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How the Sumatra Double-Booking cmdlet works

First: you can always get help at the PowerShell prompt with: get-help Get-suDoubleBookedMeetings Let's say that we have the followin...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Contacts Migration into Zimbra

For soon-to-be former Meeting Maker sites, you can now put your MM contacts into Zimbra.

Contacts get exported as CSV files which you can upload with curl or zmprov.

To create them:
  1. Create a directory called c:\sumatra\contacts
  2. Open the Database and go to "Macros"
  3. Double click the macro entitled "M_OutputZimbraContacts"
  4. Walk away from the machine for about a half hour. We haven't done a good interface for telling where things are in the process, but if you look at the directory you created you'll see the contacts files being created.
  5. They'll be in the form LOGIN_ID.csv so it's hard to confuse them with the calendar files

Right now this only works for Meeting Maker contacts because we can read them server-side.

For Oracle Calendar Server contacts, which we can only read client-side, we'd need to do something different. Which we will if we hear sufficient demand.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Accessing Exchange Resource Mailboxes

Microsoft confirmed Exchange Web Services (EWS) does not support to "impersonation" access to a mailbox if the account is disabled. (see: http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2007/12/13/447731.aspx) This requires Sumatra customers enable resources before an insertion.

That Microsoft post did say the only way to access disabled-account mailboxes with EWS is to use Delegate Access. Sumatra's support team suggests an additional use for the script as an easier way to set up access to the resources, particularly when an end user "manages" one or more resources.

http://msexchangeteam.com/files/12/attachments/entry447730.aspx

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The 1300 limit and the 256 exception limit

We need to extend our complements to Markus Mohmeyer who did not let the 1300 recurring appointment limit in Outlook stand in his way.


Check out his article. Put that Babelfish translator to the test.


Now, one other limit we've seen is that it's impossible to create more than 256 exceptions to a recurring appointment. While this happens in some legacy data we've seen it usually happens with appointments entitled "lunch" which go back 4-5 years.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Exchange 2007 migration - alerts to pagers / cell phones

We have a client at the University of Pennsylvania to thank for the idea of paging administrators as phases complete in a calendar migration.

Those of you who are familiar with SuExchange2007.exe will see the "Configure Alerts" button in the upper right hand corner, along with a tiny cell phone icon.

Clicking here brings up this box:


With fairly straight-forward options and input fields.

Why would you want this? If you're asking you've never been through a migration.

This is going to be great for administrators because:

  • Now they can move from their workstation and make sure everything ELSE is going on

  • Now they can keep tabs on the process from home or late night pizza

  • Now they can keep others informed about migration status

Monday, December 10, 2007

Free/Busy Data, Outlook 2003, and Exchange 2007

If you're upgrading from Exchange 2000 or 2003 to Exchange 2007 and keeping Outlook 2003, check out this article from the Microsoft KnowledgeBase (945602):

Users who use Outlook 2003 cannot publish their free/busy data in Exchange Server 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

Resource Scheduler for Outlook/Exchange migration flow

These go through the flow process for how we migrate data from PeopleCube Resource Scheduler for Outlook/Exchange into Exchange 2007.

This is an excellent overview of scheduling resources in Exchange 2007.

Phase I: Resources scheduled via Outlook



Resource accounts MUST:

  • Exist and be mail-enabled in Exchange 2007 and Active Directory

  • Be configured to process meeting requests

  • Client (that's you) must provide a map between RSOE resource name and Exchange Resource alias/email address

Testing and Use:

Service Account defined with impersonate + send-as permissions


  • Test this in a lab prior to running in production

  • Sumatra code will run on a 32-bit machine (NOT on a 64-bit server)

  • Code will use Exchange Web Services through an Exchange 2007 CAS

  • End Users use Outlook 2007

  • Meeting updates:
    a) Accepted as part of Exchange 2007 features,
    b) might remain in all end user’ inbox post-update and will not be removed

  • The Sumatra process:
    a) will not check for resource double-booking or conflicts
    b) will work on CURRENT meetings only – it will skip expired/completed meetings as determined by RSOE’s meeting end date
    c) will not configure Exchange resources with settings to ensure resource will behave as RSOE resources (i.e., you control the process by provisioning your resources as you want beforehand)
    d) Responses from Exchange’s Resource management will remain in the meeting organizer’s inbox
    e) Note: Outlook-booked meetings are defined as those meetings, found in the user’s Exchange "Calendar" folder, that have an "RSOE" meeting tag (The tag is attached to the meeting as a hidden MAPI code.)
Phase 2: Scheduled via the Web




PROCESS ASSUMPTIONS:
See assumptions from Phase 1.
Phase 2 should be run after phase 1 completes
The Sumatra process:

  • Creates a meeting with the name "RSOE_Migrated" in the organizer’s calendar. The meeting with have the resource as the only "attendee". All Direct-booked meetings will be created as one-time meetings.
  • Does not check for double-booking or conflicts (That's what Exchange is for).
    For the resource: If a conflict exists, Exchange will decline the meeting request
    For the meeting organizer: A "double booked" meeting will be added to the end-user’s calendar
  • Works on CURRENT meetings only – it skips expired/completed meetings as determined by RSOE’s meeting end date
  • Does not attempt to link or match this meeting to an existing meeting in the
    organizer’s calendar
  • Note: direct-booked meetings are defined as those meetings in booked in RSOE that do not have an outlook "RSOE" tag.
  • Responses from Exchange’s Resource management will remain in the meeting organizer’s inbox
  • Meeting times are recorded in RSOE as the server’s "local" time, and will be added to the meeting organizer’s calendar in the "local" time and time zone (even if the meeting organizer is in a different time zone.)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Migrating from Oracle Calendar or Meeting Maker? Upgrade to Zimbra 4.5.10

Gentle readers,

Ms. Migrations recommends upgrading to Zimbra 4.5.10 if you are migrating from either of the legacy systems Oracle Calendar Server or Meeting Maker.

Version 4.5.10 fixes this problem:
http://bugzilla.zimbra.com/long_list.cgi?buglist=20684 which you are likely to encounter in a migration.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Exchange 2007 Permissions

In Exchange 2003 permissions were by far the biggest headache for folks wanting to migrate.

Exchange 2007 is shaping up to be a bigger headache. Think migraine. Think migraine with sinusitis. Then double it. You know what I mean. We have had to create an entire Label for permissions.

However, we would really like to thank Rohit from Extreme Networks for coming up with the following variation on setting permissions.

He was looking to migrate Resource Scheduler, but it's just as viable for general calendar migrations.

If you're using Ex2007 as the service account to run our code, execute this command:

Get-OrganizationConfig Add-AdPermission -user ex2007 -accessRights GenericAll -extendedrights "Receive as","Send as", "ms-Exch-EPI-May-Impersonate", "ms-Exch-EPI-Impersonation" -InheritanceType All

Takes care of all necessary permissions with one swoop.

(Note: Revised 2/15/2008 -- a pipe ("") should be place between get-organizationconfig and add-adpermission. It was stripped when pasting the command line in this blog)

Update 11/11/2010:

1) Added '-InheritanceType All' to the commandlet. Sometimes permission inheritance issues prevent access to calendars.

2) Remember that RESOURCE accounts must be ENABLED (via ADU&C)

3) If you want to look at calendars via OWA, you need fullaccess. This commandlet grants 'exsu' full access to all accounts in the domain:

Get-Mailbox -resultsize unlimited add-mailboxpermission -user exsu -accessrights: fullaccess -InheritanceType: All
--Russ

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Migrating RSOE (Resource Scheduler for Exchange) data into Exchange 2007

A few months ago we got asked if we could extract data out of Resource Scheduler for Exchange (RSOE) from PeopleCube and insert it into Exchange 2007.


Well, because of a request from the West Coast we went ahead and did it. They mainly use RSOE for straight-forward room reservations and are looking to simply transition to the resource reservation features in Exchange 2007. So all we're interested in is moving the reservations in as few steps as possible into Exchange. We make no effort to recreate most of the other features of RSOE (prep time, cleanup times, etc.), all we're doing is transitioning the resource management over.

Here's how it works.


There are two ways to reserve a resource in RSOE:
  • Via a from in Outlook
  • Directly from a web browser

So we deal with each of these cases differently.

From Outlook

This is the easy case. Resource Scheduler puts a MAPI flag and an RSOE identification number in the meeting.

Technical background: Those of you who know how to use OutlookSpy (an invaluable tool for the Exchange developer) can look for RSOCEntryID.

We read this from the RSOE SQL database into an Access database and (since we know the meeting organizer and can uniquely identify the meeting via the MAPI tag), we add the E2K7 resource to the meeting and update it.

