Microsoft’s Dave Howe posted a great tip to his blog: how to allow users to send voicemail messages to multiple users. This is often called “broadcast” or “distribution” voicemail, because the sender specifies a single address that expands into multiple recipients– just like a conventional distribution group in Exchange. The process is pretty straightforward: you create a new AD distribution group for the target recipients, update the UM grammar files that Exchange UM uses for speech recognition, and start sending messages.
Tag Archives: Exchange 2007
You may have heard that Exchange 2010 won’t support inbound fax. I have yet to find an Exchange 2007 deployment that actually uses Exchange UM faxing for one simple reason: it’s inbound-only. If you have to do all the work of deploying an outbound fax solution anyway, the value of inbound fax support in Exchange UM is quite a bit lower.
Exchange 2010 won’t create fax messages itself. However, there’s a twist: you can outsource your fax over IP (FoIP) capabilities. Exchange 2010 will honor any existing Exchange 2007 UM fax configuration properties, and it will continue to recognize fax CNG tones. However, instead of answering the call itself, UM will look at a new configuration property defined on UM mailbox policy objects: FaxServerURI. If this property exists, UM will try to hand off the call to the specified fax solution. The external fax solution will establish a fax media session with the sender, create a fax message, and send it to the UM-enabled user’s mailbox.
Messages created by this approach will look basically just like Exchange 2007 UM fax messages, and they’ll appear in the Fax search folder just as existing messages do.
The foregoing discussion might lead you to wonder who’s going to offer FoIP services that work with Exchange 2010. I haven’t seen a list yet. However, Concord Technologies sent out a press release at the Worldwide Partner Conference touting the fact that they’d be offering an Exchange 2010-compatible solution, so I guess we can count them in.
So Devin posted about Z-Push, the cool-sound open-source implementation of Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) protocol. Here’s the problem: the Z-Push folks kinda forgot to buy a license for EAS, and I have a problem with that. After years of complaints that Microsoft wasn’t being open and sharing its protocols, they started to document the behavior of their protocols and offer some of them for licensing, EAS included. That’s good, right? It’s good enough for Apple, Google, and the many other companies that licensed EAS, anyway. However, apparently Zarafa wanted the benefit of Microsoft’s labors without being willing to pay for it, so they built their own implementation. I don’t think that’s fair, and I don’t think the technical coolness of Z-Push should obscure the fact that Zarafa is stealing something that isn’t theirs.
This is what I said in 2002:
Hey, Linux guys: if you want to beat Microsoft, do it by making something better, not by copying their investment.
What happened to Lemonade? How about Funambol? It’s not as though the FOSS world lacks for sync protocols; they just decided that Microsoft’s commercially successful, fully licensable protocol would better suit their needs, so they took it. It boggles the mind. It would be one thing if the protocol were fully open to all implementers, but it’s not. If you don’t like the licensing terms, build your own protocol– that’s not hard to understand, is it?
Tuesday, day 2 at TechEd, was one of the busiest days I’ve had in a while. I spent part of the morning preparing for my afternoon Interactive Theater session on Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online offering, then worked a three-hour booth shift, this time in the Protection and Compliance booth. I was a little surprised with the number of questions that centered on Active Directory Rights Management Services; lots of people wanted to know more about Outlook protection rules (the new feature that lets you push a policy to Outlook clients that requires them to apply specific RMS templates to certain messages) and transport rules for RMS application. We also had a few archiving and cross-mailbox-search questions too, although not as many as I expected going in.
In the afternoon, I held UNC01-INT, a live demo and chalk talk on the Business Productivity Online suite. It was fairly well attended; I’d guess that there were about 40 people in the room. Thankfully my demos all went well; I showed the Microsoft Online Customer Portal, which you use for signup, billing, and so on, as well as the “my company” portal and the BPO single-sign-on agent. For the web-based portions of the demo, I used Windows 7 RC with IE8, and it performed flawlessly– a good sign for the stability and utility of the release version.
