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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Add Holidays to Resources in Exchange 2010

Okay, okay.  I know we wrote that the SuHoliday cmdlet would not add holidays to resources.

BUT -- if you use FULL ACCESS instead of Impersonate, the current download-able version works like a champ for this.

To try this out:

·        Provision a service account (say, "exsu") that is NOT an Enterprise Admin

o   Set impersonate RBAC for that account

§  new-ManagementRoleAssignment -Name:_suImp8Exsu -Role:ApplicationImpersonation -User:'exsu@cod.sumatra.local'

o   Try to do an insert for a user AND

o  For resources "cr101b" or "room 222"

Results should not be good, but NOW....

·         Add fullaccess to that service account

o   Get-Mailbox -filter {isResource -eq $true}  -resultsize unlimited | add-mailboxpermission -user exsu -accessrights fullaccess   -InheritanceType: All

o   Add holidays for that room


Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Insertions in Live @ Edu

Kudos to Rachel in Georgia for her holiday insertion into Live @ Edu.

She's used SuHoliday on over 8000 users.  Thus far we think this is a record but we usually only hear from people when there are problems.

Also based on her experience and feedback we've added capabilities to our most recent version of the cmdlet, including:

  • Not setting reminders for holidays
  • Better logging
  • Default time zone handling
  • Memory handling improvements
  • Improved resilience when Exchange throttles your insertion

We're discussing when and how to roll this out to the main cmdlet download.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Zimbra to Exchange Migrations Field-Proven

Just got the word from Portland, Oregon that our faster, simpler method for Zimbra to Exchange calendar migrations successfully migrated 800 Zimbra users' calendar, tasks, and contacts into Office 365 this past weekend.
We're considering this a success.
Yippee!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sumatra Undo in Action

Ever since high school film strips we've been convinced that visual aids are the most effective.

And ever since college we've been convinced that designing a software system without a back out strategy is just darned irresponsible.

So we combined both of these lessons in our video of Sumatra's UNDO capability in action.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Zimbra to Exchange Calendar Migration - The Video

We've had a good response from one of our test sites on the faster, simpler Zimbra to Exchange calendar migration method so we did a video of the process to show you in real time how it all works.

Enjoy.

And if you want to see the full screen version, you can watch that off our website.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Faster, easier Zimbra ICS to Exchange migration

UPDATE: June 2015.  We've modified the faster-simpler ICS method so that it's faster-simpler AND full state (works like aces for Oracle Calendar Server! and in this case Zimbra gives us the recurrences already so we're one step ahead.)  We can do it for Zimbra if there is sufficient enterprise-level interest.

One of the developing trends we've seen is sites moving out of Zimbra and into Exchange.

Imapsync is excellent for moving the email, but the calendars, tasks, and contacts are another issue.

While we've have a full-state migration solution for over a year, a lot of the folks who want to move want something simple, but still server-side, and oh, could we PLEASE keep meetings live?

It's a tall order, but as usual we deliver.

This is the basic screen:

In short what you do is export your Zimbra calendars, tasks, and contacts server-side (using either zmmailbox, cURL, or whatever you're comfortable with) in ICS and VCF format, then run this application against the resulting files.

With the proper credentials on your Exchange server (and yes, we have tested it against Office 365 and Live @ Edu), these will upload.  Meetings will be re-proposed (so your users will see invitations in their inboxes come the Monday morning post-migration).  The alternative is the full-blown Sumatra process which is overkill for many of you moving out of Zimbra.

Rather than our three step process (export, map user IDs in a database, and insert into Exchange), this is a TWO step process (export, import) with no intermediate mapping.  So if you're changing a lot of user IDs going from Zimbra to Exchange, this is probably NOT the recommended process for you.

We're in test right now with this at a couple of sites and will let you know when it's ready for prime time.  We'll give you the full documentation set and a video then too.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Get Time Zones for your users via PowerShell

We recently released a cmdlet that bulk-inserts holidays in Exchange 2010 (see the Sumatra website or the Sumatra Blog).

A holiday is a simple all day calendaring event in Outlook. Yet simple calendaring events can be tricky! Consider: when your end users work in different time zones! If you force an all day event into one time zones, all users who are not in that time zone will see their holidays span multiple days. Not a happy scenario. What's the solution?

We wrote a script that uses Exchange 2010 "get-mailboxRegionalConfiguration" cmdlet to find the timezones. If used in conjunction with get-mailbox, you can output a file that has the user information plus the timezone. Problem solved!

This script produces a file that outputs PrimarySMTPAddress + TimeZone:
#Define your 'default' timezone (if none is set)
$myDefaultTimezone="Eastern Standard Time"

#Define the output file
$myOutputFile="userlist.txt"

#Define the list of User Accounts to process
$myMailboxList = get-mailbox -Filter {RecipientTypeDetails -eq "UserMailbox"}  select-object Identity,PrimarySMTPAddress

#If file exists, delete the file
$fileExists=test-Path $myOutputFile
if ($fileExists -eq "True"){del $myOutputFile}


#Loop through list and get
foreach ($t in $myMailboxList) {
    $priSMTP=$t.PrimarySMTPAddress
    $xi=get-mailboxRegionalConfiguration -Identity $t.Identity
    if ($xi.TimeZone -eq $Null) {$tt=$myDefaultTimezone} Else {$tt=$xi.TimeZone}
    write-output "$priSMTP $tt" >> $myOutputFile
}

write-output "Done!  see the file $myOutputFile"

You can also download getUserTimezones.zip

If you have another way, please share!

