Tag Archives: Unified Communications

Moving to Summit 7 Systems

It must be the season or something. Like several of my peers (e.g. Paul, Phoummala, and Michael, to name 3), I’m moving on from my current position to a unique new challenge. In my case, I’m taking the role of Principal Architect at Summit 7 Systems.

Astute readers may remember that, just about a year ago, I joined Dell’s global services organization as a global principal consultant. I was fortunate to work with a large group of extremely smart and talented people, including several MCMs (Todd, Dave, Andrew, Ron, and Alessandro, y’all know who I’m talking about!) Working for a large company has both its benefits and challenges, but I was happy with the work I was doing and the people I was working with. However, then this happened.

Scott Edwards, cofounder of Summit 7 and a longtime friend from my prior time in Huntsville, told me that he wanted to grow Summit 7’s very successful business, previously focused on SharePoint and business process consulting, to expand into Office 365, Lync, and Exchange. Would I be interested in helping? Yes, yes, I would. Summit 7 is already really well known in the SharePoint world, with customers such as NASA, Coca-Cola, Nucor Steel, and the State of Minnesota. SharePoint consulting is a very different world in many ways from what I’m used to, so it will be interesting, challenging, and FUN to carry the Lync/Exchange/365 torch into a new environment.

In my new role, I’ll be building a practice essentially from scratch, but I’ll be able to take advantage of Summit 7’s deep bench of project management, business process consulting, marketing, and sales talent. I’m excited by the opportunity, which is essentially the next step forward from my prior work as a delivery specialist. I am not yet taking over the role of Summit 7’s corporate pilot, but that’s on my to-do list as well. (A couple of folks have already asked, and the answer is: yes, I will be flying myself occasionally to customer gigs, something that Dell explicitly forbade. Can’t wait!)

This is an exciting opportunity for me and I relish the chance to get in and start punching. Stay tuned! (Meanwhile, you can read the official Summit 7 press release here.)


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The value of lagged copies for Exchange 2013

Let’s talk about… lagged copies.

For most Exchange administrators, the subject of lagged database copies falls somewhere between “the Kardashians’ shoe sizes” and “which of the 3 Stooges was the funniest” in terms of interest level. The concept is easy enough to understand: a lagged copy is merely a passive copy of a mailbox database where the log files are not immediately played back, as they are with ordinary passive copies. The period between the arrival of a log file and the time when it’s committed to the database is known as the lag interval. If you have a lag interval of 24 hours set to a database, a new log for that database generated at 3pm on April 4th won’t be played into the lagged copy until at least 3pm on April 5th (I say “at least” because the exact time of playback will depend on the copy queue length). The longer the lag interval, the more “distance” there is between the active copy of the mailbox database and the lagged copy.

Lagged copies are intended as a last-ditch “goalkeeper” safety mechanism in case of logical corruption. Physical corruption caused by a hardware failure will happen after Exchange has handed the data off to be written, so it won’t be replicated. Logical corruption introduced by components other than Exchange (say, an improperly configured file-level AV scanner) that directly write to the MDB or transaction log files wouldn’t be replicated in any event, so the real use case for the lagged copy is to give you a window in time during which logical corruption caused by Exchange or its clients hasn’t yet been replicated to the lagged copy. Obviously the size of this window depends on the length of the lag interval, and whether or not it is sufficient for you to a) notice that the active database has become corrupted b) play the accumulated logs forward into the lagged copy and c) activate the lagged copy depends on your environment.

The prevailing sentiment in the Exchange world has largely been “ I do backups already so lagged copies don’t give me anything.” When Exchange 2010 first introduced the notion of a lagged copy, Tony Redmond weighed in on it. Here’s what he said back then:

For now, I just can’t see how I could recommend the deployment of lagged database copies.

That seems like a reasonable stance, doesn’t it? At MEC this year, though, Microsoft came out swinging in defense of lagged copies. Why would they do that? Why would you even think of implementing lagged copies? It turns out that there are some excellent reasons that aren’t immediately apparent. (It may help to review some of the resiliency and HA improvements delivered in Exchange 2013; try this this excellent omnibus article by Microsoft’s Scott Schnoll if you want a refresher.) Here are some of the reasons why Microsoft has begun recommending the use of lagged copies more broadly.

