Around 8:30 AM eastern time this morning, Office 365 customers in the US and Europe (at the very least) experienced an outage that affected the Office 365 portal, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online.
Back in November, there were two Office 365 outages in a span of five days. While IT folks are never happy about outages, it seems they’re going to be inevitable as Microsoft continues its transition to a services company.
“To think that any online service could have 100% uptime is not realistic,” said Dave Stork an IT architect based in the Netherlands.
As many have pointed out on Twitter, the outage appears to be the result of networking issues that led to Identity Services problems. Stork points out that a problem of this magnitude could not have been fixed so quickly if it happened in an on-premises deployment (assuming they are generally significantly smaller environments).
“Within an hour, [Microsoft] detected something was wrong, then investigated and mitigated the immediate problem so that users could login again,” Stork said. “When I think of most of the on-premises environments I’ve designed and/or deployed, I’m not sure whether I could do that within the same timeframe.”
“Here we see another benefit of using a big services provider; the issue is probably still present but Microsoft could implement a workaround due to the scale of its service,” Stork said.
“[When we] see the impact of the problem and how much time it took to restore functionality, I think Microsoft did a pretty good job. That’s something that counts.”
* Update: Microsoft has reported that the outage was due to “routine maintenance.”
What’s your opinion on Office 365? Feel free to share in the comments below or email me.
I’m very happy to announce the third winner of our monthly “Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals” program, and the first recipient of 2013 – Frank Carius!
Frank was described by the person who nominated him as “legendary.” If you take a look at Frank’s credentials, you’ll understand why.
Frank was named a Microsoft Exchange MVP every year from 1999 through 2011 and was recently named a Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) in Lync. Frank also runs a terrific Exchange FAQ site. While it may be in German, it’s easily translated via Google Translate. A quick look and you’ll see that he’s a prolific poster, with entries almost daily on Exchange, ActiveSync, Lync and much more.
I was fortunate enough to catch up with Frank to congratulate him on his award and ask him a few questions:
- Can you give a brief description of how you began working with Exchange Server and related technologies?
I started working with “email” with FIDO-net and NetWare-MHS and MSMail 2.x. My first migrations were MHS or MSMail to Exchange. My company’s messaging system began with Exchange 4.0 on Win NT 3.51 and we have since upgraded to every version since. Also, we will be on Exchange 2013 very soon.
Around 2004, I became increasingly frustrated with the notion of spam. I was not interested in the idea of using quarantine, so I started building an alternate solution using “reject” as a core concept.
- What’s your favorite part of working with Exchange Server and technologies?
Microsoft has done a great job of making Exchange both scalable and highly available. I also like the fact that manageability has been enhanced with PowerShell and the Exchange Control Panel.
Many companies are also looking at migrations now. I’m really interested in the idea of migrations, mergers, acquisitions, splits.
- What are you excited to work on this year and why?
I’ve seen many companies like Facebook, Ebay and Paypal sending “unsigned” mails. SMIME is really cheap and nearly every client can validate the certificates by default. I don’t understand why more companies don’t protect their brand by signing email. Companies and people must understand that messaging must be extremely secure. My company has introduced a product called enQsig to secure SMTP on a per-recipient level.
I’m also quite excited with all the growing interest in Lync as well.
Please join me in congratulating Frank Carius by tweeting this post.
Back in September we reported that Exchange 2010 SP3 would be available sometime in early 2013 to support coexistence with Exchange Server 2013. Well, there’s certainly still plenty of time left in Q1, but the Exchange community needs Exchange 2010 SP3 in a bad way.
When Exchange 2013 hit RTM, few really questioned why Microsoft released a new product that so few could actually use in production. Sure, you can deploy it in greenfield environments — and labs are an option — but how many greenfields are out there, and who has time to test something in a lab along with their regular, every day workload?
Exchange 2013 has now been generally available for well over a month. Some industry folks are testing, and frankly the reviews have not been kind. Several Exchange MVPs have blogged about missing or incomplete features, bugs and other maladies. Other admins and consultants have started experimenting and run into problems as well. OWA and Exchange Administration Center issues are at the top of many “here’s what needs to be fixed” lists.
The only way to fix the problems that exist in Exchange 2013 is to push forward with the update. It will allow for coexistence and let more folks roll Exchange 2013 out. By doing so, the number of people testing Exchange 2013 will grow exponentially. Thus, they’ll be able to experiment and work with the product and report back to Microsoft with any and all bugs they find. Only by having human beings work with 2013 will Microsoft be able to iron out all the kinks.
Let’s see that Service Pack soon — and one for Exchange 2007 too.
Until next time,
Years ago, we at SearchExchange.com — as well as several other TechTarget sites — had a very helpful and informational Ask the Expert program. For various reasons, we were forced to move away from it.
Fast forward to today and we’ve been slowly, yet steadily building the program back up. We’ve got numerous Exchange MVPs and experts ready to answer your pressing questions, whether novice-, expert-level or somewhere in between.
Here are just a few examples of questions our experts have tackled:
- What’s the best way to track OWA connections to client access servers?
