Saturday, August 31, 2013

Windows Server 2012 R2 Coming Soon

Microsoft team is planning to releasing the R2 release of Windows Server 2012 in next couple of months and now its time for us to know what's new with this version and what benefits we are going to get by deploying this in our environment.

Also now Windows Server 2012 preview is available for download and we can install this Operating system and explore few things and get the insight till the final release.

I found this blog quite useful to know the new features that are available and key innovations in a nutshell.

Additionally we have a E-book available to know more on Windows Server 2012 released for the preview version.

Download here :

Important Changes to Forefront Product Roadmaps

Microsoft periodically retires it's existing products with time and continued to support till a time line and either provides an other alternative solution to get our selves upgraded to that one and discontinue the existing solution and also provides extended support for existing customers till a time frame and with in this time frame we can decide upon a alternative solution that is suitable for our needs

In this path now Microsoft has planned to retire multiple Forefront protection products and now Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) will be replaced by Exchange Online protection (EOP) in O365. And also Exchange Server 2013 will have some inbuilt Anti-Spam / Anti-Malware capabilities that can perform some of this task and also can be paired with other alternative solutions to provide protection to the Environment.

This decision by Microsoft is made last year and placed a huge shock for the customers and most notable on this is the retirement of Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010 as this has been a supported solution for Exchange from a very long time. some of the Organizations now started to explore alternative solutions and testing them to implement in production.

Lets review the products that are going to be discontinued in this product line along with their support life cycle and much more in a nutshell with the below article.

Important Changes to Forefront Product Roadmaps

Friday, August 30, 2013

Upgrading or Migrating Active Directory to Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012 is the pretty advanced Server Operating System and it provides more core functionality, It's now time for us to Upgrade or Migrate our existing Active Directory Environment to Windows Server 2012. Performing this task is not a easy one it requires a clear Road map and proper Planning for successful migration.

Found this blog post quite excellent in providing us step by step procedure we need to follow once we are ready for upgrading or migrating our existing environment with proper guidelines and references.

This blog post is a 3 part series and we need learn the complete series for clear understanding of the process and proceed further.

Upgrading or Migrating Active Directory to Windows Server 2012

Build Your Roadmap Now

Phase 1: Assessment

Phase 2: Build Your Plan

Windows PowerShell 3.0 Step by Step

Now we have Windows PowerShell 3.0 which is quite a beautiful tool for managing our Environment at ease and also provides more enhanced features than its predecessors.

One more E-book on PowerShell 3.0 to learn it Step by Step

Download Here: Windows PowerShell 3.0 Step by Step

Hybrid Mailbox moves and EMC changes

This is the latest blog post released in Exchange Team blog on the new changes made with mailbox moves in O365 Hybrid environment. Major organizations deployed the Hybrid model where we have the flexibility to mange both the On-premise Environment and O365 environment seamlessly.

Now O365 environment is getting upgraded by Microsoft to new Wave15 environment which comprises of 2013 servers and with this service upgrade Mailbox moves between the On-premise and  O365 Environment is changed and now its no longer possible to perform different move requests with EMC and we need to use the EAC which is the latest Admin console comes along with Exchange Server 2013 and its available via O365 Admin portal for managing Exchange Online.

Also with this change now Organizational Configuration for Exchange Online is removed from EMC and moved to EAC and managed from the O365 Admin portal.

Read the blog post here :

Double Treat !

Microsoft continue to impress the customers by providing more enhanced features with it's product line and also provides additional bytes in the middle to get the customers attracted to the product and gain a rich User and Administration experience. And now their major focus is in moving the On-premise customers to O365 and also retain the customers moved to O365 environment at all costs.

As a part of this enhancement process now Microsoft O365 customers will have a double treat in terms of their Mailbox size and Sky drive Pro.
Now Microsoft increased the Mailbox storage size limit for users from 25 GB to 50 GB, so you don't want to worry on mailbox size limit restriction .

More information here from O365 blog post :

Size limit for storing the documents in Sky drive pro is increased from 7GB to 25 GB and also other enhancements made to the product.


More information here from O365 blog post :

Sharing Free/Busy Information Without Using Federated Delegation

When ever we want to share our Free Busy information with other organization we go for federation and it requires the assistance of Microsoft Federation Gateway server to create a federation trust between the two organizations. This is a pretty straight forward activity when both organizations are using different SMTP Namespace and this will not help us during the period of migration when we acquire another company and share the same SMTP Namespace.


