Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Article - Discussing cleaning up AD for Exchange 2010

Ehlo All,

If you plan to upgrade to Exchange 2010 from 2007, read this good article by Exchange MVP Brien Posey to learn how to clean up your Active Directory during the upgrade process.

Article - SearchExchange AD Clean-up from Exchange 2007 to 2010

I'm planning an Exchange 2010 deployment for a client in January, but it's a clean install with no pre-existing Exchange, so I won't need this, but for my own upgrade from 2007 to 2010, this would come in handy.


Exchange 2010 is now supported by BlackBerry Enterprise Server

Ehlo All,

There was talk RIM would not release a BES compatible version for Exchange Server 2010 until Q1 2010. Well, RIM & Microsoft released updates to make it happen sooner. 3 updates are needed, 2 from Microsoft (MAPI update and Exchange Roll-up) and 1 from RIM (MR update). Specific details are here. Enjoy your BlackBerry functionality on 2010 now.

RIM Details on Exchange 2010 Support

Microsoft's Exchange Team's Exchange 2010 BES Support


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Exchange 2010 DAG has a weakness and it's Public Folders

Ehlo All,

One of Exchange Server 2010's best new features is Database Availability Groups. This is a high availability solution for mailbox servers. So, while Microsoft advertises how you can use JBOD and no RAID for disk subsystems for Exchange Server 2010 Mailbox Servers (see the Microsoft User Group presentation on this topic), there is one weakness with this. DAG does not work for Public Folders. So, do not put your Public Folder database on a non-RAID Mailbox Server. Plan on deploying a mailbox server that runs the Public Folder database with a well protected and appropriate disk subsystem. This is unfortunate especially since every Exchange environment deployment I've seen and worked on uses Public Folders. Maybe a future service pack or E15 can fix this. This isn't an easy fix though due to how Outlook clients communicate with Exchange 2010 though. Stay tuned.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Exchange Server 2010 OWA - Missing Feature (adding notes) and Clarifcation of Multi-Browser Support

Ehlo All,

During last night's NY Exchange Server User Group meeting after Angi Livermore's excellent Exchange Server 2010 HA technical presentation and demo, I gave a demo comparing Exchange 2007 Outlook Web Access to Exchange 2010 Outlook Web App and found a missing feature. I initially called it a bug, but I bet you Microsoft omitted the feature to release the product sooner. So, while 2010 OWA add some new features (below), the loss of adding notes is a major pain point. Also, a clarification of the multi-browser support.

Some New Features for OWA 2010
  • Premium mode for non-IE browsers. Firefox on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Safari on the Mac. Safari does NOT work on Windows. I tested this with Safari 4.0.3 (531.9.1) on XP SP3. Safari on Windows is OWA Light only.
  • Favorite Folders. Ability to add a Favorite folder. These are shown in the top left. Favorite Folders from Outlook to OWA are not shared.
  • Ability for end user's to view email delivery reports. No more end users saying "did my email arrive yet?". The delivery report shows date and time the email left the Exchange Server organization and was delivered to an outside email server.
  • Threaded email message conversations. All related emails are saved under one message (thread) in your Inbox. This is similar to how gmail's email conversation work or will exist in Outlook 2010 when it's released.
  • Multiple Calendars. You can view multiple calendars in OWA and send a calendar share request from within OWA.
  • Ability for the end user to change AD attributes [phone #, address, etc]. As per Angi, admins can disable this functionality.

Missing Feature for OWA 2010
  • Unable to post a note. This existed in OWA 2003 and 2007. Below are screen shots showing this. This was tested using Microsoft's Exchange Server 2010 UC Trial Service. I debated replicated this with the RTM, but haven't had a chance. I mentioned this to a Microsoft rep to confirm this issue. If you notice, the only 2 drop-down options when in the Notes folder is to create an email message or meeting request.

Exchange 2010 OWA Premium Mode - attempting to add a Note. Click to view full image.


Exchange 2007 OWA Premium Mode - adding a Note is possible. Click to view full image.

I'm a big fan of OWA and the new support for Firefox, but the lack of adding notes is a pain since I heavily use notes. Hopefully Microsoft fixes this as soon as possible.


Recap from November NY Exchange Server User Group Meeting - Exchange 2010 High Availability Technical Presentation and Demo

Ehlo All,

[UPDATED 11/18/09: Added PPTX presentation. See URL below.]

If you missed last night's NY Exchange Server User Group meeting presented by Angi Livermore of Microsoft and official presenter at the NYC Launch Event for Exchange Server 2010 a few weeks ago, you missed one of our best of all time.

Here are some highlights:
- Exchange Server 2010 technical demo of High Availability (called Database Availability Groups). Presentation by Angi can be found here [PDF] or here [PPTX - more clear version].
- most number of attendees (50) at a meeting ever!
- standing room only (we ran out of chairs)
- during my demo of OWA 2007 versus 2010, I found a bug in Exchange 2010 OWA relating to posting Notes. It's not possible based on the 2010 OWA provided by Microsoft for UC Trials. Oops. I'll blog about this later.

Other Notes from the meeting
- OS requirements to run Exchange Server 2010 DAG feature is Windows Server 2008 and later AND Enterprise Server or higher.
- Clone a VM, no need to change the SID. The application we all know called NewSID is not necessary anymore. Turns out it was a myth! NewSID developer (who now works for Microsoft) explains in this blog posting.
- Exchange 2007 will be supported on Windows 2008 R2. Microsoft reversed course on this. Microsoft Exchange Team stating such on this blog posting.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Article - Discussing Leapfrogging from 2003 to 2010

Ehlo All,

This is a good non-technical article from that discusses IT admins that have gone from Exchange Server 2003 to 2010 and others that are considering it. Hence bypassing Exchange 2007. I would agree with this, since the biggest change involved in moving to 2007 or 2010 is the x64 operating system. Once you have planned for x64, make the jump if you can to 2010. Jumping from 2003 to 2007 improves I/O by 70%, while going from 2003 to 2010 improves I/O by 90%. So, this will allow you to support more users on a single server than before. One of the big cost savings in upgrading.

