Ignite 2017 Sessions

In about a month’s time, Microsoft Ignite 2017 – North America will kick off in the city of Orlando, Florida. Currently, the session catalog contains an amazing number of 1139 1161 sessions. With such a number, it can be hard to pick sessions depending on your areas of interest or expertise; the Ignite Session Scheduler can be a helpful tool to assist in this noble task.

However, when you want to perform more complex queries something more low-level might be appropriate. For this purpose I took my existing script IgniteDownloader.ps1, which could already be used to download Ignite contents such as videos and slide decks, and enhanced it so it can also be used to retrieve session information as PowerShell objects, allowing you to perform queries, reports etc. Because the script now suits more purposes, I renamed it to Get-IgniteSession.ps1 in the process.

Note that Get-IgniteSession leverages the online Microsoft Ignite session catalog, which is currently in the process of being finalized. You might find therefor the schedule is subject to change over the coming weeks, but also that you can no longer download contents from previous Ignite editions.

You can download the script from the TechNet Gallery here.

If you are attending Ignite, unlike me, some of the potential interesting sessions to look out for are (list subject to change):

Session Title Speaker(s)
BRK1005 Learn about the Microsoft global network and best practices for optimizing Office 365 connectivity Paul Collinge, Paul Andrew
BRK1053 Microsoft Office 365 adoption user group meetup Michael Blumenthal
BRK2195 Create engaging workflows inside Outlook and Microsoft Teams conversations with Actionable Messages David Claux, Shivakumar Seetharaman
BRK2203 Send secure email to anyone with Office 365 and Microsoft Azure Information Protection Praveen Vijayaraghavan
BRK2248 Microsoft Exchange: Through the eyes of MVPs (Panel discussion) Brian Reid, Michael Van Horenbeeck, Ingo Gegenwarth, Steve Goodman, Nicolas Blank, Tony Redmond
BRK2251 What’s new and what’s coming in the Microsoft Outlook family of apps JJ Cadiz, Alessio Roic
BRK2252 Group collaboration in Microsoft Outlook Krish Gali
BRK2374 Stop data exfiltration and advanced threats in Microsoft Office 365 and Azure
BRK2378 Understanding Multi-Geo Capabilities in Office 365 Sesha Mani, Sameer Sitaram
BRK2399 Delivering the modern workplace
BRK2401 Customer story: How to protect against security breaches and insider threats Edward Panzeter, Ian Lindsay
BRK2420 The road to hybrid cloud: Customer case studies optimizing Hyper-V, SQL Server, and Microsoft Azure
BRK3041 Key elements of Office 365 connectivity strategy base on real-life examples Paul Andrew, Jeff Mealiffe, Konstantin Ryvkin
BRK3051 Get your enterprise network ready for Office 365 Paul Andrew, Paul Collinge, Jeff Mealiffe
BRK3053 Troubleshooting Office 365 identity: How modern authentication works and what to do when it doesn’t Jonas Gunnemo
BRK3080 Build smarter apps with Office using the Microsoft Graph Yina Arenas
BRK3082 Anti-phishing with Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection Abhishek Agarwal
BRK3154 The epic Exchange preferred architecture debate Ross Smith IV, Lin Chen, Mike Cooper
BRK3155 Thrive as an enterprise organization in Microsoft Exchange Online Jeff Kizner
BRK3157 Exchange and Outlook mega “ask the experts” Brain Day, Greg Taylor, Jeff Mealiffe, Allen Filush, Scott Schnoll, Ross Smith IV, Julia Foran, JJ Cadiz, Alessio Roic, Meg Quintero, James Colgan, Steve Conn, Wey Love
BRK3158 Design your Exchange infrastructure right (or consider moving to Office 365) Boris Lokhvitsky, Robert Gillies
BRK3184 Deploying and using Outlook mobile in the Enterprise Ross Smith IV
BRK3185 Improvements and innovations in calendaring with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Julia Foran
BRK3186 Running Exchange hybrid over the long term Michael Van Horenbeeck
BRK3222 Scott Schnoll’s Exchange tips and tricks Scott Schnoll
BRK3248 Exchange Online – spanning data center regions Brain Day
BRK3249 Modern authentication for Exchange Server on-premises Greg Taylor
BRK3259 Transitioning from distribution lists to Office 365 Groups in Outlook Shilpa Ranganathan
BRK3262 Implementing Exchange Online Protection for on-premises Exchange Brian Reid
BRK3263 Secure Exchange on-premises as well as Microsoft secures Exchange Online Andrew Higginbotham, Raji Dani
BRK3264 Troubleshooting complex Exchange operational issues Ingo Gegenwarth, Andrew Higginbotham
BRK3332 Ten critical areas for those moving from Exchange on-premises to Office 365 Tony Redmond
BRK3340 Use Microsoft Graph to reach on-premises users of Exchange 2016 deployments Deepak Singh
BRK3382 Securing, governing, and protecting your Office 365 investments Chris Bortlik
BRK3382R Securing, governing, and protecting your Office 365 investments (repeat) Chris Bortlik
BRK4021 Investigate tools and techniques for Exchange performance troubleshooting Nasir Ali, Jeff Mealiffe, Bob Samer, Justin Turner
BRK4022 Insights on Exchange storage, high availability, and data protection Lin Chen
BRK4029 Inside Exchange Online Matt Gossage
THR1014 What can you do with Office 365 Groups in Outlook?
THR1020 Tackling adoption as a service with Office 365 Richard Harbridge
THR1022 Bring your sales team together: Office 365 Groups, Teams & Microsoft Dynamics 365 in the real world Chris Johnson
THR1029 Spend less time managing data and more time with customers: Quick tour of Outlook Customer Manager
THR1035 Prevent costly data leaks from Microsoft Office 365
THR1046 Using Digital Experience Management to Validate the Impact of IT Change
THR1068 Online virtual labs: The hidden gem for free hands-on learning, practice, and exploration CA Callahan
THR2026 Set up secure and efficient collaboration for your organization with Microsoft Office 365 Joe Davies, Brenda Carter
THR2041 Using groups in Outlook for education Krish Gali
THR2042 Collaborate with people outside your company with Office 365 Groups in Outlook
THR2043 Dive deeper into what’s new and what’s coming for Outlook for Windows JJ Cadiz, Jason Creighton
THR2044 Dive deeper into what’s new and what’s coming for Outlook for Mac James Colgan
THR2045 Dive deeper into what’s new and what’s coming for Outlook on the web Allen Filush
THR2046 Dive deeper into what’s new and what’s coming for Outlook for iOS and Android Meg Quintero
THR2062 Real-world advanced threat protection Brian Reid
THR2063 What is DMARC Brian Reid
THR2065 Groups and Teams: Friend or foe? Loryan Strant
THR2080 Tackling cross-tenant Office 365 integration and migrations: Three things you need to know
THR2086 What’s new with Microsoft Exchange Online Public Folders
THR2088 The top five PowerShell commands for Exchange Steve Goodman
THR2097 Developing a blueprint for your data in Microsoft Azure
THR2153 Improving calendaring in Microsoft Office 365 and Outlook
THR2173 Microsoft Office 365: Avoid the Icarus effect J. Peter Bruzzese
THR2181 The impact of digital literacy on Office 365 user adoption Tracy Van der Schyff
THR2203 Put your enterprise applications in the fast lane
THR2205 Delivering the borderless workplace
THR2214 Hybrid cloud activated: A customer case study optimizing on-premises and Azure performance and cost Mor Cohen
THR2229 Get the most from the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Mobile App
THR3022 Troubleshooting Exchange ActiveSync devices Ingo Gegenwarth
THR3023 PowerShell Desired State Configuration: Keep your service stable and stay on top of your config Ingo Gegenwarth
THR3034 Complete your collaboration practice: Voice & video solutions for Office 365 and Skype for Business
THR4000 Edge Transport servers and Hybrid: Why, or why not? Michael Van Horenbeeck

