Microsoft announces Unified Technology Event for Enterprises

imageOne Event to rule them all, One Event to find them,
One Event to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

Today, through Microsoft’s General Manager for Office, Julia White, Microsoft announced that there will be a Microsoft Unified Technology Event for Enterprises in Chicago next year, to be held in the week of May 4th. This new event is aiming at the current attendees of TechEd, Sharepoint Conference, Lync Conference, Project Conference (uh, what), the Microsoft Management Summit and our beloved Exchange Conference. It is also replacing those events starting next year, meaning RIP for events like MEC, SPC and TechEd. There is nothing mentioned regarding the faith of the related events held in non-NA regions, like TechEd Europe or TechEd Australia.

I consider myself lucky being able to attend the – what looks to be the last (again) – Microsoft Exchange Conference this year. Looking back at that event, thinking about setting, identity and depth, one can only hope for the best with this new monstrous event. After all, looking at recent attendance numbers and assuming there are some attendees visiting multiple of these events, adding recent numbers of TechEd North America (10k+), SPC (12k+), MMS (5k+), MEC (2,5k), LyncConf (0,5k) show the estimated attendance could easily go in the direction of 20,000+ attendees. That estimate is without representation from the related product groups and exhibitors. That is one big event.

With the next release of Exchange being announced for 2015, one could assume there are more products lined up for a common launch next year, similar to the Wave15 launch end of 2012 when Exchange 2013 was released together with Lync 2013, Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013. Though, I do not know the exact timelines of the non-Exchange products, so I could be wrong here.

An event of this scale event poses some serious challenges. That could be as elementary as transport or where to put that many people in the near surroundings of the convention center. Also, what sessions will be scheduled and at what level, given the mixed crowds of the generalistic TechEd and the more product-oriented deep-dive events like MEC. Companies sending delegations of their IT staff to these events may need to have drawings on who needs to stay back at home to keep IT running.

For people worried about the new unified event, Julia White tries to reassure people that the new format will be as ‘magical’ and ‘enjoyable’ as the individual events and it will even exceed them regarding ‘awesomeness’ and value. Meanwhile, Exchange fellows Tony Redmond and Paul Robichaux written up their own views on this change, I suggest you check them out as well.

Note that this site mentions McCormick Place as the event venue (thanks Mike Rigsby). It also mentions the event takes place from Monday until Friday:

Event Name Venue Start Date End Date Attendees
Microsoft Commercial Event 2015
Lakeside Center at McCormick Place

Map It

05/04/2015 05/09/2015 20000

The official announcements can be found here and here. More details will be made available around September.

Clearing AutoComplete and other Recipient Caches

Exchange 2010 LogoAnyone who has participated in migrations or transitions to Exchange has most likely encountered or has had to work around potential issues caused by the nickname cache. A “cache,” also known by its file extension, NK2 in older Outlook clients, is a convenience feature in Outlook and Outlook WebApp (OWA) which lets users pick recipients from a list of frequently-used recipients. This list is displayed when the end user types in the first few letters.

The potential issue revolves around end users using those lists to send messages, as the list contains cached recipient information. Because this information is static, it may become invalid at some point. Thus, when users pick recipients when sending messages, they may be sending messages to non-existent recipients or invalid e-mail addresses, which create issues like non-delivery of e-mail.

Read the full article over on ENow Solutions Engine blog.

Clean-AutoComplete

Using the script mentioned in the article, which can be used to clear cached recipient information, is straightforward. It requires Exchange 2010 or later and Exchange Web Services Managed API 1.2 (or later) which you can download here. Alternatively, you can copy the Microsoft.Exchange.WebServices.DLL with the script as it will also look for it in the current folder.

