Monday, July 31, 2006

Devin Ganger on Exchange 2007

3Sharp's Devin Ganger has just posted to his blog his initial thoughts and discoveries on Exchange 2007. This is a good article to read. Thanks Devin!

I don't remember anybody's name. How do you think the "dahling" thing got started? -- Zsa Zsa Gabor

Friday, July 28, 2006

Exchange 2007: What's the big deal?

Now that Exchange 2007 Beta 2 is out, I feel comfortable writing publicly about features. I have already talked to a number of clients, readers, and conference attendees about the compelling features of Exchange 2007. Moving to Exchange 2007 is going to be an adjustment for many organizations; certainly for medium and large organizations learning the Exchange Management Shell tasks / cmdlets is going to be a learning curve. Adjusting to the fact that all recipient management is now performed through the Exchange Management Console rather than Active Directory Users and Computers is going to be another adjustment.

However, despite some adjustments that some organizations will have to make, Exchange 2007 is a nice, big step forward in messaging technology. Considering the number of changes, this is not quite a 5.5 to 2003 move, but it is certainly far bigger than a 2000 to 2003 move.

So, what are they features that are going to trigger organizations to start their moves? I am excited about a number of features that Exchange 2007 is going to bring to the table. For most of my clients, improved availability and recoverability are going to be two of the key factors that will influence the decision to migrate sooner rather than later. Clustered Continuous Replication (CCR) and Local Continuous Replication (LCR) are two significant steps forward for recoverability and higher availability. LCR enables you to keep replicated copies of Exchange databases on the local server. CCR enables you to have a cluster that does not depend on shared storage, but rather replicates a copy of the database (through log shipping) to the passive node.

I am also very fond of the Exchange Management Shell (EMS). ANYTHING you want to do with Exchange 2007 can now be done from the command prompt or scripted. However, some tasks that medium and large organizations (or maybe even small ones) will want to do are only done from the EMS and that is going to be a big adjustment for those of us that are GUI-oriented.

What are some other key features that will influence your decision to migrate? Well, here are a list of my favorite new features (in no particular order):

  • Unified messaging (voice mail, faxing, Outlook Voice Access)
  • Per-User Safe Sender and Blocked Sender lists
  • Transport rules (disclaimers, message security, attachment filtering)
  • E-mail Lifecycle Management
  • Server side rules and message transport policies
  • OWA SharePoint document access
  • Improved message transport security
  • Simplified Exchange Management Console
  • Improved anti-spam features
  • Outlook 32KB rules limit gone!
  • Calendar Concierge
  • 64-bit architecture improves scalablability (more RAM), improved caching, and up-to 50 mailbox stores which allows larger mailboxes and faster backups/restores.
  • Greatly improved OWA including browse-able GAL and remote device wipe
  • Consistent scripting interface via the Exchange Management Shell
  • Auto-discovery for Outlook 2007
  • Customizable over-quota and NDR messages
  • Per-Recipient Journaling
  • Schedule-able Out-Of-Office messages
  • Message routing based on Active Directory sites
  • No more Administrative Groups!
  • Restore databases to any server

Note that some of these new features WILL require that the client be updated to Outlook 2007 also!

Read me the Riot Act

I like etymology; my roommates' first language is not English and I frequently find myself explaining some of the phrases and words that I use. One of my favorites is the "reading the riot act." Like many English terms, I had no clue where it came from. I stumbled across this in a book I'm reading:

The British Riot Act of 1714
Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the Act made in the first year of King George the First for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God Save the King.

Once a magistrate reads this passage to an unruly mob (of 12 persons or more), they have 1 hour to disperse. Once the "riot act" was read (it must be read precisely) and the hour has passed, their prescense ceased being a misdemeanor and became a felony (possibly punishable by death). It was repealed in 1973.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Burn the land and boil the sea, you can't take the sky from me....

At a couple of conferences recently, I have had a bitmap of the Serenity (from the TV show Firefly) on my desktop. The good Browncoats and Independents in the room have asked me how to get a copy. So, here ya go! Click here for a full-size version.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Exchange 2007 Beta 2 available today!!!

Looks like Exchange 2007 Beta 2 is going to be available sometime in the next few hours. Microsoft has posted a download page, too. I have tried downloading it but it looks like the bits have not been posted. I'm sure this will be a busy site later today!

Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent. -- Marilyn vos Savant

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Exchange 2007 Beta 2 in production - DO NOT DO THIS!!!!!

Exchange 2007 Beta 2 should be out in the next week or two. There is already chatter in the newsgroups and people that like to be early adopters. "How do I put Exchange 2007 in to my production" network." The answer is "You don't". At least not without being on Microsoft's RDP program (not just signing up for the Beta).

It is Beta software. If you pooch up your production users and call Microsoft, you may get a sympathetic ear, but no support. If you post questions the newsgroups or public Web forums, you might get some support and you might not.

Build yourself a lab. Set yourself up a mailbox or two for yourself and your co-workers, but do NOT integrate it in to your production enviroment. Keep Exchange 2007 segregated from your production system.

