read the documentation & before a backup before proceeding. Sometimes, you can't make a simply copy/paste of the database. If so, you don't have much choice, but to proceed. As I warned above, you could lose data performing this. And only run if your databases are experiencing problems.

Commands to run from your bin directory and pointing to your databases.
"eseutil /g" - Integrity check in read only mode.
"eseutil /k" - Checksum check for header damage.
"eseutil /p" – Repairs table and page. Perform isinteg next.
"eseutil /d" - defrags db's and reduce the size based on empty space. You can safely run this if you dismount the databases.
"isinteg -s emailsrv -fix -test alltests" - emailsrv = name of server. Used to test and insure all corruption is solved.

After I ran these commands, the Public Folder store was reduced to 114MB and the server was responsive again.

Resources to Review Before Proceeding
MS Exchange Team Blog about database fixing with eseutil

MS Support - Ramifications of running the eseutil /p or edbutil /d /r command in Exchange

MS - isinteg & eseutil demo-ed

MS Support - eseutil checksum feature;en-us;823167

MS Support - eseutil file header damage;en-us;825088

MS Exchange Team Blog on 2007 SP1 Changes for ESE