The Business Productivity Online team scheduled a thank-you dinner at Ciudad for the people who spoke on BPO topics, and they were kind enough to invite me to join them. At my end of the table, I had a former commercial fisherman who was born and raised in Alaska, a man who worked two summers in college as a commercial fisherman in Alaska, and an avid fisherman from Seattle. You can probably guess what we talked about!
Wednesday was the big enchilada: UNC304, my talk on OCS deployment and management. However, before I could do that session, I had another turn of booth duty, this time in the deployment and management booth. I could distill the bulk of the questions I got into two individual queries: Is it true that you can do online mailbox moves in Exchange 2010, and if I’m using Exchange 2003 right now, should I move to Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010? These were popular enough questions that I’m working on separate posts for them.
The session itself went well, although I was in one of the cavernous 600-seat rooms, so it felt kind of empty. I demoed the OCS 2007 R2 topology planning tool and showed some screen shots of the new device management console (having neglected to bring a real device with me to manage!) Afterwards I got into a long discussion with some folks from the University of Florida about how their helpdesk might use OCS, plus I met Tyler Regas for the first time face-to-face. Following the session, I had to duck out and grab a taxi to the airport to catch my flight home.
One post-show update: in UNC304, I mentioned the client interoperability matrix for using multiple points of presence, or MPOP. Microsoft’s Peter Schmatz was kind enough to send along an updated link to the most recent matrix; it’s here.
Exchange 2007 has a nifty feature that can nonetheless be annoying: it generates tattle-tale messages that tell you when someone forwards a meeting notification. Say that Alice schedules a meeting with Bob, and Bob forwards the invite to Carol. When Exchange sees the forward, it generates a notification in Alice’s Inbox. (Or, in this case, Paul schedules a meeting with Anup, who forwards it to James).
One problem with this feature: you can’t turn it off! I’m not sure why the Exchange team designed things this way, but they did. However, there are two mitigations.
You can prevent Exchange from sending the messages to external domains with the set-remoteDomain cmdlet (Set-RemoteDomain -MeetingForwardNotificationEnabled $false will do the trick). This allows you to avoid spamming your correspondents with notifications when you forward a meeting invite internally.
You can also force Exchange to automatically move a user’s meeting forward notifications to her Deleted Items folder with Set-MailboxCalendarSettings -RemoveForwardedMeetingNotifications $true. If this switch were enabled on my account, when Anup forwards my invite to James, I wouldn’t see the forward notification.
(Note: I haven’t checked to see what changes, if any, Exchange 2010 makes to this area. More info once I’ve had a chance to do some digging.)
Rajesh: software + services is a “very pragmatic, and I think in some ways, inevitable, part of every organization’s array of things to think about.” Every org has to decide what’s best for it based on constraints, goals, compliance requirements, etc. S+S means “no technology ultimatum” imposed by the vendor: you can move workload between the cloud and premises in whatever mix makes sense for you. “We think about 40% of organizations don’t offer e-mail or advanced communication services to their employees”– target for Deskless Worker Services. Experiences from running Exchange 2010 dogfood for Exchange Labs has provided great feedback, including accelerated innovation and stability.
Gurdeep: what’s OCS doing around services? “First and foremost, we’re letting Exchange go in and figure out our problems!” (this got a big laugh.) IM and presence being offered starting 15 April for Office Communications Online standard edition customers.
Rajesh: Consumer technologies aren’t manageable, but consumerization of IT is real– it’s happening. Every university, college, high school student is used to gigabyte mailboxes. Technology that works for the older generation may not be what you need to attract and retain the newer generation.
Gurdeep: “I’ll never forgive marketing folks for changing the INTERACT format.” (chuckles) Lots of change and transformation in the voice market, all going on with the backdrop of “the biggest economic event we’ll see in our lifetimes.” It’s both concerning and a great opportunity.
Moz: what does the economy mean for IT pros?
Gurdeep: a lot of things are out of our control. People deal with that in different ways. Within Microsoft, we discussed how to deal with this. Researched the Great Depression, including figuring out how many of the Fortune 100 survived and/or grew. Common thread: innovation and transformation (e.g. Sears transformed from exclusive mail-order to rural customers to a mix of mail-order and retail). Things to do: manage costs “like you’ve never done before”, but be careful not to eat away muscle– during a rebound, that’s when you’ll fail. #1 step typically is changing how you do things.