The script Clean-AutoComplete.ps1 has the following syntax:

Clear-AutoComplete.ps1 [-Mailbox] <String> [-Server <String>] [-Impersonation] [-Credentials <PSCredential>] [-Type <Array>]

Where:

  • Mailbox is the name or e-mail address of the mailbox.
  • Server is the name of the Client Access Server to access for Exchange Web Services. When omitted, the script will use AutoDiscover.
  • Switch Impersonation specifies if impersonation will be used for mailbox access, otherwise the current user context will be used.
  • Credentials specifies the user credentials to use.
  • Type specifies what cached recipient information to clear. Options are Outlook  (Outlook AutoComplete stream), OWA (OWA Autocomplete stream), SuggestedContacts, RecipientCache or All. Default is Outlook,OWA.

So for example, suppose you want to clear the Autocomplete stream used by Outlook on a mailbox, you can use:

Clear-AutoComplete.ps1 -Mailbox Olrik -Type Outlook -Verbose

ScreenCapTo remove the Autocomplete stream used by OWA on your Office 365 account, you can use:

Clear-AutoComplete.ps1 -Mailbox olrik@office365tenant.com –Credentials (Get-Credential) –Type OWA

Feedback
Feedback is welcomed through the comments. If you got scripting suggestions or questions, do not hesitate using the contact form.

Download
You can download the script from my Technet Gallery here.

Revision History
See Technet Gallery page.

 

 

Multi-Factor Authentication in Office 365 (Part 2)

wp_ss_20140521_0001Multifactor Authentication is a must-have for services based in the cloud, especially for accounts with administrative purposes. We have already covered what Office 365 Multifactor Authentication is and how to configure it in Office 365 tenants with the Office 365 admin center, and we briefly showed the end user experience. Now we will look at how we can use the Azure Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell to configure Office 365 authentication with MFA.

Azure Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell (AADMPS) enables organizations to not only configure MFA for existing end users who use PowerShell, but also enhance their current provisioning process with MFA options. By pre-configuring MFA, administrators can prevent end users from having to go through the initial MFA setup process and use their currently configured mobile phone or office number for verification.

Read the full article over on SearchExchange

The UC Architects Podcast Ep40

iTunes-Podcast-logo[1]We’re glad to announce the availability of episode 40 of The UC Architects podcast.

This episode is hosted by Pat Richard, who is joined by Michael Van Horenbeeck, Dave Stork, John A Cook, Stale Hansen, Andrew Price and Michel de Rooij. Special guest is Tony Redmond. Editing was done by Andrew Price.

Topics discussed in this episode are:

  • Learn why Alternate Login ID is Office 365′s hidden gem
  • Exchange and Antivirus Exclusions – Still A Critical Conversation
  • Microsoft explains roots of this week’s Office 365 downtime
  • Office 365 for business public roadmap
  • Is Microsoft really saying “don’t virtualize” Exchange?
  • Why running Exchange on Azure is an unattractive proposition
  • June updates for Lync client (KB2881013, KB2850074)
  • Lync for Mac update—E911, video & file-sharing enhancements (14.09)
  • Using Lync like a LyncPro
  • New Tool: Change Lync Conferencing Dial-In Number Display Order (GUI)
  • Port 5088 Missing from Lync 2013 Documentation
  • Call Quality Methodology scorecard for Lync Server
  • Cisco and Microsoft Lync Content Sharing
  • SIP Pinger Tool
  • Verify Lync QoS settings with this little script
  • Content Switching with Exchange and Lync-related Workloads
  • 74-338 course overview

More information on the podcast including references and a link to download the podcast here or you can subscribe to the podcasts using iTunes, Zune or use the RSS feed.

About
The UC Architects is a bi-weekly community podcast by people with a passion for Unified Communications; our main focus is on Exchange, Lync or related subjects.

Exchange and NFS – A Rollup

imageA short write-up after some recent articles which were published to clarify and emphasize Microsoft’s current position on virtualization and the support for storing Exchange information on NFS volumes. I will stick to the headlines, as the topic has already been touched several times by people from the Exchange community, after which I would mostly be repeating things that have already been said. Yet, many customers still have the perception that Exchange on NFS is supported or are actually running this configuration, often the result of a push from the storage or virtualization vendor. As it is not, I will repeat key information here to counter misleading information, hoping it might prevent customers from selecting unsupported configurations.

