Monthly Archives: March 2006

Exchange hosted services

Well, I only mentioned this the other week in my blog, and now we’ve gone and had a big announcement about our Exchange Hosted services offering (If you’re a Microsoft partner, you can have a look here too..).  You can sign up for a free 30 day trial (no software needed) so you can see why it’s a really good idea to consider having a hosted email service. 

So what do you get?   Exchange Hosted Services is composed of four distinct services to help protect from email malware, satisfy retention requirements for compliance, encrypt data to preserve confidentiality, and preserve access to e-mail during and after emergency situations. The services are deployed over the Internet, to reduce messaging risks before they reach the corporate firewall.  Exchange Hosted Services runs a distributed network of data centers with fault-tolerant servers that are load-balanced from site to site and from server to server so that, traffic can be routed to another data center, to reduce interruption to the service.

You need to change your (MX) record and you’re off and running. There is no hardware or software to buy, install, or configure either and you don’t even need to modify your existing e-mail infrastructure.

Certinly worth a look at, and signing up for the 30 day free trial


Manage Communicator Web Access with MOM

Heck, that’s not a very good blog post title is it?  Well what I mean is that the MOM team have released a management pack where you can manage any instances of Communicator Web Access using MOM 2005.

There, thats a bit clearer isn’t it?  Dale blogged about it the other week and I missed it completely.  Then I noticed it on and ignored it.  Now guilt, and a couple of mails from Steve, who has been having problems installing Communicator Web Access prompted me to dig a little bit deeper.  So I have.  And here’s the link to download the management pack.  Here’s the info from the download site:

The Microsoft Office Communicator Web Access Management Pack for MOM 2005 monitors the health of computers running Office Communicator Web Access server components on Windows Server 2003 and alerts IT administrators about critical health conditions that indicate degraded performance. The management pack monitors and provides alerts for:

Automatic notification of events indicating service outages.
Performance degradation.
Health monitoring.
Centralized management

Tweaking your Exchange Server for performance

Wow.  Kevin has been busy cutting and pasting URL’s.  He delivered an excellent Webcast the other day on Exchange Performance Tuning, and, stickler for detail that he is, has researched loads of URL’s about how to tune Exchange Server to the n’th degree.

Well Kevin, you’ve saved me a bit of work, and got yourself onto Rui’s Weekend reading list I’ll expect 🙂 and with you and Rick giving out all of these good resources – I can retire and go and tend my garden…!

Folder share – no hassle…

Allister introduced me to a fabuous little tool the other month that I use all the time here.  It’s called FolderShare and it’s really really good.  I mean REALLY good.  No synchronising, no messing, all the files you need in one place and accessible by the whole team.  So no messing around with sending attachments, or links to our team site.  Just drag the document, spreadsheet, whatever, onto the folder – and kapow! – everyone in the team has it too.  So simple.  I’m glad I read his blog… So don’t stop Allister – I’d never learn this many productivity tips without you…:-)

Mobile and Embedded DevCon – Las Vegas

Hmmm – I want to go to Vegas.. I REALLY want to go there.  I missed MIX06 last week (too developer focused for me), and now its only 8 weeks to go to MEDC in Las Vegas too.  Grrr. THere’s an early bird registration option too.  The early-registration price for customers of US$995 ends March 31. The regular customer price is $1195.  But the conference sounds really good (apart from the fact that it’s in Vegas), and I found that a couple of our guys have created these wierd little things called muglets.  Mike has got one, and so has Loke Uei 

Wish I had time this week to have a play and create one…  add your muglet link in the comments, and make me giggle…

Getting a DR plan for Exchange

Antony was formulating a disaster recovery plan for Exchange and had been scrolling around trying to collate a set of best practices and hints and tips.  So he contacted me and asked me if I had a set of collated articles – I didn’t of course, so I did a bit of searching around and came up with these resources – always useful to have in one place I think, so I’ve reproduced them here. I’d blogged about DR kb articles and other resources after events last year, and talked about cluster recovery stuff – but thought that there may be some more if i searched…

Exchange 2003 Disaster Recovery:     
Using Exchange Server 2003 Recovery Storage Groups:

Administering Exchange Server 2003 (Disaster Recovery):
Disaster Recovery Operations guide: 
High Availability guide

We need to have a Best practices part of don’t we?  When I searched, I found over 66,000 relevant articles!  Then you can go there, click on the product you want, and get all of the best practices, hints and tips for that product suite.  What do you think?

Throttling the OAB

Heck, I’ve wanted to throttle the OAB lots of times – but that’s not the reason for this blog entry :-).  Chris had a challenge as the customer he was doing some work for wanted to manage the network bandwidth when all of the users in the company were downloading a full copy of the Offline Address Book.  When this happened, network activity went a bit crazy and the WAN became unworkable (not surprising – it was a big company).  Chris was trying to work out a way so that not all of the clients could download the OAB at the same time. 

I told Chris that before he started with anything drastic, it’s a good idea to read this article and learn how Outlook 2003 and Exchange 2003 OAB work together.  There are quite a few articles on this particular topic, and also a Best practices guide, so I had a look around for some extra pieces of info for him.

One way of throttling the full offline address book to limit the effect on the LAN is mentioned in this kb article.  You need to have Exchange 2003 SP1 installed, and you need to edit the registry and add a new value:

1:On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value. 
2:Type OAB Bandwidth Threshold (KBps) for the name of the DWORD, and then press ENTER.
3:Right-click OAB Bandwidth Threshold (KBps), and then click Modify. 
4:In the Base area, click Decimal.
5: In the Value data box, type the value that you want to use, and then click OK.

For example, type 5000 to configure the server to use 5000 kilobytes per second (KBps) as the bandwidth threshold for offline Address Book download throttling. 5000 KBps is approximately 40,960 kilobits per second (Kbps), or 40.96 megabits per second (Mbps).

 If you have Exchange SP2 however, you can take advantage of architectural changes in the OAB v4 and utilise LZX compression and Binary Delta compression Data. (Read about BDC here, and there’s a good blog entry on the Exchange team blog explaining how OAB v 4 works).  

 Hopefully this will give Chris good enough pointers to ease the WAN strain….