The only word of caution is make sure your Exchange eco-system software is supported (e.g. backups, spam filtering, archiving, replication, mobile messaging [aka BlackBerry], etc). Jumping Exchange versions typically requires software upgrade especially for a x64 operating system.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Windows Server 2008 Core Supports VMware Tools Installation

Ehlo All,

Quick question. Do you think you can install a GUI app on a Core install. Answer is sometimes. I found out tonight while I installed a newer operating system for my Terminal Services environment (Windows Server 2008 R2) that one can install VMware Tools on Windows 2008 Server Core. It's very easy. Details can be found on this website. Jens also discusses how to configure the video driver as well. I tested it under ESX(i) 3.5 and it worked quite well.

Enjoy the tip,

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Exchange 2007 will support Windows 2008 R2

Hello All,

The Microsoft Exchange Team announced today (11/4/09) that Exchange 2007 will be supported under Windows Server 2008 R2 once an update is released for this. Originally, it was not going to be supported, but MS changes their mind. Full details can be found here.


Testing out Microsoft's Hyper-V R2 for uptime comparison to VMware's Hypervisor

Ehlo All,

I believe that virtualizing Exchange and other servers has more advantages than disadvantages. So, while VMware is the leader in the space (w/ESX and ESXi) and this is what I deploy clients using, I realize the Microsoft virtualization solutions (w/Hyper-V) will gain a significant market share in the coming years. So, I decided it was time to start to test it out. Specifically, I wanted to see how often it needed a reboot due to Windows updates and the stability of the OS.

Since a hypervisor reboot requires pausing all VMs, it's a real distruption. I realize you could move all the VMs, but that means you need 2 hypervisor servers. Sometimes clients do not have this. So, I wanted to see the stability/uptime of just the hypervisor. I know my ESX(i) can go easily months if not years without a reboot since it's a hardened OS and there are very few security updates. Curious to see how Hyper-V would fare compared to this. Keep in mind, if you loaded the full Windows 2008 Server and then added the Hyper-V Role, it would need to be rebooted a LOT due to all the extra software loaded inthe OS. So, I feel this is more of an apples (Hyper-V R2 standalone hypervisor version) to apples (ESX/ESXi) comparison.

Since it's a free product (similar to ESXi) and anyone can download it. I downloaded the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 on 11/4/09. It was released on 8/28/09.

Download Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2

Installed it in a VM on my ESXi 3.5 host and then ran the Hyper-V R2 updates. It found 4. 2 were important, and the other 2 were worthless (application compatibility for games, etc). I installed these 2 below. Both updates required reboots.
KB975467 - Important - DoS via magic packet
KB974571 - Important - Spoofing attack

I modified the resource allocation on my ESXi deployment, since this VM doesn't need to be a normal/high priority for ram and cpu. We shall see what happens.


Monday, November 2, 2009

TimeOutNY rates NY Exchange User Group as one of the best...

Ehlo All,

In this week's print & web issue of TimeOutNY, they rated NYExUG as one of "the best IT Techie groups for socializing and networking in NYC". Join us at one of our upcoming meetings to learn why. Article URL below.

Amazingly, they made an error on the article even though it was fact checked by a separate person who called me. This TimeOutNY error required me to do some email admin work. So, they listed the email as register@nyexug... when in reality it should have been rsvp@nyexug or join@nyexug. So, I added the incorrect alias to my mail gateway (email hits this before my Exchange Server) to auto-reply with a thank you email and some URLs pointing people to the correct place to RSVP for the meeting. And then I ran a query on my clustered spam filtering solution to see the # and email addresses of people who emailed the wrong address so I could notify them. All for a single email address error. Then again, I could have ignored it and let people fall by the way side, but that's not my style.

TimeOutNY Article

Our Upcoming November Meeting
November 10 Meeting Topic - Our Exchange 2010 Launch Party (e.g. Major New Feature Explained in detail [Database Availability Groups, etc])

Speaker: Angi Livermore (Principal Technology Specialist) of Microsoft. Full BIO below.

Register Now (open to the public & free pizza dinner / click to attend RSVP - by Mon November 9th at 3pm EST)

Meeting Topic Details - Launch Party for Exchange 2010. We have already had an "intro to 2010", so this meeting will focus on digging deeper into the new product. We'll have a presentation and demo for the following features.
- Database Availability Group (the new HA functionality that replaces CCR, SCR, & LCR)
- multi-mailbox search (ability to search content across numerous mailboxes)
- new OWA premium capabilities (premium support for 3 browsers instead of just IE)
- core store enhancements (better I/O)
- transport improvements (redundancy in transport of messages so transport server failures will not affect message delivery)
- admin audit logging (know what changes are done to your Exchange environment)

Full Speaker BIO
Angi Livermore is a UC Core Technology Specialist for Microsoft and has over 20 years’ experience in the technology industry with a strong background in messaging and collaboration technologies. Prior to this role, she worked in Microsoft Consulting Services for 4 plus years working in various Financial Services and NY district accounts.

Previously, Angi held several different positions with Merrill Lynch for five years and the latest was a Vice President of Product Delivery Services. Her last assignment was as an individual contributor focusing primarily on facilitating the release of Global Private Client (GPC) initiatives, (“Trusted Global Advisor”, also known as TGA) with a heavy emphasis on technology enhancements that reduced the total cost of ownership.

Prior to coming to Microsoft in August of 2001 and working for Merrill Lynch, Angi also worked for several Microsoft partners working with MS Mail, Exchange, Windows, Active Directory, and Mobile technologies. She is very passionate about helping customers achieve their full potential by using Microsoft technologies.

Angi lives in West Windsor, NJ with several four legged friends and her hobbies include: golf, golf, and more golf…


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Test your Exchange Restore Capability - Tips for Restoring

Ehlo All,

So, I've been using AppAssure's MailRetriever (part of Replay product) on Exchange 2007 (& other types of servers) for about 9 months now, and have been impressed for it's ability for continuous data protection (aka snapshots) and ability to natively write VM files (e.g. VMware Workstation, VM Server, VM Player, ESX, ESXi, and Hyper-V). I've used it numerous times to restore individual Exchange items and traditional files. BUT, a major concern has arisen recently. I've been working with AppAssure support for over a week to resolve a significant issue with item level restores and no good news yet. My major concerns are that the Replay product reports a restore success, but it's not. I've replicated the issue 3 times and support has been notified and working on it. Restoring an entire user's mailbox folder (e.g. Sent Items) results in almost 500 missing items (from about 85k). Yet, OWA/Outlook/exmerge to PST report about 500 more items that the restore and matches the correct folder item count.

