Monday, March 31, 2014

New Features for Office 365 this week!!!

As everyone know now the entire Microsoft Exchange Community is available in MEC 2014 and this time Microsoft made it large as ever before by including sessions from various Experts around the world covering both ends of the Technology and more discussions on the product line taking it one step further in the IT world, with this being said today Microsoft team updated their Office blog with a new post covering the latest innovations for this week from the team for Office 365.

Microsoft now majorly concentrates on providing rich user and administration experience, and bringing up a unified platform where  users can get access to what they need from any of the application they use seamlessly and also key innovations towards the social networking making it a robust product with the future Technology.

This latest post covers some key features listed below adding more value to the product and these will be rolled out soon to customers and we can expect much more in mere future.

Clutter, New Outlook Web App feature for managing large volume of emails in the box by recognizing which email is needed and which is not, using the user input intelligently and cleanup the mailbox at ease with Office 365.

Enhanced document collaboration, where user can now attach files from One drive for Business either in the form of attachment link or as a direct attachment from One drive  and provide permissions for the documents and also now group editing is possible on the document saved to One drive and shared to users  from anywhere from anyone who have access and we can easily differentiate the one with the help of versioning and also you can do real-time co-authoring on a file with Outlook Web App without having multiple copies created.

Groups, a new innovation from Microsoft with the help of Yammer where you can have groups created anywhere in office 365 and manage the groups and the same can be available in  Yammer, Exchange and SharePoint with the help of integrating group membership across these products delivering a unified experience for users from any application they use.

OWA for Android phones, Now mobile devices is everywhere and to have a seamless experience for users to access OWA on their Android mobile devices released the new app today, Microsoft made the app already available for other mobile platforms and this innovation covers that you can now access your email anywhere in any smartphone device which revolves around the market.

Read the complete blog post here: The evolution of email

Official Announcement here : Embracing cloud-first, mobile-first communications

More about these features will be show cast by Microsoft team in MEC 2014 and we can expect more details on these once the sessions are completed from Microsoft and also from community members in the upcoming days, stay tuned...

Additional Bytes...

*One more new innovation from Microsoft team was getting released today named ENVI an Intelligent E-mail companion, check out more on this in the below EHLO blog post

Bringing predictive email to the workplace

Friday, March 28, 2014

SharePoint Online Management Shell

When it comes to Office 365 most of the Organizations utilize the benefit of Exchange Online, Lync Online, SharePoint Online bundled together with their Enterprise Subscription, and all these products supports both fully Cloud and Hybrid deployment model this the beauty of Microsoft product where they can function flexibly and also integrate with each other for rich experience and also Microsoft team  continue innovate all of their product line seamlessly which is an add-on benefit when you use all of these services and When it comes to Administration we can manage these environments from our own desktops with the help of Windows Powershell by installing the appropriate Online module at ease.

I have already covered about Exchange Online and Lync Online Powershell module in my earlier post, and today I am sharing about the SharePoint Online powershell module, yesterday Microsoft team published the updated version of SharePoint Online module and made available for download and you can install this same as the other modules to your machine and manage the SharePoint Online Environment.

Download here: SharePoint Online Management Shell

Access the below Office blog post for some more information,

Introduction to the SharePoint Online Management Shell

One more vital post from MVP Rene Modery with real time demo available below explaining the new cmdlets in action.

New options in the SharePoint Online Management Shell PowerShell cmdlets

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Today is a Great day in Microsoft!!!

Today is a great day in Microsoft History, where they moved one step forward in proving that, they do what they say. As all of us know their Mantra now " Mobile First, Cloud First " and as a first step, today they released the long waited Office for Ipad and also the new Enterprise Mobility Suite to the consumer world by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella after he came to this position in a short span of time. This clearly shows Microsoft now has a strong leadership team and consistently innovating their product line and much more is yet to come, which we can see from Satya's speech towards the Organization future Road-map and all this shows that they are going in the right direction to reach beyond their regular goals by making their consumers at all ends happy day by day in this empowered IT world.

There are more information available around and below is the collection of the key information updated today by Microsoft in their various blog posts, new feeds and Webcast session which takes you to the real time journey in seeing the future with Microsoft.

A cloud for everyone, on every device - The Official Microsoft Blog

To get things in a nutshell review the latest WindowITPro post from our Rod Trent 

Office for iPad | Training courses - Hans Brender's Blog

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Microsoft New Enterprise Mobility Suite is on the way...

Today I read this new post from ZDNet from our Microsoft veteran Mary Jo Foley, where she updated about the upcoming release of Office for IPAD suite along with the new Enterprise Mobility Suite from Microsoft team for centrally managing iPads, iPhones, Android devices, Windows devices and more in a single window targeting the Large Enterprise Customers. MDM is now everywhere in today's IT world and every Organization is bound to use mobile devices for accessing Corporate data and Applications on the move along with this now BYOD is on the top of it, where Organizations now allow users to bring their own devices and access the data anywhere on any device, this puts some overhead on the current setup and management where we need to concentrate more on regulatory compliance and Information Security.