The code relies on Outlook 2007/Exchange 2007 to automatically apply meeting updates if an end user has already accepted that meeting. e.g. a time or location change to the meeting is received, the meeting will be automatically updated and the old invitation marked out of date so users will not accidentally accept it. See the TechNet article:
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/technetmag/issues/2006/12/outlook/default.aspx

DONE.

From the Web

This is a more interesting case and we took the most general way of solving it.

Since there is no unambiguous link between the meeting reservation in RSOE and any existing data in Outlook (and a quick look at real world data will convince you that just being at the same time and date is not enough), we just create one meeting owned by the resource owner, with the resource in E2K7.

E2K7 books it and then the meeting organizer can add users or modify as they see fit.

PROCESS ASSUMPTIONS

  1. Resource accounts MUST:
    a) exist and be mail-enabled in Exchange 2007, Active Directory
    b) be configured to process meeting requests
    c) Client must provide a map between RSOE resource name and Exchange Resource alias/email address

  2. Testing and Use:
    a) Service Account defined with Impersonate and Send-As permissions
    b) Test in a lab prior to running in production!!
    c) Sumatra code runs on a 32-bit machine (NOT on a 64-bit Exchange server)
    d) Code uses Exchange Web Services through an Exchange 2007 CAS

  3. End Users use Outlook 2007

  4. Meeting updates:
    a) accepted as part of Exchange 2007 features,
    b) might remain in all end user’ inbox post-update and will not be removed by our code (up to the end user).

  5. The Sumatra process:
    a) does not check for resource double-booking or conflicts
    b) works on CURRENT meetings only – it will skip expired/completed meetings as determined by RSOE’s meeting end date

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Oracle Calendar Command Line Conversion

As usual the best ideas come from our clients, and in this case kudos go to Steve in Georgia.

For an Oracle Calendar to Zimbra migration he suggested "Why not make the OCS conversion command-line driven? Then we can script the entire process end to end."

Not a bad idea -- so we went ahead and did it.

OraCalReader.exe is our tool that takes OCS Export files from UNICPOUTU and turns them into our intermediate format (from here they can go into Exchange or Zimbra).

So now to run this on the DOS command line:

OraCalReader /ALL /TZ:tzValue /TH:xx /DROPDT:"dt" /EXPDIR:pp /OUTDB:ppdb

Notes:
  • If you run /ALL without any other command line parameters, the code takes the DEFAULT settings saved in the UI preferences. UI preferences are visible by running the application without any switches on the command line
  • The code will read the export files and insert them into the database.
  • The code's default behavior is to delete ALL existing data in the database prior to insertion.
  • Two Logfiles are generated: _OraCalReader_log.log, and _OraCalReader_Error.log
/ALL Required and has no command options

/TZ:tz Timezone.
Acceptable values are: EST5EDT CST6CDT MST-3MDT PST8PDT
NAST9NADT MST7MDT GMT0BST MET-1METDST MEZ-1MESZ
CIST-12:45CIDT IST-2IDT MST-3MDT UCT-5:30 UCT-7 CST-8 UCT-8
JST EST-10EDT UCT6 UCT4 UCT EST5EDT

/Th:xx Threshold xx is a percent, ranging from 1 to 100, Default is 80
This is a number, not a decimal. Exclude the percent sign

/DROPDT:dt DROP/Cutoff Date Where dt is any valid date format in US format time, e.g., mm/dd/yyyy, mm-dd-yyyy
One year from today

/EXPDIR:pa OCS export file directory (path) Where: Pa is any path, e.g.:“f:\data\ocsout”
Defaults to the current path. The path should be enclosed in quotes. Do not include a trailing "\"

/OUTDB:db MS Access Output database Where db is the name of the database, including the path NO DEFAULT You must specify this parameter!

So the following would be a real world example:

oracalreader /all /TH:80 /TZ:"EST5EDT" /EXPDIR:"C:\Documents and Settings\Zyg\Desktop\Tech Data" /OUTDB:"C:\Documents and Settings\Zyg\Desktop\Tech Data\gt3-prime.mdb" /DROPDT:"11/1/2006"

The above command specifies an 80% recurrence threshold, Oracle's Eastern Standard Time, directories and database as shown, and to only take calendar data AFTER November 1, 2006.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Zimbra Insertion: Suppress Resource Responses

So you're migrating all your calendar data into Zimbra and you're not forgetting the all important resources.


BUT you notice that the INBOXes of meeting organizers is full of responses from the resources post-migration.


Not to worry -- you can turn that off with:

zmprov mcr zimbraCalResAutoAcceptDecline FALSE


Just don't forget to turn it on again when you go live.

Many thanks to the folks at Zimbra for cluing me in and to Jennifer who field tested it!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Free-Busy lookups from Oracle Calendar into Zimbra or Outlook

Oracle Calendar users yearning to break free, what do you see that's unusual about this picture of the Oracle Windows Client?

Right! It's the little button that says "Z-Conflicts" just underneath "Remind Me" and "Tentative."

Why have we hacked our way into the OCS client? (Windows only for now, sorry Mac and *nix users.)

Because some of you have been asking for free-busy look ups from OCS into Outlook/Exchange and Zimbra, and this is how we can do it. Your reasons are usually that you must do a phased migration from OCS rather than a "Big Bang" and the problem just seemed so perfectly up our alley.

Right now you click it and it just brings up our internal web page -- but the next step is to click it and have it offer a list of non-OCS users to check free-busy status on. When you select a time it'll drop those into the OCS external email calendar invitation interface so you can more easily customize your invitation.

We're working on the interface between migrations. Stay tuned.

Oh, we have no doubt this will not be supported by Oracle, but hey, you're looking to get out of that suite anyway.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Automatic insertion into Zimbra

Users moving from Oracle Calendar Server or Meeting Maker to Zimbra:

The Sumatra application that takes your intermediate format database and converts it to ICS files can now also automatically post to Zimbra (saving you a crucial step).

The format is the same as you are used to:

zinsert -fo -tf_utc_to_timezone -cs DSN=Zimbra -post http://YOURSERVER/home/[login]/Calendar?fmt=ics -loginpwdb

will auto insert, reading the User ID and Passwords from the Users table of the database.

In the example above you see that user "Puffy Amiumi" gave the error "No TZID for TimeZone" because we had not yet mapped the Japanese OCS Time Zone to Zimbra format.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When Exchange aliases are the same as Meeting Maker aliases

All our best improvements come from users, and this one is no exception.

Current migration uses can use conversion database version 8.7.7.3 or above to achieve these ends.

Scenario:
Let's say “Most” of your Exchange aliases are similar to Meeting Maker Logins, so you built the list of Exchange aliases from the MM user table. Now you have to update accounts that have a different Exchange alias:

New Approach:

  1. Add your domain name to the “customer_setup” table
  2. Run a query “Q_Build_CustIDs_From_MMUserids” to build the “customer_setup” table from the MM “Users” table
  3. Add entries to the “User_Adjusted_Maps” table to “remap” MM Logins to Exchange aliases. Please remember to include both the MM Login and UserID
  4. Run the query “Q_Build_CustIDs_AdjustExchangeAliases” to update the customer_setup with the correct exchange aliases
  5. Run the query “Q_1_Make_User_Map” to build the mm_exchange_user_map table.

We haven't tried this with Oracle Calendar Server conversions yet but the logic should work exactly the same.

Exchange 2007: Running Parallel Insertions

Let's say that you have 5000 or more users, or 2000 users with lots of history (5 or 6 years), and you are migrating into Exchange 2007. You are a likely candidate for running multiple instances of the insertion code. Multiple instances leverages the speed of the 64-bit server processors and the speed of the SAN as you push simultaneous transactions at your CAS server.
If you're running multiple instances follow this procedure:

Step 1 VALIDATE your main conversion database, fix any validation issues and re-validate. You've been taken through this multiple times if you've been in the lab with Sumatra for anything beyond an hour.

Step 2 MAKE COPIES of your validated conversion database and name them something OBVIOUS, like Instance1_YourCompany_28Dec07_DB_v8.7.7.7.mdb, Instance2_..... etc.

Step 3 DISTRIBUTE accordingly to separate client machines (remember, this is Exchange 2007 and you can't run on the 2007 server)

Step 4: EXECUTE SuExchange2007.exe (aka the Sumatra 2007 Insertion Code)

Step 5: SELECT Run Multiple Instance at the "Single Instance" prompt, enter the instance number. You should clear the stats table if you've run multiple instances before. Here's a screen shot:

Background: You'll need a separate database to track the progress of each instance. We call this the "sync database", which you can think of as the traffic cop keeping all the instances running smoothly. It's usually called SyncStats.mdb.

Step 6: Point to SyncStats.mdb in the InstanceDB box.

Step 7: For all instances, select the Lower Limit and the Upper Limit by alpha that you want to run. You want to make these roughly equal. For example, you might select:

A to J (Or you can set the upper alpha limit to "J")
K to R
S to Z (or set the lower alpha limit to "S")

SET UNIQUE Instance Numbers for each of these before executing.