1. Lagged copies are better in 2013

Exchange 2013 includes a number of improvements to the lagged copy mechanism. In particular, the new loose truncation feature introduced in SP1 means that you can prevent a lagged copy from taking up too much log space by adjusting the the amount of log space that the replay mechanism will use; when that limit is reached the logs will be played down to make room. Exchange 2013 (and SP1) also make a number of improvements to the Safety Net mechanism (discussed fully in Chapter 2 of the book), which can be used to play missing messages back into a lagged copy by retrieving them from the transport subsystem.

2. Lagged copies are continuously verified

When you back up a database, Exchange checks the page checksum of every page as it is backed up by computing the checksum and comparing it to the stored checksum; if that check fails, you get the dreaded JET_errReadVerifyFailure (-1018) error. However, just because you can successfully complete the backup doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to restore it when the time comes. By comparison, the Exchange log playback mechanism will log errors immediately when they are encountered during log playback. If you’re monitoring event logs on your servers, you’ll be notified as soon as this happens and you’ll know that your lagged copy is unusable now, not when you need to restore it. If you’re not monitoring your event logs, then lagged copies are the least of your problems.

3. Lagged copies give you more flexibility for recovery

When your active and passive copies of a database become unusable and you need to fall back to your lagged copy, you have several choices, as described in TechNet. You can easily play back every log that hasn’t yet been committed to the database, in the correct order, by using Move-ActiveMailboxDatabase. If you’d rather, you can play back the logs up to a certain point in time by removing the log files that you don’t want to play back. You can also play messages back directly from Safety Net into the lagged copy.

4. There’s no hardware penalty for keeping a lagged copy

Some administrators assume that you have to keep lagged copies of databases on a separate server. While this is certainly supported, you don’t have to have a “lag server” or anything like unto it. The normal practice in most designs has been to store lagged copies on other servers in the same DAG, but you don’t even have to do that. Microsoft recommends that you keep your mailbox databases no bigger than 2TB. Stuff your server with a JBOD array of the new 8TB disks (or, better yet, buy a Dell PowerVault MD1220) and you can easily put four databases on a single disk: the active copy of DB1, the primary passive copy of DB2, the secondary passive copy of DB3, and the lagged copy of DB4. This gives you an easy way to get the benefits of a 4-copy DAG while still using the full capacity of the disks you have: the additional IOPS load of the lagged copy will be low, so hosting it on a volume that already has active and passive copies of other databases is a reasonable approach (one, however, that you’ll want to test with jetstress).

It’s always been the case that the architecture Microsoft recommends when a new version of Windows or Exchange is released evolves over time as they, and we, get more experience with it in the real world. That’s clearly what has happened here; changes in the product, improvements in storage hardware, and a shift in the economic viability of conventional backups mean that lagged copies are now much more appropriate for use as a data protection mechanism than they were in the past. I expect to see them deployed more and more often as Exchange 2013 deployments continue and our collective knowledge of best practices for them improves.


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Leaving messages for non-UM-enabled users

Recently I got a good question from a coworker. He was working with a customer who was piloting Exchange Unified Messaging, and the customer was a little confused by a poorly-documented behavior of Exchange UM.

Consider that you have four test users who are UM-enabled: Alex, Brian, Carole, and David. You also have four users with Exchange mailboxes who are not UM-enabled: Magdalena, Nick, Oscar, and Pete.

The customer reported that he could dial the default automated attendant, or into Outlook Voice Access, and use dial by name to call Alex, Brian, Carole, or David.

However, he had Exchange configured to allow callers to leave voice mail messages without ringing the phone first (what I call “the coward setting”; it’s controlled with Set-UMDialPlan –SendVoiceMsgEnabled:$false). He was able to leave messages for Magdalena and the other non-UM-enabled users, which surprised him and generated the question.

This does seem odd. It’s easy to understand why you can leave a message for the first four users: they are UM-enabled, so they have extensions to which Exchange can transfer the call. But why can you leave a UM message for a user who isn’t UM-enabled? It’s because leaving a voice mail directly for a user doesn’t involve ringing an extension, so not having an extension assigned isn’t an obstacle. When you select that user for a message, UM will play the greeting (which is almost certainly going to be the system-generated TTS version of the user name, as a non-UM-enabled user probably will not have recorded a greeting) and record the message, then deliver it through the standard path.