- Is it smart to delete Exchange 2010 log files?
- What’s the difference between MX records and smart hosts?
- Should I use NTLM to authenticate to Exchange 2010?
Unfortunately, there’s not an obvious place on our site to submit questions, so be sure to keep both my email address and our editor@searchExchange.com address handy. You can also bookmark this page and refer back any time you have a question you’d like to ask one of our experts.
So join the revival! You’ll help yourself as well as all the readers who come to our site and search on similar issues.
Until next time,
IamMEC.com — have you heard of it?
IamMEC.com was announced at the Microsoft Exchange Conference back in September. Michael Atalla, director of product management for Exchange Server and Exchange Online, described it as a Web portal that gives Exchange Server pros a place to discuss ideas, view presentations, expert tips and much more.
However, back in late November, I noticed that a Twitter follower and I shared a similar curiosity:
In a quick conversation via Twitter, Greg mentioned that he felt his own expectations were too high. I offered that I wasn’t sure how many in the Exchange community actually know that the site exists. Sure, it was a big announcement at MEC, but what about all the people who weren’t able to attend? Do they know that this resource is available to them?
Now, I have no way of knowing if the IamMEC site is successful, or how many people are using it, but I’d like to use this blog as an opportunity to urge you to check it out.
- To start, the IamMEC homepage is a hub that helps you navigate to what you’d like to read about on the site. There is also a Twitter feed that lists all tweets that include the #iammec hashtag.
- If you click the MEC content button in the middle of the page, you can access presentations and materials from September’s MEC2012.
- If you click the News button in the main nav bar, you’re brought to a page highlights various Exchange team posts.
- Clicking the Learn button, you’re brought to a page that includes links to the Geek out with Perry YouTube page, helpful Exchange certification links and more.
- There’s also the Tech Hub page which includes links to downloads, scripts, the TechNet library and more.
As you can see, there’s plenty of information available. This site was made for you, the Exchange community, so definitely bookmark it and make sure you get the most out of it.
Happy New Year,
December is often a somewhat slow month for us here at SearchExchange.com; and understandably so. Many readers are busy completing end-of-year projects and preparing for the holidays. This December was different though, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.
Two big announcements resonated with readers and our contributors keep churning out terrific tips. In case you missed them the first time around, below you’ll find five articles that kept fellow readers clicking this month.
Exchange Server 2013 hits general availability, but upgrades must wait (@ExchangeTT)
Exchange 2013 hit general availability in early December, meaning admins can download it and start experimenting.
Google drops Exchange ActiveSync support on free Gmail (@stuartj1000)
Google wants to take more control of its mobile email strategy by phasing out Exchange ActiveSync. But was it a smart move? IT pros weigh in.
New Exchange 2013 features tighten integration with SharePoint (@BrienPosey)
Two new Exchange 2013 features help further Microsoft’s commitment to making SharePoint and Exchange integration airtight.
Explaining client access server role changes in Exchange 2013 (@DevinGanger)
Microsoft overhauled the client access server role in Exchange Server 2013. While the changes may seem drastic, they definitely represent a change for the better.
Top five OWA 2013 improvements that benefit mobile users (@BrienPosey)
OWA 2013 offers several improvements that target users and administrators who are frequently on the move. Familiarize yourself with the top five.
Two months, ago we kicked off our “Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals” program. To close out 2012, I’m extremely pleased to announce our winner for December 2012 – Anderson Patricio!
Anderson is a Microsoft MVP and came very highly recommended. As the individual who nominated him said, “I don’t know where he gets all the time.” And I couldn’t agree more. It’s terrific to see someone who not only accomplishes so much, but also adds so much to his professional community.
Below you’ll find just a small sample of his contributions:
- Anderson tweets numerous times daily, with lots of helpful links and information about Exchange, OCS, System Center and other Microsoft technologies (follow him @apatricio).
- He is a tip writer and blogger for MSExchange.org, contributing two technical tips per month as well as numerous blog posts.
- Anderson also has two personal websites: First, there is his site for English speakers. It includes news and tips on Exchange and other Microsoft technologies. There’s also his Exchange resource site for Portuguese speakers. This site includes over 1,000 articles covering Exchange and other Microsoft technologies, as well as videos and tutorials.
- He contributes to the Microsoft Exchange BR discussion group, which covers Exchange issues and solutions for the Brazil, Portugal and Angola communities, and helped create two Microsoft Virtual Academies. The first academy helped new admins understand the basic concepts of Exchange, while the other prepared them for Exchange certifications.
Anderson was also kind enough to share what he how he came to work with Exchange Server, what he enjoys most about it and what he’s looking forward to working on in 2013.
Can you give a brief description of how you began working with Exchange Server and related technologies?
I started my career with Microsoft. My first infrastructure was managing accounts in a Windows NT Server 3.51 and Exchange 5.0 environment. From that point on, I started studying and testing the product.
I also had the opportunity to be part of several transitions from Windows NT4/Exchange 5.5 to Active Directory and Exchange Server 2003. That was a great experience. It was a great opportunity to learn the architecture of those new products from the beginning.
