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Friday, December 12, 2008

Meeting Maker Discussion List Closed

The Meeting Maker Discussion List hosted for years at Emory is shut down as of today (not that it's had many postings for the last year or so). They sent out this announcement earlier this week:

Dear MMXP subscribers,
Over the years, this list was a great asset to
those of us who ran Meeting Maker. Over time, the company(s) made
advancements in the support offerings. Thus, we have not needed this list
as much.

Emory has changed direction in how we use calendaring, and
have migrated away from Meeting Maker.
This is to serve notice that this
list
is to be shutdown effective 12/12/08.

Thank you.

Since the world is running ever lower on Meeting Maker, we're very glad that Oracle Calendar migration has stepped in to take its place.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Migrating Oracle Calendar Permissions to Exchange Part 2 DIY

So you want to migrate from OCS to Exchange and you can handle your own data migration (i.e., you don't want live meetings or recreated recurrence patterns) but you still want to migrate permissions.

We'll tell you how you can accomplish that using free off-the-shelf tools from Oracle and Microsoft.

The process proceeds in two phases:

  1. EXTRACT the permissions data from Oracle

  2. INSERT the permissions into Exchange

You may need to modify your user names between the first and second step, but if you're handling your own data migration this should not be too difficult. You're also going to have to write your own script to convert the output from the Extract phase to the input for the Insert phase. Since we get these requests from universities and they have lots of undergraduate computer talent that programs in between beer blasts we don't think this will be too difficult.

Extracting permissions data from Oracle Calendar Server

This is done using the OCS tool UNIACCESSRIGHTS. See the Oracle Calendar Reference Manual for your full set of options.

Let's take the example of John Lennon giving permissions to Jerry Garcia.

Running UNIACCESSRIGHTS to get the Designate data for Lennon is simple:

uniaccessrights -ls -grantor "S=Lennon/G=Johnny" -grantee "S=*" -n 1 -p PASSWORD

This results in the following output (which you can redirect to a text file), split here for clarity:

Grantee: S=Garcia/G=Jerry/UID=Jerry.Garcia/ID=256/NODE-ID=1

Designate Right: CONFIDENTIALEVENT=REPLY

/CONFIDENTIALTASK=NONE

/NORMALEVENT=MODIFY

/NORMALTASK=NONE

/PERSONALEVENT=VIEWTIME

/PERSONALTASK=MODIFY

/PUBLICEVENT=MODIFY

/PUBLICTASK=MODIFY

The connections between the OCS User Interface and the output are pretty clear.


You have now successfully extracted the data. Part 1 is complete.


Inserting permissions data into Exchange



This is done using PFDAVAdmin, whose formal name is the Exchange Public Folder DAV-based Administration Tool. You should check out our earlier postings on PFDAVAdmin. First let's say that on Exchange in Active Directory we already have a John Lennon who has created the same Calendar permissions for his co-worker Jerry Garcia. What would those look like in Exchange saved with PFDAVAdmin?



So glad you asked. Running our friend PFDAVAdmin and looking at John Lennon,


we first EXPORT his permissions to see what our end goal is:

Pick the easiest format to read,



We get a LOT of data for folders. I invite you to look at your own output.

However, we can comfortably reduce it to the data we need for Calendars and Tasks:

SETACL Mailboxes\john.lennon\Freebusy Data SUMATRA\jerry.garcia Editor NO

SETACL Mailboxes\john.lennon\TopofInformationStore\Calendar SUMATRA\jerry.garcia Editor NO

SETACL Mailboxes\john.lennon\TopofInformationStore\Tasks SUMATRA\jerry.garcia Reviewer NO


Your step is to turn your UNIACCESSRIGHTS export into a file of this format that you can IMPORT into PFDAVADMIN to set the ACLs for Exchange. This is not very hard.

Of course it's in our test domain so everything is "SUMATRA," and "TopofInformationStore" should be "Top of Information Store" (but it breaks oddly in Blogger). You might also want to set the INBOX and OUTBOX permissions if you want them to respond to meeting requests for you.

NOTE: Be careful making any modifications to this file – it is very important that it be tab-delimited.