End of last year, a lively discussion was revived on some distribution lists and forums on why NFS was still not supported for storing Exchange information. However, it was all speculation as the creator of the product did not take part. The official support statement was (and is) that Exchange is not supported on NFS and only block-level storage is supported. Tony Redmond did a write-up on that here.

Then, in the preamble of the Microsoft Exchange Conference 2014, a ‘suggestion’ to support NFS was put on the community ideascale site, where people can propose suggestions for Exchange. This site is not an official channel but it does provide a way for the community to gather suggestions and check for demand. So, it allowed to verify if the current lack of NFS support was major thing or not, as people producing the most noise do not necessarily represent the majority. Response seemed limited, except for some hardware vendors who made lots of noise, possibly in an attempt to get traction in the Exchange community.

Then, Tony did a follow-up article after a discussion with Jeff Mealiffe, knowledgeable on Exchange, Sizing and Virtualization and nicknamed ‘The PerfGuy’ for obvious reasons. In the article, the problem areas of NFS are set out. Interestingly (but not surprising), Exchange is similar to SQL Server from a storage perspective, the latter having very specific documentation regarding storage requirements. Also mentioned is that successfully running JetStress by the vendor is no indication on the supportability of storage configurations. After all, that JetStress succesfully runs for a certain amount of hours is great, but it is a storage performance validation tool, not a storage supportability validation tool. At the Microsoft Exchange Conference 2014, using arguments presented earlier in the article, Jeff reaffirmed the non-support of NFS in his presentation.

The discussion seemed to die down until few weeks ago when Tony was in a Twitter conversation with one Josh Odgers, engineer at one of the storage vendors. In the discussion Odgers dropped the rationale and even went so far as to insult people. When searching online, you will find other rants as well, so I guess Josh’ employer does not have any form of social media guidelines for their employees. That does not help when you are trying to lobby for your cause (and potential markets for your storage appliances). Tony wrote an extensive response here, I recommend checking it out.

Now what storage vendors and their employees do or do not do is up to them. However, things like this may become an issue when vendors repeatingly and knowingly position their storage solution as a supported alternative to customers, like for example Odgers does for Nutanix (NDFS is Nutanix’ proprietary distributed NFS implementation). Yes, I’m sure it flies like a rocket and I am sure some customers will be persuaded by sales people to a game of chance by running Exchange on their appliances. As an Exchange consultant however, I prefer supported solutions and so should you. Or have a serious chat with the Risk Manager.

Update (Jul 9,2014): The UC Architects fellow Mahmoud Magdy posted a blog on his experiences and encountered limitations of storage appliances such as Nutanix here.

Forefront TMG 2010 SP2 Rollup 5

ForeFrontA short notice for those utilizing TMG in their environment on the release of Rollup 5 for Microsoft Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG) 2010, Service Pack 2 (KB2954173).

Changes in this update:

  • 2963805 Account lockout alerts are not logged after you install Rollup 4 for TMG 2010 SP2
  • 2963811 FIX: The TMG Firewall service (wspsrv.exe) may crash when the DiffServ filter is enabled
  • 2963823 “1413 Invalid Index” after you enable cookie sharing across array members
  • 2963834 HTTPS traffic may not be inspected when a user accesses a site
  • 2967726 New connections are not accepted on a specific web proxy or web listener in Threat Management Gateway 2010
  • 2965004 EnableSharedCookie option doesn’t work if the Forefront TMG service runs under a specific account
  • 2932469 An incorrect value is used for IPsec Main Mode key lifetime in Threat Management Gateway 2010
  • 2966284 A zero value is always returned when an average counter of the “Forefront TMG Web Proxy” object is queried from the .NET Framework
  • 2967763 The “Const SE_VPS_VALUE = 2″ setting does not work for users if the UPN is not associated with a real domain
  • 2973749 HTTP Connectivity verifiers return unexpected failures in TMG 2010

TMG support will end on April 14th, 2015 and extended support will end on April 14th, 2020.