Anything preceeded by numbers (e.g., 3rdFloor Conf Rm) will automatically come at the beginning of the alphabet with A.

Keep track of these so you do not forget letters. This HAS happened in test cases in the field and it became really obvious really fast.

Step 8: Start running all instances

Step 9: Wait. Actually we're not trying to be funny here -- the application is going is to pause before steps 6 and 10. When all instances show the same pop-up box, you can resume all instances. (We've taken you through the reasons for this -- but if you have any questions, please ask.)
Next step: Analyzing your data and doing QA on the insertion.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

E2K7 Adding Delegates to Other Users' Accounts

For a migration into Exchange 2003/2007 we recommend you not have set Delegates. Those of you who have left your Delegates on in your lab and migated a few years worth of data have seen why: very full delegate inboxes, and very irate delegates.


The problem still remains: What's the best way to set Delegates AFTER a migration? You could use this as a learning opportunity for your users: let THEM set their own darn delegates, thank you very much.


But sometimes your user community is more demanding and wants (nay, NEEDS) this all done for them.


We have an account in Connecticut (thank you, Vince) who wrote up this account of how to set Delegates for calendars in Exchange 2007 (do not attempt on E2K3). This assumes your Exchange Admin account with adequate permissions to execute (and you know that is its own separate issue) is called "sumatra"
  1. Logon to Windows box as yourself.

  2. Delete the "sumatra" account if it is in C:\documents and setting. If it is not there then it will be after this first account adjustment. You are good for the 1st run.

  3. Locate the Outlook app and "Run as..." and run as the Domain Administrator

  4. Setup the user you want to add Delegates to

  5. Once done you will be asked to logon, again. This time logon as "sumatra"

  6. The account will then be setup in the app.

  7. Set your Delegates.

  8. When done close Outlook

  9. Delete the sumatra account (as mentioned in step 2) and the administrator account.

  10. Repeat steps 3-9 until you are done with your account setup.

All bets are off once sp1 hits the street -- we can almost guarantee this process will change.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Inserting Oracle Calendar Server / Meeting Maker into Zimbra

By this point the idea is to make the actual insertion into Zimbra a boring anti-climax.

We have the same goal inserting legacy data into Microsoft Exchange, but because of Exchange architecture this is a little more intricate than Zimbra (So we deal with it separately).

Your primary tool is called zinsert.exe, which you invoke from the Command Prompt (which those of us of a certain age refer to as "DOS").

Simply typing zinsert (-Enter-) will give you a brief summary of functionality.

First off, use ODBC (available under Control Panel) to point to the conversion database. Let's call your ODBC connection "Zimbra."

To create a series of ICS files with appropriate cross-linked GUIDs, use this command:

zinsert -fo -cs DSN=ZIMBRA -tf_utc_to_timezone

In general, converting for the appropriate time zone, use the -tf_utc_to_timezone option unless we determine another one is better (not likely, but we keep them there in case -- you never know what the US Congress is going to do with Daylight Savings Time).

Inserting into Zimbra

That's what the -post command is for, which as of this date we haven't actually had to use (also it will require knowing each user's password which is a pain)

You can use curl, or (thanks to a college in New Jersey), you can use this method.

This solution doesn't require an admin to know the user's password.

It does require a configured web server and assumes there is a separate ICS for each user calendar.

1. The ICS files need to be placed on a web server that the Zimbra server will be able to access via http (or https). I'll assume a base of http://YOURDOMAIN/migrate/.

2. Create a file (e.g. /tmp/importcals.zcs) that will be fed to zmprov with contents like this:

selectMailbox USERID1

emptyFolder Calendar <--- optional command

importURLIntoFolder Calendar http://YOURDOMAIN/migrate/USERID1.ics

selectMailbox USERID2

emptyFolder Calendar <--- optional command

importURLIntoFolder Calendar http://YOURDOMAIN/migrate/USERID2.ics

3. Run that through zmprov.

zmprov -f /tmp/importcals.zcs

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

So we revised the Oracle Calendar Converter User Interface

We think it's easier to follow. If you're working with us it's in your FTP account.

Mapping Oracle Calendar/ Meeting Maker users for a Zimbra insertion

NB: This is for migration into Zimbra. Migration into Exchange is a whole different issue which we deal with separately.


You have your Oracle Calendar Server data, you've converted it into an Access database -- now you just need to map your users for Zimbra.

Why? Usually there's at least a handful of users who have changed their names through marriage, divorce, or the witness protection program.

Also since you're migrating anyway many sites use the opportunity to standardize their naming conventions.

Step 1: Open the database and go to the Users Table:


There's a lot going on here, but don't let it scare you.

In the Email column just put your new Zimbra email

Note that even though the login for "Adam Ant" is "aant" we can substitute "adam_ant" or anything else we need so long as it matches the Zimbra address.

This simple Query will duplicate your login IDs to the Email field, appending the appropriate domain name (which you'll need or else guests will not be notified of meeting updates). Of course, this is generally modifiable into anything that makes sense for your environment.


Next step: inserting your data!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Converting your OCS exports to migration format

So you've gotten your calendar data out of Oracle Calendar Server and now you wonder "What ELSE do I have to do with it?"

Well, you have to convert it into a (new) relational database so that we can reassemble any attributes not exported from OCS.

Like what you ask? Guest lists, guest responses, recurrence patterns, all the sorts of things you want.

Do you need to go through this? Well, if you want to do this all server-side and keep all the information that makes schedulers valuable, yes.

The tool that takes your exports runs in Windows and looks like this: How do I use this?

While the design reminds you of an early farm tractor (which we are very proud of) - it's designed with the same single-minded focus: get the job done as quickly as possible and the heck with how it looks (you're tossing it out after this is done anyway).

The idea here is to take in the files you got from UNICPOUTU, and match them with users and resources from USERS.TXT and RESOURCES.TXT.

Specifically this will:

  • Match export data to users and resources (the users and resources will be mapped to your new calendar system)
  • Add guests to your meeting
  • Group one-time instances into “recurring meetings” (makes the insertion run faster)
  • Remove old items you do not intend to insert (makes the insertion run faster)
  • Reformat OCS-specific items to calendar-neutral terms (e.g. map Daily Notes and Daily Events to All Day Events)

Note that if you're planning on multiple test insertions you only need to read the users and resources into the database once. It is possible to parallelize conversions, e.g., convert A-L on one machine, M-Z on another and join them together to get the job done in half the time (but please talk with us before you do that).

This also includes a blank template database (MS Access format), which we recommend you rename a copy of to something descriptive, like "December 1 migration test." Please preserve the database version in the file name; it really helps when debugging.

Let's go into some details on the specifics.

Time Zone: Select the Time Zone of your OCS node. This is really crucial otherwise everything will be off on your insertion by some multiple of hours. If you have users outside of the default time zone you can modify the USERS.TXT file for them (see earlier post).

Drop Items Prior to this Date: You can selectively export items from certain date ranges -- but in case you have a data set with everything and want to pare it down for a test insertion, you have that option here.

Threshold for recurrence patterns: When we get the events from OCS they are all individual events rather than a series. We reconstruct the series, but (as a little thinking will show you) with exceptions to recurrences this can get a little dicey. Our software analyzes the sequence and comes up with its best guess of the recurrence pattern, taking account the threshold you set.

A couple of quick things to note:

  • Historical events (i.e., any events before the date you convert them) all go in as individual events (it's faster this way) with meeting guest list in the Agenda field (except for BCC guest whom only the meeting proposer sees)
  • There needs to be at least five recurring events before we attempt to re-create the sequence. (Quick math -- at an 80% threshold, one exception to a five event pattern puts you at the threshold)
  • If we can't match a pattern all events will go in as individual instances. So worst case scenario is that a recurring meeting or event comes in as a series of individual instances. (But as opposed to an ics RDATEs list these will display properly in Outlook clients).
  • If you migrate only a subset of users, meetings to and from users outside that subset will not show up. Think about this one: if the meeting owner or guest is not in the system you're migrating to -- how can they be on a meeting in your new system? This is the main reason we're always advocating "Big Bang" migrations for meeting-centric corporate cultures.

How does this work?

In two phases: the first phase reads the OCS exports and turns them into an intermediate file. The second phase reads the intermediate file into the database template.

Why not just put everything into the database as we're going along? It's faster this way.

Everything in a calendar server migration is a trade-off between time and convenience.

It's certainly easier for the average admin to work with an Access file. But the overhead of constant transactions at the volume we need is huge. Saving them for the end makes the system much faster.

Monday, September 24, 2007

How to Extract Data from Oracle Calendar Server for a migration into Exchange or Zimbra

This is Part I of a three-part series. Part II will be about converting this output and Part III is about inserting it into your target system.

