Thursday 23 April 2009

Customer service and cloud computing

Cnet published an interesting article by James Urquhart entitled "Customer service and cloud computing" yesterday. The article is a wake-up-call for many in the emerging Cloud computing market.
Customer service should be at the heart of any organisation actually wanting to help their customers achieve their goals, but James suggests this isn't being implemented widely in the Cloud Computing market yet.
James goes on to provide a "wish list" of customer service options which are well worth a read no matter what industry you are in.
What do you think makes good customer service?

Sunday 19 April 2009

Leaked screenshots of Outlook 2010

Here's a screenshot of Outlook 2010. It's simple and been edited to protect the identity of the end-user as this has been leaked out, it's not an official release.

I like the look of the cleaner interface and the new ribbon, including a Quick Steps menu - common forward tasks to Team, Manager, FYI. You can see the Ignore button too.

There's a peek of the new Office logo as well - I expect an outburst of logos and colour schemes based on this new orange over the next year!

Dan -

Friday 17 April 2009

Exchange 2010 Outlook Web Access and the ECP

Take a look at Exchange 2010 Outlook Web Access!

Note the new layout and updated views. I believe it's a nice evolution of the Web Browser experience. Further if you use Firefox or Safari you too can use the Premium version of OWA now - you won't be subjected to the Light version. Good news!

Take a look at the Options screen:

You can immediately see a new feature to connect Outlook to your account - a great idea (and about time :-) )

Clicking on Groups shows the Groups you belong too and the Groups you own. Notice you can request to join _and_ leave groups

And finally if you're an Administrator you can manage your Org to a certain extent through the ECP. Note I have changed the 'Select what to manage' setting in the top left corner to 'my organisation'. You can see I can add Users, Groups and Contacts, and also delete them if I so choose. I am also able to perform Message Tracking from here.

Oliver Moazzezi

MVP - Exchange Server

Exchange 2010 Hub Transport feature, Shadow Messaging/Redundancy

Fed up with RAID10 for your Hub Transport Servers? Well half the cost of your Hub Transport disk subsystem with Exchange 2010.

Exchange 2010 Hub Transport Servers support a feature called Shadow Redundancy. This means that the HT Server gets confirmation the other HT it passed it onto actually successfully passed it on itself.

Great you say! But how does this benefit me? Well for a start your users won't have to resend lost messages, and well secondly you don't necessarily have to rely on RAID10 anymore. RAID0 is a real possilbility for your Hub Transport Servers. You still need your IO (when you are transferring a lot of messages and have features like Journaling or Transport Rules are setup and enabled), but you now have the potential to half your disk cost.

Take an Enterprise that has 20 Hub Transport Servers, they may have a 6 disk SAS based RAID10 solution for their mail queue database. That's 120 SAS disks. With Shadow Redundancy you can half that to 60, with just as good or slighter better IO (no write penalties).

If a disk fails then you just rip it out and rebuild the RAID set, and then reboot your Server or restart your Microsoft Exchange Transport Service - you don't have to worry about the lost mail in that mail database as previous hops will have not recieved confirmation of delivery and they will re-route using alternative HT Servers.

Now RAID0 isn't great in all circumstances. You wouldn't use RAID0 for any Hub Transport Servers that recieved mail directly from the Internet for example. However this is a perfect solution for Hub Transport Servers in dedicated Hub Transport AD Sites - where they only ever pass mail onto Hub Transport Servers in other AD Sites.

Note this feature isn't support with communication between Exchange 2010 and 2007 Hub Transport Servers, It's 2010 to 2010 only.

Oliver Moazzezi

MVP - Exchange Server

Exchange 2010 High Availability! Database Availability Groups RIP SCC, CCR and SCR

Rest in peace SCC, CCR and SCR!

Exchange 2010 now only supports one method for High Availability, and that's Database Availability Groups, or DAGs for short.

You can have upto 16 Servers in a DAG, and you aren't limited to just two copies of a database like you were with CCR - you can have 2+ or more copies if you so wish. Also all Mailbox Servers that are Members in a DAG don't necessarily have to have all databases log shipped over to each other.

Benefits of Database Availability Groups!

1. You now fail over at the MAILBOX LEVEL. This means you don't fail over an entire cluster anymore. Your Mailbox Server a little over utilized? Then move 1 or 2 Databases over to a lesser used Mailbox Server to stabilize resources.

2. You can have truly multiple copies of a Database! Technically with 3 or more copies you could use Circular Logging and enter into a Backupless state!

3. DAG Servers can stretch AD Sites! Making DR and HA one solution - without having the pain of having to have an SCR Target.

Play with DAG in the released Exchange 2010 BETA.

Powershell cmdlets:

1. New-DatabaseAvailabilityGroup

This creates the DAG

2. Add-DatabaseAvailabilityGroupMember

This adds a Mailbox Server to the DAG

3. New-DatabaseAvailabilityNetwork

This allows you to specify a Network for Log Shipping

and finally, 4. Get-DatabaseAvailabilityGroup

This shows you all available DAGs, it's members and Operational Servers.