To address the above said challenges Microsoft other product vendors have developed strong MDM  and MAM solutions that can manage these devices from one central location, but not all of them met the requirement from one to another as customer requirement varies from one another.

With this new Enterprise Mobility Suite Microsoft is planning to go one step further in making it a strong MDM solution that can address most Organizations needs and we can expect an update on this by tomorrow Webcast from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, check the ZDNet post below to know more. We can see that Microsoft is reach out like ever before and innovation goes beyond imagination.

Access here:  Microsoft to unveil Enterprise Mobility Suite alongside Office for iPad

*Read this below TechNet Blog post from Microsoft Brand Anderson Corporate VP updating about the future of Enterprise Mobility.

Success with Enterprise Mobility: The Evolution of Enterprise Mobility

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Vulnerability issue with Microsoft Word!!!

Microsoft team released their latest security update where a hacker can gain control over your system when you access a RTF document using MS-Word which is a specially crafted with the vulnerability that will allow remote code execution during the access and cause potential threats, Microsoft team published a Security Advisory Bulletin on this issue and also released a support KB article that contains the fixit which disables opening RTF content with Word. Proper fix will be published soon with the monthly security updates as updated in the bulletin.

Access the Security Advisory here : Microsoft Security Advisory (2953095)

Access the MS KB here : Microsoft security advisory: Vulnerability in Microsoft Word could allow remote code execution

One more good fix available from WindowsITPro 

Blocking RTF Format Files in Word 2013 Using GPO


Microsoft team addressed this issue in this week patch Tuesday (8th April) along with other vulnerabilities, more information is available in the below Security Bulletin

Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for April 2014

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Hybrid Deployment Help File!

Recently I was reading few articles on deploying and managing  Exchange 2013 Hybrid Environment and as I already manage a Hybrid Exchange 2010 Environment  sooner or later we would need to upgrade to the new version both On premises and Cloud as everyone on the future Road-Map, so while reading I started to  review most of the information available in TechNet and various other great resources available from the community. While collecting the resources I came across this beautiful Help file on Exchange Server 2013 Hybrid deployment on a Russian Exchange forum, This help file is a collective Information of articles available for Hybrid deployment in the TechNet along with few vital notes from the author which really makes it a good read and must have document when you start reading about Exchange 2013 based Hybrid deployment.

I am sharing this Help file for your knowledge and you can start reading this from today because it contains collection of required information under a single window and available for offline viewing in PDF format. I will be soon starting to write some vital posts on Exchange Hybrid deployments which will give you required knowledge to deploy and manage the Hybrid Exchange Environment.

Below is the download link for the file obtained from and documented by Pavel Nagaev . 

Note: Since this Help file is a cumulative collection of information obtained from TechNet I would request you to review the TechNet articles for Exchange 2013 Hybrid deployment post reading this help file to get new updates as the article keeps updated with the new enhancements and changes made in the product which is a known fact.

Access TechNet here : Exchange Server 2013 Hybrid Deployments

Microsoft System Center: Network Virtualization and Cloud Computing E-Book

When it comes to Virtualization now the hot topic is not about virtualizing servers now its about Virtualizing networks which we term as Network Virtualization and in today's IT world Cloud Computing is everywhere when you move to Cloud whether its a Hybrid or a private or even a Public cloud Networking plays a major role and today we can see the word SDN (Software-Defined Networking) often because its a software driven world now and we don't much rely only on the hardware devices which were used for network communications as before and we have much simplified environment design made with the help of these new Technologies and you can refer my Virtualization and Cloud Computing section on the blog to know more on these topics.

Today I am sharing this new Free E-book published yesterday by Microsoft press on Microsoft Sytem Center which is a must one for us to read and inhere they provide you some in depth view on how the new Hyper-V Network Virtualization works and assisting their SDN strategy.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Analyzing Office 365 Mailbox Migration Performance

Today Microsoft team released the new script named AnalyzeMoveRequestStats.ps1 for analyzing the mailbox migration performance with Office 365. When it comes to Hybrid deployment moving the mailbox to and fro from On premise to cloud is a regular task and when you migrate your On premises environment to Office 365 the initial painful thing is the mailbox migration which will take ages if you don' t have the right configuration as guideline by Microsoft.

Moving mailboxes is now become a bit easy with Exchange Server 2013 where you can move a set of mailboxes as batches and manage the migration at ease and generate reports on the migration once completed. With this being said, this new Script from Microsoft is a add-on that will provide clear analysis report on the Mailbox migration status with the current environment over which Administrators can take appropriate action on getting things fixed at the right time to make the migration a smooth journey.