But you get the idea and there is enough information here for you to fly on your own now should you so choose.

Note the key things about this:
  • With your own scripting the cost to you is zero for additional tools
  • It puts the permissions part of the migration entirely within your hands

Monday, December 08, 2008

Migrating Oracle Calendar Permissions to Exchange

Exchange and Oracle Calendar Server (OCS) are different in how they assign their Delegate / Designate permissions, but it’s less an apple vs. orange difference as a grapefruit vs. orange difference: both are noticeable more for their similarities than their pronounced differences relative to other calendaring systems.

There are two levels of permissions relevant to this discussion:

  • Object level permissions (for individual calendar entries and tasks)
  • User level permissions (e.g., to an administrative assistant or co-worker)

Object Level Permissions

Let’s deal with Object Level Permissions first since it’s a simpler comparison.

Oracle has four different permission levels for Calendar and Task objects:




Outlook and Exchange have only a “Private” option:



Translating these during a migration is pretty simple: “Personal” and “Confidential” in OCS map to “Private” in Outlook/Exchange. In the case of a Sumatra migration this happens as the data is being converted from OCS export format into our intermediate database.


User Level Permissions
OCS starts with object permissions and then allows the calendar owner to set permissions for other users based on those object permissions. Where OCS is Data-oriented in its permissions model, Exchange is Folder/User oriented. This leads us into the User Level Permissions.

Let’s take a look at the Oracle Calendar Server side.

John Lennon makes Jerry Garcia his Designate in Oracle Calendar:

Here you have the only options relevant to a migration being: “Modify” and “View.”

Why is “View times only” not relevant for a discussion of calendar designate rights migration into Exchange? Because Exchange has no mechanism to deny access to free/busy information on a user basis.

Also note that in OCS a user has the option of specifying different access for different object types. That is – you can be more stringent with Confidential as opposed to Public data. This capability does not exist in Exchange. At all. So we’re going to revisit this issue later when we’re trying to decide how to migrate these permissions from OCS to Exchange.

So let’s turn our attention to Exchange and see what options there are when Zyg Furmaniuk makes Judy Morrison a Delegate via Outlook:

You basically have three levels of access (other than the trivial case of None) you can grant:

Reviewer
Author
Editor

And the scope of these is pretty much on an Outlook Folder level (though in the case of Calendar you need to also grant access to the Calendar and the Free-Busy information). I.e., You can selectively grant access to the Calendar or the Email Inbox.

So you can think of “Modify” in OCS mapping to “Editor” and “View” mapping to “Reviewer” pretty easily.

Oracle Permission "Modify" maps to Exchange Permission "Editor"

Oracle Permission "View/Reply" maps to Exchange Permission "Reviewer"

Oracle Permission "View Times Only" is irrelevant in Exchange Permissions

But there remains a question: Given that OCS users have several gradations not available in Exchange – how do we do a mapping?

We at Sumatra at this point broke it down to as simple a question as we could put to the Administrators: “Do you want to give the maximum rights or the minimum rights?”

The way this manifests itself on our OraCalReader utility is the choice between ALL designate access rights set to Modify or ANY set to Modify.


Since the only other option is “Reviewer” in the target Exchange any rights not set to Modify are set to Reviewer.

Any View rights are automatically set to “Reviewer” rights since the object level access in OCS does not come into play in Exchange.

We do not set “Delegate can see my private items” on the Exchange side. Why? Because there’s enough else going on in a migration – folks can forget that they don’t want some information shared post-migration. Keeping private on means maximum security and you can always dial it to where you want it post-migration.

Other Exchange Delegate notes:

  • Exchange has several possible clients (Outlook, Entourage, Outlook Web Access) at several different release levels with varying degrees of cross-platform and cross-version capability. Be sure to examine your own environment carefully.

  • The Sumatra process only handles Calendar permissions, not Task permissions. Could we do Tasks? Yes. But you’d need to convince us it’s a valid business case.

  • Regardless of the level of Delegate access set by the end user in Outlook, Delegate rights in OWA are read-only. See http://calendarservermigration.blogspot.com/2008/11/seeing-delegated-calendar-in-outlook.html
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: Using these methods to set Delegates in Exchange will overwrite any delegate rights a user has set prior to migration. Consider yourself warned.