Office 365 Engage 2017 Wrap-up

Last week the inaugural Office 365 Engage conference took place in the small but charming city of Haarlem, The Netherlands. With hotels for speakers and attendees close by, the event took place in the Philharmonie, a venue normally used for concerts and theater performances. This lead to some amazing shots on social media of sessions being held in “Room A” (the theater), “Room B” (with bar) and “Room E” (the concert hall).


“Room A”

With Tony Redmond being the chair for this non-Microsoft event, one of the few big Microsoft-technology related events remaining in Europe, organizer BWW Media Group managed to attract an amazing line-up of speakers. Amongst them were quite a number of Microsoft MVP’s, some like Paul Robichaux or Chris Goosen even flying in from overseas. Being sort of a home game to me, it was other speaker’s turn to having to cope with jetlag.

Sessions presented were on all things Office 365 related, such as Azure AD, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Groups and Teams, and also more dev-oriented sessions on things like the Graph API. Also, more generic topics were also put to the table, like the roadmap and coping with continuous development, GDPR or hybrid strategies.


“Room B”

On Monday, Jaap Wesselius and I held a full-day workshop on PowerShell for Office 365. The attendees were coming from all over Europe, which shows that there is a demand for an European event of this size on this topic. On Tuesday, I presented a session on Managing Exchange Online using PowerShell, Tips & Tricks. Pending feedback from evaluations, the workshop and session went very well. For those that attended our workshop on Monday, PowerShell for Office 365, or my session on Tuesday on Exchange Online and PowerShell Tips & Tricks, the slide decks will be made available later through the organizer. Sample code from the session is available from the TechNet Gallery here.

Image may contain: one or more people and indoor
“Room E”

Finally, a big thank you to BWW’s Megan Keller, their CEO George Coll, and all the other staff as well, who made speakers and attendees feel welcome at this event, which was small and intimate, a different experience from more massive events like Microsoft Ignite. Also a big thank you to the folks of Quadro-Tech for sponsoring the post-conference drinks.

With everything being walking distance, and with pleasant summer weather, the after-conference hours for catching up with peers and attendees were very enjoyable. BWW was also so kind to offer us speakers a boat trip, where we could experience Haarlem from the waterside, including the obligatory snapshots of windmills, fields and cows.

Note that the organizer is still looking for feedback on the event. Share with them what you like or didn’t like, so they can improve next year’s conference. I am really looking forward to next year’s event, to be held in June 2018, and would highly recommend it to anyone. Hope to see you there next year!