The latest EHLO blog post published for this script clearly explains how to read the details from the report along with the major gotchas to watch for when we plan for migration and much more in a nutshell

Access this post to download the script and know more : Mailbox Migration Performance Analysis

Also review the Exchange Online Migration Performance and Best Practices TechNet article to know more on the factors that will affect the migration in detail

Exchange Online Migration Performance and Best Practices

Along with this Blog post and TechNet review the below TechTarget post from our renowned MVP Steve Goodman on troubleshooting slow mailbox moves with Office 365, out there for a while which I read long back and sharing the same here for your additional knowledge.

Check here: Simple ways to troubleshoot slow mailbox moves to Office 365

Windows Azure becomes Microsoft Azure!!!

Microsoft team continue to innovate new enhancements to their product line as ever before, along with this now re-branding of their products are happening at a faster rate too, recently they renamed their Cloud based Storage Solution the popular "Sky Drive" to "One Drive" and now they planned to rename their Cloud Platform "Windows Azure" to "Microsoft Azure" they rename this for a good reason as the name implies that only Windows based platforms are supported on Azure wherein we can even run Linux and various other application Platforms on Azure and this really make sense to their decision. This is the hot topic that's going around in the IT World and we can soon expect the official announcement from Microsoft.

I am sharing this information here from my end to you after reading the latest ZDNet post from none other than our Mary Jo Foley.

Read the full post here: Microsoft to rebrand 'Windows Azure' as 'Microsoft Azure'


Here comes the Official Announcement from Microsoft team on the MSDN Blog as follows, Windows Azure will be renamed to Microsoft Azure, beginning April 3, 2014

Check here: Upcoming Name Change for Windows Azure

What's behind Office 365?

When it comes to Cloud Computing the very first thing comes to our mind is Office 365, Microsoft's largest cloud based offering which now dominates the IT Market and most Organizations have migrated to Office 365 and some are leveraging the benefits by deploying a Hybrid based solution that gave them the flexibility to manage both the environments seamlessly.

What is behind Office 365 ? was the question that remains with most of us, we all know that they are the same set of servers we use On premises with respect to Lync, Exchange and SharePoint. The High Availability and Site Resilient design along with their strong DataCenter Architecture that spans across the world and seamless integration among various product line at ease and bundled together with their service offerings makes them unique amongst their competitor products in the Cloud Market.

Microsoft always Innovate new things and with Office 365 its now more than what we could expect and you can refer my earlier blog posts under the office 365 section to know more on the present and the future road-map. In today's post I am going to reference you to the latest SharePoint Conference 2014 session on our topic in which the architecture behind Microsoft Office 365 is revealed for customers and you can take a look at how things are designed and working behind the walls of Microsoft Office 365 datacenter and the rich customer experience they provide along with much more information for IT Pros to know and stay one step a head in understanding the reality behind the product they support and how things actually work, at end of the day nothing is hidden and as always Technology is meant to be shared.
Download the presentation here: A behind the scenes look at Office 365 for IT Pros Presentation

Access the Video session here : A behind the scenes look at Office 365 for IT Pros

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Certificate Planning in Exchange 2013

Just before few minutes Microsoft team published the new EHLO Blog post which is continuation in series of articles published for Exchange Server 2013 namely Load balancing, Namespace planning , Client Connectivity and now its on Certificate Planning. Ross written this post using various scenarios which will cover the requirements for SSL cert names that needs be there based on the Organization's Infrastructure design and how they can utilize the new features with Exchange Server 2013 and also address how you need to carefully choose the right cert names if you have a Co-existence environment and also expand across different sites and adopt High availability and Site resilience.

Certificates play a vital role with any Exchange deployment and every admin should be aware about the various certificates available for usage and how they vary from one another and which one to choose for the correct requirement etc. and to begin read the TechNet blog post referenced below explaining on the topic descriptively.

Check here: Digital Certificates and SSL

If you read the earlier blog posts in the series you will clearly have more idea on how Exchange Server 2013 supports new deployment features and also simplifies most of the requirements in terms of both cost and architectural simplification without compromising High Availability and End user experience.

You can additionally refer the blog posts where I referenced to my own blog posts under Exchange Server section pointing to the Original posts when they released with additional contents to read to make you gain some more information on the topics which puts you one step further to know things more clear with the past an the present.

Check the blog post here: Certificate Planning in Exchange 2013

Refer my earlier blog post to know the importance of SSL Certificates from Symantec which is an add-on read to know more.

Check here : SSL Certificates Live Infographic Poster from Symantec

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How to setup Multiple Office 365 Tenants in a Single Active Directory with Steve Goodman!!!