-Russ

Monday, October 03, 2011

Holiday cmdlet for Exchange 2010

We've been inserting holidays server-side on Exchange for a while and after some feedback last year we started re-thinking how to accomplish this.
These are the files in the downloadable ZIP

We've written a PowerShell cmdlet we call suHoliday that inserts holidays server-side.  We've run it through our internal testing against on-premises Exchange 2010, Live @ Edu, and Office 365, so now we think it's time to let it out into the wild and see what you folks can do with it.

The sample CSV file for US holidays

 Your inserted holidays will look like this in a user's calendar:

If you want to download it and run it through its paces in your test lab, you may do so here.  We just ask you to answer a few questions so we can keep track of where it's going.  If it works for you consider making a donation of US$20 per instance.  It'll make it easier for us to consider updates and new features for next year.

What's it do now?





  • Insert server-specific or user-specific holidays through 2012 with NO user intervention.




  • Customize for different state or national holidays.




  • Define Free/Busy status.




  • Script adding holidays at user provisioning time (e.g., by piping in from get-mailbox).




  • Support for multiple time zones.




  • Define All-Day Events or appointments at specific times.




  • Support international holidays / date formats. For example: 2012 UK Bank Holidays


  • Try it out and tell your friends.


    Limitations (or, what do you want for free / ultra low cost?)

    • This only inserts holidays for the year 2012 (well, we give you a few weeks into 2013).
    • All inserted events have "Inserted courtesy of the Exchange Calendaring experts: Sumatra Development" in the agenda. (yep, even if you license it)
    • We support via electronic means, so keep an eye on our blog.

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Advance Notice: Sumatra in SF Sept 30, Oct 1

    Sumatra (well, Zyg) is going to be in San Francisco on September 30 and October 1,  Mainly he's there to go to the Opera, but since that always happens at night and his engaging wife will be working at Wells-Fargo, if any of our calendar-oriented acquaintances in the Bay Area are looking for some guidance, drop a line.

    Thursday, September 08, 2011

    Propagating Changed SIP URIs to Existing Meetings

    One of our favorite sites contacted us about a problem they're anticipating. Knee-deep in solving said problem we at Sumatra wonder if anyone else has the same issue.

    They're changing a number of SMTP addresses and want to change the associated Lync SIPs to match.  Here's Microsoft's guidance on how to do that for Office 365.  And a different take on scripting a solution.  See Impact of Changing a User's SIP Address for a full discussion.

    Changing the SIPs is not the problem, but the number of existing meetings with the old SIPs that are then left in your users' calendars IS a problem that requires updating.


    So in this example of an existing calendar item, let's say riuliano became russ_iuliano, to keep end users from going bug-house you'd want to modify all the LiveMeeting URLs in existing calendar objects server-side and update them.
    And this is the cue for Sumatra's ability to manipulate Exchange calendar data.

    Does anyone else out there have the same problem?

    Monday, September 05, 2011

    More Weirdness in an Over-Loaded Google Calendar

    While experimenting to see if I could delete calendar items from a calendar and thereby finally clear an over-loaded test account I got this message:
     "Oops"?  Cute.  Too bad I do not know any serious corporations that ask for cute.

    The goal was to see if deleting items would get me below a threshold, or if the threshold was irreversible.

    The weird thing is that once I got that message, previously-deleted objects began re-populating the calendar.  Calendar zombies had risen from the grave!

    Clearly there's a cache of the deleted items.  I have no information on when, how often, or if it gets cleared in a single session.

    There is also some interesting behavior with old items.  To see this, load 10-15 years worth of calendar data and then travel back to some month in the year 2000.  The following unobtrusive message will display while the data renders (and it seems to take a while):

    So there's either some background mechanism shunting historical data into slower, longer-term storage, or the system is not really optimized for rendering arbitrary stretches of time.

    Added on September 6, 2011:
    A variation of the above: cannot load your data -- come back when it's more convenient for Google....

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Unable to Delete All Data in a Google Calendar

    So let's say you're testing your calendar insertion (a prudent step which we not only endorse but require).  You either have a large calendar or run several insertions to put in over 40,000 items.  I suspect the problem starts with 32K objects, just because we are so suspiciously close to a magic binary number.
    You go into your settings with the hope of deleting all data from your test account (and please make sure it is a test account):

    You select Delete giving you this dialog box:




    Where you promise you REALLY REALLY DO want to Delete all events, and click the Delete all events button.

    Less than 60 seconds later you see the following dialog box and all your data is still in the calendar.




    We do not seem to be alone.  We posted this on Google Calendar's Help Forum (whose only value has been confirmation from another user with the same problem). None of our current clients are going to hit this limit unless they do multiple insertions without practicing calendar hygiene.  

    So practice calendar hygiene.

    But we do want to get this out as a warning to everyone.

    Addition on March 3, 2015: This post is now hugely popular.  So if there are folk out there who want to take an entire Exchange server of calendar data (we're talking an enterprise here) into Google calendar, and keep all the meetings live, let us know.  We've done Exchange to Exchange that way but will only add the Exchange to Google capability if we have a real customer.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Preliminary Google Calendar Upload Speed Tests

    We've made no secret about the molasses-in-Antarctica upload speed of EWS in Office365 and Live@ Edu

    So for an interesting comparison -- how long does it take to upload calendar data into Google Calendar?

    In a test derived from real world data set (legacy Meeting Maker being the organ donor in this case)  our current technology uploaded 13,651 appointments to Google Calendar in 9:12 (i.e., 9 minutes and 12 seconds).  Just in case I happened to hit a low time for network traffic I ran the test again with additional loads on my PC and got all data inserted in 15:54 (call it 16 minutes).