Speaking at Office 365 Engage 2017

I am happy to announce I will be co-hosting a workshop, as well as present a session at the Office 365 Engage conference. The event will be held in the beautiful city of Haarlem, The Netherlands, from June 19 to June 22.

For an independent event in Europe, track chair Tony Redmond managed to come up with a pretty impressive line-up with lots of Microsoft MVPs, consisting of folks such as Michael van Horenbeeck, Jaap Wesselius, Ingo Gegenwarth, Siegfried Jagott, Brian Reid, Vasil Michev, Paul Robichaux, Chris Goosen, Alan Byrne, Brian Desmond, and last but not least Steve Goodman who I am finally going to meet in person after missing each other for several reasons for the last 5 years.

The single day workshop will be hosted together with Jaap, and we will discuss managing Office 365 and its workloads using PowerShell, and its part of the Office 365 Administration track. The day after, I will be giving a session on Managing Exchange Online using PowerShell – Tips & Tricks, part of the Exchange Online track. If you would like to see something specific addressed, leave it in the comments section or pop me an e-mail.

For visitors, the city of Haarlem, a small distance from Amsterdam or The Netherlands – well, everything in The Netherlands is near, is also a nice city to spend some leisure time. You can check out the Office 365 Engage schedule here. I hope to see you there!

PS: The people behind the conference gave me discount code which you can use when registering. Use code SPRMR467 to get 20% off. You can register here.

Michel de Rooij 728x90

IT/DEV Connections 2016 Wrap-Up

IMG_2130Note: For those that attended Jaap and my workshop on Monday, Advanced PowerShell Management of Office 365, the EXO slidedeck is available here, and the sample code is available here. Session slidedecks or handouts available through the app or Connections site.

Last Monday, I returned from the largest, independent conference on Microsoft technologies, IT/Dev Connections. Well, that should have been Sunday, but technical issues with the airplane and lack of options to fly back to The Netherlands the same day resulted in an extended stay, but that’s something for another story. IT/Dev Connections is a 3-day conference, consisting of 6 tracks holding a total of ~280 sessions. Like previous editions, the event again took place in the nice resort that is Aria, Las Vegas.

Almost traditionally, the is a pre-conference day where workshops are given. One of these workshops was Advanced PowerShell Management of Office 365, done by Jaap Wesselius and yours truly. The turn-up was good, even considering we had some though competition this year from workshops such as PowerShell Masterclass and Office 365 IT/Dev Connections Power Camp. Again it was my only session, so I had the rest of the week ‘off’ to attend sessions by fellow presenters.

GEWK4725

Left to right: Tony Redmond, Paul Cunningham, Gareth Grudger, Jeff Guillet, Michael van Horenbeeck, Konrad Sagala, Andrew Higginbotham, Gary Steele, Ingo Gegenwarth, Paul Robichaux, J. Peter Bruzzese, Jaap Wesselius, Michel de Rooij and Sigi Jagott.

Picking sessions for wasn’t an easy task this year. For Office 365 / Exchange (On-Premises) and PowerShell minded professionals, there were a multitude of sessions to choose from, and many times you discovered they were given the same time slot. The app was a big help picking sessions, and to be honest the app was a big improvement over last year’s app – kudos to Penton there. It could also be used to retrieve handouts, which made it easier to follow the contents presented by clicking through it on your own screen.

 

 

 

Wednesday saw an interesting ‘Bamboozle the Exchange Experts’. People from the Exchange Product Group were flown in for Connections to answer audience questions. During this session, none other than Greg Taylor, Ross Smith IV, Brian Day, David Espinoza, and Jeff Mealiffe took part in the panel, and Tony Redmond took it upon him to be the MC. It was not only insightful and interactive, it was fun, and the PG seemed to enjoy it as well.

If you are considering attending this event next year – and you should – know that with an attendance of ~1200 people (guesstimate), and apart from the fact that it’s independent and sessions are done by experienced people from the field, it also excels in that it is big enough to matter, yet small enough to hold an intimate feel to it. Compared to Ignite, one could say that there is less walking involved – or congestion, no full room issues, way better food and thus an overall better experience. Now if you plan on attending (or trying to get a speaking engagement – yes you, Maarten) for IT/Dev Connections 2017, and as the group shot above gives away, be aware Penton has decided to move the event for next year to San Francisco. So save the date: October 23-26, the Hilton, San Francisco (Union Square)!

Special thanks to Penton for having me, ENOW for hosting yet another great Scheduled Maintenance party at the Ghostbar, Quadrotech for finally being able to catch up, CodeTwo for having me for an interview.

Finally, here are some of the other IT/DEV Connections 2016 wrap-ups:

Ignite 2016 Sessions + Downloader

imageNote: Due to Microsoft putting Ignite 2016 contents on YouTube and a new portal, I had to rewrite the download script. Mattias Fors was also working on this, and after integrating his contents pointers, I present you Ignite2016Download.ps1. Check the description on Technet Gallery page for usage options.

Today, the Ignite 2016 event will kick off in Atlanta, US. The agenda contains the whopping number of 1412 sessions, of which 395 touch Office 365 and 133 Exchange in some way or another.