The User Perspective

What does the user GETTING permission experience?

In OCS, Jerry Garcia as Designate of John Lennon simply selects File-Agenda-Open As Designate and sees the following:

Jerry gets a convenient list of everyone he has permissions for:

And it is very simple to orient yourself:

This user experience is VERY DIFFERENT in Microsoft Outlook. Here we use Outlook 2007 as our example. Zyg has given Judy permission to view his calendar.

In Judy’s calendar, she has no indication of this (except for a possible email notice from Zyg). In order to set up her client to see Zyg’s calendar she must first explicitly open it and select “Zyg” from the directory list:



Once selected once the option to view is a check box.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

More Calendar Weirdness in Exchange 2003

We keep hearing about calendar bugs in Exchange 2003.

Cases in point:

A meeting update does not appear in Outlook Web Access after a meeting organizer updates the time of one meeting occurrence in an Exchange Server 2003 environment

When you use a CDO-based application to manage calendar items in Exchange Server 2003, the application crashes intermittently

Keep in mind: None of this has anything to do with a calendar migration. It's what seeps into Microsoft products when the Redmond Belle tries to "encourage" you to "upgrade." Both of these are related to CDO and the most prominent CDO-based application is the Blackberry Enterprise Server.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ActiveSync bug in Exchange 2003 - Warning warning!

November looks like ActiveSync month. First I dropped my Sprint HTC SmartPhone because as a phone it was unusable (despite the fact that sync with Outlook was passable).

But Chris Quinn, one of our pals in the calendaring community, alerts us to a Microsoft KB Article 958781:

Some recurring calendar items disappear from the "Day/Week/Month" view in Outlook when a user uses Exchange ActiveSync on a mobile device to modify a recurring meeting in an Exchange 2003 environment

Much like Snakes on a Plane the title says it all.

But unlike SoaP there's more here to worry about (aside from whether you want the extended edition DVD).

The list of affected files for the fix to this problem includes pretty much all of CDO's associated files PLUS MADFB (the main Free-Busy updater).

This is a scary bunch of sensitive code to be changing all at once. And anything that relies on CDO (Anybody out there have BlackBerry Servers?) could get caught in the backwash.

So our warning to you still on Exchange 2003 is to test this HotFix BEFORE you deploy it if you have anything other than a vanilla Exchange 2003 environment

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seeing a Delegated Calendar in Outlook Web Access

It's really easy to get to another person's calendar in Outlook or even Entourage if they've given you delegate access.

But if you want to view that same schedule via Outlook Web Access (OWA) you need to know a few things.

Check out this article: How to Use Outlook Web Access Web Parts.

You want user interface? Fuggedaboutit.

If "Russ" is Delegate of "Zyg" via Outlook on the "VM" Exchange 2007 server he needs to use this URL:

https://VM/OWA/zyg@sumatra.local/?cmd=contents&f=calendar

Then he gets to view Zyg's calendar (NB: Regardless of level of delegate access it's read only).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Remove "TargetAddress" in Exchange 2007

Forwarding meeting requests is a really bad practice.

See Outlook Meeting Requests: Essential Do's and Don'ts if you want the Microsoft dogma on it.

This is especially true in calendar migrations when you're creating more meeting invitations at once than you probably ever will again.

It is especially true when Exchange is forwarding automatically by defining TargetAddress (as could be done via an identity-management tool).

Such is the lead in to why you want to turn off TargetAddress before a migration.

To turn this attribute off where it is set, you simply need to follow this three step program:

1. ) EXPORT your directory data using LDIFDE

ldifde -s YOURSERVER -r "(targetaddress=*)" -l "dn" -f exportldf.ldf

This produces a file whose records look like this:

dn: CN=Adam Ant,OU=Client85,OU=Clients,DC=ex2007,DC=sumatra,DC=local
changetype: add

-

2. Edit the LDIFDE file "exportldf.ldf"
Replace "changetype: add" with "changetype: modify\ndelete: targetaddress\n\-\n\n"

i.e., the file should look like this:
dn: CN=Adam Ant,OU=Client85,OU=Clients,DC=ex2007,DC=sumatra,DC=local
changetype: modify
delete: targetaddress
-

Notes:

  • If you want to restore the attribute after the migration, make a copy of the exportldf.ldf file before editing it!