The More You Know…


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2011 Exchange Maestro wrap-up

Greetings from high over Nebraska, where I’m aboard a Delta flight to San Francisco for a well-deserved day of rest at home (and, hopefully, a visit to In-N-Out) before heading to Vegas for Exchange Connections and then back to Pensacola.

My first visit to Connecticut was, I’d say, quite the success. We had a good-sized group of attendees, and they asked excellent and focused questions throughout. As a presenter it’s always rewarding when the audience asks questions that indicate not only that they’re listening but that they’re thinking and this group did so particularly well. That kind of back-and-forth increases the value of the workshop for everyone, and we had a lot of it.

For a first, Tony and I hit all of our timing marks until the third day! (As you might expect, I ran long on the UM content; my natural enthusiasm got the best of me.) This left the attendees more time than usual for labs, which they used to their full advantage. We didn’t have any major equipment or logistical problems; the sponsor presentations from Hewlett-Packard and BinaryTree were quite well done.

In a side note, I’m glad to report that Tony now knows what “homeboy” means in American English after discussing my PC price advantage post. He and Brian both disagreed strenuously with my assessment of the build quality of H-P’s EliteBook line, and Tony further questioned why I spec’d a 17″ EliteBook given its inconvenient size for truly mobile use– I did so because I wanted the closest match for CPU speed. In any event my admission that there still seems to be a price premium at the higher end of the configuration scale stands. Having said that, I’ve no plans to switch away from my MacBook Pro.

As of right now, we don’t currently have plans to do any Maestro events in 2012. I’m certainly open to the possibility, but we’ve had a hard time finding the optimum way to market these events and get the word out. One possibility is that we’ll work more closely with consulting and systems integration firms to go directly to their customers, and we have a few other potential tricks up our sleeves. Stay tuned for more details!

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A tricky UM routing problem

A colleague who earned his Exchange 2010 last year recently contacted me with a bit of an odd UM question. Here’s the basic scenario: Steve Secretary answers the phone for Betty Bosswoman. This was set up in Cisco Call Manager such that Steve’s phone has two extensions: 1000 (Betty’s extension) and 1001 (Steve’s extension). When someone calls Betty, both phones ring, and Steve can answer it as necessary. Sometimes Steve would answer the phone and the caller would ask for Betty’s voicemail; Steve could oblige by doing a blind transfer to Betty’s extension and the call would be routed to the voicemail system.

Things were all fine with this configuration until the advent of Exchange UM. Call answering and delivery worked fine until Steve tried to transfer a call to Betty’s voicemail, now hosted on Exchange UM. The caller whose call was transferred was getting Steve’s voicemail.. not at all the right result.

This was happening because when the call was transferred, CUCM was emitting a diversion header that indicated that the call was being sent to Steve. Why? Because Steve had Betty’s extension assigned as a secondary extension! Remember, Exchange UM uses the SIP diversion information to determine where the call’s from, who it’s to, and why Exchange is getting it. If any of these three data are incorrect or missing, Exchange will fall back to assuming that the call is to the voicemail pilot number, and you’ll hear “Welcome to Microsoft Exchange. Please enter your mailbox extension” (or whatever; the exact phrase escapes me) instead of the correct greeting.

My interlocutor wanted to know if there was a way to change this behavior on the Exchange side. Sadly there isn’t– whatever diversion header information is provided, Exchange will consume. There’s no way to rewrite, edit, or otherwise control the diversion data on the Exchange side, nor can you create rules or filters that modify the actions that Exchange takes. That’s what the call coverage map on the PBX is for, see?

Anyway, after a little head scratching, some consultation with a CUCM engineer, and the sacrifice of a chicken, it was discovered that CUCM had a way to modify the extension information sent as part of a blind transfer. The change was made so that transferring a call from Steve’s phone emitted Betty’s extension instead, and the problem was solved. Unfortunately I don’t know exactly what change was made, or I’d document it here. Such are the perils of not being a CUCM guy…


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Testing speech grammars with Exchange Unified Messaging

One of the things i teach in the MCM UM curriculum is the fact that Exchange UM has a phonetic name attribute that you can use to adjust how the system pronounces unusual names like “Robichaux” or “Szcezpanski.” MVP (and now Exchange MCM!) Jeff Guillet shared an article with me during the MCM R10 UM class that explains how to preview the pronunciation you’re going to get from a given phonetic value– I’d always done it with trial and error, but Jeff’s method is better. See Jeff’s article for background on how the phonetic system works, and learn how to preview pronunciation as a bonus.