What’s your favorite part of working with Exchange Server and technologies?
Email is one of the key products for any company, and everyone expects it to be up 24/7. In order to do so, we need to put a lot of effort into design and planning; that is one my favorite areas of building a new mail solution. After the deployment process, I really enjoy working with high-availability and disaster recovery scenarios.
What are you excited to work on in 2013 and why?
The Exchange team has been improving the product with each version. This release includes several improvements. My top three areas I’m most excited to work with are the Exchange architecture, high availability and better integration with Lync and SharePoint.
Please join me in congratulating Anderson Patricio by tweeting this post.
Happy holidays to all,
The Exchange team re-released Exchange 2010 SP2 rollup update 5 this week, close to a month after its original release. The rollup was pulled a short time after its release due to a database availability group bug.
Exchange 2010 SP 1 rollup 8 and Exchange 2007 SP3 rollup 9 were also released. Don’t let the names fool you though; these “rollups” really only address vulnerabilities that can result in remote code execution (though the Exchange 2007 rollup does also remedy a Transport service crash issue). For more information, read Microsoft Security Bulletin MS12-080.
The bigger story here though appears to be the outcry from the Exchange community. Not only have there been numerous rollup update rereleases this year, but customers are angry that the security hotfixes are not separate from the seemingly untrustworthy rollup updates.
(Don’t take my word for it, check the litany of comments here.)
I spoke with several people at the Microsoft Exchange Conference back in September who said they typically wait anywhere from two to nine weeks before downloading and installing a rollup, especially after Microsoft’s past troubles.
But security hotfixes are high priority and shops should download them sooner than later. Now, with all the releasing, pulling back and subsequent rereleasing, many IT pros are worried whether rollups that include the security fixes are free of problems.
What do you think? Should rollups and security hotfixes be independent of each other? Do you have any other comments regarding Microsoft QA? Let me know.
If you’ve followed SearchExchange.com for a year or more, you know that around this time every year, we begin compiling our “best of” lists to publish around the holidays. We typically list our top Exchange Server administration tips of the past year, as well as our top Outlook and OWA tips, as a treat for our readers. It’s a chance to see which articles were most popular and an opportunity to view top tips that you might have missed.
This year, I want to get the holiday season started a little early, so I’m offering readers a look back at some articles I’ve hand-selected that may not have been viewed as much as others, but are certainly worth a second look.
If you haven’t bookmarked the five Exchange-related blogs detailed in this list, you should do so now. (You can thank me later.)
Long-time expert and Exchange guru Tony Redmond weighed in on Microsoft certification changes back in May.
These Exchange and Outlook add-ons are great for two reasons: They’ll simplify your job, and they’re free.
Many companies use SharePoint and Exchange but fail to take advantage of all the potential integration benefits. In this Q&A with Errin O’Connor of the EPC Group, we discussed best practices, common issues and much more.
Two nonprofits weighed both Office 365 and Google Apps and came to different decisions. Read up on their reasons why.
Most of your users probably use Gmail. They may ask you to set up Gmail in their Outlook client, or they might have already attempted to configure it themselves. Either way, it pays to know about the various options.
What would you like to see in 2013? Shoot me an email and let me know.
We recently began our “Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals” program on SearchExchange.com. If you’re not familiar with the program, let me break it down for you. Each month we take nominations from readers, contacts and contributors. After reviewing credentials, we select a deserving member from the Exchange Server community.
This month’s winner is Michael Van Horebeeck.
Michael works as a technology consultant with Xylos, an information and communication technology services provider and Microsoft partner in Belgium. Michael is a great choice for our first ever Exchange pro of the month due to his terrific contributions in the Exchange community.
Michael routinely takes time out of his schedule to contribute to the ProExchange.be site, as well as the UC Architects podcasts. If you aren’t familiar with either, do yourself a favor and check them out.
Michael was kind enough to answer a few questions as to how he came to work with Exchange, his favorite aspects of the technology and more. You can also follow Michael on Twitter @mvanhorenbeeck.
Do you know someone who is deserving of our Exchange Server pro of the month award (it might be you)? Don’t be shy — send us an email.
1. Can you give a brief description of how you began working with Exchange Server and related technologies?
I actually was “thrown” into Exchange many years ago when a client was forced to move to Exchange 2003 from Exchange 5.5 during an infrastructure upgrade. At that time, I knew close to nothing about either and was forced to learn about them the hard way (memories)!
I guess that experience somehow made Exchange really stick in my mind as I’ve been primarily working with it ever since.
2. What’s your favorite part of working with Exchange Server and technologies?
Without a doubt, it is the progress that’s made in every release. It’s interesting to see how Exchange has re-invented itself a few times over the years.
3. What are you excited to work on in 2013 and why?
I’m excited to finally put Exchange 2013 into production! It’s a pity we have to wait until [Exchange 2010] SP3 to become available before we can do anything though. We don’t see that many green field installs nowadays, unless if you’re moving from another platform like Notes.
I also hope to find some more time to write articles. I’ve been so busy at work lately, so I haven’t been able to write as much as I’ve wanted to.