    Using the more conservative figure, this represents an average upload rate of about 853 calendar objects per minute into Google Calendar!  The faster result gives 1480 objects per minute, but I doubt that is sustainable over the duration of a migration.

    For those of you who do not understand why we get excited by these numbers: this is similar to the peak throughput we see inserting into an on-premises Exchange installation (you always hear us use the figure 850 calendar objects per minute for estimation purposes).  Our timings on hosted Exchange come in at about 120 calendar objects per minute.

    So Google Calendar is about ten times faster than an upload into Hosted Exchange!

    Let me repeat that -- our early testing indicates that calendar uploads into Google Calendar execute an order of magnitude faster than an upload into hosted Exchange.

    Now, let me point our a few things to beware of: these numbers may vary as our code evolves, but are in accord with the field experience of one of our test sites (which motivated this timing).

    I have no idea what Google does right that Microsoft does not, given that both companies are in total control of their data centers, server code, and APIs.  I do know that for purposes of migration speed Google Calendar kicks Exchange calendar's buttocks all the way to the curb and then slam dances its corpse into pavement pizza.

    Since regular readers will know that your author does not believe in letting ANY of the guilty off without some sentence, I want to point out that as mediocre as Microsoft EWS documentation and support has been, it is light years ahead of Google's documentation of their calendar APIs which our team has taken to completely ignoring because it's led us down too many bad paths already. 

    And after inserting 40,000+ objects into Google Calendar, the Delete under Settings does not seem to work:

    Tuesday, August 09, 2011

    iCal Sharing in Exchange 2010 Sp1

    Sumatra is about to release a solution to migrate legacy calendar data to Google. A customer asked how his end users could read shared calendars from folks outside the organization (and who use Exchange for calendaring.)


    We passed along this article, in which Steve Goodman wrote a superb post describing how Exchange 2010 Sp1 allows users to share calendars with non-Exchange users (e.g., Google, Zimbra) using public or encoded URLs. (And users can be alloweed to do this via OWA!)

    And remember, this is calendar SHARING, not cross-server calendar synchronization.


    Update Rollup 4 for Exchange 2010 - re-issued

    I was working offiste for the last two weeked and missed the story: Microsoft discovered a problem with Outlook 2010's interaction with Exchange 2010 server, and had to retract Update Rollup 4 for Exchange 2010 they released on June 22,2011. KB251545 described the problem: moving or copying public folders didn't work "as expected."

    The release was announced on Technet. Here is the new link to download the rollup

    BTW, Update Rollup 5 for Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1 release remains "on-schedule" for release in August 2011.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    First Field Migration into Zimbra 7 Accomplished

    We ran our first field migration into Zimbra 7 this weekend (out of a Meeting Maker legacy system).

    We had early reports of problems with recurring meetings in Z7 migrations, but tested well in advance to make sure that did not happen.  All is well.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Prevent ghost delegates: find (and remove) delegates before terminating user

    In a previous post, I outlined a process to find and remove Ghost Delegates from Exchange. (To recap: you turn a delegate a ghost delegate by deleting the account from AD without removing the delegate permissions in Outlook.)

    In this post, I'll outline a process that avoids the ghost delegate problem (by finding and removing delegates BEFORE deleting the terminated user's account.) There are two steps: search AD, and then remove the delegates.

    The hard part was finding all users that granted delegate rights to the "soon-to-be-deleted-account." I dredged up two "oldies but goodies:" LDIFDE and CSVDE to do a reverse-lookup for a terminated user using the "public delegate" fields:

    • PublicDelegates "What mailbox(es) did I give delegate rights to"
    • PublicDelegatesBL: "What mailbox(es) am I a delegate of"

    Here are both commands:

    LDIFDE.EXE -F delegateLDIFDE.TXT -D "OU=TestUsers,DC=myDC,DC=mydomain,DC=com" -L "name,mail,PublicDelegatesBL" -R "(&mail=termuser@mydomain.com)(PublicDelegatesBL=*))"


    csvde -f delegateCSVDE.csv -s myDC -l "name,mail,PublicDelegatesBL" -r "(&mail=termuser@mydomain.com)(PublicDelegatesBL=*))"

    Note: the LDIFDE command limits the scope of its work to the "OU=TestUsers;" csvde seaches the entire enterprise directory.

    Here is an output from LDIFDE, in which we found all of PublicDelegatesBL of "Andre Admin" (it's just Big Boss):

    Next, use Glen Scale's powershell code to confirm the terminated user is a delegate, and then remove that user from all accounts he was granted delegate rights. (The following commands were described in a prior post.) Step 7 is where the terminated user is removed as a delegate. I have shown how to display delegates and forwarding rules, just as an FYI.

    1. set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -force
    2. import-Module ./Messageops-Exchange.psd1
    3. $myCred=Get-Credential -Credential myservice@mydomain.com
    4. $newprofile=new-messageops.ewsprofile -identity:myservice@mydomain.com -exchangeversion:exchange2010_sp1 -casURL:https://mycas.mydomain.com -Credential:$myCred
    5. Get-MessageOps.MailboxDelegateReport-p:$newprofile -id:bigboss@mydomain.com
    6. Get-MessageOps.MailboxDelegateForwardingRules -p:$newprofile -id:bigboss@mydomain.com
    7. Remove-MessageOps.MailboxDelegate -p:$newprofile -id:bigboss@mydomain.com -DelegateAddress:termuser@mydomain.com

    Notes: the "terminated" user is termuser@mydomain.com; the account that granted delegate rights was bigboss@mydomain.com.