With those numbers it is impossible to attend every session for folks interested in these topics, but luckily Microsoft will also publish Ignite 2016 sessions on Channel 9 this year.

Some of the interesting sessions to watch out for are (links should resolve to on-demand sessions, as they become available):

Session Description Speaker(s)
BRK1021 Unplug with the Microsoft Outlook experts Julia Foran, Gabe Bratton, Allen Filush, JJ Cadiz, Eduardo Melo, Amanda Alvarado, Victor Wang, James Colgan
BRK1044 Dive deeper into what’s new and what’s coming in Outlook on the web Dave Meyers, Eduardo Melo
BRK2033 Discover Office 365 Groups – overview, what’s new and roadmap Amit Gupta, Christophe Fiessinger
BRK2035 Learn about advancements in Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection Jason Rogers, Phil Newman
BRK2053 Connect your business critical applications to Outlook and Groups David Claux
BRK2044 Discover what’s new and what’s coming for Office Delve Cem Aykan, Mark Kashman
BRK2093 Design your Exchange infrastructure right (or consider moving to Office 365) Boris Lokhvitsky, Robert Gillies, Adrian Moore
BRK2139 Protect your business and empower your users with cloud Identity and Access Management Nasos Kladakis
BRK2170 Discover what’s new with Microsoft Exchange Public Folders Sampath Kumar
BRK2215 Debate the top 10 reasons not to move your Exchange on-premises mailboxes to Exchange Online Tony Redmond, Greg Taylor, Steve Conn
BRK2216 Unplug with the experts on Exchange Server and Exchange Online Greg Taylor, Timothy Heeney, Jeff Mealiffe, Ross Smith IV, Wendy Wilkes
BRK2217 Discover modern support in Outlook for Exchange Online Julia Foran, Amir Haque, Gabe Bratton
BRK2218 Move from Exchange 2007 to Modern Exchange Greg Taylor, Steve Conn
BRK2219 Meet twin sons of different mothers – Exchange Engineers and Exchange MVPs Tony Redmond, Jeff Mealiffe, Andrew Higginbotham, Jeff Guillet, Karim Batthish
BRK2220 Peer behind the curtain – how Microsoft runs Exchange Online Paavany Jayanty, Eddie Fong, Karim Batthish, Mike Swafford
BRK3000 Unplug with the experts on Microsoft Exchange Top Issues Nino Bilic, Nasir Ali, Amir Haque, Shawn McGrath, Timothy Heeney, Gabe Bratton, Angela Taylor
BRK3001 Explore the ultimate field guide to Microsoft Office 365 Groups Tony Redmond, Amit Gupta, Benjamin Niaulin
BRK3007 Investigate tools and techniques for Exchange Performance Troubleshooting Nasir Ali, Jeff Mealiffe
BRK3019 Manage Microsoft Office 365 Groups Eric Zenz, Vince Smith
BRK3023 Understand how Microsoft protects you against Spoof, Phish, Malware, and Spam emails Jason Rogers
BRK3045 Use Microsoft Graph to reach users on hybrid Exchange 2016 Venkat Ayyadevara
BRK3046 Build intelligent line-of-business applications leveraging the Outlook REST APIs Venkat Ayyadevara
BRK3074 Discover what’s new in Active Directory Federation and domain services in Windows Server 2016 Sam Devasahayam
BRK3109 Deliver management and security at scale to Office 365 with Azure Active Directory Brjann Brekkan
BRK3139 Throw away your DMZ – Azure Active Directory Application Proxy deep-diveThrow away your DMZ – Azure Active Directory Application Proxy deep-dive John Craddock
BRK3216 Plan performance and bandwidth for Microsoft Office 365 William Looney, Ed Fisher
BRK3217 Run Microsoft Exchange Hybrid for the long haul Timothy Heeney, Nicolas Blank
BRK3219 Migrate to Exchange Online via Exchange Hybrid Michael van Horenbeeck, Timothy Heeney
BRK3220 Deploy Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 Brian Day, Jeff Guillet
BRK3221 Understand the Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 Architecture Ross Smith IV, Mike Cooper
BRK3222 Implement Microsoft Exchange Online Protection Jennifer Gagnon, Wendy Wilkes
BRK3227 Ask us anything about Microsoft Office 365 Groups Eric Zenz, Darrell Webster, Christophe Fiessinger, Martina Grom
BRK3253 Experience Scott Schnoll’s Exchange tips and tricks Scott Schnoll
BRK3254 Cert Exam Prep: Exam 70-345: Designing and Deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 Vladimir Meloski
BRK4031 Overcome network performance blockers for Office 365 Deployments Paul Collinge
BRK4032 Dive deep into Microsoft Exchange Server High Availability Andrew Higginbotham
PRE18 The previous decade called…they want their Exchange Server back Michael van Horenbeeck, Greg Taylor, Sampath Kumar, Andrew Higginbotham, Timothy Heeney, David Espinoza, Nicolas Blank
THR1005R Dive deeper into what’s new and what’s coming in Microsoft Outlook 2016 for Windows Misbah Uraizee
THR1011R Dive deeper into what’s new and what’s coming in Outlook mobile Allen Filush, Victor Wang, James Colgan
THR2007R Fight back with advancements in Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection Phil Newman, Atanu Banerjee
THR2054 Understand the risk and value of your public folder data BEFORE you migrate Dan Langille
THR2190R Secure your sensitive email with Office 365 message encryption Gagan Gulati, Ian Hameroff
THR3001R Migrate DL to Microsoft Office 365 Groups Siva Shanmugam, Loveleen Kolvekar
THR3015 Use RMS in Microsoft Office 365 Nathan O’Bryan
THR3040 Automate Exchange deployment with Powershell Desired State Configuration Ingo Gegenwarth
THR3082 Secure Office 365 in a hybrid directory environment Alvaro Vitta