I recently read this excellent post from our renowned MVP Steve Goodman on Search Exchange Forum in TechTarget on Using multiple Office 365 tenants with a single Active Directory and this reading puts you one step beyond the traditional reading we do for managing and implementing Office 365. I would call this is a good and a must read for every Office 365 Administrators to know things out of the box when we face new challenges during a complex design requirement of a customer per his current Infrastructure setup and to know what needs to be looked out first to complete his requirement through adequate knowledge and successfully implement a solution which meet their current standards and also pay way for future upgrades.

let's get in to our topic, one more key feature with Office 365 now is the support for Multiple Tenants with Single Active Directory, there are scenarios where customer Organization is split across different regions and they required to manage different locations separately and have seamless experience without any network overload and do not interested in changing their present setup for new implementations. In this scenario, some customers still prefer to have multiple Office 365 Tenants and ready to deploy additional servers if needed and spend some additional cost but their end motive is we should not re-architect their current setup and should not cause any impact to the End user and Business Experience. Though this is possible there are some caveats to look for and Steve wrote this excellent blog post to show you how things will work when you go for such model and what you should do as an Administrator when working on such projects.

Check the article here : Is a single Office 365 tenant better than using multiple tenants?

Additional Bytes:

You need to know one more key feature which is made possible with Office 365 Hybrid deployment for customers using Multiple SMTP domains using the right version of On premises Exchange Server 2010/2013 products on their environment for Autodiscover, which is an add-on read and I missed to blog about this on time and sharing this here.

Microsoft team made a recent innovation with Exchange Server 2013 and Exchange Server 2010 SP3 RU1 or later, wherein you have the new Autodiscover domain feature, which typically assist Hybrid customers who are using multiple SMTP domains in their environment to save cost by removing the requirement for having all the SMTP domains on the SSL cert which was previously a  mandate requirement and with this releases you can utilize the feature and setup one of your Primary SMTP domain as the Autodiscover domain name and the rest of the domains will be added automatically and configured to use the Primary SMTP domain for autodiscover settings when you run the HCW and this really a great deal for most of the Hybrid Customers.

I got this update from our renowned Office 365 MVP Sean McNeill on his blog. 

Refer the post here to know more: Office 365 Hybrid Configuration with Multiple SMTP Domains

Also read the below ExitCodeZero blog post on this feature with additional information,

Using the Autodiscover Domain feature to enable multiple SMTP domains in your hybrid configuration

Finally, With the latest release of Exchange Server 2013 SP1 we have now support for Multiple Active Directory Forest with Office 365 Hybrid deployment, check my earlier blog post on the same.

Review this TechNet blog post below to know more on these topics and get your Q & A addressed.

Multi-Forest and Multi-Tenant scenarios with Office 365


Steve started to write another Excellent series on Setting up a multi-forest hybrid Exchange deployment this year 2015, review this series to know more.

Access here : Setting up a multi-forest hybrid Exchange deployment

These are great Innovations with Office 365 for now and we can expect more in the upcoming days.


If you are looking to know how to Migrate mailboxes and service settings from one Office 365 tenant to another, the below blog post will be the best source to begin.

Access here: How to migrate mailboxes from one Office 365 tenant to another

Stay tuned for more updates...

Exchange Online Protection (EOP) Enhancements Webcast

Its now time for us to attend one more Ignite Webcast scheduled for this week Thursday March 20th 2014 9:00 AM PST and this is over the new enhancements made by Microsoft team to the Exchange Online Protection(EOP).

FOPE to EOP migration is already kicked off and major Tenants are migrating now rapidly. FOPE support will soon end by mid of this year post which you will be left alone with EOP and already many of us know what the difference is between FOPE and EOP and what new changes it has brought in. EOP is not new as it is  already in use either as a stand-alone service or with Office 365 for a while now after its initial release. You can refer my Office 365 section to get some handful of information on EOP.

Recently, Microsoft team made new enhancements to EOP and this attracted most of the customers as few features that were available with FOPE are removed from EOP which is now added back let say, Directory based Edge-blocking for example. You can refer my earlier post Exchange Online Protection Enhancements! on this topic and this webcast is over the same and inhere you can see things live in action, here more from the experts and get your Queries addressed.

Access here: Exchange Online Protection (EOP) Enhancements

Monday, March 17, 2014

Get your Free Hybrid License Key from Microsoft!!!

Now Office 365 is gaining  momentum as ever before, Organizations already using this service getting new enhancements day by day, you can refer my earlier posts on the Office 365 section and also take a look at the Office Blogs for detailed information regarding the innovations and enhancements made to the product in the recent months, with all this being said most of the Larger Enterprises are still evaluating to get migrated to Cloud and best way everyone including Microsoft suggest for Larger Enterprises is to adopt Hybrid Deployment model, this model gives us the flexibility of managing both the On premises and Office 365 Environment seamlessly.

