Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Handy Dandy Exchange 2007 Cmdlet Guide

Want a quick reference for the most common Exchange 2007 Powershell cmdlets? Check out this download available from Microsoft that fits the bill: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=01a441b9-4099-4c0f-b8e0-0831d4a2ca86&displaylang=en&tm

Want more Exchange management shell goodness to read about? Then check out the whitepaper here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/c0743a9c-8434-437f-8911-6e38f7ccdac3.aspx


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Exchange 2007 Monitoring with MOM 2005... Case of the missing cmdlet!

Being that I work with "THE" John Hann (MOM MVP), there never was any question as to which management product I would use to watch over my Exchange servers. And, so, we finally installed the MOM agents on them and watched the events roll in....

For a nice read and a detailed description of how to get MOM 2005 working with Exchange 2007 and what MOM will do for you, check out Anderson Patricio's article series at MSExchange.org:
Monitoring Exchange Server 2007 using MOM 2005 - Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Well, in the events, we come to find that the MOM scripts are failing in trying to test connectivity to OWA, ActiveSync, and the like. So as directed I run a PowerShell script called New-TestCasConnectivityUser.ps1 from the Exchange 2007 scripts directory. This creates a system test mailbox for just this purpose. However, the messages continue to come in and now direct you to run a cmdlet called Set-CasConnectivityCredentials in order "to store this user's credentials for use in testing the Client Access services." Sounds easy enough, except this cmdlet seems not to exist, anywhere......

After basic troubleshooting on the issue (like making sure I spelled it correctly), I start digging in to figure exactly what is going on and why it's calling for a missing cmdlet. I decide to run a couple of the test- cmdlets manually that MOM is having a problem with. Upon doing so, it basically tells me that it has authentication issues with the user I created via the script. I end up checking the account in Active Directory and find it locked out. I unlock it and yet the test cmdlets still fail. And now when all else fails, I do what the error in the cmdlet output tells me to do, which in this case is to run the script again to verify the user exists.... Which of course makes no sense because it created it successfully and I can see it in AD, but I do what it says anyway. So when I re-run it, it does a reset on the credentials of the test account created previously. And wouldn't you know that fixes the problem!! Now the test- cmdlets will run when done manually and after clearing the events in MOM, they don't come back!

The point here isn't that the solution was that difficult to find or figure out, but rather it is difficult to understand what direction you're supposed to go in when you're being told by the product itself, in this case MOM, what to do but are completely unable to do so because it doesn't exist. Lesson learned is: Sometimes you just have to think outside of the box, the MOM alert box that is.....

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Excited about Exchange 2007 SP1?

I know I am, and you should be too. Why? Because it really adds to the feature set and functionality of the RTM version. Like what? Well, the OWA improvements are going to be fantastic. And then there is the new cluster model for Standby Cluster Replication, or SCR, which will be a great feature for disaster recovery scenarios.

For more info on some of the features, check this writeup at the Exchange Team blog:
Talking Exchange 2007 SP1....

But one feature that I think is really going to help on the install of Exchange 2007 are the changes in the AD requirements for the setup and domain prep processes. Basically, the setup process would fail if it couldn't reach a domain in the forest, or if it ended up trying to talk to any Win2k DC/GC in a domain even when there was an available Win2K3 SP1 DC/GC available. This was even in domains where you weren't even trying to prepare them!?! With E2007 SP1, however, it will simply ignore these "problems." These scenarios and the SP1 improvements are described in detail here: A Setup Prerequisite Change in Exchange 2007 SP1

Boy do I wish the RTM version had worked like that!!! This was something that caused some major headaches in trying to get E2007 installed in my AD environment. Now, as it just so happened, we were already in the works on doing an AD infrastructure upgrade anyway. We were able to expedite that process and were finally able to get our AD prepped and Exchange installed. Of course in the middle of all that, when we did the schema updates it broke replication between the remaining Win2k servers and the 2003. It's a known issue and is addressed with a hofix as described here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/824873/en-us. I throw this out there so you can be aware of this as a potential side effect you could encounter.... For us the install worked out OK in the end. But there are going to be many environments where for either technical or monetary reasons the AD environment cannot be adjusted so quickly.