So you've seen your future and it no longer involves Oracle Calendar Server (OCS).

We're there with you.

The problem we deal with now is: How to get the Data OUT of OCS.

As usual, we like to rely on the native tool set of the legacy system (less code on the legacy system implies easier to maintain the migration process as a whole).

Let’s say you run a single Oracle Calendar Server node (number 1) with administrative password “jimmorrison” and have users John Lennon, Jerry Garcia, Jimmy Page, Puffy Amiumi, and Walter Liberace. As well as the Mozart Conference Room and Shea Stadium. The following command lines will pull all data Sumatra requires:


uniuser -ls -format "%s%:%g%:%uid%:%id%:%node-id%:" -n 1 -p jimmorrison >users.txt
uniuser -resource -ls "S=*" -n 1 -p jimmorrison >resources.txt
unicpoutu -u "S=Liberace/G=Walter" -f exp-liberace.txt -n 1 -p jimmorrison
unicpoutu -u "S=Garcia/G=Jerry" -f exp-garcia.txt -n 1 -p jimmorrison
unicpoutu -u "S=Lennon/G=John" -f exp-lennon.txt -n 1 -p jimmorrison
unicpoutu -u "S=Amiumi/G=Puffy" -f exp-amiumi.txt -n 1 -p jimmorrison
unicpoutu -u "S=Page/G=Jimmy" -f exp-page.txt -n 1 -p jimmorrison

Execute this batch file to extract these data files, and place them in a convenient directory.

How this is organized, and what we do with it.

The first two lines extract the names of all users and all resources in a standard format.

Sumatra Development LLC reads these two files in first to establish the list of users and resources being migrated. These become really important to make sure the connections among users is maintained when we insert into either Exchange or Zimbra (Notes 8 coming if we get sufficient interest). The programmers among you will recognize this is crucial to maintain GUID integrity.

THEN, all user calendar data in the exp-(name).txt files are read in, and matched against these users and resources.

The users.txt file looks something like this:

Garcia:Jerry:Jerry.Garcia:256:1:
Lennon:John:John.Lennon:257:1:
Amiumi:Puffy:Puffy.Amiumi:258:1:
Liberace:Walter:Walter.Liberace:260:1:
Page:Jimmy:Jimmy.Page:262:1:

NB: It is certainly possible to script these so that the output from the initial users export can be the input for a script that automatically exports all user data/

For users with a different default Time Zone from the node time zone, manually add the Oracle Time Zone code following them in the user.txt file.

Let’s say Puffy Amiumi is based in Japan and therefore uses JST.

The resulting users.txt file would be the following:

Garcia:Jerry:Jerry.Garcia:256:1:
Lennon:John:John.Lennon:257:1:
Amiumi:Puffy:Puffy.Amiumi:258:1:JST
Liberace:Walter:Walter.Liberace:260:1:
Page:Jimmy:Jimmy.Page:262:1:


The resources.txt file looks like this:

. R=Shea Stadium/N=ResNum0000/CA=200,000/S=Steinbrenner/G=George/
+ LOC=Da Bronx\r\nNew York/PHONE=617-555-1212/FAX=617-555-1213/ID=259/
+ EMAIL=shea@sumatra.local/UID=Shea Stadium/ALLOW-CONFLICT=NO/ENABLE=TRUE/
+ LANG=en/NODE-ID=1

. R=CR Mozart/N=ResNum0002/CA=10/S=Mozart/G=Wolfgang/
+ LOC=3 Colonial Terrace Strasse\r\nWien, Ostereich/PHONE=617-555-1212/
+ FAX=617-555-1213/ID=261/EMAIL=crmozart@sumatra.com/UID=CR Mozart/
+ ALLOW-CONFLICT=NO/ENABLE=TRUE/LANG=en/NODE-ID=1/PUBLISHEDTYPE=PUBLISHED

More on OCS Calendar Data
Our recommended method for extracting Oracle data is to use the off-the-shelf Oracle utility:

UNICPOUTU

This is typically found in the directory:

C:\ocsinfra\ocal\bin on Windows servers
ORACLE_HOME$/ocal/bin on UNIX/Linux servers

The command:

UNICPOUTU –u “S=Garcia/G=Jerry” –f output.txt –n 1

will export Jerry Garcia’s entire calendar from OCS Node 1 to the output file output.txt.

You will be asked for the calendar administrator password (or alternately can pass it with the –p parameter).

This is also configurable for different start and end dates, depending on how much data you wish to transfer.



So if you only wanted to take data since January 1, 2006, you would use:
UNICPOUTU –u “S=Garcia/G=Jerry” –f output.txt -start 1 jan 2006 –n 1



NB: Dates can only be in "day month year" format.


Resources
If resources are only guests and do not have their own non-meeting events, you do not need to export them. If however you have reason to, we include the information here.

The command:

UNICPOUTR –u “R=CR Mozart” –f output.txt –n 1
Will export the Conference Room “CR Mozart” on OCS Node 1 to output.txt

Users for a node
The following command will export all of the users on Oracle Calendar Server node 1:

UNIUSER –user –ls “S=*” –n 1

The following command will export all of the resources on Oracle Calendar Server node 1:

UNIUSER –resource –ls “S=*” –n 1

Designate Access Rights
What in Outlook / Exchange are called the Delegate rights are in Oracle called Designate rights. To extract these use:

UNIACCESSRIGHTS –ls
More detail on this can be found in your Oracle Calendar Server Reference manual.
Sumatra does not currently insert Designate Access Rights into Exchange or Zimbra from OCS – but if this is a requirement for you please consult with us (the issue is more about trade-offs on the Exchange 2003 side than the Oracle side or the Zimbra).

Why not UNIICAL?
If you're asking this question you probably already know the answers:
  • It does not export ATTENDEES
  • It does not export ATTENDEE responses
  • It exports RDATEs rather than RRULEs (which will cause you trouble down the line, not least of which because it really does a number on Outlook if you use that as a client for any target systems)

Still with me? Wait a few days for Part II: Converting and Mapping your OCS data.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Migrating Data from Resource Scheduler to Exchange 2007 Resources

A typical week here at Sumatra involved at least one request to take data from one system we've never seen before and put it into one we know (or vice-versa).

A few weeks ago it involved a request to migrate data from Resource Scheduler for Exchange from PeopleCube.


The idea was that they wanted to start using the native room and resource scheduling capability in Exchange 2007 instead additional software.


This presents some interesting problems.

Before we coded anything, we thought we'd ask our reading public if there was anyone else out there who wanted to migrate Resource Scheduler data, because it's only worth doing this if there's more than one site.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Oracle Calendar Server -- Multiple User Names and Migration

We were astounded to discover in customer data that it was possible to have non-unique user names in Oracle Calendar Server.
However, as the screenshots show, it was very easy for us in our test lab to create two "Jerry Garcia" users:
Despite the fact that I entered a valid password for only one of them I get the following screen on log-in asking me to select the one I mean (as though there's a way to tell them apart?)


This is bad enough -- but we then took the next step and invited them both to the same meeting.

Using the standard UNICPOUTU output this is the resulting data:

S 8780430
D 30
T Meeting with the two Jerrys
I 0
R N2
M Lennon John
W Lennon John
A TRUE 3 10
C [ .+] Garcia Jerry
C [ .-] Garcia Jerry
O

... making it impossible to tell which Jerry is which.

SO we've just added the capability to detect this in the USERS.TXT file before we get too far into a migration. If this situation arises, an error will pop up:

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Yet another significant Entourage / Outlook discrepancy

If some of your users have Entourage clients and create recurring meeting requests (and if they're not creating recurring meeting requests what are they doing with an Exchange account anyway?), then please check out this recent KB article (number 933093):

You receive a message that states that your meeting request was declined when you use Entourage for Mac to send a recurring meeting request to an Exchange 2003 resource mailbox

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Oracle Calendar Server to Zimbra and Exchange

Yep, we've got Oracle Calendar Server to Zimbra migration working.

John's calendar in OCS 9.0.4 looks like this, note the Declined meeting (in red) and the Tentative meeting (in blue):




In Zimbra it converts to this (with the Tentative and Declined acting as they should in Zimbra):

As we've told some of you, the tool that we used to take the OCS exports and re-create recurrence patterns (ICS as RRULES) is being re-worked for field use (as opposed to the way we used to do it in Sumatra labs). It looks like this:


with our trademark "as few buttons as possible but make all of them useful" design philosophy.