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Exchange MCM R10 wrapup and a reminder about Exchange Maestro

Fellow Exchange MVP Jeff Guillet just finished rotation 10 (R10) of the Microsoft Certified Master program for Exchange. His writeup gives an excellent overview of what the program’s really like: intense and focused learning, now 7 days per week. It is very hard work, but the quality of the work that MCM candidates do with the skills and knowledge they get at MCM speaks for itself.

But suppose that you can’t spare the time or money to attend an MCM rotation? Good news: Tony Redmond and I have one more Exchange Maestro class coming up at the end of October in Greenwich, CT. For a limited time, using the registration code “FAN” will net you $250 off registration. (When I say “limited”, what I really mean is that I don’t know when Penton will stop honoring the code so I encourage you not to dawdle; the class is nearly full.)

But further suppose that you aren’t able to attend this Maestro event– after all, Connecticut in the fall isn’t for everyone. Good news: don’t forget that Tony and I are co-presenting a one-day workshop on planning and executing Exchange 2010 migrations as a pre-conference session at the Fall Exchange Connections show. In one action-packed day, we’ll cover the migration-related highlights from the Maestro curriculum, plus Tony will tell jokes. Trust me when I say that his jokes are not to be missed. Plus, it’s Halloween that day, so if I can persuade Tony to agree we might have a costume contest for attendees. I mean, who wouldn’t want to dress up in costume for Halloween in Las Vegas? That’s certainly on my bucket list. Feel free to leave costume suggestions for me in the comments section of this post.

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MS releases release candidate of Lync

Big news this morning: Microsoft just dropped the release candidate build of Lync. This is the product suite formerly known as Communications Server “14”. I’m glad to see a simpler name, and it looks like the simplified branding also applies to the mobile clients and the Live Meeting desktop (and maybe the service; I can’t tell yet.)

There are a lot of changes in CS14 Lync and I really haven’t had time to dig into them (though I’m really looking forward to PowerShell support!) However, I was already in the process of rebuilding our existing OCS 2007 R2 installation at work, so it might be time to move to Lync instead. All hail Software Assurance! Of course, I’d bet that the RC build of Lync isn’t supported for production use, and I have no indication that there will be a build-to-build upgrade from the RC (as there almost always is for Exchange.) I may have to wait a bit before rolling it out. In the meantime, there are a ton of videos covering new features in Lync that I should probably watch…

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Paul Thurrott and I talk Exchange 2010

One of the fun things I got to do at TechEd this year was shoot a couple of short video segments with Paul Thurrott. Despite the fact that he and I have worked for Windows IT Pro for years and years, we’d never met face to face before. The first of the videos, in which we talk about Exchange 2010 and Communications Server “14”, is now available here.

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TechEd 2010 wrapup

Executive summary: man, it felt good to be back home. Not literally, of course; I grew up in Houma, which is very unlike New Orleans in most ways, and I haven’t lived in Louisiana for more than 20 years. Though I’ve never lived in New Orleans, I’ve visited it many times and in many different circumstances: going to my dad’s office in the CBD, honeymooning there with my wife, working frantically to finish sessions at MGB when I was first starting 3Sharp, and playing the tourist when going to visit family. The goodness came from being surrounded by the familiar sense of community and place that I think everyone has to some degree, and having that familiarity complemented by the company of some of my very best friends.

I arrived on Monday afternoon. At around 4pm, it was 95° and solid overcast, with probably 80% humidity. In other words, it was a typical June afternoon. After a quick cab ride from the airport, I dropped off my stuff at the Courtyard by Marriott on St Charles Avenue. By happy coincidence, this was right across the street from the Pearl, a restaurant where I ate lunch with my dad pretty much every time I went to visit his office. I picked this hotel because it was inexpensive and because Marriott is running a great promotion, but I was delighted to see such a memorable (to me, anyway) landmark right off the bat. (The hotel was excellent, by the way: clean, comfortable, safe, and convenient.)

I took a few minutes to drop off my stuff, then walked over to the convention center to register and get my TechEd badge. It was a pleasant walk despite the heat and humidity, and once I got registered I spent a few minutes walking around the show floor, where I met up with a gaggle of Windows IT Pro Magazine folks. After a brisk walk back to the hotel, I cleaned up a bit before walking over to Brennan’s Palace Café for dinner.