    I've pulled the URLs and commands into a text file that you can download to simplify typing....

    --Russ



    p.s.: I tried Exchange Management Shell, using a new Exchange 2010 commandlet: "Get-MailboxFolderPermission." But it was difficult to do a reverse-lookup (i.e., find all users who grated the "terminated user" permissions: I had to type that user's display name correctly or got no hits.... Plus, this commandlet isn't available for Exchange 2007 customers.


    Here is how to get Big Boss' permissions:
    Get-MailboxFolderPermission -Identity bigboss:\Calendar

    FYI, you can set accessrights, particularly editor rights, between "big boss" and "her admin," that you can't do if your end users access their Exchange calendars via OWA (only):

    Set-MailboxFolderPermission -Id:bigboss:\Calendar -User:herAdmin -AccessRights:Editor

    The Ghost Delegate Exorcist

    A Sumatra client called for help - a flood of NDRs were driving their Exchange server to its knees. The problem: a boss granted his admin delegate rights his calendar. Along with that, all calendar-messages were forwarded to to the admin. After the admin left the company, the admin's mailbox was deleted.

    All was fine until someone invited the boss to a meeting. The boss received an NDR after the delegate forwarding rule sent that calendar message to the [now deleted] delegate. That NDR calendar message was sent back to the boss which got forwarded to the [still deleted] delegate, which generated another NDR......)

    No big deal. They went into the boss' Outlook delegate and tried to remove the delegate, but couldn't -- Outlook reported the delegate was "(not found):"



    The delegates are there but you can't delete them. Ghost delegates.....
    The root cause: they didn't remove the delegate permissions and forwarding rules before they deleted the admin assistant's mailbox.

    In this post, I'll talk about how to rid Exchange of those ghost delegates. In the next post, I'll talk about how to find and remove delegate permissions BEFORE you delete the terminated user's account.

    For the curious, Glen Scales blogged about "How to deal with invalid delegates," and "Displaying delegate forward rules." Even better, Glen wrote some powershell code to exorcise our ghost delegate!

    Here is what we did to remove the ghost delegates



    1. Download and install the Exchange Web Services Managed API
    2. Create a sub directory, and copy the Microsoft.Exchange.WebServices dll into the directory; Run Exchange Powershell (as administrator), and change to that sub directory.
    3. Set the execution policy, import the module, and create a credential variable (using your service account):
    4. set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -force import-Module ./Messageops-Exchange.psd1 $myCred=Get-Credential
    5. Next, define an exchange profile (as above, we provide our service account with impersonation or full access permissions. See our blog post on impersonation in Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010), and point to our CAS server directly


      $newprofile = new-messageops.ewsprofile -identity:mySVCacct@mydomain.com-exchangeversion:exchange2010_sp1 -casURL:https://mycas.mydomain.com -Credential:$myCred

    6. See the list of valid and invalid (ghost) delegates and rules:


      Get-MessageOps.MailboxDelegateReport -p:$newprofile -id:bigboss@mydomain.com

      Get-MessageOps.MailboxDelegatesInvalid -p:$newprofile -id:bigboss@mydomain.com

      Get-MessageOps.MailboxDelegateInvalidForwardingRules -p:$newprofile -id:bigboss@mydomain.com
    7. Finally, remove invalid forwarding rules, and THEN remove the delegates (in that order!)


      Remove-MessageOps.MailboxDelegateInvalidForwardingRules.unsupported -p:$newprofile -id:bigboss@mydomain.com

      Remove-MessageOps.MailboxDelegatesInvalid.UnSupported -p:$newprofile -id:bigboss@mydomain.com
    I've pulled the URLs and commands into a text file that you can download to simplify typing....

    -Russ

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Migrating Zimbra Calendar to Hosted Microsoft Exchange

    We've been getting a lot of inquiries lately from people wanting to migrate calendars out of Zimbra and into Exchange.

    A few quick guidelines:
    • If you have more than 250 users it is cost-effective to use our full-scale migration technology.  It's completely server-to-server, leaves end-users out of the loop, and has results as though you've been using Exchange calendaring all along.
    • For a few hundred users or under, try our Decaf option.  Application here.  Documentation here.  It's a server-side ICS import to hosted Exchange, and right now it's mainly geared towards Oracle Calendar migrations, but we'll open it up to Zimbra users if we see enough demand.

    Monday, July 04, 2011

    Exchange 2010 to Google Calendar Server-Side Calendar Migrations

    You read that right.

    Now that we finally have OAuth for Google working (one of our engineers described Google's documentation as having "duplications, contradictions and gaps in between."  I describe it as a "mess") we're inserting calendar data server-side to Google with full-fidelity and no end-user intervention.

    Yippee!

    We've read the handwriting on the wall and see that there are sites out there looking to bring their calendar data from Microsoft Exchange over to Google and are not thrilled about having to use PSTs to do it (we don't blame you).

    If you are contemplating such -- drop us a line.  We want some feedback on how you'd like it implemented.

    Thursday, June 30, 2011

    Our Office 365 Experience Thus Far...

    So we've been pretty good letting our readers know that migration performance into both Live @ Edu and Office 365 is about 14% the performance of on-premises Exchange.  And then there's the problems with quotas.

    That none of this has changed or been addressed through the beta period of O365 should not be surprising to anybody not under the influence of Prozac or electroshock. 

