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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


December 12, 2012  5:27 PM

Exchange 2010 SP2 RU 5 v2, other ‘rollups’ released

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

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.

-Matt


November 30, 2012  4:49 PM

Editor’s picks: Top SearchExchange.com content from 2012

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

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.

-Matt


November 20, 2012  7:44 PM

Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals (November 2012) – Michael Van Horenbeeck

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

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.

Like many others, I’m really into the Exchange architecture part. So, I guess that the client access server role is probably my favorite part, along with PowerShell.

 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.


November 14, 2012  8:46 PM

IBM ditches ‘Lotus’ brand, preps Notes/Domino 9.0 Social Edition

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

I must admit, it’s been awhile since I covered or thought about IBM or Lotus Notes/Domino, but this announcement struck me as particularly interesting.

In case you missed it, IBM has completely dropped the Lotus moniker. Its next release is IBM Notes/Domino 9.0 Social Edition; the new name really rolls off the tongue doesn’t it? Well there’s a reason IBM has gone this route.

The IBM name is more widely recognized and the company was readying the Lotus Notes/Domino 8.5.4 with Social Edition features. Now it has rolled everything up into one completely new client/server release (though the focus is moreso on the client-side).

Note: A Notes/Domino 8.5.4 update is still planned.

This led me to touch base with a past contact (who wished to remain anonymous).

“I think it’s about time they dropped the name,” he said. “Holding onto the Lotus brand was going to have more of a negative impact than a positive one.”

He suggested that the Lotus name is associated with a legacy platform — whether rightly or wrongly. By tweaking the name, Notes/Domino Social Edition is now a “new” idea.   

Social Edition allows Notes apps to run in a Web browser. Additionally, there are email and calendar enhancements and Xpages improvements, just to name a few.

While IBM’ers tout returning customers, it remains to be seen how effective the new naming convention and features will prove.

The Notes/Domino 9.0 Social Edition beta will be available for download a month from today — December 14 — and the official release is expected Q1 2013. This brings up an interesting point.

Exchange Server 2013 is also slated to release Q1 2013. Is this a coincidence? Yes, it probably is; IBM has been working on these products for a while and the shift has added a bit more work into the process.

Any thoughts on the announcement? Feel free to email me.


November 13, 2012  5:11 PM

Exchange TechNet library URLs ‘updated’ – but why?

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

If you’ve checked in on the Exchange team blog in the past week, you’ve noticed the team decided to do something quite … well, let’s leave it at “confusing.” In case you haven’t read it, allow me to elaborate. Last week, the Exchange team updated TechNet URLs so that if you’ve bookmarked an Exchange 2010 article, clicking it it now brings you to the Exchange 2013 article on the same topic.

It’s obvious that the team put a lot of thought into this, but also that they knew there would be backlash from the Exchange community. Thus, there is documentation on the EHLO blog displaying how to navigate back to the specific Exchange 2010 article, if that’s what you’re looking for. And let’s face it, you probably were if you not only clicked the link, but also had it bookmarked!

There is also a navigation tree on the left-hand side of the screen that links the reader to documentation for other versions of Exchange.

Still, with all these “do-good” amendments, the community is not happy. A quick look at the comments section reveals more than a few angry readers.

  • “Why are you updating and removing critical information used to support your customers when the vast majority [is] not on 2013 yet?”
  • “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

And my personal favorite, which includes just a touch of sarcasm:

  • “This makes perfectly good sense. After all, we have all replaced our 2010 environments with [Exchange] 2013, so why would we have any need for articles on Exchange 2010? I’m surprised Microsoft is even keeping the 2010 articles around, since we obviously have no use for them any longer.”

Personally, I wanted to echo Tony Redmond’s sentiment. Not only is this change bad for admins and the like who have bookmarked said links, but it also really hurts sites and blogs like both of ours.

Plenty of my contributors include TechNet links in their articles. Also, I have hyperlinked to TechNet in news stories, tips and guides more times than I can even begin to count. Now, if a reader is looking for more info on a topic and we’ve linked to TechNet, they will be brought to the wrong article; one that does not apply to what they’re reading.

I’m sure the team has its reasons for making this change, including several that I’m sure many have not thought about. That said, when I think about the time I, my contributors, and like-minded folks have put into researching and implementing these links, it’s very disappointing that our work is suddenly for naught.

Can we please go back to the way things were?

Respectfully,

Matt Gervais – Site Editor, SearchExchange.com


October 24, 2012  8:14 PM

Exchange 2013 RTM released to MSDN, TechNet subscribers

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

Earlier today, Microsoft announced that the RTM versions of its Office 2013 suite and server products – namely Exchange Server 2013, Lync 2013 and SharePoint 2013 – are available for download if you’re a TechNet or MSDN subscriber.

While it’s encouraging to see Exchange 2013 RTM available for download, one MVP offered strong words of caution.

“It’s exciting to see Exchange 2013 available for download, but know that you can only start testing Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2010 integration when Exchange 2010 SP3 is released,” said Nicolas Blank an Exchange MCM and Ranger based in Cape Town, South Africa. “Until then, all lab and live deployments will be green fields. That said, it’s still a great chance to play with the bits until then.”

Eager IT folks who are ready to play with those Exchange bits may be impressed with new features, many of which are a product of Microsoft’s own work in the cloud. This is a sentiment that was reiterated time and again at last month’s MEC show. Microsoft is making it clear that the cloud is the direction it is headed in.  

“Many of the improvements in Exchange 2013 are likely the result of Microsoft’s experience offering hosted Exchange services,” said Rob Sanfilippo an analyst with Washington-based Directions on Microsoft. “Even customers that don’t use [cloud] services benefit from Microsoft’s work in that space.”

Timing releases

In my opinion, one of the best things Microsoft has done is show its commitment to hitting their promised release dates (and in this case before) for its  Server products (and Office) on time and in close proximity to one another. 

For instance, in the past, interconnected products such as Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010 were released at different times, affecting purchasing decisions by companies that could use both products, and opening a window of opportunity for competing products to slip in. As these products become increasingly intertwined, delivering them closer together could close that door and  nudge more IT shops toward  all-Microsoft solutions.

What did you think about the announcement? Email me and let me know.

Until next time,

Matt


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