Whether you are Exchange 2003/2007/2010/2013 On premises customer you are eligible to go for Office 365 with Hybrid deployment provided you met few criteria which will be available in the knowledge base article from Microsoft which I am about to share and on which this blog post is written. The most deployment model I saw and worked with is Exchange 2010 based Hybrid model and Microsoft team with the release of Exchange Server 2013 recommends us to install a Exchange Server 2013 multi-role server and deploy the Hybrid environment this can be made possible if your On premises Exchange server version is either Exchange Server 2007 or 2010 with the latest service pack and URs and if you are a Exchange Server 2003 customer you can still go for Hybrid deployment by installing Exchange Server 2010 SP3 on to your Environment and start the migration because you cannot install Exchange 2013 on to a 2003 environment which is a known limitation by design.

Microsoft made the Hybrid License key free for Organizations that are migrating from Exchange Server 2003 or 2007 and this is free for the one's who will be deploying and utilizing the Exchange Server 2010/2013 server for Hybrid purpose alone and also you need to have a valid Office 365 Enterprise subscription. Microsoft recently updated the below Knowledge base article to guide you how to obtain it and also the requirements for you to met to go for this free license with suggested links to follow for a successful Hybrid deployment as an ad-on.

Access the KB here: How to obtain an Exchange Hybrid Edition product key for your on-premises Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2003 organization

Microsoft Office Configuration Analyzer Tool 1.2 now Available!!!

Microsoft team recently released the new version of Microsoft Office Configuration Analyzer Tool with the version 1.2 and this is a quite handy tool for Administrators to troubleshoot common issues with Microsoft Office products proactively and resolve issues on time with out additional analysis on most part and this eventually benefits both On premises and Office 365 environments.

Download the tool here: Microsoft Office Configuration Analyzer Tool 1.2 

You can review the earlier version release EHLO blog post to know what this tool can do as an overview and this latest version adds some additional enhancements to the earlier version.

Review here: Office Configuration Analyzer Tool (OffCAT) version 1.1 is now available

Update: Microsoft team published the latest EHLO Blog post on the new version release of OFFCAT today March 18th along with the reference to Technical documentation, check it out now to know more, refer the above article for the earlier release and compare the same with the new one to know the difference.

Check here: Upgrade to Office Configuration Analyzer Tool (OffCAT) version 1.2

Also review the MS Knowledge base article on how to install and use OFFCAT.

Check here: Office Configuration Analyzer Tool (OffCAT) information


OffCAT is updated with latest enhancements and by June 2016, you have the latest version 2.2

Access the Official Blog post here: Upgrade to Office Configuration Analyzer Tool (OffCAT) version 2.2

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Good Week for O365 Customers!!!

This week is quite a good one for Office 365 customers as Microsoft team made few significant Enhancements one after the other day by day and this strongly proves that they are innovating more and more on their Road-map, with this being said, soon we can expect some more additional features on the way and if you are one of the customer then stay tuned on the Office blogs to know what is coming next and validate the same to know what makes the difference.

Updates released this week for your quick preview...

Introducing codename Oslo and the Office Graph

Announcing Office 365 Personal: A new way to access Office 365!

Discover Calendar Search in Outlook Web App

Enhanced text editor in Outlook Web App

Compact message header in Outlook 2013

Watch out for more...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Client Connectivity in an Exchange 2013 Coexistence Environment

This is post is reference to the latest EHLO Blog post on Client Connectivity in an Exchange 2013 Coexistence Environment written by our Ross Smith IV [MSFT]. Major Changes made to the way how Client connects from Exchange 2007 to 2010 and then to 2013 and its good to know what changed and how they all behave when they present in the same Environment and design the solution accordingly and either have a Co-existence setting for a long term or have it deployed properly till the migration completes.

To begin with this you need to have some fundamental knowledge on the client connectivity changes between different version of Exchange  and how Autodiscover is utilized and how CAS to CAS proxying and Re-direction methodology works and what behavioral changes you will expect when you have different flavors of Exchange present within your Exchange Organization at different AD sites and User Experience when they connect from various sites using various resources and most important how the DR will occur if you have one created for your Environment.

 Ross clearly explains the changes between an Exchange 2007 and 2010 Co-existence environment and how things will occur when you place a Exchange 2013 server which adds little bit more complexity and provides you all the required resources to refer and pain points to consider with various real-time scenarios that you can refer and design your solution and most importantly things are changing at rapid rate today and these vital knowledge on Client connectivity is a must known for all Administrators who manage the Exchange Environment, I would request you to review this post from top to bottom and also read related resources available and referenced to get yourself ready to face any complex deployment scenario, end of the day "User Experience Matters"

Read the Blog post here : Client Connectivity in an Exchange 2013 Coexistence Environment 

In Addition to this Read one of Ross's Old EHLO blog post on RPC Client Access Cross-Site Connectivity Changes to get some Insight on how client connectivity was working prior Exchange 2010 SP2 RU3 in Cross site scenario which will cover some additional  aspects on the topic.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SSL Certificates Live Infographic Poster from Symantec