    In fact, despite bringing this to Redmond's attention, we've gotten zero feedback, seen zero progress, and expect zero results.

    Now that Office 365 is out of beta and in the production, plan on all these nagging "problems" getting re-classified as "features."

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Oracle Beehive to Exchange Migration

    Zyg was just back from Charlotte, NC and Russ was soon to head out for a while, when we got an inquiry from one of the few third parties we trust to independently run a migration (Kuttig in Germany -- these guys are sharp and efficient, a pleasure to work with).

    Turns out that at least one Oracle Beehive site (see: Is Oracle Beehive DBA  (Dead Before Arrival)?)  wants to migrate to Exchange. 

    A quick look at the Oracle Beehive Administrator's Reference Guide and our technology convinces me it should be not too difficult to do at the level we do it at: full-state, server-side to server-side.

    Summary changes in our usual process:

    Use xCalReader's ICS option.

    You'll need a USERS.TXT and RESOURCES.TXT, which should come out of the Beehive utilities list_users and list_resources (be careful of format).

    And you will need to export the calendars using the export_icalendar function.

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    When a user has 15,000+ unread items in the inbox....

    We *thought* huge mailboxes (as measured by disk space) could wreak havoc during a migration. Perhaps we are wrong. This is a story about huge inboxes and unread email (the harbinger of problems that plague email systems.)

    Last week we moved a client into Exchange 2010 (on-premesis). BUT the Sumatra Exchange insertion tool hung while inserting one user. For hours. Restarting the tool and rebooting boxes didn't help. After much digging we found the problem: that end user had 15,000+ unread emails in her inbox. What was the issue? (no, not why would we migrate a user with 15,000 unread emails in their inbox who probably left the company three years ago....)

    The client hit an Exchange threshold. The issue is described in a Microsoft Technet article: Understanding the Performance Impact of High Item Counts and Restricted Views.

    The article says: ...In Exchange 2007 ... an acceptable user experience can still be maintained with item counts as high as 20,000 items. We're still researching if that limit changed for Exchange 2010. Our client hit that wall in Exchange 2010.

    So who are these big-bad-inbox-boys and girls? Here's a powershell command: (note, I've set a conservative threshold of 10,000 items for just user mailboxes.)



    Get-Mailbox -filter {RecipientType -eq "UserMailbox"} -ResultSize unlimited Get-MailboxFolderStatistics where {($_.name -eq "Inbox" -or $_.Name -eq "Calendar") -AND $_.itemsinfolder -ge 10000} sort-object ItemsinFolder -Descending ft Identity,ItemsinFolder,FolderSize

    -Russ

    Follow-on to the Headaches of Cloud Migration

    As a follow-on to our earlier postings, you might want to check out

    http://ferris.com/2011/06/03/moving-to-hosted-exchange-plan-for-hiccups/

    There is never a free ride when you move an entire server.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Thursday, June 09, 2011

    Oracle Calendar to Google Calendar - Server-Side Full-State Migration

    Let's say you're using Oracle Calendar and, not happy with your current mega-corp, you opt for another one that is at least producing better graphics and walks the walk about this cloud thing.

    Our old friend Jimi Hendrix's calendar in OCS


    can now be migrated with full state information into this in Google Calendar:

    Yep.  You read me right:  Full state.
    Meetings are meetings with guest lists and status.
    This will also work for Zimbra calendaring to Google and Meeting Maker to Google.
    We are still working on a few parts of this, but it is now basically completely functional and in two test sites.
    One other thing.  If you wanted to take all your calendar data from something called Microsoft Exchange and migrate it full-state into Google Calendar, that can be arranged.

    June 12: In response to queries.  This is all SERVER-SIDE to server-side with no end-user / client-side intervention.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Inserting holidays into hosted Exchange without an Outlook client

    Holidays.We've been doing them server-side for years now.
    So extending Decaf to insert holiday files was not too much of a stretch.
    Since we focus on migrating OCS to Exchange, we used the relevant parts of their ICS format for our template.
    Create a text file using this template to insert holidays:

    BEGIN:VCALENDAR
    BEGIN:VEVENT
    TRANSP:TRANSPARENT
    SUMMARY:New Year’s Day
    STATUS:CONFIRMED
    LOCATION: Any time zone in your system
    DESCRIPTION: No work day
    DTSTART;VALUE=DATE:20120101
    DTEND;VALUE=DATE:20120101
    END:VEVENT
    END:VCALENDAR
    BEGIN:VCALENDAR
    BEGIN:VEVENT
    TRANSP:TRANSPARENT
    SUMMARY:Holiday on the 14th
    STATUS:CONFIRMED
    LOCATION: Company-Wide
    DESCRIPTION: Suppose Jan 14 was a holiday in your company
    DTSTART;VALUE=DATE:20120114
    DTEND;VALUE=DATE:20120114
    END:VEVENT
    END:VCALENDAR


    This will insert server-side and happen on the given dates, regardless of time zone (!) So a user in the USA or Canada need only put one holiday file together and can use it for all users.

    And you go here to insert it.  Our usual restrictions apply.  Of course UNDO works for this.

    As always, any feedback is welcome.