During this time, I needed a way to test restores. So, originally, I would create a test AD (Test Account1) and email account ( and then restore my data to this account. And then I would delete the AD and email account, and re-create on the next restore. So, I've gotten good at deleting AD accounts and purging mailboxes. But, I found a better approach. Just delete the email account and purge it from the database and then re-create it for your next test. Why delete the AD account, it's not necessary. Some helpful sites to learn the commands.

1) Delete Exchange attributes from AD User (disconnects mailbox from AD user)
Here is what you need to type in bold.
[PS] C:\Windows\System32>disable-mailbox

Are you sure you want to perform this action?
Disabling Mailbox "" will remove the Exchange
properties from the Windows user object and mark the mailbox in the database
for removal.
[Y] Yes [A] Yes to All [N] No [L] No to All [S] Suspend [?] Help
(default is "Y"):y
2) Deletes disconnect mailbox(es) in Exchange Server 2007
Type the following 3 commands found on this page (skip option "Removing a single entry")

Also, In my testing of this issue, I made a full export (copy) of my DC & Exchange 2007 servers. And then I run them (NIC configured) via VMware Server to host only mode. This makes the servers visible to only the VMware Server. I then have a full shadow production environment. So, now I can test against the backup software. I originally detected the issue when I did a full mailbox restore to another AD account on my Exchange Server and compared sizes & item count and noticed the large discrepancy. I'm also in the process of getting Backup Exec 12.5 and ARCserve (r12.5) to test restores via those products as well. Curious to see how well they work.

So, far my Backup Exec 12.5.2231A x64 testing has been painful since the default install on Windows 2008 from a demo downloaded via their website does not show the Exchange Server databases. Same problem using 12.5.2231A x86 on 2003 occurred. I followed the support solution (document ID 315712) but it didn't resolve it. I'll continue troubleshooting later this week. I'll report my feedback on ARCserve later this week too.


Friday, October 9, 2009

How a Turkish mobile provider's BlackBerry firmware helped save my BlackBerry Bold.

Hello All,

I've been dealing with dropped calls and signal issues since I initially switched to AT&T in Dec 08. Surprisingly, the problem was the device (BlackBerry Bold) & 3G, and not AT&T. Now, I'm a big of BlackBerry technology, but it's to blame! The Bold is a great device except for one thing, 3G. It seems the 3G driver has a problem switching cell towers in heavily used areas and other random places. So, I would experience dropped calls (many places) and "lock" on EDGE or GSM (heavily used areas) which a quick reboot would fix. Thankfully the Bold reboots quickly (I use an app called QuickPull). The reason for the post was it looks like I finally found a more permanent "solution" to this issue, disabling 3G. I'll explain how later on.

Before I switched to AT&T I tested out the service with a BlackBerry 8820 running OS 4.2 during the end of 2008. It worked great. So, I bought a Bold and switched to AT&T and then the problems started. Initially I thought this was "normal" AT&T service people complained about. Then I noticed a pattern. Certain areas would cause the "problems" above. So, my resolution testing began.

- SIM swap did nothing (that was the 1st and last idea by AT&T support I listened to).
- borrowed another Bold, same issues.
- retested with the 8820 and loaded 4.5, no issues.
- ran a variety of cutting edge (unauthorized) BlackBerry OSes on my Bold in attempts to fix the dropped call problem. They varied from Singapore, Latin America, & UAE. All are developed by RIM, but released to different mobile phone providers for support. AT&T supports 1 version of the BlackBerry OS currently, and it has problem. So, I would load the latest BlackBerry OS I could find and see what would happen.

And then I finally had the idea, it could be the Bold & 3G. So, AT&T did release an OS with the ability to select "2G" or "2G/3G" networks, but due to a serious bug, it was pulled from the market days after release. I decided I didn't want to run that, but finally.... another OS ( with this capability was released by a Turkish mobile vendor, AVEA. So, I'm running it and so far it's been working as I hoped.

This is the URL that listed it.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Windows 2008 R2 and Exchange 2007? Microsoft says no.

Hello All,

Anyone who has not deployed Exchange Server 2007 and wants to do it on Windows 2008 R2 (it'll be launched this month), the answer is it is NOT supported. Not a big deal, since I would just wait a bit longer and have the benefits of I suspect to be the hands down best Exchange version yet, Exchange 2010. If you are wondering, 2003 is still the king. Some articles discussing this R2 rejection: Windows IT Pro and the Microsoft Exchange Team postings.

Server OS Support
Exchange Server 2003 supports Window Server 2000, Windows Server 2003, & Windows Server 2003 R2. (3 OSes supported)

Exchange Server 2007 supports Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, & Windows Server 2008. (3 OSes supported)

Exchange Server 2010 supports Windows Server 2008 & Windows Server 2008 R2. (2 OSes supported currently)

Microsoft decided against QA and supporting Exchange 2007 on Windows Server 2008, which is understandable since supporting 4 OSes is a time consuming process and 2010 is getting launch within the month. So, wait a little longer, and try and deploy Exchange Server 2010 once your eco-system is supported (e.g. BES, GFI, AppAssure, Backup Exec, etc).


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Learning about the services Exchange 2007 installs?

Ehlo All,

Quick question. The "Microsoft Exchange File Distribution" Service gets installed on which Exchange Server 2007 roles? The answer is Client Access and Unified Messaging server roles. This Microsoft TechNet article that explains all the services installed by Exchange setup for 2007 which can help in case of troubleshooting. If an issue occurs, you'll know where to look first which can be helpful since there are 21 services that Exchange installs depending on the server role. That's a lot services. This article can help you understand them.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Article - Domain Controllers are critical to Exchange, Know Which DC is Used for Communication

Hello All,

A working Active Directory foundation is required for Exchange Server, so have you ever wondered which Domain Controller (DC) was being used by your Exchange Server. Now you can. Read on if you're interested.