In Outlook / Exchange 2007, the same calendar looks like this (Declined and Tentative are dealt with in the Outlook INBOX rather than directly on the calendar):


Note also that the OCS Day Event becomes an All Day Event in both Outlook/Exchange and Zimbra.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Exchange 2007 Impersonation - Debugging Protocol

We've hit on many different reasons why service account fail to have Impersonation and Send-As, Receive-As rights set correctly. Here are some areas to check as you create a service-account and grant it Impersonation rights:

  1. Create a service account (in this example: Ex2007)
    The Ex2007 account should NOT be a member of any of the Exchange Administrative Groups. Set your permissions in Default Domain Security Settings-User Rights Assignment-"Allow logon locally" for this user
    Note: Exchange explicitly denies Impersonation for all accounts in those groups
  2. All Exchange Servers should be members of Windows Authorization Access Group
  3. Determine if your users SMTP address is alias@FQDN. If it isn’t, you’ll have to impersonate using the User Principal Name (UPN). This should be defined as alias@FQDN.
  4. Set these five rights by running these commands in Exchange Management Shell

    Add-ADPermission -Identity (get-exchangeserver).DistinguishedName -User (Get-User -Identity Ex2007 ¦ select-object).identity -AccessRights GenericAll -InheritanceType Descendents
    Add-ADPermission -Identity (get-exchangeserver).DistinguishedName - User (Get-User -Identity Ex2007 ¦ select-object).identity -ExtendedRight ms-Exch-EPI-Impersonation
    Add-ADPermission -Identity (get-exchangeserver).DistinguishedName - User (Get-User -Identity Ex2007 ¦ select-object).identity -ExtendedRight ms-Exch-EPI-May-Impersonate
    Add-ADPermission -Identity (get-exchangeserver).DistinguishedName - User (Get-User -Identity Ex2007 ¦ select-object).identity -ExtendedRights Send-As
    Add-ADPermission -Identity (get-exchangeserver).DistinguishedName - User (Get-User -Identity Ex2007 ¦ select-object).identity -ExtendedRights Receive-As

    Note One: These grant permissions at the SERVER level. You can also grant permissions at the database, user, and contact-levels.

    Note Two: If you have multiple servers, you must grant Impersonation at each server (or database). Exchange 2007 does not have any system-wide Impersonation permission capability.
  5. If your CAS server sits behind a load-balancer, give the ms-Exch-EPI-Impersonation rights to the Ex2007 account for ALL CAS boxes behind the load-balancer. If your mailbox servers are on a machine other than the CAS servers, give ms-Exch-EPI-Impersonation rights for the Ex2007 account for ALL mailbox servers.
  6. Verify that the Ex2007 account has rights you've just granted:
    Open Active Directory Sites and Services.
    In the console tree, right-click Active Directory Sites and Services, point to View, and then click Show Services Node.
    Expand the service node (e.g. Services/MS Exchange/First Organization/Admin Group/Exchange Admin Group/Servers.
    You should see your CAS server(s) there. View “properties” for each CAS server, ensuring your service account is there, and under the privileges exchange Impersonation is checked (and not grayed out). See Figure 1.
    If the permissions or account is not present, add it, and make sure the Impersonation, and Send-As, Receive-As boxes are checked.

    Figure 1-Exchange service account impersonation properties

    (Source: http://technet2.microsoft.com/windowsserver/en/library/d4e342bc-2e26-4bd1-ba9b-b5bf58b562081033.mspx?mfr=true)
  7. Make sure you do not have accounts where permissions are not inherited (this often happens for accounts that are members of the "IT" group). If so, you’re going to need to explicitly grant permissions to members of that group or OU.)
  8. Strange things happen if you are trying to impersonate cross-forest. This suggests that the account doesn’t have sufficient rights to read AD.
  9. Verify that the service account (e.g., Ex2007) has those permissions set (Allow impersonation to Exchange Personal Information, send-as, receive-as) on the storage group and the mailbox store (see Figure 2 below.)

    Figure 2– Verify permissions at the Mailbox store
  10. If you are on a test-server and are using the default security certificate, is that certificate put in the 'trusted root'?
    Launch any secure page: e.g. for the server striper: https://striper/ews/exchange.asmx. When the certificate warning page appears, "Trust" the certificate, "View" the certificate, and use the "Install Certificate" wizard to "Place all certificates in the following store" (the store is the Trusted Root Certification Authorities). See Figure 2.


    Figure 3–Placing the Certificate in the Trusted Root Cert Authority

    Most sane human beings would try to verify all these permissions using Outlook Web Access. If you try this and get an error "You do not have permission to open this mailbox" check out KB Article 940846.
Need some Exchange Calendar applications or utilities developed for your enterprise-sized organization?  Contact us.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Outlook and Entourage in Exchange 2007

Quick note on the difference between Entourage and Outlook in Exchange 2007 environments:

Outlook clients need to point to the CAS. See: The Exchange 2007 Client Access Server (CAS) role

Entourage clients need to point at the back end 2007 servers. See: Using Entourage with Exchange 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Setting Permissions for Migration into Exchange 2007

If you've been through a migration into Exchange or just reading up on the intricacies of the process, you've seen a recurring theme: Permissions.


In both Exchange 2003 and 2007 the first problem you're likely to run into is setting permissions properly to insert calendar server data during a migration. The necessary permissions have changed in the past with various roll-ups and service packs and will undoubtedly change in the future.


As of the current Exchange 2007 release, you must set GenericAll, Send-As, Receive-As, and Impersonation using the Exchange Management Shell.

The following examples will create an account called ex2007@lab.sumatra.local with appropriate permissions on server “myServerName.” Of course you can create your own service account and must use your lab or production domain name.

Add-ADPermission -Identity "CN=myServerName,CN=Servers,CN=Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT),CN=Administrative Groups,CN=First Organization,CN=Microsoft Exchange,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=lab,DC=sumatra,DC=local" -User ex2007@lab.sumatra.local -AccessRights GenericAll -InheritanceType Descendents

Add-ADPermission -Identity "CN=myServerName,CN=Servers,CN=Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT),CN=Administrative Groups,CN=First Organization,CN=Microsoft Exchange,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=lab,DC=sumatra,DC=local" -User ex2007@lab.sumatra.local -ExtendedRights Send-As

Add-ADPermission -Identity "CN=myServerName,CN=Servers,CN=Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT),CN=Administrative Groups,CN=First Organization,CN=Microsoft Exchange,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=lab,DC=sumatra,DC=local" -User ex2007@lab.sumatra.local -ExtendedRights Receive-As

Add-ADPermission -Identity "CN=myServerName,CN=Servers,CN=Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT),CN=Administrative Groups,CN=First Organization,CN=Microsoft Exchange,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=lab,DC=sumatra,DC=local" -User ex2007@lab.sumatra.local -extendedRight ms-Exch-EPI-May-Impersonate

Add-ADPermission -Identity "CN=myServerName,CN=Servers,CN=Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT),CN=Administrative Groups,CN=First Organization,CN=Microsoft Exchange,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=lab,DC=sumatra,DC=local" -User ex2007@lab.sumatra.local -extendedRight ms-Exch-EPI-Impersonation.

You could also execute the commands this way:

Add-ADPermission -Identity "myServerName" -User ex2007@lab.sumatra.local -AccessRights GenericAll -InheritanceType Descendents

We add GenericAll because sometimes the service account needs additional permissions.

You should not add this account to any administrative groups, e.g., administrators, domain administrators, etc.

Impersonation in particular seems to be the source of a huge amount of problems.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Create user and resource accounts in your Exchange 2007 lab with Exchange Management Shell

Sumatra runs client data through a series of rigorous tests as part of our QA process. We insert client calendar into Exchange in our “sandbox” test lab during one phase of testing. This requires we build user and resource accounts in bulk. Our prior home-grown tools do not work in Exchange 2007 because Microsoft killed CDOEX in Exchange 2007. This gave us a chance to learn Exchange Management Shell (EMS) and rework our tools for public use.

The EMS vocabulary is obtuse, but not hard.

To create the accounts, you only need two steps:


  1. Export the account list (do resources and user accounts separately)

  2. Build the mailboxes.

First, create two CSV (export) files - one for resources, one for users.

The script we wrote requires five columns of data – the OU, the descriptive name, the alias, the UPN, and the account type. You can build this file in Excel, or Sumatra customers can use data from the Users table. (If you’ve got a database v8.7.5.2+ from Sumatra, the query you can start with is called “N_X”.)

Here’s how each of the columns are defined:

  1. OU: “Users”
    Note : If you have different OUs for your users and resources, remember to change them here.
  2. Name: Trim(Trim([firstname]) & " " & Trim([lastname]))
  3. Alias: Login
  4. UPN: [Login] & "@lab.sumatra.local"
    Note : Remember to change the lab.sumatra.local to your test lab domain
  5. Type
    Note : The criteria will be Individual OR Resource
  6. Foreign (uncheck the show box, and apply a criteria of false)

    Here’s a screen shot of the query:


If you are running MS Access, save the query, then right-hand click on the query name, and Export. (If you are running the N_X query, it produces a table because it “prompts” you for information. Export that table.) You want to export:

  1. As type “Text”,
  2. Enter the file name with an extension of .CSV. Select the export button.
  3. Output the fields as “Delimited”,
  4. The delimiter is a comma,
  5. Check “Include field Names on the First Row”, and
  6. Select the Text Qualifier as {none} - not quote (“)
  7. Select “Finish”

Modify the query, and repeat the export process for “resources”.