This really begs the question then as to whether someone considering Exchange 2007, either as a new install or a migration from 2003, should do it now or wait for at least SP1???? I can't answer that, it's totally dependent on your environment and circumstances. All I can say on the matter is that even though my install of Exchange 2007 brought many challenges, I am very glad we moved forward on it as early as we did. I'd do it all over again if given the chance! But that doesn't make me any less excited about SP1....

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Notes" from the field... Send Connectors

Lotus Notes, that is.... You see, I recently headed up a project to assist a subsidiary company of ours who had requested help with a migration from Lotus Domino/Notes to Exchange/Outlook. This was very interesting for me, especially as I'd never really used Notes or worked on a Domino server. But it felt very good to assist these folks in getting off of that platform and migragting them over to Exchange 2007.

To do the actual mail migration we ended up using a combination of the Microsoft Transporter and then BinaryTree's CMT Universal product. Both products work, and work very well. The only reason we had to go beyond MS' product was because some of the users had items with problems that Transporter just couldn't get past and would fail on. CMT would hit the items and just skip them and move on. For our case this was ok, as most of the problems were with very old calendar appointments anyway. If anyone would like more information about these products please leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

What I really wanted to talk about in this post wasn't so much the actual Notes migration itself, but a rather interesting side item regarding message size restrictions on Send Connectors..... To get to that I need to let you know that as part of the overall project, we also had to setup a new network fax solution as well. To this end, I chose to go with GFI Faxmaker. This was essentially another first for me as I've not dealt with a fax server product since about 1997 which was RightFax and it was running on NT 3.51.... So in setting up GFI Faxmaker (which I must say seems like a pretty good product, thus its' many customer choice awards) to work with Exchange 2007, I had to create two send connectors for Exchange to route faxes to the fax server. And don't get me wrong, that all worked like a champ.

The issue came when everyone was back to work and started trying to send emails (normal SMTP emails, NOT faxes) with attachments. Anything over 10MB wouldn't send. So of course I start looking at message size limits. I check the mailbox settings for the user in question and there are no limits imposed. I then check the default Internet SMTP connector in the Exchange Management Shell and notice that of course the 10MB default setting for MaxMessageSize is what it's showing. So I bump that up to 150MB and try sending again. Still doesn't work. From there I start bumping any maximum sizes for messages or attachments in receive connectors and at the organization level. Nothing works. I'm stumped. So, as I do when I find myself in that situation, I call in to MS Support. I finally get connected to the support engineer who starts going through all of the settings that I previously mentioned with me, to which he says "It should be working, but hold on and let me check on this." When he gets back on the line he recommends that we now also go and change the MaxMessageSize on the send connectors that I had setup to work with GFI Faxmaker. And don't you know that as soon as I upped those settings as well, the attachments started flowing.

I was aware that whole time that the fax connectors had the 10MB setting, but I just didn't see how they could be affecting trying to send out to the Internet, or even to another local Exchange user for that matter. I now understand this is the default behavior and know how to work around it. And knowing is half the battle....

Hope this helps someone else oneday. And if not, then I at least hope it kept your interest....

Friday, July 27, 2007

Where to begin? Again.... Hub Transport Install

If anyone was actually following this blog, I am sorry for ignoring it as I have. It's odd that when I've done and seen so much that would have made great posting material, I've let it slip right through and done nothing with it....

So what nugget of Exchangey goodness can I now share to get back on track with things???

Well, I thought it might be good to post on the comment I received off the last post. Actually, the comment was really off a comment/question I left on the Exchange Team Blog. It had to do with problems I encountered installing the Hub Transport server role into my environment.

While I had successfully installed the HT role in lab settings, when it came time to bring up the real thing, on the first run of Setup it would fail with an error of "Access Denied" in trying to read a path that was supposed to be within the install bits. This would happen whether using the downloaded code or the actual product DVD.

I eventually called Microsoft PSS and worked through the issue, or should I say around the issue. Basically the solution was to run the initial install and let it fail. Then run the install again and it would finish. Sounds great, but the install then never created the routing group connectors between the 2003 and 2007 systems, you had to do that manually. My problem with this solution was that if the install wasn't doing that part like it was supposed to, then what else was it not doing??