I recently read an article about how Exchange Server knows what Active Directory servers are available. For Exchange 2000, 2003, and 2007, the answer lies with an Exchange process called "Directory Services Access", aka DSAccess. It polls all DC every 15 minutes and makes optimizations based on the results. You can read the summary article here (via or a full detailed technical article here (via or another one from here. Start with the summary, and then the technical articles.

Tidbit - Under 2000 and 2003, DSAccess ran under the Exchange service called System Attendant. Exchange 2007 changed that, and now it runs under a separate Windows service running on your Exchange Servers called "Microsoft Exchange Active Directory Topology Service".

Until next time... may your email flow well.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Virtualization and Exchange - It's Microsoft Supported and Works Well!

Ehlo All,

Sadly, there is a LOT of marketing non-truths (aka lies) being spread about Virtualization and Exchange Server (e.g. it doesn't work, Microsoft won't support it, bad performance, etc). I was so tired of hearing this, I finally decided to give a presentation at the NY Exchange Server User Group Meeting this past week that discussed an intro to virtualization and Exchange and exactly what is supported (Exchange 2003 & 2007 is VM supported, VMware ESX and Exchange 2007 SP1 is supported, and much more). My Exchange environment is fully Microsoft PSS (Professional Support Services) supported since it's Exchange 2007 SP2, Windows 2008, and VMware ESX 3.5 U2. Amazing, I know. I've included the topics presented in the evening, and feel free to spend sometime reading through PDF. I've included referenced footnotes as well.

Presentation Topics
- intro to virtualization
- pro's / con's of virtualization
- what servers work with virtualization
- Microsoft's Exchange Support Policy explained in detail
- different Exchange version support
- VM performance comparison to old school hardware deployments (and yes, it's old school)
- why virtualization is more important than performance
- what Exchange Server really needs

Review the September 8, 2009 NYExUG presentation by Ben Serebin, and post any questions you have on the blog and I'll happily answer them.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

An example of what not to do. Article published on setting up an Edge 2007 Server without EdgeSync.

Ehlo All,

Yes, you read the title correctly, an Edge 2007 Server without EdgeSync. Why would anyone ever deploy an Edge 2007 Server without EdgeSync, the synchronization functionality? You got me. But, Neil Hobson published on an article how to set it up. You can check it out here, but I do not recommend this configuration, and would be very curious to know why the quoted organization couldn't use it. He really should have elaborated why it was done, since this is NOT recommended.

For some background, check out this MSDN blog which has the pro's/con's for EdgeSync. Check it out here. To summarize you lose gateway based recipient filtering, safelist block/accept, config and admin is easier on setup, and traffic is encrypted by default. If you do without EdgeSync, do not spend the money on an Exchange license. Save it for another mail gateway product. Sometimes, publishes article of questionable value, this is one of them until they elaborate the purpose of runnings without EdgeSync.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Great Time Saving Tip for Installing Exchange 2007 SP1 on Windows 2008

Ehlo All,

Want to safely speed up install times and make less mistakes (e.g. forgetting to install a prerequisite, role, or feature) on your installs of Exchange 2007 SP1 on Windows 2008. The smart creators of Exchange (aka Microsoft Exchange Server Team) via their blog announced and released a GREAT tool. Normally, you have to separately install numerous prerequisites, roles, and features which can take a while. So, they released an all-in-one way to do this via XML files for each role option. Here are the 6 options with 2 clarified. Or you can manually install the needed software via this Microsoft TechNet article.

Exchange-Base = installs Server Manager, PowerShell, and RSAT-ADDS
Exchange-ClusMBX = clustered mailbox


Exchange 2007 SP2 is coming soon (before Oct)

Ehlo All,

According to the official Microsoft Exchange Server Team Blog posting, Exchange 2007 SP2 is arriving before October 2009. Technically, they said Q3 2009, but easier to say before October, than July, August, or September. 3 biggest changes will be:

1) ability to backup with an OS provided tool within Windows 2008 (right now you can't w/o 3rd party)
2) auditing Exchange events (e.g. configuration changes, etc)
3) interoperability with Exchange 2010 (I plan to jump as quickly as I can to 2010 once my 2 critical Exchange add-on apps work)


Exchange 2007 SP1 Update Rollup 9 Released

Ehlo All,

MS Exchange Server Team Blog announced on 7/17/09 that the Exchange 2007 SP1 update rollup 9 was released. You can read more about it here. I've downloaded it and loaded it on my own production server and no issues to report. I did notice when I installed it, I had skipped rollup 8, and even on reboot, Windows Updates wanted rollup 8 installed. Which is wrong, since rollups are cumulative. I hide rollup 8. Oh well, don't make a mistake and install a downgraded version.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Field Notes - Exchange 2007 Edge Troubleshooting

Ehlo All,

So, I figured I would share more of my daily work from the field. That means more troubleshooting, upgrade issues, successes, and all around adventure. A client of REEF Solutions (using REEF Solutions' hosted clustered spam, virus, and DoS protection solution which has handled about 550,000+ messages a day over the past month) with their own in-house IT staff was working on an Exchange 2007 migration from 2003 that had email flow problems and almost 9,000 valid messages were stuck in the Edge queue. I was called in to assist after the client's IT was on the phone with Microsoft Professional Support Services for over 3 hrs and there was no solution and they were considering reinstalling Edge. Client was restless, since email downtime was suppose to end after 7 days or so, but it didn't.

The client had migrated to 2 new servers, an Exchange 2007 Mailbox/CAS/Hub & Edge both on Windows 2008 Server 64 bit. During the upgrade they implemented an Exchange 2007 Edge Server. This was to replace an existing non-Exchange smtp gateway server. They previous had a single Exchange 2003 environment. After the Edge implementation, email would flow from the Mailbox Server to Edge to Internet, but not the reverse. Client IT had tested and telneting between the Edge and Mailbox worked, and vice versa, but email would not flow. Edge was in a DMZ. MS PSS had done a lot of things, but the email was still not flowing. During the the entire week long downtime, REEF Solutions had queued up email off-site (9k of valid non-spam messages) for the client.