Moz: what does “unified” really mean?
Gurdeep: NYC is an amazing city. Latest discovery: you can buy great, amazing brand-name bags right on the street for real cheap! (laughs) What’s interesting: those were cheap imitations. Problem in this industry: we have expensive imitations in the UC space. After intro of UC technology, benefits have driven wide adoption of “unified” as a moniker, but lots of so-called UC systems are the results of acquisitions– multiple user experiences, multiple back-ends, complicated provisioning. Important for buyers to be savvy about what’s unified and what isn’t. Don’t be fooled by checkbox comparisons. How many distinct user experiences are users going to be subjected to? Video conferencing systems are semi-widespread, but why aren’t they used more? They’re too hard to use! MS focus on single directory, single set of components, single management experience provides a true unified experience. How did a billion people get on the Internet? Self-driven– you couldn’t intentionally train a billion people to do anything if you wanted to.
Moz: how are Exchange and OCS getting closer together?
Gurdeep: we’re already tied together in many ways: directory, common contacts, etc. “If you have Exchange 2007 deployed, then adding OCS 2007 R2, is much easier now than it has been in the past.” Still some areas of mismatch (like Powershell; Powershell support coming to OCS in the next release). As we move forward, we’re looking at other integration points, but “you cannot push this too far”– handling for different content types like voice and e-mail are fundamentally different.
Rajesh: my favorite OCS feature is that they’re going to be adding PowerShell, “giving everyone a unified way to manage. That’s a great example where we’re working towards giving you more common tools across workloads.”
Gurdeep: my favorite Exchange feature: 70% IOPS reduction from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007, then a further 50% reduction from 2007 to Exchange 2010.
Moz: how should people be approaching the architecture for UC?
Gurdeep: I have all these disparate systems for conferencing, video, etc. I made disparate decisions to buy them because they’re separate silos. Microsoft’s UC vision unifies all these things, but you can’t just throw away what you already have. First priority: develop an overall UC architecture vision to get a “magnetic north”. If you’re ready to resign your expensive contract for audioconferencing service, having an architecture helps you consider rolling out OCS for that– and once the infrastructure is in place, you can easily and quickly add new capabilities. IM and presence are core features that are easy to get up and running. For many of your users, ask the question: is that desk phone still necessary? Would you rather buy a $300 netbook or a $300 IP phone? Lifetime costs for phones are baked into the system– you have to discover and eliminate them. Simple rule: if you can get down to 1 of anything, likely you’ll be paying less for it. PBX industry is a lot like the mainframe industry: vertically integrated, single source. Once they sold you the mainframe, they had you! “Don’t buy the mainframe!” The decisions you make now will lock you in for the next 5-6 years. Don’t get locked in, and be savvy about the cost and changes that are there.
Moz: as you think about the role of the IT pro, what’s the to-do list for prospering in the current situation?
Rajesh: Very important to have a vision of where you want to go. Economic environment imposes constraints. Resource constraints can be a huge clarifying factor: we force ourselves to impose constraints and use them to make progress on longer-term plans. Admins lead by understanding their organizational goals and technologies, then driving changes.
Gurdeep: no one ever calls telecom managers to ask them to help move solutions forward– they call to yell that phones are down. Change in roles: have to figure out how to get ahead and move the business forward. Many examples: if the economic situation stays like this, companies will have to ask whether it makes sense to have expensive real estate.
Moz: we’re announcing Exchange 14 tomorrow. What 3 things do you most want to talk about?
Rajesh: Let me do 4! Super-excited about Exchange 2010. Available in public beta on 15 April. First key investment: important for us to keep the end user in mind. What we do to make them productive translates into cost savings. $650 billion/yr lost to e-mail interruptions (based on Basex): 25% of IW workday is responding to e-mail. We give you access from broad range of mobile phones and browsers, but we also provide tools to manage information overload. MailTips, voice mail preview, “ignore conversation”. Archiving and compliance improvements.
Gurdeep: having IM contacts built into OWA is a very cool feature too.
What are some of the developer opportunities for this combined platform?