Found this latest post from Exchange MVP Jeff Guillet on his TheEXPTA blog over this topic, where he clearly explains how we can accomplish this task of sharing the free/busy information without using federated delegation using the Add-AvailabilityAddressSpace cmdlet. 


This Article is excellent and it clearly describes the difference between Federated delegation and the usage of Add-AvailabilityAddressSpace cmdlet and the steps that are required to be performed in both the organizations to get this feature established successfully.

How to Share Free/Busy Information Without Using Federated Delegation

Read the blog post here : 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

AD FS 2.0 and MS13-066

I was reading the Premier Field Engineer blog today and found a informational post on the potential issue that could occur with ADFS server post installing the latest security update released by Microsoft to address the Vulnerability. Also Microsoft team verified on this issue and fixed the update package and released to users to roll out in production.

More information is available in the below blog post

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Quick Guide to Office Editions

Office 2013 is the major release of the Office product which provides more core functionality than ever in terms of user experience, features, deployment and management. Microsoft team has released various flavors in the market and also the product comes as a part of Office 365 license, and its always good to know the feature differences and choose the appropriate one for our requirement.

Use this Quick guide to Office editions poster to know more on the editions and their features which are clearly explained. Link :

Let's Explore SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2013 is the latest release in the SharePoint product family, along with other Collaborative products this also comes with various New features and Enhancements. Let's Explore Microsoft SharePoint 2013 with the help of this E-book.

Download Here : Exploring Microsoft SharePoint 2013


Monday, August 26, 2013

OWA Search Enhancements

Today Exchange Team blog post revealed the new enhancement Microsoft has brought in with Exchange 2013 OWA Search, This is a quite awesome feature to know and feel as it reduces most of our manual work and saves time. Also this feature proves that Microsoft team still focus on enhancing its product line in all terms for a richer user experience.

More information on the Exchange Team blog post

Exchange Server 2013 Step By Step

It's now time for Exchange Server 2013 and most organizations started to test the product. As an Admin we also need to know more on the product, We need to have a lab setup for the same and perform installation, configuration and testing and document the results, so that we can use that as a reference when its time for us to implement the server in production.

Found the below blogs quite useful on this topic which provides us step by step instructions with screenshots that clearly explains us how to Install , Configure and Test the Server.

Installing and Configuring Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 CU1

Review and download the doc here:

The above installation steps were performed with Windows Server 2008 and now we have Windows Server 2012 available which is the suitable Operating System for Exchange Server 2013 as its additionally adds more benefits to the product.

Review the below doc which is on step by step installation of Exchange server 2013 on Windows Server 2012

Saturday, August 24, 2013

FSMO Roles overview

When it comes to Windows Server every Admin should be aware on the Topics like Active Directory, Global catalog,  DNS, DHCP and Most important one is FSMO roles and much more.

FSMO (Flexible Single Master Operations) or in simple Operations Master includes 5 roles which are shown below

  • Schema Master
  • Domain naming master
  • Infrastructure Master
  • Relative ID (RID) Master
  • PDC Emulator

Each role has is own task and lets learn more on this with the help of this below presentation.

Once we know all these we need to know which server is currently holding the FSMO roles, review the below excellent article which provides you with various methods to identify which Server has these roles.

There will be scenarios when we require to transfer these roles to another Server and this requires proper planning and care while performing the activity. Review the below guided article to know more on this.

Finally, Now we have Windows Server 2012 Launched and Organizations started to deploy the servers in to production, and also major Organizations already upgraded their Domain Controllers to Windows Server 2008 editions. and its time for us to know how to transfer the roles from Windows Server 2008 to 2012. Check this below blog post from MSExchange Team for this activity with guided steps.

Feature Comparison Between Windows Servers

Windows Server 2012 is released now and major Organizations are planning to upgrade their environment to the latest release, and this is quite a strong product compared to its predecessors and provides various new features.
Let's explore the feature differences between the Windows Server products that we currently use in our environment with Windows 2012 using the help of this comparison guide.

Download :

Additionally, Download the review the below comparison document to know the differences between Windows Server 2012 R2 products and editions.

Download here: Windows Server 2012 R2 Products and Editions Comparison

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ballmer to Retire Soon!