Troubleshooting and Solution
1) Running the built-in Exchange troubleshooting analyzer reported errors on both servers. Running it on Mailbox reported not seeing Edge, and vice versa. This was because the DMZ didn't have those ports open for RPC and other ports. Not a big deal, but makes troubleshooting harder.
2) pinging the Mailbox and Edge servers NETBIOS name worked from both servers.
3) from Mailbox and Edge, telneting via port 25 to generate "homemade" email both ways was successful.
4) on Mailbox ran "Test-EdgeSynchronization" and it passed with flying colors.
5) on Mailbox ran "Test-EdgeSynchronization -VerifyRecipient" and it was successful. Obviously, pick an email in your domain. This is testing the AD Application Mode (ADAM) replication [1 way from AD -> Edge] for storage of configuration and recipient information. This is because Edge is a non-domain computer and doesn't have access to AD like a normal domain based server.
6) checked the hosts files on both servers. And added due to a known IPv6 issue, the NETBIOS and FQDN of each server and the other server in their hosts file. So, if your mailbox server was called "mailboxsrv", in the hosts file would say " mailboxsrv" and then line 2 would be "" and comment out the ::1 localhost entry to "#::1 localhost".
7) on Mailbox server in EMC - Organization Configuration - Hub Transport - Send Connectors - EdgeSync - Inbound to Mailbox Server - Route mail through the following smart hosts: {your mailbox server IP})
8) on Edge, saw an Event log error for a non-valid SSL cert, so on the Mailbox and Edge server, if I recall, under EMC - Hub Transport - Send Connectors - Network - unchecked "Enable Domain Security (Mutual-Auth TLS)". This is an excellent article by MVP Elan Shudnow that discusses transport layer security between Edge and Transport.
9) on Mailbox, ran "Start-EdgeSynchronization" and the configuration changes I made replicated to the Edge server.
10) since all inbound port 25 is restricted from REEF's clustered email filtering solution, I generated email from their and tested inbound flow from cluster - edge - mailbox, and it was successful. And then I tested outbound email and it worked. Then the 9k message queue quickly reduced down to 0.

FYI: if you need to reinstall the Edge or Transport Server and have messages in your queue, you can backup it up, re-install Edge or Transport services, and then restore the database. Edge queue database is ESE based, like Exchange. An excellent article by explaining the backup and restore process by Joshua Raymond is here.

Problem solved.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Exploring iSCSI for the 1st Time - An Easy Intro for new beginners

Ehlo All,

So, I have to admit it. I'm an iSCSI SAN newbie. While people are afraid to repair an Exchange database via eseutil, install and configure the SSL certificate for Exchange 2007's Outlook Anywhere, routing groups, and configure DNS TTLs, I'm very comfortable with all that. On the other hand, iSCSI, that's a foreign language to me. With terms like target IQN, LUN mapping, SCSI Serial No, SCSI ID, blockio, etc, it's understandable, at least to me. To summarize, iSCSI target means iSCSI sharing server, iSCSI intiator means client.

So, I finally had 2 scenarios that warranted that I setup an iSCSI environment. I needed more storage capacity in my ESXi environment and one of my "traditional" Windows 2003 Server. Traditional meaning a physical server. So, while adding internal storage is possible, it would have been a real pain since all the slots were filled. So, I had an existing Windows 2003 Server with a LOT of extra storage (4.4 trillion bytes, or 4.4 TB). I made a BIG mistake when quoting storage for it, so I have way to much storage on one server. So, how could I reliabily share storage over the network and appear as a locally connected drive letter on boot, iSCSI!

I considered 3 options, since I needed it to run on top of an existing Windows Server OS.
1) formerly LeftHand Networks (aka LHN) SAN VSA (VMware appliance). LHN was a hardware and software SAN vendor. They use to offer a free* VSA 8.0 which included a management application to configure the SAN solution. *I searched, and could not find the free unlimited usage VSA option anymore, so I would not recommend this approach.
2) open-source/free OpenFiler (aka OF) SAN (Linux, VMware, 2 Xen options, and more). This is really designed for the Linux crowd, some experience SAN users, or diligent admins.
3) Starwind (Windows). Designed for the SAN newbie and offers a free option.
[updated Starwind URL to correct one as per below comment.]

LHN VSA: I had LHN's VSA working in a cluster replicating file data, but decided I only wanted one VSA running for this. But for some odd reason when I removed it from the cluster, it would not let me add volumes to it. I spent a few hours troubleshooting this, but it looks like HP (which acquired LHN) dropped the free VSA option and the great support website. So, I decided to "drop" VSA as an option as well.

OF: I downloaded the OF 2.3 VMware VMDK, unzipped it, and placed it in a VM directory and it booted right up within VMware Server 2.0.1. Changed the IP and password via the web interface and ran the web based updater. Very clean interface, but very few wizards and little documentation. They also charge $60 for the manual. I guess the manual is not open-source. A bit frustrating especially since this is a community product. I would normally donate to the cause, but I'm not a fan of their business model approach. So, I used the following 2 websites and 1 OF forum posting to understand what I needed to do. Not surprisingly, that forum poster left OF and went to Starwind. OF is really designed for bare metal computer installs with your own hardware RAID already setup. But if you know the limitations, it can work for other purposes.

Overview with screenshots of OF iSCSI configuration

Overview with screenshots of ESX iSCSI connection to OF

Bonus - Good Overview of iSCSI and OF (connecting with Windows Server iSCSI initator)

At the end of the day, OF is serving iSCSI storage in my environment.
- Windows 2003 R2 Server running 3Ware 9550SXU-4LP hardware with RAID 5 configuration
- VMware Server 2.0.1 running on above Windows 2003 R2 Server
- OpenFiler VM configured for 2 additional virtual hard drives, each 100GB which are in a OF software RAID 1 setup. Protect against software corruption.
- ESXi handling the iSCSI initator to the above server (but you could easily make Windows the iSCSI initator which I plan to do in a few weeks. Microsoft offers for free the iSCSI initator.)


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Exchange 2007's Outlook Anywhere Overview Article

Ehlo All,

Here is a good overview and refresher article about Exchange 2007's feature of Outlook Anywhere. I added my 2 cents via the comments about not needing expensive SAN/UCC SSL certificates for auto-discovery functionality. There's a lot of mis-information about this on the internet. Which reminds me, an upcoming blog posting will discuss Exchange 2007's auto-discovery feature and how it's not the answer to the holy grail which many make it out to be.