Gurdeep: taking a software-centric approach opens up a lot of opportunities. Developer opportunity really isn’t there on traditional PBX systems.Single biggest opportunity for transformation isn’t replacing voice with OCS– it’s to allow you to think across all the software in your enterprise with communications-enabled business processes (CEBP). A word of caution: enterprise developers speak a different language! Example: “MSExpense is a tool that we use so that when you spend money we cause you pain.” We’re working with the internal app developers to IM and presence-enable MSExpense so the app can use presence status to alert people and make routing decisions.
Rajesh: Mac Business Unit moving to Exchange Web Services for Entourage. We’re also trying to get RIM to move their services over to EWS instead of MAPI.
How is Microsoft using software + services?
Rajesh: We’re moving some of our internal users over to the services platform. We’re using the high availability and DAS work that we’ve been doing for customers internally as a proving ground.
What are some of the biggest blockers to software + services?
Gurdeep: go back to 1997– knowing what you know now, would you buy a mainframe? There are industries where software as an application can become a blocker.
Rajesh: if you have a good sense of where you want to be a few years out, that helps inform what you should do now.
Scott Schnoll and his posse delivered a great session on availability technology in Exchange 2010 at INTERACT yesterday. We’ve been using this technology for a while now at 3Sharp, and it really is very, very cool.
So, the really big availability news in Exchange 2010 is the introduction of a new construct, the database availability group (DAG). The DAG is a collection of up to 16 servers, each of which can contain a replica of a mailbox database. For example, I could put MDB1, MDB2, and MDB3 on server1, MDB2 and MDB4 on server2, MDB1 and MDB3 on server 3, and so on.
Mailbox databases are now the target object for failover– instead of having an entire mailbox server failover using Windows clustering, the mailbox database itself fails over to another server within the same DAG. For example, MDB1 can move from server1 to server3, either automatically or manually.
Essentially, this is a mechanism for replicating mailbox databases between servers, something that the Exchange admin community has been asking for for years! Some highlights:
- Log shipping no longer uses SMB; instead it uses the ESE streaming API for seeding [ed: hat tip Scott Schnoll for the correction], which is considerably more efficient, and raw TCP sockets for replication. In Exchange 2007, there was one SMB session for all databases on a server. In Exchange 2010, there’s one TCP socket per database, so scalability and parallelization are greatly improved.
- This provides HA for systems that are built on top of DAS; in fact, it’s optimized for DAS. You can use dedicated storage per node; replication means that you can use JBODs without even using RAID.
- DAGs can span AD sites, subnets, and so on (although all servers in the DAG must be in the same AD domain). You can control and throttle DAG replication at the network level or using the DAG controls for log lag.
- The setup experience is completely different than SCC. To enable a DAG, you create a DAG and then add database replicas to it. You don’t have to manually create any of the failover mechanisms, install any Windows prerequisites, or any of the stuff you’d have to do with single-copy clusters (SCC).
The advent of the DAG means that some legacy features are disappearing. First, there are no storage groups in Exchange 2010– each database has its own associated set of logs. Second, SCC is dead (e.g. no longer supported). Personally, I won’t miss it.
Interesting question posed by Josh Maher: do you still need backups? We debated this hotly at the MVP Summit. Microsoft’s position is that some organizations may choose to do fewer backups once they deploy DAGs because their databases are already distributed across multiple servers in multiple sites. Of course, this distribution doesn’t protect you against logical errors in the database, which to me weakens the argument that you don’t need backups. Microsoft itself doesn’t do backups internally any longer. They don’t have business requirements to recover long-term archived mail.
Public folders: no changes, except that you can no longer use continuous replication for public folders. You can put a PF database on a server that’s in a DAG, but you can’t put the PF database itself into the DAG. Because Exchange 2007 limited you to having a single PF database per CCR-protected storage group, this isn’t actually a loss.
More to come on this topic– heaven knows there will be a lot of interesting stuff to explore as people start experimenting with DAGs in their lab. As for us, we’re about to expand our Redmond DAG by adding a server in Toledo to give us site resiliency too– should be fun!