For those that wish to view sessions offline, there is a script to download the slidedecks and videos. It does so by scraping the Ignite portal, downloading slidedecks from the portal itself, and videos from the related YouTube video link using an utility youtube-dl.exe (which you can also use to download playlists, quite neat). The script can take some parameters:

  • DownloadFolder to adjust the download folder.
  • Format to alter the dimensions and quality of the downloaded videos (see help for supported formats).
  • Title to filter on title keyword
  • Keyword to filter on description keyword.
  • Start to use a different version number to start scraping. Scraping is done sequentially; in the output you will notice a (#nnn) next to the title. That is the current post number.
  • NoVideos to skip downloading videos.

You can download the script from the TechNet Gallery here.

Ignite 2016: September 26-30, Atlanta

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Out of nowhere, news came yesterday from the Chicago Tribune that Microsoft cancelled the Microsoft Ignite event at Chicago for 2016. Originally, the Ignite event, replacing former events like MEC, LyncCon, MMC and SPC, was said to be held for 4 consecutive years in Chicago, starting in 2015. Even at Ignite 2015, it was confirmed Ignite 2016 was going to take place in Chicago from May 9th to May 13th, 2016.

Without any reason given for this change of plans, although rumors are that either bad feedback on this year’s event or product release schedules could be the reason for changing plans, today Microsoft announced that Ignite 2016 will take place in the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, from September 26th to 30rd, 2016.

This date is perhaps a bit too close for comfort to that other well-known event, the independent IT/DEV Connections which is scheduled for September 19th to 22nd, 2016 in Las Vegas. It remains to be seen if Penton – organizer of the IT/DEV Connections – moves their event or not.

Apart from potential schedule issues, though there are worse things than potentially staying half the month September in the US, it could pressure budgets for organization who want to have people attend both events, without the option to spread those investments.This is of course also true for those that are self-employed.

Other Microsoft events lined-up for 2016 are:

  • Build: Spring 2016 in San Francisco
  • Convergence: April 4-7, 2016 in New Orleans
  • WPC: July 10-14, 2016 in Toronto

You can pre-register for Ignite 2016 here. More information on Ignite is available here.

IT/DEV Connections 2015 Wrap-Up

imageNote: For those that attended Jaap and my workshop on Monday, Managing Exchange On-Premises and Exchange Online using PowerShell, the slidedeck is available here and the sample code is available here.

Last weekend, I returned from one of the largest, independent conferences on Microsoft technologies, IT/DEV Connections. The conference, which took place in the city of Las Vegas, is spread over a 3-day period on popular topics, like Exchange, Windows, SQL or SharePoint, and has a track for Infrastructure as well as Development (hence the ‘IT/DEV’). Apart from the many speakers, most of them experienced Microsoft Valuable Professionals, Microsoft celebrities like Tim McMichael were also presenting sessions.

Like many conferences nowadays, IT/DEV Connections took off with several pre-conference workshops on Monday. One of these workshops was done by fellow Exchange MVP and countryman Jaap Wesselius and myself. We talked a whole day about ‘Managing Exchange On-Premises and Exchange Online using PowerShell’. The turn-up was above expectation, which is always nice, and we had good interaction with, and feedback from the audience. This made our session, from a presenter’s viewpoint, very worthwhile.

imageSince I had no sessions after the workshop, I was free to attend sessions by fellow presenters. Tony Redmond kicked off with a keynote, analyzing the current landscape for Exchange and Office 365, and making references to sessions later that week, should people be interested in those topics. It’s also where you learn who is running what, and as it turned out most attendees are running Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2013 On-Premises, but with an increasing interest in Office 365.

During the week, apart from the excellent contents presented, I was very humbled to learn lots of presenters made references to several of my scripts, e.g.

This conference is also the place where Exchange MVP fellows Tony Redmond, Michael van Horenbeeck, Paul Cunningham and Jeff Guillet presented their 2nd edition of their book, ‘Office 365 for Exchange Professionals’.  Congratulations to them reaching this milestone, looking at the non-stop amount of changes happening in the Office 365 environment. You can get your own copy of the updated book here.

It’s becoming a tradition that the last Exchange session of the conference is a ‘Ask the Experts’ panel session, where the audience can ask a panel of presenters questions, or where the current landscape for Exchange or Office 365 can be discussed. It’s a great way to close the conference, before everyone gets back to their corners of the world, back from the crazy city that is Las Vegas to reality.

imageIf you didn’t consider IT/DEV Connections before, you should. The conference is a must-visit, especially with Microsoft having consolidated MEC, MMS etc. in a single, huge event which is Ignite now. Connections is not small, but the more intimate setting allows you to catch up with peers more easily, have discussions over a pint, great catering, and without the need to max out your step counter. The Aria resort is very nice place to host this event, great for business with a pleasant conference area without too much of the distractions like the other hotels. If you plan on visiting next year, save the date: September 19-22, 2016!