Am I being clear?

Misconception moment: Exchange 2007 64-bit versus 32-bit

I am being asked this almost every day. "Is Exchange 2007 ONLY 64-bit?" Well, YES and no. There is a 32-bit version that is to be used ONLY for testing, evaluation, labs, classrooms, demostrations, etc... It is NOT very well optimized and is NOT supported in production. I don't know how it will be distributed once Exchange 2007 RTMs, though.

Any server that will house production users or be part of your production organization (mailbox, hub transport, client access, or unified messaging servers) MUST be 64-bit servers (x64 architecture, not IA-64) running Windows 2003 64-bit. Read the Microsoft Exchange 2007 System Requirements page.

In place ugprades are NOT supported, so you will have to have at least one spare piece of hardware to start doing your migration. Most any server that you have purchased over the last year or two should have the x64 extensions,

What will the 64-bit architecture "buy" you?
My opinion: If you run a single Exchange 2000/2003 with a few hundred mailboxes and have no high-availablity features in play (such as clustering or disk replication), then probably not much. The 64-bit move for Exchange 2007 means "more RAM". That translates in to better performance, more efficient disk I/O (which is where larger servers have problems), and the ability to add more features that require improved I/O. Exchange 2003 is quite simply maxed out as far as what it can do; it is constrained by the amount of RAM it can access and therefore has to "go to disk" too often on a busier server.

With more RAM available to Exchange and the database engine, I/O is better optimized, and new features such as continuous replication (local continuous replication (LCR) and clustered continuous replication (CCR)) and per user 'safe sender'/ 'blocked sender' lists can be included.

Is Exchange 2007 better? Heck yes! I have a couple of customers that are already budgeting for migrations to not only Exchange 2007, but Office 2007 in the next year (provided there are no nasty show-stoppers in the RTM version.) 64-bit is a VERY small price to pay for some of these new features and it allows Exchange to move in to the 21rst century with respect to CPUs.

Slide decks for Get Ready events in Europe

If you were an attendee at the Munich, Oslo, or Johannesburg "Get Ready for Exchange 2007 and Office 2007" events, first thanks for attending and thanks for the hospitality while I was visiting. Second, a number of people had wanted the PowerPoint slide decks for the presentations. I cannot post these myself since they are the property of Penton Media, but they are available on Penton's site. Each event has a different URL and the URL for your event can be found on the inside back page of the program guide that you received at the event; again, I can't post them here, sorry.

The slide decks that were posted originally are a little out of date and did not contain some of the exampls such as the Exchange Management Shell (EMS) cmdlets I used. Penton should be updating these sometime next week (give them until the end of the week to get these updated). So, please check back with that URL if you don't get the updated slides!

Again, thanks much for attending the Get Ready events. Keep an eye out for future events in September in Istanbul, Dubai, and Amsterdam. More cities may be announced in the near future, too!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Hasta la Vista

I love Betas. Any Microsoft Beta program I can get signed up for, I'll devote a few hours a week in the name of playing with the software, finding bugs, and learning new features. Well, except in the case of Exchange Betas where I end up spending many hours a week working on it. I have been playing with the Vista client software for almost a year on test systems. I decided it was finally time to put it to work on my desktop.

On Tuesday of this past week, in a fit of optimism I blew away my production desktop machine and installed Windows Vista Ultimate (I downloaded the most current bits from the Beta site.) Yes, it looks very nice. It has some spiffy features. The new IE 7.0 with tabbed browsing is nice (gee, reminds me of Firefox.)

On Wednesday, I spent much of my free time getting Office 2007 configured. Also tried to get my HP Scanner software and network printer software to work. On Thursday, I spent a good chunk of the day trying unsuccessfully to get Adobe Acrobat 6.0 to work. I create quite a few PDFs and my scanner scans to PDF. No luck. Nor with my DVD Authoring software.

On Friday, I once again tried to get sound to come out of my computer. The sound card device driver works fine, but no sound ever comes out. I did not realize just how dependent I was on listening to music.

On Saturday, with refreshed optimizing I scoured the Beta newsgroups, but found no solutions. Spent several hours looking for alternate software/drivers for my sound card. Once again tried Acrobat. Once again tried my DVD software. And I have not even tried to install all of the other software I use less frequently.

At 6:00PM, I started re-installing Windows XP. I have work I need to get done. I certainly feel the frustration of some Microsoft customers. I sure hope I don't have to buy new Acrobat software, scanner software, and a sound card. I'll look forward to Beta 3 or Release Candidate 1.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

GALMOD Replacement - Active Directory Update web page evaluation posted

A few weeks ago I blogged about a web-base replacement for GALMOD that allows a user to logon to a web page and update his/her Active Directory attributes such as Title, City, Telephone number, etc... I had this developed originally as part of a consulting project I was doing and one of my friends has done the development work. It has been extended to allow attribute labels to be changed and the attributes that can be set so that a user can or cannot change them.