  • The editing works best if you have a text editor that supports regular expressions. We recommend TextPad.

  • There must be a dash and a blank line between each command.

3. Re-run (import) your file
ldifde -s YOURSERVER -f exportldf.ldf –i


Why are we not doing this using either PowerShell or some of the other GUI-based management tools in Exchange 2007? Simply because we haven't yet figured out how to or if it's even possible.


Flashback: Those of you who have been through a migration into Exchange 2000/2003 will recognize the exact same worry with AltRecipient.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New option for Oracle Calendar Migration


You asked for it -- so we did it.
As the screenshot shows, OraCalReader will now give the admin the option of converting historic meetings into appointments on everyone's calendar or inserting them as live meetings.
Beware: As we warn folks over and over - live meetings take longer to insert into Microsoft Exchange than appointments (which is why we made this an automatic default in Oracle Migrations).

Friday, November 07, 2008

So if you're migrating to Zimbra and using Palms....

We just moved a site from Meeting Maker into Zimbra and everything was ducky until we got an email stating:

"After taking our Meeting Maker Database and getting it imported into Zimbra,
our Palm OS devices that are receiving over-the-air syncs to their Zimbra
calendars lock up and head into an infinite reboot cycle when they try to
access their calendar data. It appears that something in the formatting of
the calendar data now pretty much just causes the brain of the Palm devices
to explode... because the problem does not extend to Blackberry devices."

Being the responsible guys we are, we freaked. Then we read that the problem doesn't happen with BlackBerry devices. In calendar migrations if we do something really wrong we expect it to fail everywhere. Since they used Notify for both Palm and BlackBerry sync from Zimbra we started looking at Palm. I think I have an old VIIx sitting on my discarded electronics drawer from the days a decade ago when we started this company.

Being exceedingly motivated, however, our client managed to come up with a solution before us. Their significantly greater knowledge of the Palm probably also had a lot to do with this.

Seems to be related to recurring meetings on the Palm, which interpreted some instance as "Zero" and didn't like it -- but didn't gracefully recover either.

They suggest other users with this problem (which I really hope there never are any, but know there will be some out there)

  1. Go to http://www.pimlicosoftware.com/datebk5.htm
  2. Download the zipped Windows EXE.
  3. In Advanced Apps there is a file called 'dbscan'
  4. Open this on your PC
  5. It should set itself up to install on your next sync. Read the instructions! It is a database integrity checker.
  6. It will advise of the corrupt files and give you the opportunity to delete them from your handheld.
  7. Run a sync again - but set the options for **handheld to overwrite pc** - this will sort out the problem.

I would really like to thank the folks at Pimlico Software for their really good application for Palms!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

IMAP to Exchange 2007 email migration

We get asked about email migration fairly frequently. In Exchange 2003 we tried doing it but truth be told there were some adequate free solutions. And "free" is tough to sell against. Then 2007 came out and NOBODY initially had solutions (even Microsoft) but we resisted the temptation to develop our own solutions (and we are still glad).


In general we find that Microsoft Transporter Suite is ... lacking (I'm trying to be polite here). But I know it is tough to ignore because it's from Microsoft and your boss knows it's free. Try it yourself and look through the fora before you commit to using this.


Glen did a great article on EML migration into Exchange 2007 using Exchange Web Services. If you're comfortable scripting this will get you through the hard part of inserting email into Exchange 2007.


We think you should also look into using imap2exchange which you can download at http://tp.its.yale.edu/confluence/display/EXCH/imap2exchange+Conversion+Utility. We worked on their calendar migration over the summer and the crew at Yale impressed us as a sharp bunch of folks. Please keep in mind these complements come without any grudging or reticence from a Harvard graduate.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mirapoint behaviour and your calendar migration

First, we'd like to thank the IT team at a liberal arts college in Massachusetts for making their Mirapoint system available to us for migration testing.