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is planning to retire soon and below is the article published with this information from Microsoft News Center.

Read to know more..

Offline Defrag And DAG Databases

When it comes to Exchange server database maintenance its quite tough for the Admins to make the database quite fresh all the time and they are prone to get affected at times or there needs to be maintenance performed over them and sometimes it even fails due to unexpected events and manual intervention is required to bring them back healthy.

Every Admin knows the concept of Offline defragmentation which we perform to regain white space on the database to accommodate more mailboxes and increase the performance , this is easy on a single mailbox database with downtime, and with Exchange server 2010/2013 we have DAG and gives us option to mount the passive copy and take the primary offline and perform an offline defragmentation ( this is not good at it requires reseed and longer downtime) or simply create a new database and move the mailboxes, delete and re-create the database and move them back.

Today I reviewed the wonderful Technet blog post from Exchange MVP Rhoderick Milne which is on this Offline defragmentation Topic over DAG Databases which clearly explains the background process occurs with Eseutil commands we execute to perform this task, and why this is not recommended to be performed on DAG Database, what issue it will cause and further more in detail.

Read this to know more :

Lets Learn Windows 7 & 8

Computer has become part of our lives and when we access the Computer we rely on the Operating System installed and the most successful OS of all the time for all type of users is Windows XP and soon Microsoft ends its support for XP by 2014, and we have other two popular Microsoft client OS available in the market and widely used which are Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Both of these Operating Systems provide more great features than earlier versions and end users have the capability to use them everywhere from PC to tablet and even on mobile devices and enjoy the benefits.

Though these products provides more enhanced core features its not visible as with Windows XP and we need to discover and explore them, Also some users find quite difficult to adopt this at earlier stages and to overcome all this its always good to learn them at the earliest.

Lets learn both of the flavors by today visually with the help of this E-books

Windows 7

Download Here :  Windows7 Plain&Simple

Windows 8

Download Here:  Windows8 Plain&Simple

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lets Explore Outlook 2013

Microsoft Office is revamped with the new 2013 release and all the Office applications are enhanced to the maximum both in performance and appearance along with great new features which makes the suite a complete successful package in terms of adoption and deployment.

Lets explore the new features available in Outlook 2013 with the help of this E-book, which clearly explains the new features with examples and screen shots with which we gain rich experience of exploring the product and this assists us in both ways as a End user and also as an Admin to know the client more precisely to support.


 Download here: Microsoft Outlook 2013 Plain & Simple

Power of Lync Edge

Edge Server plays a vital role when it comes to Lync Deployment, when a organization wants to extend its boundaries and communicate with other organizations and also provide ability for its employees to connect from outside the corporate network and also make external customers to join meetings hosted by the organization.

Edge server along with reverse proxy deployed on the perimeter network provides seamless experience to users connect from outside network and Federated partners. This blog post is on the Edge server deployment and the required prerequisites.

Edge Server majorly relies on the Network ports that are required to be open to make the communication possible from external network and major issues were caused due this ports not opened properly or firewall issues that block the connectivity over the ports.

There are multiple ways of deploying Edge server in the environment and each has its own architecture and deployment considerations along with specific port requirements, below article provides you the scenarios with required information on this activity

Also we have tool called Lync Firewall viewer which tell us what are the required ports for external communication with Lync and other server roles beautifully and you can also refer the Protocol workloads poster for more detailed information.

Refer and download :

Finally, Download this Teched ppt on Lync 2013 Edge Server planning and deployment presentation to more on this topic which explains you the need of Edge, client authentication,federation,Reverse proxy,High Availability and deployment considerations with which you gain maximum knowledge on Lync Edge server.


Exchange 2010 Datacenter Switchover

Exchange Server 2010 supports Datacenter Swithover functionality which easily assists the Admins to restore the service to the end users during an outage. And every organization based on their criticality will host a secondary Datacenter which will be highly available when Primary Datacenter goes down to restore service as early as possible.

Scott Schnoll has written this wonder technet article which assist us in the understanding the steps involved in performing a successful Datacenter Switchover .

This is the primary resource for this activity.

Apart from this Microsoft has provided us a Tool which is called Exchange 2010 Datacenter Switchover Troubleshooter which assists in performing the activity with guided steps in  power point slides and answers us based on the options we select per requirement.

