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March 1, 2013  4:36 PM

Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals (February 2013) – Michel de Rooij

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

I’m very pleased to announce the recipient of our February 2013 “Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals” award – Michel de Rooij!

If you follow anything and everything Exchange Server-related on Twitter like I do, you’re sure to have seen any one of Michel’s countless contributions to the community.

  • Michel participates in the terrific UC architects podcasts (make sure to catch these – seriously).
  • He frequently blogs on Exchange and related matters.
  • As mentioned, he’s all over Twitter with helpful tweets.
  • He contributes helpful scripts.

This week, I was able to email with Michel in order to congratulate him on his award and ask him a few questions:

How did you begin working with Exchange Server and related technologies?

I’m actually a late bloomer when compared to the other great Exchange folks out there. I was involved in the migration/deployment scripting business for some time, but in 2004, I got the opportunity to join a global team responsible for defining and developing the email and collaboration (Exchange-based) standard at a large international banking and insurance company. This project required thoughtful planning. It also required me to dive deep into the product in order to understand it backwards and forwards.

Part of the job was also developing and maintaining a fully automated deployment tool (a set of scripts and HTML application as GUI) that allowed implementers to deploy Exchange using predefined building blocks. Long story short, it was a great learning experience and I decided to stay with Exchange and development.

 What’s your favorite part of working with Exchange Server and related technologies?

My background in software development has proved invaluable as PowerShell and scripting knowledge is becoming more important every day. Scripts are not only important in completing tasks, but also in accomplishing them faster and more efficiently.

While I like working with Exchange or related technologies like Active Directory, at the end of the day I get the most joy from helping others. This might mean helping them perform a task or solve a problem. This allows them to do a better job, do it faster and do it consistently. Depending on the complexity of the issue, I usually begin by setting out workflows or pseudo-code on a piece of paper and translating it to a PowerShell script.

If [the scripts] are considered potentially useful to the Exchange community, I work to make them general-purpose and fool proof before publishing. Note that developing a robust script shouldn’t be underestimated; it requires lots of testing and additional code.

What are you excited to work on this year and why?

I’m looking forward to all the challenges that are sure to arise after the Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 1 release. Besides that, I’m working on some exciting side projects, like PowerShell-related workshops. I also plan on continuing to contribute to the Exchange communities and projects like the UC Architects podcasts. I also hope to to finally meet some overseas peers in person this year as well.

Please join me in congratulating Michel by tweeting this post. And don’t forget to mail your nominations for our March (and onwards) winners.

Until next time,

-Matt

February 19, 2013  6:45 PM

Well, I’m finally an Outlook.com user

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

Back in July, I blogged that the Outlook.com release freaked me out. Fast forward about six months and I’m finally an Outlook.com user. The truth is, I don’t hate it as much as I thought I would.

This morning I was explaining the impending wholesale change from Hotmail.com to Outlook.com to a colleague and wanted to show him the difference. I logged into my Hotmail.com account as I do every day to show him the interface. I then logged out and logged into Outlook.com with my Hotmail address to show him the Outlook.com interface. I didn’t realize I’d be waving goodbye to my Hotmail interface forever.

We both noted the semi-cleaner Outlook.com interface and change to a blue task bar. I’d seen this all before. When I went to switch back to the Hotmail.com interface (sorry, I’m a creature of habit), I noticed that the option was no longer there:

From there, I Googled – sorry, I mean Binged — “how to switch outlook.com interface back to Hotmail.com” and quickly found out that it was no longer an option.

While I don’t like the fact that I was no longer given the option to use Hotmail, nor a heads up as a Hotmail.com user, I understand that it’s part of Microsoft’s plan to get all their services under uniform product names.

Faced with my new life as an Outlook.com user, I decided to send some messages to test it out. I must admit, though it’s much different, I really like the new mail sending interface.

As you can see above, it takes up the majority of the screen. You can enter recipients’ email addresses in the To: field on the left-hand side of the page and autofill is still an available and much appreciated option here.

I’m sure it will take some time to get used to this new way of doing things, but I’m looking forward to it, as I’m looking forward to the Office 365 rollout next week. It’s certainly an exciting time to be a Microsoft customer.

And I always have my Gmail account to turn to if things don’t work out.

What do you think about the upcoming Office 365 rollout or the Outlook.com change? Write and let me know.

Until next time,

Matt


February 12, 2013  6:41 PM

Latest round of Exchange rollup updates released

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

Earlier today, the Exchange team released Exchange 2010 SP2 Rollup 6 and Exchange 2007 SP3 Rollup 10 to the Microsoft download center. These rollups come just a few days after the announcement it would do away with rollup updates in favor of cumulative updates in Exchange 2013.

The Exchange 2007 SP3 RU 10 release includes the following fixes:

  • New Daylight savings time for Exchange 2007 SP3,
  • An issue where a hidden user is still displayed in Organization info of the Address Book in OWA in Exchange 2007,
  • The security vulnerabilities addressed in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS13-012, which are marked as “critical.”

The Security Bulletin also applies to Exchange 2010 SP2 RU 6, but there are a number of other issues the update fixes as well, including:

  • An issue where admins can’t move or delete a folder using Outlook in online mode,
  • The AutoPreview feature does not work in Outlook online mode,
  • Synchronization fails when attempting to sync an external device to a mailbox via Exchange ActiveSync,
  • A mailbox on a mobile device is not updated when Exchange ActiveSync is configured,
  • You cannot perform cross-premises searches of a mailbox in a hybrid environment, and
  • You cannot use the Search function to search for mailbox items in Exchange 2010

And don’t forget, we’re still waiting on Exchange 2010 SP3 to drop. When it does, shops can achieve coexistence between Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 and finally start migrating to Exchange 2013.

Update: It was later revealed that Exchange 2007 SP3 RU 10 also paves the way for coexistence with Exchange 2013. That said, coexistence is not possible until the first cumulative update for Exchange 2013 is released.

Until next time,

Matt


February 1, 2013  6:12 PM

Putting a positive spin on the recent Office 365 outage

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

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.”

The problem not only affected Office 365, but also Microsoft’s support site, Windows Azure and SkyDrive. The fact the outage was addressed so quickly points to the benefits of hosted services.

“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.


January 25, 2013  3:45 PM

Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals (January 2013) – Frank Carius

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

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.

-Matt


January 18, 2013  6:45 PM

Why we need Exchange 2010 SP3

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

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,

Matt


January 11, 2013  4:38 PM

Be part of our Ask the Experts revival!

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

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:

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,
Matt


December 31, 2012  3:14 PM

A quick pitch for IamMEC.com

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

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,

Matt


December 27, 2012  4:13 PM

SearchExchange.com’s greatest hits of December 2012

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

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.


December 21, 2012  7:26 PM

Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals (December 2012) – Anderson Patricio

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

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,

-Matt


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