UPDATE 15 Apr 1405 PDT: Ewan Dalton has more on the new features here.
It’s been killing me not to talk about this, but now I can! On April 15, Microsoft will officially release a public beta of Exchange 2010 (formerly code-named “Exchange 14”). There are so many improvements in the product that I can’t decide which ones to talk about first. I’ll be updating this post to link to my own blog posts, as well as to interesting posts from other Exchange folks, so you’ll see it update frequently.
Update [2233 PST 14 Apr]: the Exchange 2010 beta bits are now available for download!
Last year, INTERACT was a fantastic physical conference held in San Diego (a hard location to beat!) This year, Microsoft’s changed things up. There are separate, and mostly concurrent, events in Reading, UK, Boston, and Redmond, plus an online virtual event. I flew in yesterday and am now in the middle of an Exchange high availability session. There are two parallel tracks: one covering Exchange 14, and one covering OCS 2007 R2 topics. I’m mostly attending the Exchange sessions, but there are some pretty nifty OCS sessions as well.
The weather’s been weird since I got here; yesterday as I was driving to the Microsoft campus, I drove into a good-sized hailstorm. The hailstones were small, but there were enough of them to perceptibly whiten the ground. Fortunately it stopped hailing before I had to get out of the car!
I’m preparing a series of blog posts on various topics that I’ll post over the next few days. Some of these posts have some really exciting stuff in them that hasn’t been publicly disclosed yet, so stay tuned!
Man, it’s been killing me not to talk about OWA 2010. Take a look at this screenshot:
First: this shot’s taken from Safari 4.0 beta 2 on the Mac. That’s right: OWA fully supports Safari on Mac OS X (not Windows) and Firefox on the Mac and Windows, along with IE 7+ on Windows. (I can’t remember if Linux Firefox is supported or not; I think so but I might be wrong). Safari and Firefox get the full premium OWA experience, with drag-and-drop, spell checking, notifications, and the rest.
Second: check out the presence jellybean in the upper-right corner. OWA is now integrated with OCS. In this case, the screenshot shows my mailbox hosted on Exchange Labs, which features Windows Live Messenger integration. Notice that my Messenger contact list appears in the lower-left side of the navigation bar, and that next to Arlene’s name in the message pane, you can see her presence jellybean. (Take a good look at the context menu on the jellybean, too– looks a lot like the one in Outlook, doesn’t it?)
Microsoft’s video showed conversation view very briefly, but this is one of my all-time favorite Exchange features. Here’s what it looks like in OWA 2010:
So, for the conversation titled “Introduction”, I can see all the messages in the thread, with the first non-deleted message automatically highlighted. The conversation view automatically includes deleted messages, sent items, and messages that I’ve filed in other folders, so I can get a sense of the conversation’s length and spread. The view in the message list (on the left) shows how the thread branches (not much, in this case) and the location of each message; the conversation view itself on the right shows the active message, along with controls to expand other messages. Of course, I can select, move, and delete messages either individually or as an entire conversation.
Now, some of you may be scoffing right now, saying “wait a minute– gmail has had conversation views for a long time.” That’s true. OWA’s view is richer; it displays more visual information and is easier to navigate than gmail’s current implementation. Take a look at these two screenshots to see what I’m talking about. The first shows a conversation originally imported from gmail as it appears in OWA 2010; the second shows it in gmail.
Speaking of gmail, OWA 2010 can aggregate and display in your inbox mail from multiple services, too. Check out what one of the Exchange Labs options pages looks like:
There are quite a few things to look at here. First, notice the account information pane, which allows users to set their own address, phone numbers, and so on. As an Exchange admin, I can control whether users may do so or not, but letting them do so has some obvious cost and time savings benefits for the IT staff. Second, apropos of self-service, check out the “Shortcuts” area on the right side of the screen: users can quickly get access to do a number of things directly from within OWA, like setting up Direct Push or creating server-side rules. Finally, notice the “Other Accounts” section; I’ve set up a link with my gmail account so that mail sent to my gmail address shows up in my Exchange Labs inbox. (OWA 2010 also lets you select the address from which mail is sent, much as Entourage does on the Mac, so I can send messages that appear to be from my domain or from gmail).
