Saturday, September 25, 2004

Realtime Publishers offers new eBooks

Sean Daily's company, has published some new eBooks. The concept of eBooks is interesting to me and Realtimepublishers has produced some high quality works that are available to you for only the cost of registering on a sponsor's web site. Here are a few titles that have been recently made available.

Don Jones' The Definitive Guide to Active Directory Troubleshooting and Auditing is available from NetPro. Don is one of the most amazing technical writers I have ever known.

Don Jones' The Administrator Shortcut Guide™ to VB Scripting for Windows is another title from Don Jones that is available from Content Central. If you don't know some VBScripting, it is time to learn. On the current 20,000 seat migration I am working on, scripting has saved our fannies on more than one occasion (thanks to the works of Cameron Pike of Quest Software, Chris Eanes of the Army's Pacific TNOSC, and Dan Fox of Microsoft.

Derek Melber and Dave Kearns' The Administrator Shortcut Guide™ to Active Directory Security

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Microsoft releases the Exchange Best Analyzer tool

The Microsoft Exchange team released today the much anticipated Exchange Best Practices Analyzer (EXBPA) tool. This tool can help find problems with your Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003 organization by reviewing the existing configuration. Most cool!

*Update - The Exchange team just blogged this.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Michael Smith's A Script for Getting Mailbox Sizes (using WMI)

Michael Smith has posted a nifty script on his blog on how to use WMI to get mailbox sizes. This can be pretty useful if you want to run reports on a schedule.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Publishing Exchange Outlook Web Access Securely

One of the most common questions I am asked is how to securely put an Exchange 2000 or 2003 Outlook Web Access (OWA) server on to the Internet.

Microsoft has published a guide for using Front-End / Back-End servers called the Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange 2000 Server Front-End and Back-End Topology whitepaper.

In this document, you will also find more information about using a reverse proxy server such as Microsoft's ISA Server. This is the most secure way to publish OWA to the Internet, since it helps to completely obscure Windows Internet Information Server (IIS) from hostile attacks. If you do decide to use the ISA server approach, see Dr. Thomas Shinder's whitepapers and book on setting up ISA server. He has a tutorial in his ISA / Exchange deployment documents that is very helpful.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Intelligent Message Filter archive viewer

Exchange guru James Webster has created an Intelligent Message Filter Archive Viewer for quickly and easily viewing the archive files that the Microsoft Exchange 2003 IMF creates when you have it set to archive. This tool is especially useful when you are tuning the IMF and you want to make sure you are catching nothing but junk mail. James also has a good write-up on this on the Exchage team blog. Thank you, James; you have saved me a lot of time. :-)

Sunday, September 05, 2004

New Blog: Rod Fournier

Rod Fournier, clustering guru, internally caffineated, and all around great guy, has started a new blob. Windows Server Clustering & PCNews. Rod's insight in to Windows networking, Active Directory, and, of course, clustering, will make this a great blog to visit. And, if you ever get a chance to take a Windows clustering class from Rod, by all means, do it!

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Optimizing Storage for Exchange Server 2003

Poorly planned disk subsystems will kill your Exchange server's performance. While optimal disk performance was important in Exchange 5.5, it is vital in Exchange 2000 and 2003 due to the fact we are consolidating more users to fewer servers. Database reads and writes as well as transaction log writes must be optimized. High disk read and write latencies translates in to complaints about performance. Monitoring disk performance is a good thing, but how do you know what you really need to monitor?

Microsoft has released a whitepaper called Optimizing Storage for Exchange Server 2003 that is a great guide for optimizing Microsoft Exchange for good disk performance. Thanks to Microsoft TAM Dan Fox for passing this on to me so quickly.

Of course, don't forget about lots of RAM.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Book: Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

I just finished Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. It was a pretty good book; definitely one of the more interesting books I have head in the past couple of years. Chronologically, this book takes place before Brown's runaway best seller, The Da Vinci Code (which they are making a movie from starring Russell Crowe as Robert Langdon).

The book starts at CERN in Switzerland, but ends up at the Vatican in Rome. This book presents the Catholic churgh in a much better light than The Da Vinci Code. Since I am not Catholic, I found much of the information about the Catholic Church, the Vatican, the Vatican archives, and St. Peter's Basilica fairly fascinating. Until I started reading Brown's books, I had little interest little interest in Europe or the history of the Catholic Church. Now I would like to take a vacation to Italy someday and actually see some of these things

Dan Brown has his own web site if you want to learn more about the 'secrets' of his books.

Microsoft's Online Virtual Server lab

Have you wanted to spend some time with new Microsoft technologies, but you don't have the extra PCs or enough computer resources for Virtual PC or VMWare? It is time to spend some time in the online Virtual Server lab.

Pre-built, Virtual PC-based systems are configured to allow you to test and learn about new technology such as Exchange, Active Directory, Systems Management Server (SMS), Microsoft Identify Integration Server (MIIS), Microsoft Operations Manager, and security topics.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Symantec Mail Security for Exchange v4.5 on clusters

I am working on a project for the U.S. Army. We had planned on using Symantec Mail Security for Exchange (SMSMSE) (v4.5) as the antivirus software package for the servers. We found that SMSMSE does not work properly on Exchange 2003 clusters with more than two nodes. The bottom line is that SMSMSE cannot work as a clustered resource. Symantec's Premier support did not seem to concerned that it would not work in our environment.

Sigh.... sorry, I'm ranting. I usually like Symantec's products. But, if you have any cluster configuration other than a two-node, active-passive cluster, you should consider using Sybari's Antigen. This will save you a lot of time and trouble when trying to make your cluster work well.

If you have no choice but to use SMSMSE on your clustered nodes, it will have to be installed on each node and not operated as a clustered resource.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Microsoft Port Reporter Tool

Microsoft has released a neat new tool called the Port Reporter. This tool runs as a service on Windows 2000/XP/2003 and logs TCP and UDP port activity.

Information logged includes ports in use, the processes (or service) that use these ports, the user context under which the process is running, and modules that the process has loaded.

837243: Availability and description of the Port Reporter tool

Thanks to Paul Adare for the tip!