We created a web page on the Directory Update application that includes a link to the documentation. An fully functional evaluation version of Directory Update is available for download.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Tips and Tricks Guide to Secure Messaging - Chapters 1 - 5 published has now published to the Web the first 5 chapters of the free eBook The Tips and Tricks Guide to Secure Messaging. There is something for everyone in this book all the way from your boss that wonders why you are spending so much money on antivirus and antispam products all the way up to Exchange administrators. The eBook is in a question and answer format and hopefully includes some of the most commonly asked questions about securing messaging systems.

Two of the most interesting aspects of writing this eBook were that I learned more about configuring application layer firewalls (features such as HTTP and SMTP protocol inspection, the ISA Server's "delegated authentication" feature, the ISA Server's Forms Based Authentication feature) and I learned a LOT more about Enterprise Rights Management (ERM) and Windows Rights Management Services. I think ERM solutions are going to affect most everything we do in the future.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Exchange 2007 management shell cmdlet repository

Microsoft has started a cool script/cmdlet repository for the Exchange Management Shell. Some nice examples of cmdlets can be found here.

Jim McBee in Paris!!! Photographic evidence

Jim McBee
Greetings from the Charles de Gaulle Airport and Paris!I'm traveling WAY too much this year. About 130,000 base miles so far. The best part about all this traveling is 2 trips through Paris this year. Yep, Jim McBee in Paris! I can't hardly believe it myself, but I have decided that Paris is an awesome place and hope I can return again soon.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Exchange 2007 Beta 2 documentation and SDK available

Bonjour from Paris and Happy U.S. Independence Day to folks in the States. Microsoft has posted the Exchange 2007 Beta 2 documentation and the Exchange 2007 Beta 2 Software Development Kit (SDK). These have been posted for a few days, but I figured it was blogworthy. Beta 2 should be out in the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Exchange 2007 - Request for comments and reviewers

While we are on the subject of Exchange 2007... I have been contracted to write TWO Exchange 2007 books. One will be targeted towards "new to product" type features, entry level admins, feature "how to use" information, etc... This book will be released around the time the product is released. The second book will be the new "24seven" book, which is now called "Advanced Administration"; this book will come out sometime in the Exchange 2007 SP1 timeframe. Hopefully by that time I have plenty of practical and "field" experience with Exchange 2007. I have a few customers that will probably deploy E2K7 within the first few months.

Anyway, many people that read my blog already know this. I try to collect as much information from people as I can about what they want to see. So, I'm looking for people to review the outline of the "introduction / basics" book and tell me what they think. As I start turning out chapters, I will also be looking for informal reviewers. People that don't mind reviewing chapters and providing me feedback.

If you are interested in looking at outlines, reading chapters, or telling me what you think, drop me an e-mail at exchange24seven @

As you are thinking about Exchange 2007, here are some of the types of things I am trying to find from people to provide me feedback:
  1. What are some of the most valuable things you have learned about Exchange 5.5/2000/2003?
  2. What were lessons that were learned the "hard way"?
  3. What are some of the things you wished you had learned when you started working with Exchange 5.5/2000/2003?
  4. In your job, what are the things you do most often and what are the skills that help you do your job the most efficiently.
  5. What is your most commonly used "features" of E2K/E2K3? (Journaling? IMF? Multiple mailbox stores? ExBPA? Message tracking? Mailbox/recipient management? )
  6. Of the books, blogs, and web sites you read, what are some of the most important or useful things you have learned about Exchange? Or the most useful features of these books, blogs, or web sites?
  7. What features of Exchange 2007 do you think will be most useful to your organization? (Transport policies? New IMF? Edge services? Local Continuous Replication? Clustered Continuous Replication? More mailbox databases per server?
  8. If you read one of the earlier 24seven books, tell me what you thought? What was good? What was useless?

So, I hope to hear from you!

Exchange 2007 - Beta 2 - It's coming to a download site near you soon

Grüezi und Guten Tag from Zurich! I'm on my third trip to Europe for the year. I have grown really fond of Europe, the nice people, diverse languages, the beautiful landscape, and colorful cities. The people I have met and worked with here have just been awesome.

Anyway, on to business. Beta 2 of Exchange 2007 will probably be released sometime in the next 4 to 6 weeks. It will be reasonably "feature complete", but it is STILL BETA software and things are subject to change. So, don't hold Microsoft (or me!) accountable in case things change. Once Beta 2 is released, I'm going to consider my NDA with respect to the features, functions, etc... of Beta 1 to be invalid. (I always take NDAs I sign seriously, so I won't blog or talk about something for which I have agreed (even verbally) to an NDA. However, everyone will be able to get their hands on Beta 2 and will be able to see for themselves.

I encourage everyone that is interested in Exchange 2007 to go ahead and get signed up for the Beta 2 and be prepared to download and do some testing. Even if you just do testing with the 32-bit testing/demo/lab version and use virtual machines. Get to know the new product. If there are things that you feel are lacking, let your local Microsoft representatives know about it; especially the local technical people. Microsoft does listen to their customers.