I could go on with features. For example, the message list isn’t paged any longer– it scrolls from beginning to end, just like Entourage or Outlook, seamlessly loading messages when necessary. There are tons of other little grace notes like this, but you’ll have to wait for RTM to see some of them!
The media’s been flooded with news about various kinds of job training, including Microsoft’s Elevate America program and various state programs targeted at autoworkers, manufacturing workers, and so on. This makes sense, given that the economic mess we’re currently in means that there’s a lot of turmoil and uncertainty about jobs at all levels. Getting better training almost always makes sense, especially if that training helps increase your market value.
Greg Taylor, who runs the Microsoft Certified Master for Exchange program, just e-mailed me to say that he only has 2 open slots in the next MCM | Exchange course, starting May 4. We’ve had a lively debate about whether the MCM certification is actually valuable, in the sense that it’s worth what it costs. After seeing the back-and-forth between people like Tony Redmond (who owns H-P’s Microsoft consulting business), Gary Cooper, and Devin, the answer is clear: yes.
How is that possible? Simple. First, you get training that’s literally not available anywhere else. A couple of weeks ago, I was there when Tim McMichael was teaching CCR and SCR. In the back of the room were Scott Schnoll and Ross Smith IV. It would be difficult to conceive of a better group to teach the real-world intricacies of how CCR and SCR can be deployed.
More importantly, when H-P (or IBM, or Dell, or other large shops) go in to a customer, the customer already knows them. They’re not facing the problem of trying to convince a customer that a smaller, lesser-known shop can do a great job– and can justify its bill rates. On the other hand, for smaller consultancies, MCM | Exchange is a terrific way to immediately lock the competence flag to 1. As Microsoft continues to evangelize the program, this effect will grow. That’s why I’d jump into this rotation if I could… but I can’t. However, you, dear reader, can. It’s true that the training is about $13,000 (plus your living expenses). However, I believe strongly that for independents and smaller shops, you can sbsolutely recoup this value, and more. Check out the page, and if you’re interested in signing up, ping me directly and I’ll put you in touch with Greg.
Missy has been pretty busy lately. Apart from working incredibly hard on some very cool Exchange 14-related stuff, she recently completed two white papers. The first one examines the interplay between continuous cluster replication (CCR) and direct attached storage, in an attempt to answer the question of whether you have to use SANs for efficient and safe CCR deployment. The second examines the pros and cons of CCR versus single copy cluster (SCC) deployment. Both of them are worth reading if you’re interested in using CCR with Exchange.
Brent Ozar posted an interesting piece on the value of the MCM credential. He argues that the value in being an MCM comes primarily to people who already have the ability to act as a force multiplier, making the people around them more effective. That’s one of the reasons that I’m happy that Devin’s earned his MCM; he has great potential to use what he’s learned to provide a field effect that will really help our customers.
I’m going to be teaching the Exchange UM portion of the MCM Exchange class, starting either in March or May. I’ve decided to hold off on going through the whole program until we’ve finished our move to Seattle; it’ll be much easier without the added hassle of being away from home. I’m tempted to skip the Exchange 2007 MCM and wait for the Exchange 14 version (which, of course, is a ways off), and instead go for the MCM OCS certification. Jens’ description is very tantalizing.
BTW, the MCM team has a great blog. If you’re at all interested in the MCM program, you should check it out.
I’m excited to be at this year’s MVP Summit. (In fact, I’m in an Exchange 14-themed session right now). The summit team has their own blog, and lots of other MVPs are blogging about it. I have a huge backlog of blog entries to write, but I won’t be blogging much about the specific sessions because they’re under NDA. Too bad, because there are some E14 features that totally rock my socks off.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that Microsoft had announced their plans to release an Exchange Web Services-based version of Entourage 2008. Well, they’ve gone and done it: this Mactopia page has the link you need to sign in to Microsoft Connect and get the beta bits. Just to reiterate: you won’t see any major changes in the user interface, because there aren’t any. Consider this release to be the UI of Entourage 2008 with a completely different (and much improved!) mechanism for talking to Exchange under the hood.