Today I received this update from Symantec regarding their latest Live Infographic Poster on SSL Certificates, This was an awesome innovation from Symantec where it contains all the important resources on SSL and the latest news on the Encryption Technology under a single window, designed effectively to give your more information on the topic and provide access the required resources at ease.
In today's IT world Information Security is the more vital one and every Organization is spending more amount of resources on this part as they cannot compromise this at any cost. Unfortunately in the recent days Information Security violation is happening at high cost by Hackers around the world who are now more powerful than ever before and breaking the system though we have strong firewall and other Security mechanism and there are Organizations who are still untouched because of their strong security system by all means from a regular browser visit, critical Email communication to all the other transactions carried out through proper security mechanism like SSL , TLS and much other latest and greatest Encryption Technology. In the next generation Internet world we need to keep our resources safe at all costs with proper security mechanism and if you are planning for it then this resource for Symantec will be the best place to start to know more and do more.

Access the Live Infographic poster here : SSL Certificates Expained  from Symantec

Additionally, download the below Whitepaper on TLS/SSL Best practices from Symantec.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Exchange 2003 migration toolkit Released!!!

Just before few Minutes Microsoft Exchange Team released the Exchange 2003 migration toolkit in the EHLO Blog, This is a collection of various resources and Tool kits that will help Administrators to plan for a successful migration to the latest version of Exchange Server (Excluding Exchange 2013) or to Office 365 with either Hybrid or a fully Cloud deployment.

As I stated earlier during one of my post The End is Near for "Legacies"... Exchange Server 2003 is reaching its end of support on April 8 2014 along with windows XP and other products and also I mentioned in one of earlier post that I will be writing on this topic soon and today this EHLO blog post made me to write this post for readers. Exchange is a Business Critical application and its importance varies from one Organization to another, On a Technical perspective its always good to upgrade the environment to the latest version if possible or at least to the currently supported version which gives us more advantages of utilizing the new enhancements for having a Highly Available solution, DAG for example with Exchange 2010 etc. and upgrading Exchange not only requires hardware configuration changes it requires some Schema changes to be made in AD which eventually makes Organizations not to go for immediate upgrade to the Next version of Exchange as we have many other applications which are critical and rely on the Legacy Windows Server Operating system and rest of the story is known to all Administrators.

When we are nearing the End of Support for critical product like Exchange Server in our case its Exchange Server 2003 its good to plan and migrate to the next version at the earliest because if we missed we will be in a Unsupported scenario and Microsoft team will not support any of the cases further post this deadline and will be under pressure if anything breaks unexpectedly.  Planning for Migration is not easy with Exchange Server 2003 as it involves downtime for users, as mailbox moves are offline moves and also we have to plan some additional changes to the way free busy is published, Mail flow configuration and most important and painful one the "Public Folders".

Most Organizations are now targeting Cloud and Office 365 is the preferred one and if you are planning for Migrating your Exchange 2003 Environment and also have plans for adopting Cloud based model then this is the best option and we have detailed Instructions available from Microsoft to achieve this with proper guidance and support. but most of the Organizations are now not ready for Cloud deployment in their immediate road-map as they have other factors to consider and the best approach for them is to Upgrade to Exchange Server 2010, which is the preferred upgrade method that can be accomplished successfully with proper design and planning. Already "N" number of customers migrated like this and even I have worked on such migration for a Large Enterprise Organization, though there are few pain points post migration the Environment is stable. Also we cannot upgrade or co-exist with Exchange Server  2013 which is unsupported and going for 2007 is not a wise option.

Additional to the Migration Tool Kit check out this below resources to migrate from Exchange Server 2003 to Office 365 or to Exchange Server 2010. There are many resources available outside and below are few vital ones which are useful to begin your journey and these resources assisted me for my upgrades, specially the ones for Exchange 2010 which I personally recommend to others who approach me to get advice on these transitions.

Step-By-Step: Migration of Exchange 2003 Server to Office 365 from CANITPRO Blog written by our MVP Kelsey Epps

Your Step by Step Guide to Migrating from Exchange Server 2003 to 2010 from ExchangeServerPro written by our MVP Paul Cunningham

Upgrade Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 from Simple Talk written by our MVP Japp Wesselius

Finally, Access the Migration Toolkit here: Exchange 2003 migration toolkit

In addition to the above resources read this latest Redmond Magazine post, which explains the issues that could occur if we don't migrate on time and the requirements we need keep in place to make things work as per Microsoft guidelines and also over other additional benefits we could receive if we opt for their hosted solution.

Microsoft Warns Exchange 2003 Losing Support Next Month 

Windows PowerShell in Office 365

This post is a vital one for all the Office 365 Administrators and I believe most of you would have already know about this topic and if not then this is the right time to know and utilize the same for Managing Office 365 Environment effectively with the help of PowerShell.

PowerShell is not new for Administrators as it has become their part of everyday life, where we work with it at least once a day whether it is for a smaller requirement or a complex one. I have written few posts on PowerShell with reference articles and E-books available around the community to give you a strong Idea on the topic and to acquire adequate knowledge to work with PowerShell and manage the Environment effectively at ease. You can refer them here to begin.