    We're debating whether to include an option to insert for all users on a domain -- which is certainly possible but we're a little leery if it's in demand.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Sumatra Decaf: Insert Oracle Calendar ICS into Hosted Exchange

    We made our street cred on full-state migrations server-side to server-side.
    But there have been folks who either want to try out just ONE user or go for a simpler migration that trades off full-state migration for something faster and simpler.
    This is the reason we've done Sumatra Decaf which we're now happy to open for general inspection at http://www.sumatraresourcewatch.com/decaf
    A few things to note:
    • This works only for hosted Exchange (e.g., Live at Edu, Office365, BPOS)
    • We keep track of the domains that insert and limit it to 5 accounts on that domain by default
    • We've geared this to the ICS exports from Oracle Calendar System. Others MIGHT work, but they are a lower priority to us. Each ICS upload is limited to 1 Mb and it inserts only from Today (i.e., the date you are inserting) forward.
    • In a few days we'll show you how to use this to insert holidays server-side.
    • Read the Help PDF at the site for more information.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Silverlight web service times out after 60 seconds

    For Silverlight apps with web services calls that time out after 60 seconds:

    You've set httpRuntime executionTimeout and binding SendTimeout, but your app still times out after 60 seconds. The problem is the CLIENT, not the server, is timing out.

    In your Silverlight app, set a timeout after you instantiate your service client. For example, set a 30 min timeout on your service called "mySvc:"

    mySvc.ChannelFactory.Endpoint.Binding.SendTimeout = New TimeSpan(0, 30, 0)

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Creating All Day Events with EWS in Office365

    You might remember our recent post:




    about the head trip that we went through with migrating all day events into Exchange using EWS and how weirdly the display was different between versions of Outlook and OWA.


    Well we're adding this to tell you it's the same head trip in Office365 (no real surprise there but we just feel the need to document it).


    Thursday, May 05, 2011

    Web-Based, one-step Oracle Calendar to Hosted Exchange migration


    This is an early look at something we call Sumatra Decaf and a call for informed consent volunteers.


    We've built a really good business out of migrating calendars full-state into Exchange.


    But some folks do not need the whole magilla and are just looking for the simplest way of getting data from your legacy system into Exchange in a "good enough" fashion. So we've done that as well.


    So yea, we have server-side ICS insertions to Hosted Exchange.


    Let's take a look at Puffy Amiumi's calendar in OCS (also in Japanese Standard Time)






    Use UNIICAL to export it and then read it into our web-based application (shown here in Alpha):






    and in Outlook Web Access on Live at Edu, the results look like this:




    Notice we're prefacing them with _TEST_ for the moment to make sure it does not get into the wild before we're ready.


    The 5:00 PM Meeting at which Puffy is a guest looks like this in the agenda so that you know who's organized it and who else is supposed to be there.


    Quick, simple, and executable without a lot of prep time.


    Now our other option for a migration remains: longer, planned, and full-featured.
    We're looking at how we want it to evolve and would welcome some input from you folks.


    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    Progress on migrations to Google Calendar

    We're kind of psyched because we've made the first real progress on Oracle Calendar / Meeting Maker / Zimbra full-state migration to (*shudder*) Google Calendar.
    Check out this screenshot from our latest tech:


    The important thing is the yellow highlighting. Yep -- we got attendees in with their responses.
    Now we're working on the mappings and recurrences. So those of you out there stay tuned -- there is light at the end of the tunnel

    Monday, April 04, 2011

    Creating a Room in Office 365 Beta

    Working in Office 365 Beta we found it very simple to set up users but a little confusing to set up a Conference Room. So we're documenting the process here. First create the room as though it were a regular old user, like so (you could do all this through PowerShell but I like the simplicity of the Office 365 Admin interface): Now use PowerShell to set up your session: $LiveCred = Get-Credential This will prompt you for your admin credentials on Office 365. Follow this with the next two commands: $Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://ps.outlook.com/powershell/ -Credential $LiveCred -Authentication Basic –AllowRedirection and Import-PSSession $Session You are now ready to rock and roll by changing your “room” into a ROOM. This PowerShell command will now transform the ID into a Room. Set-Mailbox room222 –Type Room Check this by trying to add it in Outlook: And we’re certain that it is now behaving like a room! Since you’re here you might as well also configure the room as you wish. My preference for daily use (though for a calendar migration you’d want to turn OFF AutoAccept): Set-CalendarProcessing -AutomateProcessing:AutoAccept -DeleteSubject:$FALSE -AddOrganizerToSubject:$TRUE -AllowConflicts:$TRUE -EnforceSchedulingHorizon:$FALSE Wash, rinse, and repeat for any other resources you need. When done, be a good doobie and disconnect PowerShell from Office365: Remove-PSSession $Session

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Oracle Calendar Migrations and Long Resource Names

    Kudos to the team at North Dakota State University for finding a bug!

    If your Oracle Calendar resource name is longer than 32 characters (and those 32 characters were the same as some OTHER resource's) we weren't handling the error condition gracefully.

    That is fixed in version 5.1.01 of xCalReader.

    This is probably not an issue for most teams in migration but if you do not have the latest version and want it just contact us.

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Outlook Live URL changes

    Quoting from an email Microsoft sent, we want to remind you about upcoming URL requirements for accessing Outlook Live. Due date: June 30, 2011. It's already been extended so now is a good time to get it all done.


    URL Changes

    URLs that go directly to Outlook Web App, such as http://outlook.com or http://outlook.com/owa should be changed to go to http://outlook.com/ - for example, http://outlook.com/contoso.edu. To prepare for URL changes:

    • Inform your users of the change so that they can update any bookmarks they may have
    • Inform your support desk of the upcoming changes and how to help users use the new URL
    • Update any related links on Web pages and in documentation

    If you are using the URL http://outlook.com/ecp to access the Exchange control panel management interface, you will also want to modify that URL to look like this: http://outlook.com/ecp/?realm=contoso.edu.