I got no good answer from MS on why this problem was occuring, just some random "could be problems reading from the media blah blah etc..." which did not answer the question of why the install is looking for a path on the media that doesn't exist. It also didn't explain why I never saw the issue in a lab using the exact same DVD. My theory is that there was something in the install code that because of the AD and network setup in my production environment was being called, or was trying to be called, that wasn't needed in the lab in a single subnet and domain environment. I do know I was not the only person to have this issue, and for that reason I'm posting about this issue.

I'm not saying the solution is a good one, but it does appear to work. And so I hope this helps someone avoid the headache with this issue that I endured.....

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Exchange 2007 hardware choices....

What a great time I had with this phase of my Exchange 2007 project. I studied, and studied, and studied the guidance from the online TechNet Exchange documentation as well as from the Exchange team blog. Here's a couple of the particularly helpful articles...

I finally came up with the following as my hardware solution for this installation:

  1. Mailbox server - I will be setting up a CCR Mailbox using locally attached SAS storage. I went with 2 HP DL585 (quad processor AMD Opteron 8220SE 2.8GHz; 32GB RAM) with 3 MSA 70 SAS storage enclosures per server with 25 2.5" SAS drives per enclosure. Two of the enclosures on each server are filled with 146GB 10K drives which will be the database LUNs, and the other is filled with 72GB 15K drives which will be the Log LUNs.

  2. Hub Transport server - For this role I chose the HP ML370R (dual processor Intel 5150; 16GB RAM) with 16 internal 2.5" SAS drives.

  3. Edge Transport server - For this role I chose the HP DL380 (dual processor Intel 5160; 8GB RAM) with 8 internal 2.5" SAS drives.

  4. Client Access server - And for this one I chose the HP DL360 (dual processor Intel 5160; 10GB RAM) with 4 internal 2.5" SAS drives.

For all of my servers I will be using RAID 10 (1+0) in some form or fashion. This seems to be Microsoft's new general recommendation for storage where possible. It is a costly RAID setup, as you lose half the drives to redundancy, but the performance benefits should be worth it - especially considering it is for Exchange 2007, and that deserves nothing but the best!

This was a massive amount of hardware, not just monetarily, but physically as well. However, it all condensed down very nicely into a single rack. And so, without further delay, may I present my Exchange 2007 system hardware....

I've been a bad blogger...

Yes, it's true, I've neglected my blog. But it is only for what I feel are good reasons. Here's why:
  1. In my last post I promised to discuss hardware. Well, I finally finished speccing out the hardware. I've also ordered, received, and assembled all said hardware.
  2. To be as well prepared for this installation and migration as possible, I've worked on (and re-worked on) a lab environment to get some hands on with the product and process before going live.
  3. I'm lazy. Ok, maybe that's not a good reason as much as an excuse....

I'm sure nobody out there was holding their breath for the latest updates in my continuing saga with Exchange 2007, but now that I've got this post under my belt I think I can get back in the swing of things.

And after all that went into reasons one and two listed above, there is plenty to post about!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

TechEd 2007 - Here I come!!

I booked a spot into TechEd this morning.

I'm especially looking forward to it this year, for a couple of reasons. First, there should be some really good content with the recent release of products such as Exchange 2007 and Vista, as well as "Longhorn" and the new System Center suite of products being on the horizon. Second, it is back in Orlando!

If you've never been to TechEd or haven't seen the details for this year's event, check it out here: http://www.microsoft.com/events/teched2007/default.mspx

I hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Let the migration begin!

I finished DST updating - it's done, or I'm done.... Either way it's behind me now. This is important, not only because I'm out of the nightmare which DST was (mostly anyway), but it means I'm free to move on to bigger and better.... Thus, in the words of wise old Rafiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafiki) I am happy to announce: It is time!

Yes, my long awaited time to begin migrating to Exchange 2007 has arrived! This really gets back to one of my main reasons for starting this blog anyway: tracking and posting about my plans, progress, trials, and accomplishments in migrating to Exchange.

Since first seeing Exchange 2007 in action at TechEd 06 I've been looking forward to putting it into production. Now the expectation becomes reality.