I also want to thank ENow for again hosting an epic Scheduled Maintenance party. Location this time was the Ghostbar at the 55th floor in Palms Resort, which gave an amazing view over the city of Las Vegas and the Strip. I wore my ENow-branded NFL jersey to the party, a gift from ENow last year. This lead to funny moments, as this is ENow’s event gear, and many people mistook me for an employee, thanking me when leaving the party.

Finally, here are some of the other Exchange Connections wrap-ups:

IT/Dev Connections 2015

imspeakingatdevconnections[1]I am in Las Vegas at the moment for the IT/DEV Connections conference which will take place in Las Vegas this week. Looking at the schedule and list of speakers, the conference is bound to be a success. If you’re not in Las Vegas, you can follow the conference on Twitter. The designated hashtag is #ITDEVCON.

itdevconMany thanks to Penton Media for giving me the opportunity to co-host the “Managing Exchange On-Premises and Exchange Online with PowerShell” workshop in the Enterprise Collaboration with Jaap Wesselius, on September 14th in Bluethorn 4. I will be present at the conference the whole week, so if you have questions or just want to say hi, look me up or ping me on Twitter or e-mail.

IT/Dev Connections 2015 App

IMG_0608A quick note that if you are attending IT/Dev Connections this year, you can now build your schedule using a mobile app. The app allows you to browse and pick from 190 sessions, view speaker bios, etc.

The app is available for:

For other devices, you can use the generic mobile website here.

Note: You can still register for the event. New registrations can use SPKRSOC15 when registering for a $400 off!

Ignite 2015, Takeaways

ignite ButtonDespite not being present, the information presented at Microsoft Ignite can be followed by monitoring certain sources on social media. Twitter still seems to be the platform of choice, but you may need to narrow down your stream of tweets using filters or only monitor a selected group of people. For example, the stream of tweets during the keynote using the hashtag #MSIgnite was overwhelming.

This post is an overview of things announced at Microsoft Ignite 2015 related to Exchange. Note that information presented at Ignite regarding Exchange 2016 was all subject to change as Exchange 2016 is still a work in progress.

Rumor on day 1 was that Microsoft Ignite is going to be in Chicago for the next 4 years as well. That is at least true for next year, as Microsoft announced that Ignite 2016 will be held in Chicago from May 9th to May 13th, 2016.

Roadmap

  • Exchange 2016 Public beta announced for Summer 2015. RTM is expected Fall/Winter 2015.
  • Customers can join the Exchange 2016 TAP program at http://aka.ms/joinoffice.
  • Office 2016 is now in Public Review, and is available at here.
  • Office Graph and Delve will be able to digest on-premises information via Hybrid connector and SharePoint 2016.

Architecture

  • Exchange 2016 will only have the Preferred Architecture multi-role setup, so no more CAS or Mailbox server-only deployments. Visible in Setup UI as well as Unattended setup (roles parameter).
  • The Edge role will be available in RTM.
  • More emphasis on Preferred Architecture, which isn’t very different for Exchange 2016 from Exchange 2013:
    • DAG design with unbound symmetrical model.
    • Four database copies (2 in each DC), 3 database copies and one lagged copy (7 days).
    • FSW in Azure or 3rd data center (preferred).
    • Single NIC for client and replication traffic.
    • Use commodity hardware with 20-24 core/up to 196GB nodes, utilizing JBOD with large disks, multiple databases per volume, Autoreseed with hot spare and using ReFS formatted, BitLocked encrypted data volumes.
    • Office WebApp Server farm in each DC with bound namespace and affinity.
  • Exchange 2016 MAPI/CDO is death – use RestAPI’s or Exchange Web Services (EWS).
  • MAPI/HTTP will be the default client protocol for Outlook with Exchange 2016. MAPI/HTTP will be a per-user setting in Exchange 2016. For Exchange 2013, the per-user setting will be introduced with a future CU.
  • Office WebApp Server required to view or edit Office documents from OWA 2016.
  • When required, scale up by add another node rather than scale up by adding resources like CPU or memory.
  • DAGs spanning more than 2 data centers are not recommended.
  • Use public and private namespace for Exchange 2016 Outlook Anywhere to leverage Kerberos for internal authentication.
  • For Exchange 2016, claims-based authentication will require Windows 2016 ADFS (version 4?).
  • The Exchange team put up a blog post on Exchange 2016 architecture here.