Now we'd like to ask some hard questions about the preferred way to migrate data INTO Mirapoint from (say) Meeting Maker or Oracle Calendar Server.

Let's take a look at a typical meeting invitation on the Guest's side. "zygf" invites "russi" to a meeting and Mirapoint puts it on russi's calendar. So far so good. From within the calendar russi now has some options (also so far so good)

He "Accepts" and the meeting remains in his calendar (I do not notice any color or state change here -- does anyone know if this is normal?).

What happens if russi DECLINES the meeting?


The short answer (and it's kind of a weird one) is that it STAYS in his calendar!
The response IS updated on the Meeting Organizer's calendar:

This brings us to our conundrum: Declining a meeting will automatically remove it from a Meeting Maker calendar, and declining will change color state on an Oracle Calendar.

So the question: Is the right thing to do to try to replicate the legacy calendar or to insert data in the New World Order of the Mirapoint system the organization is migrating into? If we delete declines meeting then users do not have the option of going back and re-accepting them. But if we KEEP the declines in the calendar we run the risk of user confusion during the crucial post-migration period.

Since we've decided we're lousy at making decisions for other people we figured we'd ask and then listen to the responses.

Other issues in the Mirapoint user interface:

  • There are no Optional Guests or CC / BCC for meetings
  • There is no "Weekend move" functionality so we would need to nail meetings / appointments to the specific date of the month
  • The "By week of month" option is in the interface limited to one instance (e.g., the SECOND Tuesday of the month) but on inserting a properly formatted VCS file we can create a "Clean Refrigerator" appointment on the FIRST and THIRD Friday of the month. Only problem arises when the owner tries to modify the series as opposed to separate instances.
  • No “Last day of the month” capability – e.g., in Meeting Maker I can have a meeting “the Nth day from the end of the month” – usually it’s the Last day – but Mirapoint has odd behavior if I try scheduling a monthly meeting on the 31st – it leaves it completely OUT of months with 30 or fewer days. This is just plain goofy.
  • Master exceptions: via EXDATE. This might cause problems with Outlook as a client to Mirapoint. It did in early Zimbra migrations – we need to investigate some more.
  • Resources: Looks like Mirapoint has just a single category “Resources” as opposed to the MM distinction of “Location” and “Resources”
  • Final note: I have to give Mirapoint kudos for their interface for calendar sharing. It's very simple and very clear (something most other vendors have not figured out how to do yet):

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Calendar migration into Zarafa

So we got a request over the transom to see if we could migrate Meeting Maker data into Zarafa.

Their online demo bears a really close resemblance to OWA. This part I do not get: If you want to choose to not be part of the Microsoft Global Co-Prosperity Sphere, why on earth do you want the interface to be exactly the same? It's like not wanting to watch Seinfeld itself, only a high school acting troupe doing the exact same gags and plots. If that's what you want in front of you the original is much better.

However, short answer is NO. Mainly their mechanism to put in data is via PSTs (using ExMerge), with some scripts to migrate contacts via CSV. We don't produce PSTs (it is a real pain and we do not get much call for it). We can go into Exchange via CDO and EWS, and we can produce ICS, but none of the mechanisms we see in their Wiki will let us put in calendar data with the fidelity we are known for.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dude -- Here's My Contacts

Thanks go out to our Kiwi friends for this information.

Let's say you want access to your Oracle Connector for Outlook contacts from within an Oracle client. Notice the lack of a "Contacts" icon in the Oracle In-tray:

Go to your UNISON.INI file under C:\Documents and Settings\USERID\Application Data\Oracle\Calendar

Find the [GENPREFS] section.

Change:

offlineab=FALSE to offlineab=TRUE


Restart your Oracle client (not OCFO), and you have access to your Contacts.

You even have options to EXPORT them (from which you can also take them into Outlook).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Real World Exchange Broken Meeting Statistic

We recently got an export of a real world conference room schedule in Exchange 2007 from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008 and did some analysis on it.

That one room hosted 2,450 individual instances of meetings (i.e., we count each recurring instance).

Figuring that there are 260 work days in a year, this means on average there are 9 meetings a day in that conference room (which sounds pretty close to full capacity, though there are occurrences on weekends).