Friday, May 22, 2009

In Q3 2009 - Exchange 2007 SP2 will bring backup to Windows 2008

Ehlo All,

For Windows 2008 Server admins running Exchange 2007, Microsoft never provided a backup utility similar to ntbackup.exe for Windows 2003 Exchange admins. FYI: Exchange 2007 on Windows 2003 can be backed up, just not on Windows 2008. BK Winstead of Windows IT Pro posted about Microsoft plans in Q3 2009 to release an Exchange 2007 SP2 update that will allow backups. Microsoft's Exchange Team blogged about this and additional features (e.g. Exchange change auditing, Public Folder quotas, etc) found in SP2.


Exchange Server Virtualization Intro Articles

Ehlo All,

Here is a good starting (index) point article for learning about running Exchange Server in a virtualized environment on SearchExchange's website. Only issue is it's skewed toward Hyper-V. I would strongly recommend looking to run Exchange in VMware ESx. I run my production Exchange 2007 in ESXi 3.5. I plan to organize an upcoming NYExUG meeting to discuss virtualization, since it's important.


A How-To Configure SCR for Exchange 2007 SP1

Ehlo All,

This is an excellent how-to article to configure SCR (standby continuous replication) for Exchange 2007 SP1. Includes the scripts for easy copying and implementation. Article posted on Windows IT Pro by Tony Redmond.


Learn about Microsoft's DPM 2007 & Exchange

Ehlo All,

So, if you know what DPM is, you're ahead of the game already. It's Microsoft backup product called Data Protection Manager, and it's available for Exchange & SharePoint. I don't know a SINGLE tech that runs it, but don't let that stop you. Here's a SearchExchange article about DPM 2007 and Exchange by Brien Posey (MVP). Oh, and if you run it, reply to this article via the comments about why you like it over other backup products (e.g. Backup Exec, ARCserv, CommVault, etc).

Another SearchExchange article by Brien about how to deploy DPM 2007's agent on Exchange Server.

Best of luck,

Friday, May 8, 2009

Exchange 2010 Beta Articles (Good and Bad News)

Ehlo All,

I know it's beta, but I'm all worked up over the OWA Premium mode for non-IE browsers (e.g. Firefox and Safari will support Premium mode). Don't worry, I'll still focus on 2003 & 2007 on the blog.

The good news guy, a Tony Redmond article called "A First Look at Exchange 2010" from Windows IT Pro about all the new features. Excellent for an overview of how 2007 to 2010 has changed. Tony is technical is he dives right in.

And the bad news guy, a B.K. Winstead articled called "Exchange 2010, Problems, Problems, Problems" from Windows IT Pro about why did Microsoft force so many things on us via Exchange 2010 (e.g. Windows 2008, 64 bit, no upgrade path, no LCR, no 32 bit evaluation version, etc). It's beta, but he has valid points. Good so you know what's missing and you can plan accordingly.

Until next time, keep you're eye on your mail server.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pigs are flying, Pigs are flying!!! Exchange 2010 will support premium mode for IE, Firefox, and Safari.

Ehlo All,

While I love (yes, I really do) Exchange Server, I haven't been this excited in a while. And everytime I think about OWA, I'm unhappy since when I jumped from 2003 to 2007, I lost a # of important features (most important, lack of access to Public Folders [aka PF] from Light/Basic Mode). Now, 2010 has me very excited (PF access is fixed) and I plan to run the beta and will jump to 2010 in production even if it's in beta once my "near-time" backup solution I use supports it. I've already downloaded it, and plan to install it in my ESX VM environment very soon. I'll post my comments when I do.

Welcoming Exchange 2010 - 1st 20 seconds are good.
Good Overview of Exchange 2010 - screen shots and a handy chart
Exchange 2010 System Requirements.
- to summarize, it's Windows 2008 x64.
MS tech (Scott Schnoll) on how to install Exchange 2010.
Go download it.....

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Exchange Server 2007 SP1 Rollup 7 Released

Ehlo All,

Microsoft released Exchange Server 2007 SP1 rollup 7 on March 18, 2009. I have not installed it yet, but plan to in the next 1-2 days. Windows restart is not necessary, and the update automatically restarts the necessary services. Also, this is ONLY for Exchange 2007 SP1, NOT Exchange 2007 RTM. There is a big difference between the 2 versions.

My blog posting about the difference between RTM and SP1 versions. Each has there own line of updates and there are not applicable to either. You will break your Exchange install if you load the wrong rollup on your version of Exchange. A colleague did that by mistake.


A $100,000 Question. Which Exchange 2007 roll-up is on your system?

Ehlo All,

So, how do you confirm which Exchange 2007 roll-up is on your system when running Windows 2008? Uninstall or change a program (formerly called Add/Remove Programs), nope! Exchange System Console, nope! Windows file version #'s, nope! Windows Update, nope! That'll only show you if an update is available. Microsoft didn't make it easy, but someone did. Answer is a very handy PowerShell script that Paul Flaherty wrote. You literally, just need to run it, and bang, it does it's magic and you have your answer. In 3 simple steps.

1) Download and unzip it here, let me know if it goes offline, and I'll post my copy. Unzip and copy to a directory (e.g. c:\temp)
2) open Exchange Management Shell, and cd to the directory with the script.
3) type the following in bold (inside the quotes and there is no space between the . & \ characters) ".\Get-ExchangeServerPlus.ps1"

Results will say:
[PS] C:\Temp>.\Get-ExchangeServerPlus.ps1
EX [Mailbox, ClientAccess, HubTransport] [Standard] 8.0.535.0
- 20081209: Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 (KB952580)
- 20090212: Update Rollup 6 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 (KB959241)
- 20081217: Update Rollup 5 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 (KB953467)

Now you know which rollup you have.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Free Microsoft Internet Tool for Verifying Exchange is setup correctly

Ehlo All,

"Have you ever installed an Exchange server and wanted to verify your Internet facing services were setup and configured properly? Things like Exchange ActiveSync, AutoDiscover, Outlook Anywhere (RPC/HTTP), and inbound email." Well, the Microsoft Exchange Team Blog finally announced an Exchange testing website I used in a presentation months ago. It's a great time saver. It's called Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer (ExRCA) tool which can be accessed at

This is a great free resource. Available for:
- Exchange 2003
- Exchange 2007
- Windows Mobile 5
- Windows Mobile 6.1+


OT - Economics of watching TV with a DVR (aka TiVo Economics)

Ehlo All,

OT = off-topic from Exchange Server.