    Single Sign-On Changes

    Single sign-on solutions using the Live@edu SSO toolkit must make the following changes:

    • Update the Outlook URL in the web.config file as follows:
      • Change: https://outlook.com/owa”>
      • To: https://outlook.com/edu”>
    • Custom solutions have to make this change also, though the location will vary.
    • In addition, we have seen some cases where Live ID removes URL parameters, resulting in undesired behavior. To mitigate this issue, we advise that all single-sign-on solutions add the parameter exsvurl=1 as a setting in the URL. This setting will force the URL parameters to be preserved. Typically, the setting is appended to the end of the redirection URL and preceded with an ampersand, like this: https://outlook.com/edu&exsvurl=1.


    Monday, March 07, 2011

    Oracle Calendar / Outlook Free Busy Interchange

    Free/Busy Lookups from MS Outlook into Oracle Calendar Server
    Congratulations – you are dropping Oracle Calendar for Exchange. One problem: you need to stage it and you need some kind of connectivity between the two systems. This outlines how you can get Free/Busy lookups in Outlook / Exchange from OCS.
    Outlook lets you have Internet Free Busy for Contacts:

    SO: If we can produce IFBs for your OCS users (sorry about all the TLAs here), you can get Free-Busy lookups automatically working for your Outlook users into OCS.
    One problem: The Oracle Calendar interface specifically does not create the IFB format known as VFREEBUSY:

    Probably Oracle wanted to avoid exactly what we want in this case.
    Not a problem. We can create VFREEBUSY from off the shelf tools in the OCS environment. In particular we will use the utility UNIICAL.
    The solution works as follows:
    · Select the OCS users you want to have Free-Busy available for in Outlook.
    · Set up an internal share that is available to your OCS environment (you will be publishing to it) and your Exchange environment (you will be reading from it)
    · One directory call “/…/EXPORT”
    · Another directory call “/…/CURRENT”
    · A third directory call “/…/IFB”
    We’re going to take you through the process for one specific user, who we call Jimi.Hendrix
    Create a batch file something like the following:

    Uniical –export –u “S=Hendrix/G=Jimi” –f /…/EXPORT/jimi.hendrix.ics -n 1 –end 12/31/2011 –start 10/31/2011 –p PASSWORD
    So we’re going to publish an ICS file into the /EXPORT directory.
    Notes to this point: The above batch file hardcodes two dates. Obviously we want to make it general to start from TODAY and end at (TODAY + Default F/B Horizon). But let’s start with small ambitions and grow from there.

    On a separate computer, we set up a process which interrogates the EXPORT ICS, compares it to the CURRENT ICS (say by comparing the MAX (CREATED) to see if it needs to parse or not), and if so moves it into the CURRENT and parses into an IFB. Practically any scripting language of your choice will work.
    So what does ICS look like and what schematic takes it into IFB?

    OCS ICS example
    An OCS ICS file has a simple structure with a three-line preface before VEVENTS begin.
    <><>
    <><>For a one-time appointments we need only look at the DTSTART and the DTEND (they are in Zulu time, which is a godsend for IFB). These need to get converted into VFREEBUSY format:
    FREEBUSY:DTSTART/DTEND map to:
    FREEBUSY: 20110210T140000Z/20110210T150000Z
    For recurring, we need to worry about RDATE and RRULE. First RDATE (because from OCS I have not yet found an RRULE in version 9.0.4, but they DO exist in version 10.x)
    In this case this maps to:
    FREEBUSY:DTSTART/DTEND
    FREEBUSY:RDATE(1)/RDATE(1)+(DTEND-DTSTART)
    FREEBUSY:RDATE(2)/RDATE(2)+(DTEND-DTSTART)
    FREEBUSY:RDATE(3)/RDATE(3)+(DTEND-DTSTART)
    Etc.
    NOTES TO THIS POINT: IFB so far does not appear to need to be in chrono order to function properly. Of course a maintenance release could change that in a moment.
    Optimization issue: IF MAX(CREATED ) in an ICS < export =""> is there no need to parse?
    OUR END POINT NEEDS TO LOOK LIKE THIS:
    Microsoft Free/Busy .vfb Format – External file
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    BEGIN:VCALENDAR
    PRODID:-//Microsoft Corporation//Outlook 11.0 MIMEDIR//EN
    VERSION:2.0
    METHOD:PUBLISH
    BEGIN:VFREEBUSY
    ORGANIZER:/o=First Organization/ou=First Administrative
    Group/cn=Recipients/cn=jimi.hendrix
    DTSTAMP:20070223T145148Z ; Time of FB File gene
    DTSTART:20070201T050000Z ; Start of period NB:
    DTEND:20070401T040000Z ; End of period
    FREEBUSY:20070205T140000Z/20070205T143000Z ; Begin events
    FREEBUSY:20070222T140000Z/20070222T143000Z
    FREEBUSY:20070222T160000Z/20070222T163000Z
    FREEBUSY:20070223T130000Z/20070223T133000Z ; Busy -- 1/2 hr mtg starting at 8AM
    FREEBUSY:20070223T150000Z/20070223T153000Z ; EST = 1PM Zulu
    FREEBUSY:20070224T130000Z/20070224T133000Z
    FREEBUSY:20070226T140000Z/20070226T143000Z
    FREEBUSY:20070228T150000Z/20070228T153000Z
    FREEBUSY:20070319T140000Z/20070319T143000Z
    FREEBUSY:20070319T180000Z/20070319T183000Z
    FREEBUSY:20070320T160000Z/20070320T163000Z
    FREEBUSY:20070321T140000Z/20070321T143000Z
    FREEBUSY:20070323T140000Z/20070323T143000Z
    FREEBUSY:20070326T140000Z/20070326T143000Z
    FREEBUSY:20070328T140000Z/20070328T143000Z
    END:VFREEBUSY
    END:VCALENDAR
    NOTES:
    · When Outlook says “Publish 2 months” it means from the START of the current month to the end of the next month. It doesn’t roll with the day of the month.
    · TIME SEQUENCE does not appear to be significant. I can move the VFREEBUSY entries around and they are still interpreted correctly for a reasonable (2 month-3 month) FB window.
    What is the User Experience?
    A user needs to create a Contact in Outlook
    REQUIREMENTS: The contact must be in the CONTACTS folder. NOT a sub-folder, or any other folder.
    Note that the email address does not need to match the IFB name.
    They can then add that contact to their meeting list and see their Free/Busy just as if they were native on the Exchange server. (caveat: the timeliness of the information depends on how often you set your processes to export ICS files on the OCS side and how often you interrogate for parsing)
    Do we recommend this long-term?
    Heck no. But as a short-term-help-you-over-the-hump to get OUT of OCS it’s more useful in integrating the remaining OCS users into your growing Exchange environment than anything else, and it is workable with minimal effort (and real-time OCS-Exchange calendar sync is just one of those things you should cringe at).
    References:
    How to use the Internet Free/Busy Feature in Outlook
    Using Free/Busy without Exchange Server (can be very helpful)