What was also interesting was that there were 288 broken meetings in it (clogging the availability), or on average 1 broken meeting per work day.

Now given that this is from ONE conference room are we drawing big conclusions from it? No.

We were really astounded to see it anywhere near 1 per work day, though.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Oracle Connector for Outlook: Dude, Where's My Contacts?

So we just helped several thousand folks in New Zealand migrate their calendars from OCS to Exchange 2007 and they called us across the Pacific (Side bar: Across the Pacific is a WAY better movie than Dude, Where's My Car?) for some insight into how to migrate their contact data using Oracle Connector for Outlook and PSTs.


They tried the obvious method of just opening the local PSTs and the contact data from OCS was not there. This sounding like the kind of spooky weirdness that intrigues us in the calendar migration business we needed to dust off and install Oracle Connector for Outlook, look into this, and discover that it indeed is the case.

Initially we thought it might be that Offline Use needed to be enabled (we got that hare-brained idea from one of Oracle's architectural diagrams of OCFO), so we set that.




And we followed through on the Offline Folders Setting:




There is indeed a PST file there (which is usually a good sign)


but when I opened this PST in Outlook on a different machine there were no contacts.

In OCFO I see this:


In "New" Outlook I see this (we had no doubt our friends in New Zealand were correct about this, but we love the phrase "trust but verify"):

We did manage to extract the contact data and what we had to do was make it all REALLY EXPLICIT. Note that I also used two different versions of Outlook (2002 vs. 2003) just to keep the locations straight.

To start in OCFO select File-Import and Export:


You're exporting to a file



In fact a PST


And all we want right now is the Contacts:


Pick a location where you can save it (I picked next to the standard Outlook.PST file, because the size difference 48 vs 64 KB between the two is interesting).


And voila.

Now on the Exchange side, you can run the process in reverse, or you can use Data File Management


Add a new PST, Point to your contacts.pst file,




And the end result is that you've got your contacts over:

So for the really curious calendar person: What the heck is going on here?

Let's take a look at the file structure of OCFO. Almost all the files under the /Outlook/Oracle Connector... directory are pretty small, except for the one I found called "mdb" which being within the same order of magnitude as the PST files we found makes it a good candidate for the location where OCFO data gets stored.


In fact there are several of these throughout this directory structure. Those of you who ever had the pleasure of working in 1980's era dBase will feel deja-vu. I started doing correlations between GUIDs for the contacts in Outlook/OCFO and the data here using a binary viewer, but that got to be a hassle very quickly. Russ looked at running SOAP requests for contact data using the OCS API, which he rapidly decided was "obscure and painful."

We know the contact data is in there (somewhere), but the method we sketch above has the advantages of being simple, fast, and actionable without coding.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Exchange 2007 - Zimbra Free/Busy: The Magic PowerShell Command

We'd like to thank some folks we really enjoy working with at the University of Pennsylvania. They spent some time last week getting Free-Busy connectivity to work between Exchange 2007 and Zimbra.

I've got to give Zimbra credit for how well they executed Free-Busy connectivity with Exchange, a good summary of which and links pertaining thereunto are here:

http://www.zimbrablog.com/blog/archives/2008/06/are-you-free-or-busy.html


Penn's problem was that Zimbra is set up to handle Free-Busy data with Exchange 2003 via Public Folders (which are de-emphasized in Exchange 2007).

Exchange looking at Zimbra Free-Busy was no problem, but Zimbra looking at Exchange was generating an error like:

ERROR [EXCHANGE Free/Busy Sync Queue] [] fb - cannot modify resource

However, you can get it to work. The Magic PowerShell Command on the Exchange side is:

Add-AvailabilityAddressSpace -ForestName [zimbra domain] -AccessMethod PublicFolder

Credit for figuring this out belongs to Eric at Penn. He also used the phrase "Magic PowerShell Command" which I kind of really groove on.

You might also want to check out Microsoft's Implementing Calendar Interoperability (which shows how to do this without lots of coding and judicious use of Exchange Group Policy settings) and Managing Public Folders with the Exchange Management Shell.