I am a big believer in efficiency, so when I saw this blog posting about the economics of watching TV with a DVR (e.g. lack of commercial, time shifting, etc), I couldn't help myself. I run a DVR from SnapStream called BeyondTV and it's the adult version of TiVo. Tons of features and runs on Windows. And yes, I have it email me alerts.


Why you can't VM your Exchange 2007 UM Server!

Ehlo All,

This brief posting from Windows IT Pro explains why you can't VM (virtualize) your Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging role server. Otherwise, virtualize away assuming you have enough disk I/O for it.


Exchange Server 2007 High Availability strategies explained

Ehlo All,

This is a good technical introduction article to Exchange 2007 HA options (SCR, LCR, CCR) and options with SANs written by Mark Arnold. Mark is a rock-star in the Exchange world and you can read more about him at the article link above. That's enough acronyms for one blog posting.


SearchExchange Top 10 Tips for 2008

Ehlo All,

SearchExchange (of TechTarget) posts their top 10 tips for 2008 for Microsoft Exchange Server (primarily 2007) article. I would call it 5 tips, but there are 10 listed. :-)


Need to copy an .edb/.stm, use eseutil, it's a lot faster!

Ehlo All,

This from, an interesting article about how it's a lot faster to copy .edb/.stm's using the eseutil copy. In their test, 400% faster. No more robocopy/xcopy commands, or copy/paste. How can it do it, it has to do with an I/O buffering technique which eseutil is better at not using it. Yes, not using it.


My Grand Plans for the EhloTech Blog....

Ehlo All,

I've decided, that it's more important for me and others to share more of the Exchange Server related news I read about than to create original content. There's too much information already out there, so better I expand it's reach. So, I'm going to start posting shorter and make it more of a clearing house for Exchange Server related news (a la /. style). This should be a win-win for all.

I also changed the layout and many of the fonts. If folks don't like them, let me know.

I'm also considering letting others post Exchange Server related news at some point in the future.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Microsoft's Support Policy on VMware Virtualization

Ehlo All,

An attendee at our March NY Exchange User Group meeting asked about Microsoft's support policy on the industry leader of virtualization which is running at 100% of all Fortune 100 companies, VMware. There is a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt in this realm. So, let me make it crystal clear! Microsoft WILL SUPPORT VMware's SVVP (explained below) solution which is ESX 3.5 update 2. Microsoft virtualized support is for over 30+ server applications & operating systems as per KB ID 957006. Just to clarify, for Exchange 2003 & 2007 SP1 are supported.

Quoted from MS KB # 897615
Additionally, for vendors with whom Microsoft has established a support relationship that covers virtualization solutions, or for vendors who have Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP) validated solutions, Microsoft will support server operating systems subject to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy for its customers who have support agreements when the operating system runs virtualized on non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software. This support will include coordinating with the vendor to jointly investigate support issues. As part of the investigation, Microsoft may still require the issue to be reproduced independently from the non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software. Where issues are confirmed to be unrelated to the non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software, Microsoft will support its software in a manner that is consistent with support provided when that software is not running together with non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software.

VMware's Exchange support information for ISV support.

VMware Press Release about ESX 3.5 update 2 support Exchange, SQL, SharePpint, and more. They even quote a 50k seat install on ESX with Exchange by the University of Plymouth in England.

Just to be clear, make sure your issue is non-virtualization related. e.g. not performance or other, and more a configuration or those types of problems. If you have an I/O issue, it could easily be a VM issue, so make sure those subsystems working well and you're 100% sure it's not VM related.

Now, you know the real story behind Microsoft support for virtualization and you can now rest easy. Or the other solution is to have a very good back process running on non-virtualized hardware. That's what I do. Sleep is over-rated.


Microsoft Addresses a MAJOR Issue I have with Exchange 2007's OWA

Ehlo All,

I heard great news last week that addresses the reduced set of functionality in Exchange 2007's Outlook Web Access. Exchange 14's OWA will be support 3 browsers, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari. I did a triple-take when I read it the first time. Y-E-S. 3 browsers supported in E14's OWA. No decision on which platform for these browsers since they are dual platform apps.

I actually lost functionality in upgrading to the latest greatest version of Exchange 2007 from 2003. OWA Basic in 2003 supported access to Public Folders, in OWA Lite (aka Basic mode), access disappeared. Thankfully enough people complained that Microsoft is planning according to a Exchange rockstar Paul Robichaux, aka Exchange MVP. You can read the full article by Paul here & his reference to the MS blog that announced this amazing information.

I'll definitely be upgrading to E14 when it's released. And adios to ActiveX for OWA. There won't be a wet eye in my house for this loss.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Easy access to .edb/.stm files via Ontrack PowerControls

Ehlo All,

So, I recently upgraded to Exchange 2007, and realized one day I might need access to my old Exchange 2003 data. Even though I performed move mailboxes for most accounts, I didn't did it for all. I figured, I should save the databases, .edb & .stm files "just in case". Well, the "just in case" time came almost one month later after my upgrade.

So, while I run AppAssure's MailRetriever which is designed to mount offline Exchange 2003/2007 databases, it's at my datacenter and I had the .edb/.stm files at my home office. I considered transfering the files, but they are close to 40GBs, so I decided to test out under a virtual machine Ontrack's PowerControls. So, I fired up my handy VMware Workstation 6.5 & XP Pro w/Office 2003 and mounted over a 100Mb network via UNC/drive the folder share containing the files. Once mapping to a drive letter, the .edb/.stm files quickly and easily exported the data (some task items) to a PST. Opening the 23GB .edb w/o logs took about 15 seconds which was mindblowing which was OVER a network connection. I then tested the PST data in Outlook which looked good and compressed it and emailed the 1.3Mb off to the user that needed it. That's it. It was so easy, I was shocked. It literally took me maybe 10 minutes if that long.

