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Two ways to grant access to a Resource in #MSFTExchange

A client asked us to explain the difference in the two ways for an end user to have "delegate" rights to a conference room.  It is...

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tips and tricks for optimizing IMAP migrations from Microsoft

Good to see this:
 But they left out the most important suggestion:  evaluate imapsync instead of Microsoft's black box.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How to Create Shared Calendars in Office 365 Part 2, Server-Side

Gentle Reader of Scheduling Intent,

When last we spoke it was of shared calendars / group calendars client-side in Office 365,

Today we will look at the same capability server-side.

In what a psychoanalyst would call a "breakthrough" Microsoft has established a user-interface for an Office 365 Admin to create a Group.  Log in as your Administrator and it is easy to navigate to:

from which

You will need to hit REFRESH (under "More") to see it but you can then add users / owners.

Not bad.

Can you still do this with PowerShell as in the olden days of Exchange 2007?  Sure.  Leave a comment if you'd like to see that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Oracle calendar to Zimbra via ICS does NOT solve all your problems....

In response to our post: Oracle + Zimbra?  we got at least one person writing in saying "But we can just import the ICS files."

Yes, you can use ICS export/import and it SORT OF works.

You will not have your recurrence patterns and every recurring meeting and appointment will come in as a series of single, disconnected instances.

That is for starters.

Then there are the issues of mapping users throughout the OCS namespace so they map to the new IDs in your Zimbra namespace.

Then there's the issues of conference room / resource behavior that OCS allows but Zimbra does not and how you should deal with that.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

How to Create Shared Calendars in Office 365 Part 1, Client-Side

Gentle Calendar-Using Reader,

The team at Sumatra feels it is time to update one of our most popular posts ever, Shared Calendars in Exchange 2007 sp1, for the Cloud Era of Office 365.

There are two methods for doing this:  Client-side and Server-Side.  We're going to deal with each in separate blog posts.

You might think that since we did this for Exchange 2007 in the year 2008 of the Common Era that this should be a simple matter of a few well-pointed clicks in a graphical user interface.  It HAS become easier.

Let's look at Client-Side (i.e., End User-Side) first from the perspective of a user in OWA (the process from Outlook is not exactly the same, but you'll get the idea)

First create a secondary calendar:

Now you need to name it something (In this case: "Zyg's Shared Calendar" it could just as easily be "QA schedule" or "group vacations and travel"):

Now let's Right click on the secondary calendar and select Share Calendar to pick who we want to see it and how much power we want to give them to post or edit things:

Note that we can give Russ the ability to Edit or add things and Jimi only the ability to read what's there.  This is darned useful.

From the Microsoft-generated text in Jimi's invitation it is pretty clear that Redmond expects users to have trouble with this process.

Notice that accepting the invitation automatically lists the shared calendar in Jimi's calendar list AND that Jimi can now see the events the owner has posted:
and while Jimi cannot edit or add to the events, Russ can edit any events (and note that in good social practice he is annotating that it's him doing and mods -- Exchange/Outlook/OWA do not do this for you

Note -- you need to be careful what you put into these calendars because events do NOT show up as BUSY in a free/busy check.  So it is very easy for Zyg to book a meeting at the same time.  Note that below you do NOT see a conflict in the Scheduling Assistant.

Another way of doing this is via Groups (I think of this as "SharePoint Lite"):

You get similar options:

Because of  the license requirements of nickel-and-diming Office 365, you will need both a OneDrive for Business license and an Exchange Online license:

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Oracle + Zimbra?

My latest newsletter from Zimbra had the following:

As the referenced Press Release Oracle Gives Partners a Fast Path to Cloud explains: "Zimbra plus the Oracle Cloud means users can start small and grow, or start big and get bigger"

Forget the fact that Zimbra's had its own cloud that's been promising the same thing.

The Zimbra back-end of mySQL (now owned by Oracle) makes this start to look more interesting than it might otherwise seem.

Consider this:  Microsoft has the very successful Exchange and Google has its office suite.

What Oracle has is the obsolete Oracle Calendar and the moribund Oracle Beehive.  

Given that Oracle traditionally cannot stand not having anything in the enterprise that Microsoft and Google already have. are we looking at the first tentative steps towards an acquisition?

OCS / Beehive into Zimbra is doable on your own if you want, but you'll need to be really careful of resources.  If you want to do it the right way and you've at least a few thousand users drop us a line.  We've got a long history taking both Oracle and Zimbra into Exchange (I mean, check out the rest of this blog).

Monday, July 11, 2016

After 20 Years Sega Saturn DRM Cracked.... and what it has to do with calendaring.....

Bravo to Dr Abrasive for cracking the Sega Saturn DRM method.

What on earth does this have to do with calendaring?

Well, since we broke Meeting Maker, Oracle Calendar Server, Zimbra, Oracle Beehive, and a few other encoding schemes, we're not allowed to talk about, we're sort of connoisseurs of reverse engineering and call out kudos where they are warranted.

What's kind of amazing is that none of the engineers came forward in the last 20 freaking years with anything that would help this.  Of course, for Meeting Maker the group of hacks finally working on it only started to contact us after we'd done everything significant to read their data and insert it into Exchange.

And don't even get us started about the Oracle people!!!!

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Troubleshoot Outlook Connectivity in Exchange 2016 on-premises

We hit connectivity issues running Outlook 2016 on Exchange 2016 at least once a week.  Troubleshooting is difficult because of many platforms and technologies in play. 

A recent blog post from the Microsoft Exchange Team titled "Checklist for troubleshooting Outlook connectivity in Exchange 2013 and 2016 (on-premises)" promises to help us figure it out.  There wasn't a check list, per se.  Rather it was an organized collection of troubleshooting tips and techniques. We hope it helps us and helps you.  (Note: this is NOT intended for Office 365 connectivity issues!)

First, here are examples of the connectivity problems they cite, and we've hit:
  • Clients prompting for credentials (intermittently or continuously)
  • Clients getting disconnected
  • Clients are unable to establish a connection
  • Clients freezing or going unresponsive

  • Here is a summary of their tips and recommendations:

    * Ensure that everything is fully patched.  We find Office Configuration Analyzer Tool (OffCAT) quite helpful.  In fact, Microsoft Office released OffCat Version 2.2 June 2016.  Download v2.2 here.

    * They recommend cached mode vs. online mode to smooth out the user experience.  We agree it helps, although it masks connectivity problems.

    * Ensure CAS servers are not turning off NIC cards, use outdated drivers, or are not configured for power saving mode.  The same holds true for the load balancer -- make sure keep-alive and idle timeouts are set above the 15 minute threshold.

    * Too many cores:  it's hard to believe that you can have too many cores, but you can.  Don't have any more than 24 cores per server

    * Configure Exchange performance monitoring ("perfwiz").  MS points you to two articles:  Troubleshoot High CPU Utilization in Exchange 2013, and Exchange Monitoring tool, "Exmon"

    * Logs: The article recommends Outlook logging, HTTP logging, IIS logging, Exchange Logging, and RPC logs.  They recommend a tool, Log Parser Studio, to help parse the logs.

    Writing this blog was the easy part.  Now we'll have to try each suggestion until we discover what's causing the client connectivity problems.