As you might expect from a restaurant run by a member of the Brennan family, the food was superb. I had an excellent piece of pecan-crusted redfish, a bit of crabmeat cheesecake, and some excellent BBQ shrimp. The crowning touch: bananas Foster, something I hadn’t had in years. The only drawback was that service was, shall we say, leisurely– we sat down about 8pm and didn’t finish dessert until about 11:30! I was sorry that dinner took so long, as there was a separate Exchange Roundtable event that I also wanted to attend.


Tuesday morning I’d set up a group breakfast at Café Beignet on Royal, just a couple of blocks from my hotel. Several Exchange MVPs and assorted other folks showed up; I finally got to meet Jeff Guillet and Tino Donderwinkel in person. Then it was time to walk over to the MVP NDA sessions organized by our most excellent MVP team. While I can’t talk about the specifics of the sessions, I can say that there are some pretty nifty things coming later this year from the Exchange and Communications Server teams– and I’m not just talking about the things they’ve already announced. (Fascinating thing I learned during lunch: dell.com is powered by SharePoint!)

For dinner, I joined fellow MVPs Jason Sherry and Pat Richard at Coop’s Place, right near Central Grocery (another favorite spot of mine). I’d never been there before, but I’ll be there again. The gumbo was OK, but the red beans, rice, and sausage I had was outstanding! I ate until I couldn’t eat any more. Fortunately, that coincided with my plate being empty.

We then walked over to the Aquarium of the Americas for the “community influencer” party. Don’t get me wrong. I love aquariums, and I really love this particular aquarium. However, it was odd being there without the huge crowds I associate with places like this and this. The community-influencer parties are always a bit of a crap shoot because you never know exactly who will show up; I spotted a few other folks I knew but didn’t stay long. Instead I went back to the hotel, wrote my UPDATE column, and watch the hated Lakers beat the Celtics in game 3.

Wednesday, my final day, dawned early; I met Jim McBee for breakfast and we… wait for it… went to an actual TechEd session. I won’t say which one, except that I was very disappointed with it. The speaker wasn’t a very good presenter, his demos didn’t work, he finished more than 30 minutes early, and the part of the presentation that I stayed for was pretty much recycled from the Exchange documentation. Rather than subject ourselves to any further risk of stupidification, we took off for the National World War II Museum.

Wow. I could have spent all day there. We started with Beyond All Boundaries, a movie summarizing World War II in 48 minutes. It moved me to tears several times, not just because of the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought for the Allies but for the needless waste, death, and destruction suffered by civilians on both sides. I never knew that nearly 20 million Chinese died during World War II, nor that the UK suffered more deaths than the US did (and proportionately their losses compared to ours were even greater). We didn’t have time to go through the entire museum because Jim and I both had other engagements, but I will make it a point to go back next time I’m in New Orleans.

In the afternoon, I shot two video interviews with Paul Thurrott: one on Windows Phone 7 and one on Exchange 2010 and Communications Server “14”. This was especially cool because– despite having worked together at Windows IT Pro for years— we’d never met in the flesh. The interviews were fun to do, and I’ll post a link to them once the video folks are done with them.

After that, the trip home was pretty much anti-climactic (except that my cab got buzzed by an F-15 on full burner when we drove past the end of the active runway). Just the way I like it! Tomorrow it’s back to work.

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Group Metrics and Exchange 2010 MailTips

I had quite a merry chase through the Exchange documentation this morning trying to figure out the best way to explain something.

Exchange 2010 MailTips come in several flavors. You can set MailTips for individual mailboxes using Set-Mailbox, but most MailTips are automatically generated in some way. You can use the Set-OrganizationConfig cmdlet to control several of these generative behaviors, but there are a few quirks.

One type of MailTips come from data that the CAS pulls from queries against the mailbox server. That’s how the “recipient out of office” and “recipient mailbox full” MailTips work. As long as the CAS can make RPC queries against the mailbox servers, these MailTips will work just fine.