Gorier Detail Added September 30, 2008 (again, thanks to Eric at Penn)

To configure Free-Busy from Exchange to Zimbra:
  1. Create a Service Account on Exchange. Call it "zimbra" (watch your permissions -- see next section)
  2. Configure Zimbra to connect to the Public Folder Free/Busy interface via this account. You do this on the Zimbra side.

# Specify the Service Account

mcf zimbraFreebusyExchangeAuthUsername
zimbra

mcf zimbraFreebusyExchangeAuthPassword
[password]

mcf zimbraFreebusyExchangeAuthScheme form

# Specify the url to Exchange 2007 CAS
server

mcf zimbraFreebusyExchangeURL
https://cas.exchange.YOURDOMAIN.com/

# Set the legacydn in Exchange 2007

mcf zimbraFreebusyExchangeUserOrg "/o=First
Organization/ou=Exchange Administrative Group (

fydibohf23spdlt)/"

Linux folk and Arthur C. Clarke fans: fydibohf23spdlt explained here.

To configure Free-Busy from Zimbra to Exchange:

1. Create a "Zimbra" OU in Active Directory. Make sure all your Zimbra users are in it. But let's define some rules for keeping everyone straight:

  • User "Elvis" on Zimbra will in this Active Directory Group be known as "Elvis_Zimbra"

2. Set the Service Account ("zimbra") to update the Free-Busy folder. You do this in PowerShell on the Exchange side.

add-publicfolderclientpermission -identity "\NON_IPM_SUBTREE\SCHEDULE+ FREE
BUSY\EX:/o=First Organization/ou=Exchange Administrative Group
(FYDIBOHF23SPDLT)" -user zimbra -accessrights owner

3. Make Exchange 2007 aware of the Public Folders in the Zimbra domain. You do this in PowerShell on the Exchange side:

Add-AvailabilityAddressSpace -forestname zimbra.YOURDOMAIN.COM -accessmethod publicfolder

4. Update Zimbra accounts to be aware of the email accounts on the AD side. You do this in Zimbra.

# add link from elvis to elvis_zimbra mail contact in AD
ma elvis
@zimbra.yourdomain.com
+zimbraForeignPrincipal ad:elvis_zimbra
# add link to OU
ma zimbraFreeBusyExchangeUserOrg "/o=First Organization/ou=Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT)"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Calendar Spam via Yahoo

I hadn't seen any Calendar Spam from Google in a while, but since American ingenuity has been globally outsourced like everything else, some script kiddie in some third world Internet cafe has started using Yahoo for it. I don't blame Yahoo, but maybe they should once again play their eternal catch up game with Google and close this breach.


Keep your eyes on your inboxes, folks.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Now Up-to-Date Full State Migration

Sooner or later we get asked about everything.

We got our first inquiry about Now Up-to-Date (NUTD) a few years back, when I thought they like every other software company who hitched their wagon so tightly to Apple had been rendered into Elmer's and Alpo. Since the inquiry involved all of twenty users, we just ignored it. Turns out Now is still around (though the move from Oregon to Ohio must have been pretty traumatic).

Our second inquiry just came in a few weeks ago, and since it's only a few hundred users we're going to ignore it as well. But being as how the decryption team has been itching for something else to do we started wondering "What is so hard about migrating NUTD?"

Our conclusion:

Full-state server-side-only migration is not possible with NUTD.

First, keep in mind, when we say migration we mean a server-side full-state migration, touching the client side not at all: user lists, recurrence patterns, guest responses, basically as much information as it is possible to extract.

Everyone on the fora we see seems to be in a dither just getting client-side to client-side migration to work. We'll show you why that should be simple if you start writing your own scripts.

So here's the quick sketch of client-side data availability in NUTD.

First point: The server contains way less info than other calendar systems (by which I mean Exchange, Oracle, GroupWise, Lotus Notes/Domino, etc.), so look to the client as the most promising avenue.

Client Side Analysis

So client side let's see what kinds of export options we have. Don't get your hopes up. There aren't many. I'm doing this on Window, and I see from the documentation you have a few more template options on the Macintosh, but the data fields are the same.