If you are an Office 365 Administrator and your Organization is using all the three services Exchange, Lync , SharePoint Online then you are lucky that you will get the chance to work with all these three products and most of your work will for sure rely on Remote PowerShell. and to make this ease this guide will help. If you are a Hybrid Customer then you are even more Lucky that you will work on both On premises and Cloud seamlessly.

Microsoft team published a Guided TechNet post by the end of Last year which acts as a Resource Center containing all the major topics required for managing the Office 365 Environment with PowerShell and it covers wide range of topics from the Basic level to the Advanced.

Access the post here : Windows PowerShell in Office 365


Additionally review the below TechNet post to know the advantages of using Powershell to manage Office365.

Six Reasons Why You Might Want to Use Windows PowerShell to Manage Office 365

Moving from ADFS to Dirsync Password Hash!

I have already written few posts on ADFS and Dirsync and the most important one is the comparison article "ADFS Vs Password Hash" where I referenced a TechTarget post written by MVP Michael Van Horenbeeck which explains clear details on variation between the two and how they function along with my earlier posts on the two which gives you more insight on the products.  If you read this you will get to know more on these and decide which one to utilize based on the requirement.

Dirsync Password Hash is a new feature and many Organizations even the smaller ones need to deploy ADFS for Single Sign-On but they actually need that only for accessing O365 resources and it was just a Same-Sign On requirement as there are only few users and does not rely more as a larger enterprise to deploy ADFS and post the availability of DirSync password Hash some Organizations started to think about enabling this feature and remove the ADFS servers and doing this is not a easy task as it requires proper planning and implementation.

Today I saw an excellent post from Office 365 Tip of the Day blog from our renowned MVP Jethro Seghers, inhere he clearly explains about the detailed steps to follow to move from ADFS to Dirsync Password Hash with the proper steps to convert the existing federated domain to non federated and provides us a script which will check and convert all our user accounts to non federated accounts, post which we can perform the rest of the tasks in implementing Dirsync Password Hash and remove the ADFS servers.


Additionally, check this Office 365 Community Blog on the topic from Microsoft which discuss more on this switch-over and references to get this setup.

Switching from ADFS to using Password Hash Synchronization

Also its still possible to use Set-MsolDomainAuthentication cmdlet to Change the domain authentication between standard identity and single-sign on, but the above Method is recommended.

In scenarios when your ADFS Environment is completely unavailable only above Set-MsolDomainAuthentication method works and more information in detail is explained in the below article.

Office 365 – Using Password Sync as a Backup to AD FS

*There are certain gotchas to watch out for once you move to Dirsync Password Hash and knowing this will help you manage your environment at ease without compromising Information Security, to know more on this read the below excellent post from Perficient. 

Office 365 – DirSync Password Sync: Did You Know?

Security plays a major role when you sync passwords and below post from Cogmotive explains how secure Dirsync Password Hash feature descriptively.

How Secure is DirSync with Password Synchronisation?

Also Read the below post over Encryption limitations.

AAD Password Sync, Encryption and FIPS compliance 

Also on a future plan Microsoft team is working making both of this feature work hand in hand for Disaster Recovery scenario. I have got this update from the latest Office365 FM podcast where Microsoft Senior Program Manager "Jono Luk"provided an insight on the same and you can check my earlier post "Microsoft Future RoadMap for Identity and Access Management with O365"  for more details.


As stated above Microsoft team now made Password hash work as a backup for ADFS to provide a highly available Single Sign-on infrastructure and the below TechNet Wiki post is updated reflecting this with other recent enhancements and step by step walk-through instructions to achieve this covering various key scenarios.

Check here: DirSync: How To Switch From Single Sign-On To Password Sync

In scenarios when the ADFS infrastructure is completely down and no connectivity possible between the ADFS environment and MSOL then Set-MsolDomainAuthentication method is alone reliable which is discussed and explained in the comments section of the above Wiki post.

This really makes us feel Microsoft is doing a great deal of home work in analyzing possible ways of providing highly available service  as promised, that makes customers to adopt their service and consistently have a better support experience.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Exchange Server Namespace Planning

I am writing this a post a bit late today after an excellent blog post on Exchange Server 2013 Namespace planning published recently in EHLO blog by our Ross Smith MSFT and inhere he clearly explains the Namespace requirements needed with Earlier version of Exchange server products like Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010 in comparison with Exchange 2013 which simplifies most of the requirement and you will end up with having few name spaces and also have the ability to have single namespace through out the Exchange Organization for High availability and Site Resilience.