Here’s a sample export of resource account information


Now, run Exchange Management Shell, and “cut and paste” these three commands:

Create a variable “Temp” that contains a password (if you want one)

$Temp = ConvertTo-SecureString "N0Pwd4U" -asPlainText –Force


Import the users. Remember that you will have to make at least three changes:



  1. The “path” to the CSV file

  2. The Organizational Unit

  3. The Database Name

  4. (optional) The Password

    Import-CSV "C:\Sumatra\UserExport\tmp_UserList.csv" ForEach-Object -Process {New-Mailbox -Name $_.Name -Alias $_.Alias -UserPrincipalName $_.UPN -OrganizationalUnit "lab.sumatra.local/client/Test" -DisplayName $_.Name -Database "Striper\First Storage Group\FSG_MBX_DB1" -Password $Temp -ResetPasswordOnNextLogon $false}

Import the resources. As above, remember to change the path, the OU, the DB Name.

Import-CSV "C:\Sumatra\UserExport\tmpResList.csv" ForEach-Object -Process {New-Mailbox -Name $_.Name -Alias $_.Alias -UserPrincipalName $_.UPN -OrganizationalUnit "lab.sumatra.local/resources" -DisplayName $_.Name -Database "Striper\First Storage Group\FSG_MBX_DB2" -Password $Temp -ResetPasswordOnNextLogon $false -Room:$True}

Here’s a screen shot of the results:


Finally, please note that in Exchange 2007 resources are disabled by default. Remember to enable the accounts. Also, for the test lab (and for the insertion), you should NOT set automatic processing of meeting requests (i.e. -automateprocessing:AutoAccept).

THANKS to sharp-eyed reader Vince for pointing out an error in one of our lines (corrected Oct. 4, 2007)!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Migrating to Exchange 2007

Things are really busy here in Sumatra (which is not in Asia but is rather an autonomous people's republic just outside of Cambridge, Massachusetts). Currently the user count of clients waiting to migrate to Exchange 2007 from Meeting Maker and Oracle Calendar is over 50,000 (the user count of prospects waiting on Zimbra is less than a tenth of that so we budget our time accordingly).

And we have good news!

On Monday we released the Exchange 2007 insertion code to a client with 3000 users for their test environment.



As with our other migrations this runs server-to-server, reproduces meeting guest lists, responses, and recurrence patterns as closely as possible, and includes the famous Sumatra "Undo" capability.

Preliminary field results are good and we'll update you as we proceed.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How many Recurring Appointments Does it Take to Screw Up Outlook in E2K7?

Editor's note: Yipee! As of 2/28/2008 Microsoft found and fixed this in the "Update Rollup 1 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1" (see: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/943371/)


The answer: 1300 (not 1301, we mean 1300)

While debugging our insertion technology for migrations from legacy calendaring systems into Exchange 2007, Russ decided to insert 23,000 appointments into a single calendar (which is not as rare a real-world occurrence as you might think).

When we narrowed th einsertion to just recurring items we found a hard limit at 1300:




Interesting variation on this: even with this error we have no problem adding one-time meetings or appointments -- but the second we try to make them recurring the error pops up.

We were really surprised to be getting CDO errors server-side, especially since CDOEXM is obsoleted and CDOEX is denigrated in 2007, and our new insertion code is based on EWS and has had all CDO-specific code ripped out of it with the diligence of a vegan removing meat and dairy products from their diet.

The specific Outlook error message: "There is not enough memory available to perform the operation." led us to some server-side errors that looked like this:

Exception type: Microsoft.Mapi.MapiExceptionNotEnoughMemory
Exception message: MapiExceptionNotEnoughMemory:
Unable to save changes. (hr=0x8007000e, ec=-2147024882) Diagnostic context
The event logs are EXCDO errors
Event Type: Error
Event Source: EXCDO
Event Category: General
Event ID: 8199
User: N/A
Description:
Calendaring agent failed in message save notification with error 0x8007000e on judy@lab.sumatra.local: /Calendar/test5.EML

We didn't find anything on specific 2007 problems, but this does sound very similar to an existing 2003 problem: You cannot save or delete a recurring appointment from a Calendar that is maintained on an Exchange Server 2003 computer, aka KB 892524.

So we wanted to put this up to let folks know and see if anyone else had been experiencing this problem.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Meeting Maker to Zimbra Migration

So given the fact that Zimbra is an open source calendaring system and Meeting Maker is the definition of legacy proprietary -- what can come over and what cannot?

Let's deal with the limitations first of all.


Meeting Maker calendar attributes that we do not transfer to Zimbra:

  • Private activities: We're taking this attribute along so that when Zimbra supports Private appointments (This is coming in their next version 5.0) it will be there -- but the current version has no way of (not) displaying them.

  • "Weekend move": Zimbra does not have this functionality so affected meetings will not move.

  • Comments: We've been dropping these for five years in Exchange migrations and there's been no complaints.

  • Colors / Labels: The Zimbra palette is very different from the primary colors of Meeting Maker so we don't even try to match colors.

  • Proxies: We extract them from Meeting Maker we'll look at what we can do to insert the same proxy rights (thank you to KevinH who with amazing speed pointed out Zimbra DOES have the ability to Share calendars - I just wasn't looking hard enough)

  • To-Dos: Zimbra has capability for to-dos in the user interface after version 5.0. So only supported for 5.0.

  • Optional / CC / BCC guests: Zimbra hdoes not have this functionality so we make all guests Required guests except for BCC (which would defeat the original purpose of a BCC) and respond appropriately. BCC guests get the meeting put in their calendar separately from the rest of the distribution list.

Meeting Maker calendar attributes that transfer to Zimbra:


  • Recurrence patterns (we even think we have a chance of solving the infamous "Refrigerator Bug" we always warn you about)
  • Meeting Agendas
  • Guest lists
  • Guest responses
  • Meeting Exceptions
  • Guest exceptions
  • Contacts
  • To-Dos in Version 5.0.
  • Banners
  • Holidays (we can insert into each calendar separately since Zimbra does not have server-wide holidays)
  • Conference Rooms
  • Resources
  • Time Zones

Please keep in mind this is a fluid list and we're likely to change a few things over time as new functions are added, as we get more clever in our migration implementation, or as we discover "gotchas" that are currently hidden to us.

Keep in mind we're doing all this server-side with no end user intervention.

The one functionality we're striving to add is the one that many of you have found so useful for testing in the past: UNDO.

We'll keep you informed as this migration technology develops.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Meeting Maker to Zimbra Migration Function Mapping

Based on requests from the field we've begun creating a full-function migration path from Meeting Maker to Zimbra calendar. As with our other migrations this method preserves recurrence patterns, guest responses, and the live nature of meetings. We have a prototype running in our lab the results from which are shown in the screen shots below.



Let's say Adam invites Claudette to three meetings, which in Meeting Maker she Accepts, Declines, and Decides Later.

Adam's calendar looks like this in Meeting Maker:






And after migration Adam's calendar looks like this in Zimbra:



Claudette's looks like this in Meeting Maker:





And after migration Claudette's calendar looks like this in Zimbra:


Note that the model for display of calendar state information is completely opposite between the two products. In Meeting Maker, the proposer / owner of a meeting is the one who sees an instant display of guest response status. In Zimbra, it is the guest who has the "one glance" view of her response status. In going from Meeting Maker to Zimbra this radically simplifies things for the guest (especially compared with the clunky "proposals box" in Meeting Maker). However, it does make it harder for those used to the symbols Meeting Maker uses to manage meetings to see them at a glance. This information does display very handily in the proposer's mail Inbox as guests make decisions.

Note that we are opting to map "Decide Later" as "New" in Zimbra rather than "Tentative" to highlight the need to make a decision on the meeting.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

E2K3 to E2K7 Upgrade Problem: Exchange Resource Manager

Two of our favorite people on the planet, Nancy and Yoly at Qualcomm, report problems with Exchange Resource Manager resources when going from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007.

Symptoms
Meeting invitations/updates sent to conference rooms that have been moved from Exchange 2003 with ERM to Exchange 2007 with resource calendar assistant are ignored and/or deleted without being processed.

The Problem
ERM has a bug that causes mailbox attribute 0x8217 to be set to 1 (organizer) when it places meetings on the calendar.