    WARNING: Experimental evidence has shown that for this to work a contact with Internet Free Busy MUST be in your Contacts folder, not a subfolder, or a folder with any other name.

    Friday, March 04, 2011

    New xCalReader for using ICS format to migrate Oracle Calendar

    Our latest xCalReader now reads .ics files from Oracle Calendar Server for an Exchange migration:

    NB: This is because we've been picking up increasing reports of weirdness with the UNICPOUTU format. We've applied all our usual expertise to the iCal exports: including converting RDATE arrays to real recurrence patterns using RTYPE in Outlook / Exchange.
    Also this includes support for Zimbra 6 migration.

    Tuesday, March 01, 2011

    New Mantra

    Kudos to Russ for our newest mantra:

    Hear it once, it's a trick.
    Twice it's a special project.
    Three times it's a new Sumatra product.

    So the topic on the table here is Meeting Maker to Google Calendar migration (with link preservation).
    We've had two requests in the last week. Is there anyone else out there?

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    More Zimbra 6 to Exchange 2010 / Cloud

    So I promised you could see the before and after of contacts and tasks. Here they are.

    Migrates to Exchange like this:
    Tasks come over with very few problems. What in Zimbra looks like this
    Becomes this in Live @ Edu. It could just as easily be in Outlook -- but we're grooving on someone else keeping an Exchange server running for a change.
    One thing to keep in mind: Migrating to Live @ Edu is slower than migrating into on-premises Exchange (by a factor of about 7). We're pretty sure it's going to be that way for the foreseeable future.





    Friday, February 18, 2011

    Zimbra 6 to Exchange 2010 calendar migration

    It's been a year since Yahoo sold Zimbra to VMware (which reminded me of some of the scenes from prison movies involving cigarettes).

    And now is when people are starting to contact us en masse asking if we can move their calendars from Zimbra 6 to Exchange 2010.

    Yes, we can.

    The way we do it is really convenient. We open the mySQL database and read all the calendar, contact, and task data directly and insert it into Exchange using our usual, field-proven process.
    You heard that right: NO user intervention, one spot for an Admin to pull the data and insert the data.
    So let's take a look at the BEFORE and AFTER.
    Jimi Hendrix's calendar on Zimbra 6.0.7 looks like this:

    After extraction and insertion into Live @ Edu it looks as we would expect:

    Note, the tentative meeting is tentative, the accepted is accepted, and the declined doesn't appear because that's the way Exchange works. We keep all recurrences and the meetings are completely LIVE on live @ Edu.
    But wait -- there's more.
    Contacts and Tasks come along for the ride too.
    But we'll show you those in a separate posting.

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    Color-coding your inserted calendar data

    Something our QA department has been doing for almost a year now has suddenly struck me as a really really good idea suitable for blogging.
    Did you know it's possible to color-code your inserted calendar data?
    What amazes me is how simple it is.
    In the following example we've inserted several times (with a minimal data set) adding additional digits to our usual Category string:

    All you need do on an individual basis is Manage the categories (seen here in OWA our client of choice on the Cloud).

    You can also use Group Policy to propagate this for everyone if that helps you out. See Configure Categories in Outlook 2007.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    More on Live @ Edu vs. On-Premises Exchange Speed Differential

    Live@EDU

    On-Premises

    Object Count

    7675

    7585

    Total Time (seconds)

    4193.25

    597.01

    Total Time (minutes)

    69.89

    9.95

    Average Insertion time

    0.55

    0.08

    Mode

    0.41

    0.05

    Median

    0.44

    0.05

    Max

    9.29

    3.5

    Min

    0.10

    0.03


    So our latest tests on inserting calendar items into Live@Edu vs. inserting into on-premises Exchange gives us a 7:1 time ratio.
    That is: it is currently about seven times faster to migrate calendar data into your own Exchange server than it is to migrate it to Live@Edu. We've seen the same data set go far longer, but this is a good estimate to use in your planning purposes. Also yesterday another real-world site reported a figure similar to the one we found.
    Just so you know.