You can request Forefront TMG SP2 RU5 directly from support here.

The UC Architects Podcast Ep39

iTunes-Podcast-logo[1]We’re glad to announce the availability of episode 39 of The UC Architects podcast.

This episode is hosted by Steve Goodman, who is joined by Johan Veldhuis, Dave Stork, John Cook, Tom Arbuthnot and Michel de Rooij. Editing was done by Andrew Price.

Min topics discussed in this episode are:

  • Exchange 2013 CU5 (Release, Hybrid Improvements, OAB Improvements)
  • Exchange 2010 SP3 UR6
  • Discussion about Exchange storage (Steve’s Article, VMware KB)
  • Open Specifications Posters for Office client, Lync, SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server, and Windows
  • Exchange Server 2013 Platform Options poster
  • DLP from Exchange coming to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint
  • myBulletins, tool that provides personalized list of the security bulletins
  • Lync Room System (LRS) v15.10 May update out for Smart with fixes and enhancements
  • Lync Callback Reminder
  • XenDesktop Certified on Lync 2013
  • Update 2880980 for Lync 2013
  • Lync 2013 support for SQL AlwaysON
  • Beta release of Azure AD Sync via Connect
  • UC Birmingham User Group August

More information on the podcast including references and a link to download the podcast here or you can subscribe to the podcasts using iTunes, Zune or use the RSS feed.

About
The UC Architects is a bi-weekly community podcast by people with a passion for Unified Communications; our main focus is on Exchange, Lync or related subjects.

1.000.000 views reached!

1mWhat started out as a pleasant and rewarding journey on November 24th, 2009 reached another milestone today. This blog, containing just over 440 posts, went through the 1 million views mark in the past 24 hours. Together with the 1350 Twitter followers, seeing my small community contributions help you guys (or girls) out is keeping me motivated. A big thanks to all of you and keep coming back!

Multi-Factor Authentication in Office 365 (Part 1)

Multi-Factor AuthenticationMulti-Factor Authentication identifies an end user with more than one factor. Authentication is based on something you know, such as your password; something you have, such as a security token or smart card; or something that’s a physical characteristic of who you are, such as biometrics. By creating an additional factor on top of the password, identity is better protected. Multi-Factor Authentication is seen as a must-have for cloud-based services, especially for administrative types of accounts.

In this first tip on SearchExchange, I explain how you can configure Multi-Factor Authentication in Office 365, discuss the so-called contact methods, explain app passwords for non-MFA applications as well as show the MFA end user experience.

Read the full article over on SearchExchange

Script Updates

powershellA small heads-up for those not following me on Twitter of one of the other social media channels. Last week I made updates to the following three scripts:

Install-Exchange2013.ps1, version 1.72

  • Added CU5 support
  • Added KB2971467 (CU5 Disable Shared Cache Service Managed Availability probes)

Remove-DuplicateItems.ps1, version 1.3

  • Changed parameter Mailbox, you can now use an e-mail address as well.
  • Added parameter Credentials.
  • Added item class and size for certain duplication checks.
  • Changed item removal process
  • Remove items after, not while processing folder. Avoids asynchronous deletion issues.
  • Works against Office 365.

Remove-MessageClassItems.ps1, version 1.3

  • Changed parameter Mailbox, you can now use an e-mail address as well
  • Added parameter Credentials
  • Added parameter PartialMatching for partial class name matching.
  • Changed item removal process. Remove items after, not while processing folder. Avoids asynchronous deletion issues.
  • Works against Office 365.
  • Deleted Items folder will be processed, unless MoveToDeletedItems is used.
  • Changed EWS DLL loading, can now be in current folder as well.

Be advised I keep am overview of the scripts and their current versions with publish dates here.