In OutlookSpy you would see this:



A Microsoft representative was able to confirm via testing that when 0x8217 is altered prior to the resource mailbox being moved from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007 the E2k7 Resource Calendar Assistant is unable to act on the meeting invitation/update and treats it as a non-meeting message (deletes it).

The fix is to set 0x8217 to 3 (invitee), with potentially 1000s of meetings with this issue it would be very time consuming to do it manually, so we wrote one to fix it.

Not surprisingly we put it into the Sumatra Utilities.

The latest version has the following additional flags:

/ERM:fix

This can change all calendar items with x8217=1 (from ERM) and set the value to 3.

If the /ERM switch is used without the :fix then the tool will run and produce counts.

If the ":fix" qualifier is used, then the appointments will be updated.

Can also be used with /e (show all) and /s (summary)

So for example, looking at the resource "LCD":

su /ERM /u:lcd /e

Gives the following REPORT in outfile.txt

User:lcd
Resource Mtg Organizer Mtg Name MtgStart MtgEnd Meeting Type
Validated lcd lcd - test test test - - Appointment
1 Resources processed.
1 Total meetings read.
1 meetings with ERM flag=1
0 meetings skipped (didn't have flag=1)
ReadFrom:
WroteTo: outfile.txt

su /ERM:fix /u:lcd /e

Will fix and record which ERM-managed meetings are repaired.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Been working with the Zimbra calendaring functions

Just because we get asked about everything we've started taking apart the Zimbra calendaring functions. In general -- it's not up to Exchange / Outlook standards (so far), but truthfully it's not bad (i.e., a corporation would take it over giving all its calendaring data to Google any day).


Things I really like about it -- the way accepted, declined, and tentative meetings show up with varying degrees of transparency. Very intuitive, very elegant:



There's also a fairly decent schema for resources.


On the other hand there's zero concept of private activities or degrees of delegate access.


Calendar migration from Outlook via PST is better than we typically see with most packages. Zimbra manages to preserve the recurrence pattern of meetings and exceptions, and there is an option to change your email address on meetings from your former email to your new one if you're changing.

On the downside, it doesn't change guests' email so when I brought it up in our test lab (changing domains) I had outdated guest lists. Migration is also done on a single user basis (making it a pain if you have a large base you're migrating).


I didn't bother with the Domino or GroupWise migrators.

Friday, April 06, 2007

We've noticed everyone else with a blog is into visuals

We've noticed that everyone else with a blog has visuals to publish and since we're calendar server wonks this puts us in a rather difficult position (calendars looking so boring and all) -- but we do have this image:

of a T-shirt from a migration we did into Exchange of a legacy calendar system called "Meeting Maker."

We moved 9,900 users and resources that weekend.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Update to Sumatra Utilities - current version 2.3.25

Kudos to Shabana at Marfic who found a bug in holiday insertion with the Sumatra Utilities.

We had to rev the code so that holidays would insert correctly with the new CDO that Microsoft issued to cause fix the DST fiasco.

If you're trying to insert Holidays please use version 2.3.25.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Exchange 2007 Installation for 2003 Coexistence -- Beware of this....

We were trying to install Exchange 2007 on one of our lab servers so we could continue to coexist with an existing Exchange 2003 domain.

If you are trying to do this:

Make sure you are running the install as Domain Admin and Schema Admin (and for good measure also an Enterprise Admin).

We neglected to do this and found intermittent problems throughout our initial configuration.

Yes -- it's obvious in hindsight -- but it was not obvious to us on Thursday afternoon when we were considering taking sledgehammers to our hardware.

Had we done this using VMware's 64 bit emulator we could have rolled back Exchange and tried again. Instead, we'll be reformatting and trying again.
We're hoping someone else will benefit from our experience.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Migrating iPlanet Calendar to Exchange via SuPump

Over the last five years of doing calendar migrations we've heard of pretty much every legacy calendar system out there. One that comes up now and again is iPlanet, once bundled with Netscape (remember them?).

iPlanet has a tool: csexport.

The file extension of the OUTPUT file (.ics or .xml) determines the format it will export to: ither iCalendar or XML

So since suPump.exe takes an XML file as input for incorporation into Exchange, this gives a quick way of server-side migration.

You use it as follows:

csexport -c jsmithcal calendar jsmith.xml

then

suPump.exe /k /AT:UserID /u:jsmith /DT:A /file:"jsmith.xml"
Will add appointment data for a UserID where the XML data is in file “calendar.xml”. This command does not clear the calendar calendar before inserting data.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sumatra Pump Contact Schema

SuPump.exe uses the following fields for inserting contacts. Size limits are up to available limits in Outlook.


ContactID: alpha numeric identifier (can be left blank)
ContactNum: Contact Number
OwnerUserID: UserID or mailboxAlias
FirstName:
LastName:
Title:
Dept:
Room:
Company:
Address:
City:
State:
Zip: XXXXX-XXXX
Country:
Email:
HomePhone: XXXXXXXXXX
WorkPhone: XXXXXXXXXX x XXXXX
Fax: XXXXXXXXXX
MobilePhone: XXXXXXXXXX
Pager: XXXXXXXXXX
OtherPhone1: XXXXXXXXXX
OtherPhone2: XXXXXXXXXX
OtherPhone3: XXXXXXXXXX
Custom1
Custom2
Custom3
Custom4
NoteInfo :additional information

Sunday, March 18, 2007

If an attendee to an occurrence of a recurring meeting is removed then the series is updated, the removed attendee is re-invited.

Chris Quinn from Milwaukee writes that:

If an attendee to an occurrence of a recurring series is removed.

Then the series is updated.

The removed attendee is re-invited and the meeting shows back up on their calendar.

The following steps can be followed to reproduce the error.

1. Create a recurring meeting with “Organizer 1” and “Attendee 1” for at least 2 days.
2. Open any occurrence of the meeting and remove “Attendee 1” and send the update
3. Open the series and make any modification(e.g., Add a note to the details) send the update.

You should notice that “Attendee 1” still has the meeting on their calendar, however when you open the occurrence of the meeting that had “Attendee 1” removed, you will notice that “Attendee 1” is not in the meeting.

Chris further adds:
This is not a problem in CDO 1.21 .... This is a problem in Outlook. When a recurring series is updated it does not send the correct updates for the occurrences.
This is similar to a problem Microsoft has acknowledged with resources of which we had written earlier:


We've had reports of meeting locations being overwritten to exceptions to
recurring meetings. As Microsoft KB Article 916108 shows, it is an acknowledged bug in Exchange.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sample Syntax for Exchange Insertion with the Sumatra Pump

To read and insert a file contacts.xml into “Sumatra.com”. Tags the items with the default keyword
supump.exe /dn:Sumatra.com /file:contacts.xml /k

Insert one appointment for USERID=37238L. Remove data prior to insertion. Read source data from http (oracle server).
supump.exe /UNDO /k /AT:userID /u:37238L /DT:A /http:"http://oracle-dev.site.edu/dart/harpo/" /PKG:"EXCHANGESYNC_PKG.run_calendar?userid="

Appends one appointment for ExchangeAlias T_L to existing data (missing /undo)/ Read data from http.
supump.exe /k /AT:Exchange /u:T_L /DT:A /http:"http://oracle-dev.site.edu/dart/harpo/" /PKG:"EXCHANGESYNC_PKG.run_calendar?userid="

Remove user’s 37238L’s Appointment data that is tagged with the default keyword
supump.exe /dn:Sumatra.com /undo /k /u:37238L

Insert appointments for USERIDs in a text file. Remove appointment data prior to insertion. Read data from http.
suPump.exe /UNDO /k /AT:UserID /in:"F:\Sumatra\Clients\UserIds.txt" /DT:A /http:"http://oracle-dev.site.edu/dart/harpo/" /PKG:"EXCHANGESYNC_PKG.run_calendar?userid="

Insert appointments for ALL exchange users with USERIDs in a text file. Read data from http. Remove appointment data prior to insertion
suPump.exe /UNDO /k /AT:Exchange /ALL /DT:A /http:"http://oracle-dev.site.edu/dart/harpo/" /PKG:"EXCHANGESYNC_PKG.run_calendar?userid="

Add appointment data for one UserID where XML data is in file “calendar.xml”. Clear calendar before inserting data.
suPump.exe /undo /k /AT:UserID /u:37238L /DT:A /file:"F:\Sumatra\Clients\calendar.xml"

Insert contact data for ALL User IDs. Clear contacts before insertion. Read data from http.
supump.exe /UNDO /k /AT:Exchange /ALL /DT:C /http:"http://oracle-dev.site.edu/dart/harpo/" /PKG:"EXCHANGESYNC_PKG.run_contact?userid="

Insert Task data for User IDs in a file. Clear task data before insertion. Read data from http.
supump.exe /UNDO /k /AT:UserID /in:"F:\Sumatra\Clients\UserIds.txt" /DT:T /http:"http://oracle-dev.site.edu/dart/harpo/" /PKG:"EXCHANGESYNC_PKG.run_task?userid="

Insert all data into the domain name “lab.sumatra.com” for aliases defined in the file IT_Test.txt. Obtain the data from the web, and tag it with keyword testrun4
Suxml /dn:lab.sumatra.com /k:testrun /u:37238L /k:testrun4
/HTTP:"http://oracle-dev.site.edu/dart/harpo”
/pkg:"EXCHANGESYNC_PKG.run_calendar”

Friday, March 16, 2007

Reports of problems with solution to KB 932511

Chris Quinn, one of our brethren calendar and scheduling wonks, has reported an additional problem with the solution to KB article 932511: Exception meeting requests are deleted from the calendar in Outlook 2003 when recipients use a CDO 1.21 application to accept the master meeting request


This of course comes up because of the DST issue in North America, in his case he had an exception to a meeting that had been scheduled to another resource. The fix on 932511 and the Rebaser put the exception back on the ORIGINAL resource.