It is noted this is all available to do through the Exchange Management Console too for all those still not quite accustomed to Powershell:

It is worth noting you still need a FileShare Witness if you have an even number of Mailbox Servers in the DAG. You specify this at the time of DAG creation.
DAGs also rely on the use of Failover Clustering, so Windows 2008 Enterprise is still needed.
A very very good feature for smaller companies is that you can have Mailbox Servers as members of a DAG and achieve HA with your Mailbox Data and still also have both the Hub Transport and Client Access Server roles on the Server - effectively total HA with the use of just TWO Servers! This does not take into account Active Directory tin, and also you would need Hardware Load Balancing - as Windows NLB is not supported on a Server with Failover Clustering installed.

That's it for now, I will take you through the steps of creating a DAG and multiple copies of a Database is a future post.

Oliver Moazzezi

MVP - Exchange Server

Exchange 2010 Technical information starts to appear on TechNet

Microsoft has kindly already started filling TechNet with Exchange 2010 information

Oliver Moazzezi

MVP - Exchange Server

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Exchange 2010 BETA released!!!

Grab it here:

I've been playing with it, expect some how to's in the next couple of days.

Oliver Moazzezi

MVP - Exchange Server

Tuesday 14 April 2009

More BES 5...

If you are a BlackBerry Alliance Partner why not take a look in the Downloads section today, there may be a treat for you posted on 13/4/9.


Sunday 12 April 2009

BES 5 documentation

Documentation has appeared for BES 5 on the BlackBerry website, this is great news as there are some cool features that have been missing to date.

My top 3 are HA, monitoring and administration.

High Availability
To date to achieve HA with BES you needed to buy an additional product, such as Neverfail, and configure hot swap servers. BES 5 includes Neverfail style clustering out of the box, so no more down time for BlackBerry users.

With BES 4.1.5 the BlackBerry Monitoring Service was released, it presented much need statistical information about servers and devices in a web based console. BES 5 builds on this.

BES 5 administration is all web based, so no more rolling out management tools. The BlackBerry Web Desktop Manager has also been updated and allows users to provision there own devices, so long as they are enabled on BES. There are also now over 400 built in policies to choose from.


Thursday 9 April 2009

Exchange 2003 Support lifecycle

It goes into extended support on the 14/4/2009 - next week.

Oliver Moazzezi

MVP - Exchange Server

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Migrating SANS for Exchange 2003 A/P clusters

This is usually a really fun late night affair :-)

Here are the basic steps outlined for an easy pain free move:

1. Pause passive node in Cluster Administrator then take passive cluster node offline

2. Add new HBA's

3. Fire up passive node, connect fibre from HBA's to fibre switches on new SAN and configure zoning etc.

4. Present disks to passive node, then re-scan via disk managenet and ensure you've picked up new disks

5. Add drive letters and format

6. Fail cluster over

7. Take cluster offline, add disks as Physical Disk resource in Exchange Resource Group and add disks as a dependancy of SA.

8. Bring cluster online

9. On new passive node repeat steps 1 through to 4.

10. Fail cluster over to ensure both nodes can successfully bring their resources online and see both disks

11. Now just move the databases via ESM to new SAN disks.

12. Quorum is moved in Cluster Administrator

13. EVS disk - I take the cluster offline then copy all EVS data to the new EVS disk.

14. Once that is done remove the EVS disk from Cluster Admin and add the new EVS disk with the original drive letter name. Then bring cluster online.
15. Removing the old SAN hardware - removing the disks from Cluster Admin and then at an appropritate time take each node down and remove legacy HBA's

16. Power down legacy SAN and remove from racking

Oliver Moazzezi

MVP - Exchange Server

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Named Properties handling changing in a future RU for Exchange 2007 SP1?

Most excellently written and described in detail here:

From the Conclusions statement it appears to be coming in a future Roll Up for SP1!

Oliver Moazzezi

MVP - Exchange Server

Friday 3 April 2009

Applying an Exchange Service Pack to an Exchange 2007 UM Server

If you have extra language packs installed (very likely if you’re outside of the US!) then you need to first remove them before you can SP Exchange on your UM Server.

To find out the language packs installed you can use the Get-UMServer cmdlet:

Once you have ascertained what ones are installed you use setup to remove them

Command: /RemoveUMLanguagePack:en-GB

This will remove the en-GB language pack I had installed.

You can then Apply your Service Pack:

Once your SP has been installed correctly. You can re-install your language pack

Command: /AddUmLanguagePack:<UmLanguagePackName> /s: d:\<languagepackfilelocation>

Don’t forget to re-select the language on your associated Dial Plans:

Here’s a link to the available Language Packs:

Oliver Moazzezi

MVP - Exchange Server