And these are pretty much all the options you've got -- your only choice is order, and whether to take them or ignore them. Let's work with the defaults. An export of 1 standalone appointment, 1 meeting, and 1 repeating appointment (which I erroneously called a meeting in the screenshot) results in the following text file (split for ease of viewing):

There are very few surprises here. You have the date of the appointment, the start and end times, the title, notes, categories, and priorities. You can clearly read this into any spreadsheet of your choice and order / manipulate the data into something that almost any other client will accept. If you need iCalendar that will require some more work but it's computer science, not rocket science.
  1. This format strips all recurrence patterns and leaves recurrences as individual instances - the usual default in client-side exports (in Oracle Calendar migrations we need to re-create those, which we don't recommend you try on your own - it took us a few months to get right)

  2. This format strips the guest list - which is pretty much the rule in client side-exports, but still fairly unforgivable from an end user / synchronization perspective: WHO you are meeting with is just as important as WHEN.

  3. Forget meeting locations and resources since the guest list is by all appearances managed server-side. In fact it's kind of goofy the export does not include a "Location" field.

  4. You need to take direct control of your time zone info

  5. There's a variety of other info types which you can take or not depending on your target system. Usually banners and tasks will map well, the rest you can assign as your users / constraints dictate


  6. Going into Outlook/Exchange watch out with Holidays and Banners - these are best dealt with as All-Day Events

  7. Rooms and Resources - ignore these at your peril. You need to migrate those as well -- and it looks as though the best way is to have the Proxy for the room/resource view it and export it in the same manner and format as their own calendar.

  8. International users: Keep an eye on the character sets, I wouldn't be surprised if there are issues for accented characters.

Next thing to notice.

Following down the path C:\Program Files\Now Software\Now Up-to-Date

I find that my data file (*.nud) is 62 KB in size, containing a total of three meetings / appointments of various sizes.

Following down the path to my server (C:\Program Files\Now Software\NSM\Servers\SumatraNUTDServer) where I have already created another user, some public categories, a Meeting Room, and a Resource, I find that file to be 4 KB in size. This size disparity between server and client speaks volumes.

Server Side Analysis

Let's look at the options available to us as server admins. Again, do not get your hopes up.


Pretty much the only thing you can do is start it, stop it, add / configure users, resources, and rooms, and a few other things. While there is an automated backup option, noticeable absent is any kind of server-side export capability (which allowed us to migrate Oracle and Meeting Maker wherever they need to go) or any tools for direct manipulation of data server-side.

So let's see what we can grab off the shelf.

First thing we'd notice is that on Windows this server file helpfully has a .DB extension, indicating that it is a database (d'oh), most probably relational (semi d'oh again - there are object-oriented calendar databases) and perhaps built with an off-the-shelf package whose judicious use of import / export and clever analysis might result in the schema and associated data structures.

Let's hold that last idea for a bit (because it will be quite a lot of work fumbling about for the right package and I already went through two candidates) and just let our ADHD selves open the server database with a binary file viewer, the curious calendar migrator's best friend. I like BinViewer.

The meeting "First Meeting" is definitely in here. I know on the client side that I associated it with Room222, Resource1, and my co-worked Russ....

... who also all exist in this database. I'll leave it as an exercise to the interested reader to determine if the Administrator passwords for these objects are in the clear or weakly encoded.




Most notably here where we see the name of the meeting in clear text and the human guest associated with it. A little additional work is required to see the relationship of the associated resource and room. Searching for the name of any appointment you created client-side comes up negative, confirming that the appointments are not present on the server. Notice I have not dug into the issue of recurrence patterns in meeting data server side yet because I already know where this is leading.

Short answer: we know the relevant meeting data is present server-side, and we know if we start coding into the bit field of a shutdown server database we have very good odds of reconstructing it.

The more important issue is: DO WE WANT TO?

We already know that at the very least we're going to need to touch every client to extract their appointments, banners, tasks, etc. Running another server-side process to get at the live meeting data sounds questionable: it's running two disparate processes where one is almost always far and away preferable, and making sure both processes jibe with each other.

Conclusion

Unless you've got a few thousand NUTD users (which is hard to believe) who all absolutely need their guest lists and recurrence patterns, stay client-side and don't spend a lot other than scripting time when you decide to migrate.