Overall, Ontrack's PowerControls software package is very impressive.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Non-Windows Mobile Issue relating to ActiveSync with Exchange 2007 SP1

Ehlo All,

If you attended the October 08 meeting of the NY Exchange Server User group (NYExUG), you would have learned that ActiveSync is a different beast for Windows Mobile (e.g. HTC Touch, iPAW Hwxxx, etc) & licensed ActiveSync devices (e.g. iPhone, Palm Treo, etc). So, when I recently upgraded from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007 SP1 (on Windows 2008 - I like pain), I was hoping ActiveSync would just work. Nope, I was out of luck. End user Palm 700p error of AirSAMStateMachine.c 1913 4628. But the fix was pretty easy IF you know the PowerShell command. IF is the key word there.

So, as always, first step of troubleshooting, is to Google the error and see what comes up. I quickly found that ActiveSync's default security policy was probably the cause of the issue. And I crossed my fingers and ran the following command (bold italics on 1 line) below. Also, don't just run commands like I recklessly did, but find out what exactly it's doing and how to reverse it in case all hell breaks loose. This is a mission critical application.

Start --> Programs --> Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 --> Exchange Management Shell
Remove-ActiveSyncMailboxPolicy -Identity "Default"

Then magically, ActiveSync started working. Just so you know, below is the Microsoft TechNet article that explains the various options available in ActiveSync policies. There are many more settings that can be controlled in Exchange 2007. I'm not sure which setting caused the issue, but at least I have 1 less screaming user which makes exploring and research the options more enjoyable.


Monday, January 19, 2009

OWA Light Comparison from Exchange 2003 to 2007

Ehlo All,

So, I upgraded to Exchange 2007 this past week. The primary focus of this blog post is OWA Light difference between 2003 and 2007. Reason is, I frequently use OWA on non-IE browser to access Public Folders and was surprised to see existing features in OWA 2003 removed. So, I wondered what else was missing in action (or added) from OWA Light on 2007. Here is the list. [-] means feature is missing from new version. [+] means feature is added in 2007.

If you have a lot of OWA Light users, I would seriously consider staying on Exchange 2003 or leaving OWA users on Exchange 2003 while having other users on Exchange 2007.

What others talked about....
Exchange Product Team Discussing OWA Light 2007 - it seems OWA Light only gained feature according to the Exchange Team.

Figured I would share since OWA is discussed...
Exchange Product Team Discussing Exchange 14 (aka E14). Not much detail except talk about the 3.5 million beta testers and "empowering" end users with distribution list & GAL control. Not very sexy.

OWA 2007 OWA Light - to summarize, is the bare essential in webmail. So, that's email, calendar, & contacts. Nada mas.
[-] Calendar (Daily View Only)
[-] NO Public Folders Access
[-] NO Tasks
[+] Quickly jump to a subfolder (via drop-down)
[+] Easily rename/move/delete folders
[+] Ability to search in Address Book
[+] Ability to change AD password
[+] View a partnered Windows Mobile device

OWA 2003 OWA Light
[+] Calendar (Daily & Weekly)
[+] Public Folders
[+] Tasks

To say I'm disappointed would be an understatement. Come on Microsoft, add features, don't remove otherwise folks will jump to other web based email products like GMa... you know what I'm talking about. :-)

I'll blog more about differences in the future and the migration in general.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Handy Free Tool to Test Connections to other Mail Servers - Time Saver Tip

Ehlo All,

When you need to test another mail server connection, to make sure it's accepting emails, I normally do the following: RDP to mail server, open telnet, open some ip:25 and then enter in smtp commands and make sure the other mail server accepts the email. I recently heard about a tool that expedites this process by handling DNS lookups, smtp commands, etc. It's called TestMX.

About TestMX. It's a very small free Windows application (command line, but don't be afraid, it's very easy). All you need to do is enter the domain to test, and it handles everything for you. The download is 2 files, help file and the .exe program. Below is what I did. I downloaded TestMX, and ran it against my domain (testmx See, so easy. So, let's see what happens.

Play by Play
1) it performs a DNS lookup. It shows my local PC's DNS is and
2) it shows the MX records for, which are 3 servers.
3) attempts to connect to the lowest preference number (lower is priority connection). If it fails, the tool is suppose to attempt to connect to next preference number.
4) creates a connection to the MX record it found and is successful since the servers responds with "Spam Be Afraid" which indicates my server would be willing to accept more commands to send an email. This does NOT guarantee an email will be accepted though. It simply is testing that the other server is alive and responding.
5) quits connection.

Testing MX connection with domain
Using nameserver

MX for is []
MX for is []
MX for is []
Connecting with []
Connection established with []
< 220 Spam Be Afraid
> HELO BlackThunder
< 250 Hello [xx.xx.xx.xx], pleased to meet you
< 221 Bye
Connection closed with []


Or, if you want to actually test sending of email you'll need to use an email client or perform the smtp commands by telnet. I recently found a better smtp command site than my old favorite (Microsoft's KB article on the process). Like I said before, the TestMX is only to insure the other mail server responds.

Old School way to test smtp (command by command). Favorite site to explain smtp command sending and is more accurate than the one below.

Old Favorite for testing via smtp commands (XFOR: Telnet to Port 25 to Test SMTP Communication)


Thursday, January 1, 2009

A free gift for BES admins. Do you know about a "knife-edge cutover"? You now do!

Ehlo All,

I've been involved (meaning supporting) BlackBerry Exchange Servers (BES) for 5 years or so, and I just found out about the failover process of BES 4.0 & 4.1. RIM calls it "knife-edge cutover". This is a pretty cool capability that's not too difficult to implement.

I'm a big believer in reading documentation, and didn't know about this until another IT tech casually mentioned this in passing while we discussed virtualization. To summarize, it allows you to quickly failover to a new BES without the need to reactivate BlackBerry devices for end users. So, it allows you to upgrade server hardware, replace a virtual machine (which we recently did and used this approach), or test fail-overs. It worked flawlessly. BlackBerry users didn't even know we failed over to a new vm (virtual machine) since it took only a few minutes. A client's BES vm was having issues, so we used a base vm image and setup BES capability, and then perform a knife-edge cutover. Problem solved, and I'm sure we won't be touching that image for many more years.

Enjoy this gift.... RIM's KB10278 instructions about knife-edge cutover for BES 4.0 & 4.1