image image

Deployment

  • Exchange 2016 can proxy traffic from Exchange 2013 (down-level proxy)  and vice-versa (up-level proxy). This means you don’t have to upgrade Exchange servers in your internet-facing site prior to upgrading other locations. Up-level proxy transition is preferred.
  • Exchange 2010 to Exchange 2016 transition path is same experience as Exchange 2010 to Exchange 2013. Regarding Kerberos authentication, check guidance here.
  • Exchange 2016 can co-exist with Exchange 2010 SP3 RU11+ or Exchange 2013 CU10+. Exchange 2013 + 2016 can share one single Alternate Service Account (ASA) for Kerberos authentication.
  • There is no co-existence possible with Exchange 2007, which means you will need to perform a double-hop migration if you want to transition from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2016.
  • Exchange 2016 will support installation on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 10 (2016).
  • Exchange 2016 will require Windows Server 2008 R2 Forest and Domain Functional Levels or up, running at least on Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controllers.
  • Exchange 2016 will support at least Outlook 2010 SP2 with KB2956191 and KB2965295, Outlook 2013 SP1 with KB3020812, and Outlook 2016 desktop clients.
  • Exchange 2016 will require .NET Framework 4.5.2. Scalability improvements coming in .NET Framework 4.6 (release candidate in preview, don’t install yet).
  • Office WebApp Server can’t be installed on Exchange 2016 server, and requires web publishing through bound namespace (and thus possibly certificate implications) anywhere you want to work with attachments from OWA 2016. Don’t expose internal Office WebApp namespace externally. Use Set-OrganizationConfig -WACDiscoveryEndpoint and restart MSExchangeOWAAppPool to configure Office WebApp Server for OWA.
  • Certificate names required:
    • Exchange 2010 + 2016: Bound= 12, Unbound= 7
    • Exchange 2013 + 2016: Bound= 10, Unbound= 7
    • Exchange 2010 + 2013+ 2016: Bound= 10, Unbound= 7
    • Of course, internal MAPI endpoints do not require entry on certificate.
  • Use a dedicated Active Directory site to install and configure Exchange before moving them to a production site.
  • Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2016 introduce new OAB, specify existing OAB on all mailbox databases before installing Exchange 2013/2016.
  • After introducing Exchange 2016 to your environment, move the SystemMailbox{e0dc1c29-89c3-4034-b678-e6c29d823ed9} system mailbox to Exchange 2016, or you won’t be able to export admin audit logs, perform In-Place discovery searches etc.
  • When dimensioning your Exchange deployment, use the calculator.
  • By disabling an Anti-Virus product for troubleshooting, you don’t remove their filter driver. Uninstall if you suspect AV product, or use fltmc to list or unload filter driver.
  • Recommended to set lagged copies to 7 days delay.
  • Exchange 2016 will allow adding mailbox database copies with ConfigurationOnly to postpone automatic seeding. Fast Database Reseeds allows for up to 10 parallel reseeds.
  • On the Exchange server configuration:
    • Use “High Performance” Power Plan.
    • Disable Hyperthreading in physical deployments.
    • Use battery-backed storage controller with 1:3 Read:Write ratio.
    • For RAID, use stripe sets of 1+ factors of 256KB
    • Use GPT partitions
    • Host Exchange binaries on NTFS with 64K cluster size.
    • Host Exchange data on ReFS volumes with Data Integrity Feats disabled.
    • Use BitLocker to secure Exchange volumes.
    • Use JetStress with BitLocker and Virus Scanner if you’re going to use those in production.
    • Do not disable entire IPv6 stack.
    • Do not disable Exchange services post installation.
    • Do not restrict the dynamic TCP port range, e.g. do not use ‘netsh int ipv4 set dynamicport tcp startport=X numberofports=Y‘.
    • Use Exchange Health Checker script to verify configuration, available here.

Exchange 2016 Client Connectivity rpcreq

Virtualization

  • Exchange 2013 deployments are now supported on Azure IaaS virtual machine for production environments when using Azure Premium Storage. Amazon AWS is not supported. Most cost-effective remains Exchange On-Premises on physical hardware (or Exchange Online). Official guidance has been updated to reflect this here.
  • When virtualizing Exhange:
    • Do not use memory overcommit.
    • Hyperthreading is OK, but size for physical cores.
    • Do not oversubscribe CPUs, causes queue growth, increased IOPS due to lower indexing throughput, RPC latency issues.
    • Size like physical deployment, but add overhead for CPU (10%).
  • Exchange 2013 now supports Dynamic VHDX (not VHD!) disks for Hyper-V deployments. Will apply to Exchange 2016 as well. JetStress tests showed only 2% additional writes penalty for VHDX (for VHD 20%).

Storage

  • Exchange 2016 will require 22% lower IOPS when compared to Exchange 2013 RTM. That means that since Exchange 2003 with 1 IOPS per mailbox, we are down to 0.04875 IOPS per mailbox.
  • Search index will use passive database copies for indexing, instead of copying indexes from the active copy.
  • Delayed LAG play down, depending on disk health (delayed if disk latency more than  20ms). Replay Lag Manager will be enabled by default, for automatic play down of lagged copies when insufficient copies remain available.
  • Usage of ReFS for Exchange data volumes should result in less corruption, thus less reseeds or rebuilds. Exchange 2016 can detect database corruption through DB Divergence Detection. Loose Truncation will make sure Log Files won’t fill up disk space after extended outages.
  • Exchange 2013 and later will report more accurately on mailbox sizes. Accommodate for 30% increase when moving mailboxes from Exchange 2010 or earlier.
  • Autoreseed in Exchange 2016 can fix a single database on a volume.
  • Exchange 2016 Workload Management (WLM) adds Disk Latency Monitor. Can throttle non-critical workloads based on measured disk latencies.
  • Exchange 2016 adds predictive controller or hard disk failure, based on disk read and write latency trends, bad block detection or disk failures.