We'll keep you updated on if there is a fix to the fix to the fix (we think the recursion only goes that far, but after three we just lose interest and move on to other projects).

Chris also reports that:
Because we forced all the updates we also found out about another
problem. We found that OWA views can differ significantly from the Outlook
views. So we found another article that was quite interesting.
I thought you'd get a kick out of it. Now we can all POOF our calendars…
http://blogs.msdn.com/stephen_griffin/archive/2007/02/21/poof-your-calender-really.aspx
NB: To all of your looking to migrate Proxies and Designates from legacy calendar servers to Delegates in Exchange -- we need to use CDO 1.21 to accomplish this and the acknowledged memory leaks (see KnowledgeBase Article 891509 A memory leak condition occurs when you create a CDO program or a MAPI32 program to log on or log off many mailboxes in Exchange Server 2003 SP1) are one reason we treat this very carefully. See also KBs 901014 and 913643.

Syntax for SuPump.exe

The Sumatra Pump (which on occasion we pronounce "SumPump") uses the following syntax (which will be familiar to all of you using the Sumatra Utilities):

suPump /dn:domain /sn:servername /k:kwd /all /u:usr /in:infile /at:acct_type /dt:data_type
/out:outfile /undo /v:file /http:url /pkg:p
where:

/dn:domainname =Run on this "domain name"

/sn:serverName =The server name

User
/at:acct_type=Account type (acct_type=Specific or Exchange) default is Exchange alias.
/all=Retrieve ALL Aliases with SpecificIDs (employeeID)
/in:infile=user INput file, one Exchange Alias or SpecificID per record (default infile.txt)
/u:user =process this Alias or SpecificID User (supersedes /in:)
SpecificID in this case means anything you want to define, an account number or employee ID for example.

/dt:data_type=Data type = Activities, Tasks, Contacts (default is Activities)

/k:kwdstem = Assigns a category during an insert. E.g., /k=holiday2006; Also limits mtgs/appts/contacts/todos tagged with Keyword stem e.g. /k:ca finds ca,car,cat (/k default:mmconv102659080256Z).

/out:outfile=Output file (default outfile.txt)

/undo=remove items from calendar (tagged w/ keyword). Items to be removed is a function of the /dt

Data Location
/file:filestring=passes an XML file (path included) to be processed
/HTTP:URL=Obtain a file to be processed from HTTP address using this URL root. Note, the URL must be enclosed in quotes
/PKG:Pkgname=defines the package name to extract the data. The package will be appended to the URL root to retrieve the data. The package name must be enclosed in quotes.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sumatra Pump: The Third Way to get Calendar Data into specific accounts

In Exchange there are two ways to get data into a user calendar:


  1. Invite the user to a meeting which they accept
  2. The user or their delegate types an entry themselves
This was too restrictive for a major graduate business school in the Northeast. There was no way for users to "subscribe" to calendar events relevant to their needs, such as course schedules and assignments, on-campus recruiting, and then have those events appear on their calendars.

They asked Sumatra to develop an Exchange server-based tool we refer to as the Sumatra Pump, suPump.exe.

A bit of background

This school built a web-based calendaring solution that offers its students, faculty, and staff a single source to access all academic calendars and schedules including the academic calendar, class schedules, club events, and one-on-one meetings such as the interview calendar. The web-based solution also provided users with a list of contacts and tasks. Users can personalize the solution by setting preferences to select the calendar data they wish to receive. End users wanted the calendar data in Outlook, so the school built an Outlook add-in that allowed users to merge selected calendar data into their Outlook calendar.

Fine and good, but this was manual -- the user had to initiate the command sequence. The school’s IT department wanted a solution that could be scheduled each night to push the requested data into Outlook.

Sumatra automated the calendar data merge process by implementing a server-based “Push” product on Exchange. The goal of this Push product is to deliver calendar, task, and contact updates to Outlook end users on both a scheduled basis and an on-demand basis.
This solution had the following results:

  • Consolidated scheduling data delivery at the Exchange server level;
  • Reduced system maintenance and management costs;
  • Minimized the negative productivity impact of requiring users to initiate the calendar merge sequence, or by re-keying calendar data into Outlook;
  • Extended support to all Exchange clients on-site not served by the client-side VB macro then in use (including, for example, OWA and Entourage users);

The suPump takes as input an XML file. For Activities the file has the following structure:

ActivityID: alpha numeric identifier (can be left blank)
UserID: SchoolID or mailboxAlias
Name: Activity name
Location:Activity location
Banner:True/False - Is this an all day event
Private:True/False - Should this be marked as private
Label:What color label (0-11) corresponds to Outlook labels
Duration:Duration in minutes
ActivityTime:Activity start date and time
LastTime:Activity end date and time
TimeZone:timezone (see below)
FreeBusy:"Free", "Busy", "Tent","OOF"
RecurType: Not implemented for this client
Ongoing:Not implemented for this client
DaysMask:Not implemented for this client
WeeksMask:Not implemented for this client
DaysFromEndOfMonth:Not implemented for this client
Period:Not implemented for this client
Exceptions: Not implemented for this client
Reminder: number of minutes
NoteInfo: additional information

Contacts and Tasks have similar formats.

We've been thinking of using this for simple calendar / contact / task migrations for formats we do not currently handle (iPlanet calendar migration is one of the cases occasionally requested).

This is also something we've looked at as part of a co-existence strategy for alternate calendar servers and Exchange.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Using the Sumatra Utilities to archive appointments

In our continuing effort to make sure you don't think of the Utilities as something just to use to fix the looming Exchange DST crisis, we have a new feature to blog about:

archiving

Aside: you multinational companies shouldn't think it's almost over! I've gotten at least two inquiries from Europeans who are wondering about using the Utilities when the European Union reviews DST for its member nations. And "just move to Exchange 2007" is not the clear answer for everybody.

So why use the Utilities to archive? You could use automatic archiving to a PST file -- which will reduce the size of your local data and speed things. BUT if you want easy access to this data and still want to speed your calendar display, you can use the utilities to move all appointments before a certain date to a specified archive folder.

This gives you the best of both worlds: Better speed AND easy access (if you need it).

So to move all of user “riuliano”'s one-time (non-recurring) appointments before 8/2/2006 to a folder called “My Old Cal Items” use this command:

Su /u:riuliano /dt:8/2/2006 /mc /fn:"my old cal items"

If you do not have your aliases as SMTP addresses, use this syntax:

Su /fn:”my old cal items” /mc /dt /smtp /dn:lab.sumatra.com /u:russ_iuliano@lab.sumatra.com

to move appointments for user russ_iuliano@lab.sumatra.com (identified by SMTP address, /smtp) one-time (non-recurring) appointments before yesterday to a folder called “my old cal items”.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Not sending Updates? Check for meeting corruption with the /x flag.

It's easy to understand why you might find the Update storm a hassle. And you've probably made sure your Microsoft reps have heard this.

So the latest Microsoft Time Zone Update tool lets you suppress Updates.

But, after you've read the warnings about what could happen if you suppress Updates in KB 933146, you should also check out some other warnings about this being contraindicated behavior in the following other Microsoft articles:

As always -- our credo is "test the snot out of software in your lab before you deploy to your production environment." If you have no problems in your lab then odds are in your favor when you move to production.

Quick Test for Corrupt Meetings

In the course of various post-migration follow ups we've heard of corrupt / damaged meetings (and improper updates is only one of the possible vectors of infection). So the Utilities have a /x flag to check:

su /u:exec_cr /x

Will look for mis-matches (i.e., a meeting in the OWNER's calendar that is in a different time / place from the entry in the calendar for the Executive Conference Room (exec_cr).

This particular flag got most of its use early on in smaller Exchange installations, so it currently might not scale to large organizations very well (but neither did some of the other flags until a few weeks ago).