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Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Oracle Meeting Scheduling Practices and Microsoft Exchange Best Practices

There are several common OCS meeting scheduling practices we need to document, so you, in turn, can educate your users about the differences between scheduling meetings in OCS and Exchange.
FIRST:  Oracle Calendar Server allows a user to organize a meeting and then remove themselves as an attendee.
THIS BEHAVIOR IS IMPOSSIBLE IN EXCHANGE! In fact if users manage to figure out how to do it’s one of the ways to really damage calendar data in Exchange.  We feel it our duty to recommend our customers adopt Microsoft Exchange best practices.  Thus, we do not recommend this behavior get replicated in Exchange.  To help you find and fix those meetings, we have integrated a pre-processing diagnostic step to both diagnose and remedy the issue. 
What it does is to re-create ICS files for the affected users and their meetings.  These files are then inserted using the standard Sumatra process.  The reports allow you to proactively notify or involve any critical calendaring users that they are going to be added to the meetings they though they removed themselves from.
How this works / what you need to do
1.   Export ALL your ICS files into a single directory.  You need to do this anyway for the migration process.
2.   If you create a separate directory that contains the oCalreader, please configure it, and point to the ENTIRE export of ICS files created in step 1
3.   Press the Organizer not Attendee button. Note: this might change in some versions of the tool.  You will have to check “Show Migration Steps”, and then you can click the Organizer button.

4.       The tool outputs things in TWO directories
a.    The “Logfile” directory contains three files: the summary text file, along with the two CSV files for the Organizer not Attendee accounts.  These tell you which meeting organizers are affected by this situation.
b.    A subdirectory of the iCalData path gets created called “SpecialICSUsers”. The tool regenerates the ICS files that contain JUST those problem meetings -- and adds the organizer back to the meeting.  This is where the newly generated ICS files are stored

5.      It is possible there are situations where not all meeting organizers’ ATTENDEE record can be found.  Look in the SpecialICSUsers subdirectory, and see if there are any files that start with “_noattendee_”. You will have to figure out how to handle these users/meetings.  For example, if you might see a file called “_noattendee_sarah.jane.smith.ics”. You will have to either have the organizer to the meeting by hand, ask the organizer to add him/herself to the meeting in OCS and then re-export the ICS files, or choose not to migrate the meeting by deleting the files.
6.      oCalReader also checks for missing or invalid email information.  The resultant file is written to the “logfile path”, and called “AccountMissingOrInvalidEmail.txt”.  Read and act on these in advance of your cut-over into production.  For example:

CN=Clara Oswald:mailto:""
CN=Companions Conf Rm:mailto:""
CN=Companions Conf Rm:mailto:100000518943623636038552@email.invalid
CN=Medieval History Room:mailto:""
CN=Medieval History Room:mailto:182D1D7DF8E9ECA5E050C68489657375@email.invalid
CN=Martha Jones:mailto:""
CN=Martha Jones:mailto:100000250843623636038553@email.invalid
The logfile shows two users, Clara Oswald and Martha Jones, no longer have email addresses (are they terminated accounts?)  It also shows two rooms with problems.  You will have to add those rooms, “Companions Conf Rm” and “Medieval History Room”, to the resources map file to map those accounts to valid SMTP addresses.

7.       Finally to insert meetings where oCalReader has added the organizer back to the meetings, follow these steps:
a)       In the ocalreader directory include your accounts and resource mapping file(s)
b)       Edit the oCalreader Configuration
i.      Change the ICS data file directory to the “SpecialICSUsers” subfolder
ii.     Ensure there are no “limits” set
8.   Push “Read and Insert”

Note these assumptions:
  • We add the organizer back to the entire series to preserve recurrence patterns and the integrity of the meeting -- even if the organizer cancels their presence on some (but not all) of the instances.  Implication: There is the potential for duplicated meetings if some occurrences do have the organizer present.)
  • We set the organizer to ACCEPT the meeting (that happens by default).  Because the organizer removed themselves from the meeting we set their Free/BUSY status to FREE UNLESS the organizer has set the series to BUSY (then it becomes busy).
  • For the very curious this is a full ICS generated by this process.

SECOND:  Oracle Calendar Server allows resources to be meeting organizers.
In Exchange unmanaged public resources should NOT be organizers, but we relax this in certain cases to migrate data.  Why should unmanaged public resources not be meeting organizers?  Resource accounts are DISABLED by default.  As with many rules there are exceptions.  It is perfectly acceptable to have a room direct booked or managed by a delegate (for example: “CEO’s Private Conference Room”).
If you choose to allow direct booking into conference rooms:
Exchange, by default, strips both the subject and owner in the resource calendar
If you wish to retain this information (which is common in Oracle calendar)
You will need to execute this command for those resources: 
set-calendarprocessing  : -deletesubject: $False -addorganizertosubject: $True
This has privacy repercussions!  Showing subjects and organizers reveal potentially sensitive information, such as (these fabricated examples): “Interview James Bond to replace Provost”, “Implications of the 2019 500% Tuition Hike on staff reduction plans” booked in the “President’s Conference Room.” 
You have been warned.

If you do want to determine which resources organize meetings, the “Organizer as Attendee” component generates a file, ResourcesAsMeetingOrganizers, which lists of those accounts. For example, if the Doctor as a designate to the “Tardis Control Room” proposed a meeting on behalf of the “Tardis Control Room”, called “How to use the New Dimensional Portal Controls”, the ResourcesAsMeetingOrganizers file would contain:

CN=Tardis Control Room:mailto:doctor@drwho.timetraveller.org

THIRD:  Oracle calendar server allows resources emails to be assigned to a user account.
In Exchange resources have their own SMTP accounts.  OCS allows the OCS administrator to assign a designate/delegate email to the room (so messages are sent to him/her. For example, the Tardis Break room has an email address that belongs to Amy Pond

ORGANIZER;X-ORACLE-GUID=269167A2DA4992BCE050C6848965230C;CN=Tardis Break Room:mailto:amy.pond@drwho.timetraveller.org
What are your choices?
1)       REMOVE the email address from the OCS rooms and re-export the data;
2)       Leave it unchanged, the designate will become the organizer of the meeting, something that they will not be happy to see on their calendars.
3)       Figure out how big a problem this is.  The “Organizer as Attendee” button generates a file, ResourcesWithUserEmails , that shows the list. For example, the file would contain:
CN=Tardis Break Room:mailto: amy.pond@drwho.timetraveller.org

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