The “external recipient” and “large audience” MailTips rely on data from the Group Metrics component that runs on the mailbox server. Here’s where the quirks start. By default, these MailTips are turned on by default in the organization configuration. However, if you read this you might get the impression that GM data are generated by every mailbox server in the organization. However, if you run Get-MailboxServer and look at the results, you’ll see that the GroupMetricsGenerationEnabled setting defaults to $false.

Where does the GM data come from? That’s the rub. Exchange 2010 always generates GM data on the server that generates the OAB but only if there is an OAB generated. If you use the default Exchange install settings, you’ll get GM data even though it may look like GM generation is turned off. On the other hand, if you turn off OAB generation, you get no GM data until you manually enable GM generation. Neither of these behaviors are documented as clearly as they should be. The “Understanding Group Metrics” topic does mention the latter point, but it took some work to find the topic in the first place. If you do what most admins will do and start searching for info on GroupMetricsGenerationEnabled you’re not likely to find it. Hopefully this will be fixed in a forthcoming update to the documentation.

(Thanks to EJ Dyksen, Nate Waddoups, and Robert Gillies of Microsoft for helping figure out what was going on with this stuff.)

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Playing Exchange 2010 protected voice mail messages

Exchange 2010 offers protected voice mail that works roughly like the “mark as private” option that many legacy voicemail systems provide. The difference is that Exchange 2010 uses Active Directory Rights Management Service (AD RMS) to apply restrictions to the message that prevent clients from forwarding it. This gives the same protection as legacy VM systems, which implemented message privacy by keeping VM recipients from forwarding messages.

This is a nifty idea, given that it ties together Exchange UM with AD RMS in a logical way. It has some implications, though, that may not be obvious at first glance.

First, of course, is that you have to use a compatible client to play the voice message. A client that doesn’t support AD RMS won’t even see that the message has an audio attachment. It just shows up as the familiar “this message is protected with…” text. In this context, “compatible” means Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010, or OWA 2010. There’s no Mac client (yet; the forthcoming version of Outlook for Mac is alleged to support AD RMS messages), nor are there mobile clients.

Second, when you play the message, the way you play it may vary according to the policies in effect on your system. The UM mailbox policy defines a setting named “Allow multimedia playback of protected voice messages“. When this setting is false (e.g. when it does not allow multimedia playback), users can only play protected voice mail messages through the Exchange Play on Phone mechanism or through Outlook Voice Access (e.g. over the phone), not through the inline media players in Outlook and OWA. This is useful in some contexts to prevent users from playing sensitive messages on their laptop speakers at the coffee shop, at high volume in a cubicle farm, and so on.

Unfortunately, the documentation says this setting is set to false by default… in other words, the default settings (according to the docs) only let you play protected VMs on the phone. In reality, the settings is true by default, so that users can play protected messages back on the phone or through the local media player. In other words, the docs are 100% wrong. I blame this on the fact that the attribute name in the UM mailbox policy is RequireProtectedPlayOnPhone– the opposite wording. If “require X” is false, that’s the same as “allow not-X” being true. So, this is now bugged with the Exchange UE team.

In playing with this feature, I also wasn’t able to make Exchange protected voice mail messages show up consistently in Communicator’s VM notification system. I think that’s because my test machine was using Outlook 2007, in cached mode; the protected VMs didn’t show up in its “Voice Mail” search folder either. I’ll have to test this some more with an Outlook 2010 machine to see what happens, but my expectation is that Communicator should show protected VMs just like it does normal ones.

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20% discount on Microsoft Certified Master: Exchange September rotation

Neato! I just got mail from Greg Taylor, head of the MCM: Exchange program. They’re offering a $3,550 discount on the upcoming Exchange 2007 rotation (September 21-October 10). Register here to get the discount. Disclaimer: I teach the UM portion of the MCM class, and Greg’s offering instructors a bounty for new registrants, so I benefit directly when people sign up. However, the training is so good that you should disregard my interests altogether and sign up anyway. (If you do, please drop me an e-mail to let me know!)

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The lowdown on Exchange 2010 fax

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.


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New OCS 2007 R2 virtualization white paper

I mentioned this during my TechEd session (which, btw, will also be the topic of a TechNet webcast in August), but I forgot to link to it. There’s a pretty good white paper available explaining the ins and outs of virtualizing OCS 2007 R2. In skimming it I was surprised to find that Microsoft doesn’t support virtualizing the update server; I’ll have a more in-depth analysis once I have a chance to read it more thoroughly.

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