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.....