My first step from here will be getting the hardware to run it. Next week I'll give some info on what I'm looking at for servers and how/why I've specced them out.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Fun with DST

Yes, I'm still working on DST updates. If you haven't seen it yet, it's probably too late now, but here's the link to Microsoft's "Daylight Savings Time Help and Support Center" from which you can take the appropriate path: http://support.microsoft.com/gp/cp_dst

So far, I've addressed the:
  1. OS updates for Windows 2003 - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/931836/en-us
  2. Exchange 2003 SP2 updates - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/926666/en-us
  3. Applied the same CDO update as above for Exchange to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server and sent out the updates for the Blackberry devices that needed it - http://www.blackberry.com/select/dst2007/

Now all I've got left to tackle, before week's end of course, is:

  1. Updating appointments in the mailstores using Exchange Calendar Update Tool - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/930879/en-us
  2. Updating Windows Mobile devices - http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/daylightsaving/default.mspx

This whole process is truly a headache. And while I've heard some complaints against Microsoft (and other vendors) for making this process so complicated, I don't really blame them nor think that it's their fault. I just don't think enough thought was given in regards to the impact that the changes in DST would have for so many things and the work that would be involved to make corrections and/or adjustment for it before it became a law. Just my take on the matter...

Friday, March 2, 2007

More Exchange 2007 Documentation

I just received another Microsoft Download Notifications email. You can subscribe to that here: http://www.mircrosoft.com/downloads

Of particular interest was an available download for a standalone version of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Help. The download is available here:

A handy resource for quick reference!

OT - My adventures in PSP

Ok, so after a whole 2 days of hardcore blogging, I thought it would be a good time to go into something off topic from the main technical arenas this blog was started to discuss.

And so I've chosen to talk about gaming. I'm not a huge or extreme gamer by any means. But I do enjoy the diversion every once in a while. I've got an XBOX console at home, which I do play some, but my wife likes it to stay put away so usually I'm not in the mood (too lazy) to go through the trouble of taking it out and hooking it up and then putting it away. I don't really do any PC gaming (other than an occasional round of Pinball or Minesweeper), that died out for me after we had to take our Half-Life server down, yes the one at the office of course. I did find that I was inclined to take out my PocketPC and get in a quick game here and there, which led me to think of going down the mobile gaming path. Now, my daughter has a Nintendo DS and is quite happy with it, but I wanted something a little more. That really only left the Sony PSP. So after much contemplation (or what my good friend "The" John Hann calls obsession) I finally caved and got one last year.....

I bought the Entertainment Package which included a 1GB memory stick, the ATV Offroad Fury game, and the UMD Lords of Dogtown movie. If I had to do it over again, I must say I'd go with just the base package and buy a memory stick. I ended up buying a 2GB stick to go with it as well, which was a great deal from Best Buy during the one of their one day sales during the holidays for $39. I should have bought two at that price!!

As far as games go, I've got:
  1. ATV Offroad Fury (Ok game, if you like racers)
  2. Lumines (cool game, I could probably do better at it if I hadn't played so much Tetris)
  3. Gradius Collection (love it, but it still kicks my butt)
  4. Ghosts N Goblins (great game, still working on it)
  5. X-Men Legends II (pretty decent I guess, took a bit to get used to and now feels a bit repetitive like you're just doing the same thing over just on different levels)
My opinion of the PSP overall?? I like it. I enjoy the games and I like being able to transfer movies from DVD to the memory stick and watch them. It's not something I'm addicted to as I probably only play games a few hours a month. But what is really nice about it is that when I'm ready to play, so is my PSP. Enough said.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Exchange 2007 Documentation

I know a couple of books have been put out on Exchange 2007 already, such as:
I intend to get my copy of these books soon. However, in the meantime the premier source of documentation and reading material comes from Microsoft directly on the TechNet website:


This, of course, includes documentation on Exchange 2003 as well.

Personally, I have used the TechNet documentation extensively in preparing and planning for a migration to 2007. I feel that it's a great place to start if you're looking to just dig in and do some solid reading on the product. Check it out and I think you'll agree!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Welcome to my blog!

Thanks for stopping by! I know there are a lot of sites out there you could be at, but you've chosen (or at least mercifully agreed to my nagging and repeated requests) to visit my site.

Through my posts I intend to share my thoughts and experiences with you on numerous things, including but not limited to:

  1. Exchange 2003 and 2007
  2. Outlook 2003 and 2007
  3. Microsoft OSes and products
  4. Microsoft Certification
  5. Other general IT interest items
  6. And of course the occasional OT special interest items.... ;-)

If any of this is of interest to you, I encourage you to visit the site again soon. And please share any comments or questions or requests you may have.

More postings coming soon....

Thanks again!