Download :

Also now Microsoft Team provided us with the Exchange Server 2010 DAG Switchover Guided Walkthrough available online which provide us step by step instructions to perform Datacenter Swichover at ease.

GWT Link :;en;3510&showpage=1

Microsoft Certification Roadmap

Microsoft Certifications are one of the hot certifications in the IT Industry and with the latest release of  products Microsoft has revamped the certification paths and new certifications are introduced and its good to know on this to prepare ourselves for the appropriate certification.

Below is the download link for the Microsoft IT Academy Certification Roadmap


Access the new Roadmap here: Updated Certification Roadmap Now Available!

Also keep an eye on the Certifications that are retired and about to retire soon and then plan accordingly on these new Exams to continue your certification roadmap.

Check here: Exams scheduled to retire

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Old Is Gold !

Every product in the Industry is getting improvised periodically by the developers and takes a new form in providing highly available service with enhanced benefits for the end users.

Lets come to our Exchange server, we are in the year 2013 and most of us are well expertise in
working with Exchange Server 2007,2010 and 2013, at present there are only few who still have hands on with Exchange server 2003 and manage it, but we are not installing a new Exchange 2003 server anymore and also in the phase of upgrading the environment to the latest server build to stay update with the technology.

This post is for the ones who missed to install or view the installation of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, and the video clearly depicts the complete preparation and installation.

Watch this video here :

Know and Present your Topology

When it comes to support Administrators need to have a strong idea on current environment, and need to know how its designed, deployed and extended across boundaries for better understanding of the organization and provide a proper support with minimal downtime when a issue occurs.

Below is one such tool provided by Microsoft which clearly provides you the overall information of your AD/Exchange infrastructure in a pictorial manner with clear description and connection between various servers in the Environment with which you would come to know how the environment is designed and currently setup.

Basic requirement to use the Tool is Visio software and you can install a trial version of the product available from Microsoft to the machine and run this Tool.

Microsoft Active Directory Topology Diagrammer

Download :

Once you have the Topology Diagram in place you would come to know the Environment and it is saved in Visio format and can be edited as needed.

Also you can draw your own customized Topology diagram for Exchange and Lync server using Visio with the Help of  below Visio Stencils and present it to the Clients and mainly useful for creating Runbooks and Technical presentations.

Download :

Finally, You can use the below website to create the diagrams online without Visio and save them in desired format for viewing, and the recommended browsers are Google Chrome and Firefox.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Exchange Hybrid Deployment

Organizations started to migrate their Messaging Environment to O365 and Major ones have adopted the method of setting up a Hybrid deployment where we can have a seamless experience of managing both On premise and Cloud environment.

Setting up Hybrid deployment is not a easy task and it involves proper planning and design and its a long term solution earlier it was called as "Rich Co-existence" and now we use the term Hybrid deployment. This Hybrid deployment exist from Exchange server 2010 SP1 and later with SP2 we had Hybrid configuration wizard which reduced more complexity in setting up the solution and now with Exchange 2013 its further enhanced and below is the presentation from Teched session which states more on this descriptively.

Download :

Read this white paper on Exchange Deployment Options

Also review this Microsoft article over Exchange Hybrid Deployment and Migration with Office 365.

Planning for Lync 2013 Exams!

In our IT Industry keeping ourselves updated with the current technology matters a lot and also earning certifications is an added advantage which eventually proves your expertise.

Lync Server Certification is one of the hottest certification in the market, Lync server 2010 is the core product which hit the major crowd and organizations migrated from the Legacy versions to Lync 2010 to enjoy the benefits inculcated in the product and now we have Lync Server 2013 which gives more flexibility in deployment and High availability options which makes it more attractive to get migrated rapidly.

Lync Server 2010 Certifications are Expired by July 2013 and now we have Lync 2013 Exams available from Microsoft

Below are the two Exams

Exam 70-336: Core Solutions of Microsoft Lync Server 2013

Exam 70-337: Enterprise Voice & Online Services with Microsoft Lync Server 2013

Microsoft Virtual Academy has provided free training for both of these exams and I have uploaded the powerpoint slides in pdf  format taken from these trainings for your benefit with which you can review the contents that are explained perfectly in detail and prepare for the exam.

Exam 70-336

Download :

Exam 70-337

Download :