Exchange IOPS

Availability

  • Database Availability Groups are now by default deployed without an cluster administrative access point or cluster name object (CNO). This reduces complexity and dependencies, but you may need to check with for example your backup vendor as many 3rd party products still access Exchange through this CNO.
  • Exchange 2016 database fail-overs will be 33% faster. Given that Exchange 2013 database fail-overs are about 10 seconds, that should mean they are down to 6-7 seconds.
  • Recommended load-balancing configuration for Exchange 2016 is single namespace, Layer 7 and no affinity. Use load balancer with per-service monitors and features like Slow Ramp (F5) or Least Connections with Slow Start Time (KEMP) to grant servers time to initialize and warm-up.
  • Office WebApp Server requires affinity on the load-balancer.
  • As Exchange 2016 can proxy traffic to Exchange 2013 and vice-versa, both versions can co-exist in the same load balancer server pool.
  • Get-MailboxServerRedundancy allows to prioritize repairs and upgrades by inspecting the DAG member servers, database copies and their state.

image.pngclientreq

Management

  • You can manage Exchange 2016 objects from Exchange 2013 Management Shell and Administrative Console and vice-versa. Limited for Exchange 2010, recommended to use Exchange 2010 management tools to manage Exchange 2010.
  • An Exchange 2013 Managed Availability tool was released (MATS) to assist in troubleshooting and diving in the Management Availability related events. The tool is available here.
  • ExMon, the Exchange Server User Monitor, will be back.
  • Exchange 2016 Workload Management introduces policies to limit or block mailbox moves during peak hours.

Exchange Limit Moves

Public Folders

  • Modern Public Folder migration scripts in $exscripts folder are likely to be outdated. Always use the latest Modern Public Folder migration scripts, which are available here.
  • It’s recommended to host Modern Public Folders in dedicated databases.
  • Modern Public Folders are here to stay, but emphasis will shift to Office 365 Groups. Groups are also expected to replace Distribution Lists. Distribution List naming policies will help enforcing naming policy on Groups. Tool named ‘Hummingbird’ to be made available to move from DL to Groups, or script conversion using new UnifiedGroup cmdlets.

Compliance

  • Exchange 2016 will allow you to put Public Folders on In-Place Hold.

Features

  • Modern attachments in Outlook 2016, Exchange 2016 and SharePoint 2016 allows on-premises customers to offload attachment storage to SharePoint, just sending a link and setting permissions through Outlook. Also, Outlook 2016 contains a convenient MRU list to select recently touched Office documents as attachment. Note that SharePoint is on the roadmap for 2016, which could imply that modern attachments will not be available when Exchange 2016 RTM’s.
  • OWA 2016 will contain a revised ribbon with additional buttons to triage e-mail more quickly, e.g. for archiving or sweep (similar to functionality currently found in outlook.com formerly known as Hotmail). It also contains an Undo button.
  • Outlook 2016 and Exchange 2016 will use always search online. Hopefully this will result in consistent search results between Outlook, OWA and ActiveSync devices.
  • Being able to restore items from the recoverable items with folder preservation is on Microsoft’s radar.

Exchange Hybrid

  • Hybrid Configuration Wizard is now downloadable app, similar to previous OAuth configuration step in HCW. It works with Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2016 deployments, contains AADSync multi-forest support, and OAuth enhancements for MFA configuration. Allows team to introduce changes more quickly.
  • When configuring Hybrid, point your MX records to Exchange Online Protection (EOP) to prevent possible issues with SPF, DMARC or DKIM. This however requires EOP licenses at day 1.
  • 3rd party SMTP gateways sitting between Exchange On-Premises and EOP is not supported.
  • New Hybrid Migration troubleshooter can be found here.
  • Be advised that Exchange Hybrid is not compatible with Alternate Login ID or AlternateID for short. More information here.

Exchange Online / Office 365

  • Exchange Online runs 50.000+ servers hosting 1.2M database copies. Every month, 3.5M database fail-overs occur, 100’s server fail, while adding 1000’s of servers. Still, Exchange Online maintains an availability rate of 99.95%!
  • The Office 365 first release option, which will receive updates and new features first, will have the option to enable this option for the entire organization or per user.
  • Document Tracking now live in Office 365 and clients when using the Azure RMS connector. More information here.
  • Latest Azure Active Directory Sync has password write-back, so passwords changes in Office 365 are synced back to Active Directory on-premises. Get it here.
  • Currently in preview for Azure Active Directory Sync are user write-back (user created in Office 365 is synced back to Active Directory on-premises) and Groups write-back.
  • Office 365 to introduce dynamic Office 365 Groups, which will utilize recipient filters against Azure AD, and auto-expiring and other controls for Office 365 Groups housekeeping.

Note that you can download the Ignite session videos and slides for offline viewing as they become available. A script to accomplish this is available here.

Special thanks to Jeff Guillet, Dave Stork, Andy David, Tony Redmond, Bhargav Shukla John Barsodi, Nathan O’Bryan, John A Cook, Greg Tiber, Ingo Gegenwarth, Richard Hay, Jetze Mellema and Randall Vogsland for keeping us Exchange peeps updated from Ignite!