Wednesday, June 11, 2014

OWA for Android App

Very cool!  Microsoft released today an OWA for Android app.  It is still in pre-release, but so all of you early adopters out there can expect few bugs.  And, of course, if you have been following the OWA apps for mobile devices, there is the caveat that it is only available for Office 365 for Business customers.  ;-(    So, more bait to get people to move to Office 365.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Show pictures the Exchange 2010 OWA GAL

Thanks again to Lee Derbyshire

How To Show GAL Pictures For Internal Emails In Exchange 2010 Outlook Web App

Moving Exchange database or defrag'ing Exchange database

I still see these questions asked pretty frequently:

1)  I need to defrag/compact my Exchange 2007 / 2010 / 2013 database?  What is the best way to do that? 
2)  I need to move my databases to a new disk.  What is the best way to do that?

If you have the free disk space, by and large the best way to defrag or move data is to just create a new database on the new disk.  Then, use the New-MoveRequest option to move the mailboxes over. This takes a bit longer but it also minimizes downtime and customer annoyances.  And, in the case of a defrag, it minimizes risk to the database file.

Automated user provisioning - Savior or Satan?

Over the past 10 years, more and more medium and large corporates have embraced user account and group provision systems as part of their identity management strategy.  In this article, Why Provisioning Should Move Away from IT, Dell/Quest advocates moving the provisioning process away from IT entirely.  (Well, that would be almost impossible, but at least get the "process" if not the technology away from IT.)

My own organization embraced a fairly customized version of Microsoft's Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) as our provision system.  It integrates with our PeopleSoft system as well as a number of other databases to provide a unified identity picture.

We have about 1 1/4 full time Microsoft Consulting Services employees on staff that help us maintain this behemoth, another almost full-time contractor, and another almost full-time employee that helps operate the system.  For 45,000 user objects, I'd estimate we spend about $750,000 per year in labor to maintain this.

The system is always a few generations behind where we need it to be.  Feature requests are generally a year to three years behind in integration and implementation.  (Part of this is due to some... "mishaps" our management is so gun-shy about anything to do with this platform that doing nothing is their IM strategy.

Meanwhile, the system works partially well for only about 75% of our employees/contractors since our PeopleSoft system maintains data for only employees not a lot of contractors.  So, our help desk still manually provisions many user accounts and groups. And, our PeopleSoft system often spits out phone numbers in formats that are not usable by UC "dialer" links or software.  So, dial links in Lync are useless.  And, our HR department refuses to update their system to accommodate us.

I'd guess that this platform actually costs us *more* than a manual provisioning system.  Sometimes, there is a reason why there is "no school like the old school."

If you are considering an automated user provisioning system, I strongly recommend going through as many different use cases as possible.  Not just your full time employees, but look at temps, short term contractors, long term contractors, VIPs, etc...  Go through your proposed IM system and look at all of these use cases and determine if the work flows are going to accommodate these.   And, if now, how many users fall outside of the "automated" boundary and how are you going to take care of them?

Monday, June 09, 2014

AssociatedItemCount versus ItemCount

 Recently, one of my "Yes, but show me the TechNet article to prove it" co-workers asked me about the different between AssociatedItemCount and ItemCount properties in Exchange 2010 (and, of course 2007 and 2013) when looking at mailbox and public folder statistics.  (We all have one of these co-workers, don't we?)

ItemCount reflects the total number of actual, viewable mail/calendar/contact/etc... items in the folder.  Anything the user sees in the folder or mailbox.

AssociatedItemCount are the "hidden" objects associated with a folder or mailbox including rules, forms, form-type, Admin info, moderation information, views, auto-complete items, categories, etc... 

Here are the relevant passages in the scripture. 
MSDN Folder Associated Information
MSDN Content Tables
MSDN Folder-Associated Information Tables

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Goodbye Sitemeter

I have been using Sitemeter for years to provide a simple visit counter and reports for some of my web sites.  Recently, I noticed that sometimes my Ithicos site was loading slowly sometimes and the browser was going to a lot of sites that I *know* I don't have links to.

This includes:

Apparently, Sitemeter has been bought by the same ad-ware intensive company that bought MySpace.  And, now the script that you embed on your web site for the Sitemeter is also going out and establishing connections and setting cookies for all of these other sites.

I not only found it is setting this cookies and establishing these connections, but it is also REDIRECTING my site to an "ad" page and my site visitor has to click "Return to Original Site" link.

Goodbye Sitemeter!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Marriott Destinations Club Members

If you are a Marriott Destinations Club member, I just found a cool trick.  If you are short on points for the year, you can Buy or Rent Marriott Destinations Points.  Technically, this is called "renting" because you only get the "one time" use of the points for a particular, but it is very cool.  It allows a lot of flexibility for those that want to add some points some years to their portfolio without going back and purchasing permanent points.  The site lets you find DC owners that have extra points and want to "sell" them.  They usually sell for about $0.45 to $0.60 per point.