When it comes to Exchange Deployment the most important key area is the Namespace planning, without proper planning in this part we end up with more issues in the environment over end user experience and buy certificate with SAN entries which may not be required, there was few misconceptions like we need to add all the CAS and HT servers FQDN in Cert, CASArray Name in cert etc. which are really not required and addressed by Microsoft and other MVPs at various instances in various relevant blog posts. Proper Namespace planning reduces overload on Administrators when they expand the environment and upgrade the same in the upcoming years.

There is a most important article I came across earlier that was published before few years on Exchange 2010 Namespace planning, which covers wide range of information on the topic touches various key areas and would like to take this opportunity to share with you inhere along with the actual EHLO blog post to make you understand the importance of Namespace planning and provide you adequate knowledge on the subject which will be useful for your present and future engagements.

The article which I refer is the one obtained from WindowITPro referred below and it was quite useful for me during my earlier engagements and provided adequate knowledge on the same.

Check here : Exchange Server 2010 Best Practices: Namespace Planning

Finally, refer the latest EHLO Blog post covering some key areas of earlier version of Exchange Server Namespace planning and detailed information on the Exchange Server 2013 Namespace requirement with visual appeal.

Check here: Namespace Planning in Exchange 2013

Friday, March 07, 2014

SAML 2.0 federation with Office 365

Microsoft team continue to innovate more with Office 365 and more Organizations have already adopted Office 365 to their IT Infrastructure and some or on the way and when it comes to Identity and Access management Microsoft is more cautious and bringing more secure way of achieving this and most of the Organization rely on Single Sign-on for which Federation becomes mandate and if the Customer is using Active Directory On premises then this can be achieved easily with ADFS and DirSync, this is not the case with all as there are Organizations who use other Identity providers and even they need to migrate to Office 365 sooner or later and keeping this in mind Microsoft Office team announced the Support for SAML 2.0 federation with Office 365.

The Official Announcement is made in the Office Blog by Paul Andrew Technical Product Manager on the Office 365 team, where we have clear description of how to achieve this federation with the help of LDAP v3 directory synchronization with links to know more on the topic along with deployment guide.

Read the post here : Announcing support for SAML 2.0 federation with Office 365

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Office 365 IT Pro Network Yammer Group!

Microsoft team today announced the availability of the new Yammer group for Office 365 IT Pros named "Office 365 IT Pro Network" which is a social network open to all Technical people work on the relevant technology to join hands to discuss over the product, get to know the latest happenings in the Technology, receive support, Suggest innovative ideas and much more.

Microsoft team now concentrates on bringing the O365 Technical community together through this Social Networking group with the power of Yammer which delivers rich Enterprise Social Experience. Its a great news for Technical people who work on the Office 365 platform to have a common ground made available to collaborate more effectively and do more things in the mere future.

Read the official announcement from the Office Blog to know more

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Load Balancing in Exchange 2013 and Managed Availability

Load Balancing becomes critical when we have more workloads approaching the servers from various instances and for this Exchange Server is not an exception, we all know the importance of Load balancing with Exchange Server for all these years and with the Exchange Server 2013 release it moved from the traditional Layer 7 Load Balancer to Layer 4 Load Balancer which requires no session affinity at the Load Balancing layer.

Though this is a great architectural simplification we have a minor glitch with the Managed Availability feature comes along with Exchange Server 2013 which monitors the Exchange server and performs automatic recovery mechanism during failures and a EHLO blog post published today on this topic which clearly explains this impact with various scenarios and also shows how an administrator can configure settings to over come the issues caused by this proactively to have the service up and running without issues.

Ross Smith takes the following Namespace and Affinity scenarios and explains this in detail with clear visual appeal.

Single Namespace / No Session Affinity
Single Namespace / Session Affinity
Multiple Namespaces / No Session Affinity

Check out the blog post to know more: Load Balancing in Exchange 2013 

* In addition to the above post read the below new WindowsITPro article from MVP Michael Van Horenbeeck explaining the clear usage differences between a Layer 4 and Layer 7 load balancing  with Exchange Server 2013 and touches how the usage of a proper load balancer enhances the support experience.

Exchange Server 2013 Load Balancing and Health Checks

Exchange Hybrid Deployment with Exchange Server 2013 SP1 What's New?

Exchange Server 2013 SP1 was released recently and this a major Milestone in Microsoft Exchange Server product line wherein with this release Microsoft Exchange team has done various innovations which typically address few issues and also provides various enhancements to the customers using Exchange both On premises and Online.


I have recently written a post on the release of Exchange Server 2013 SP1 during the release date with various references around the community on this topic under a single window along with new issues and fixes which I continue to update till date. Access this post to know more "Exchange Server 2013 SP1 Released!!!"

Microsoft team made significant enhancements with this release which made them provide new features, once you review the information in the above said blog post you will know more on this. Lets get in to our Topic for the day, Everyone know that Microsoft team is insisting customers to move to their Office 365 support who are planning for adopting cloud delivery model and the most recommended method for choosing this option with Exchange is to go for Hybrid Deployment model which provides seamless experience for managing both the On Premises and Cloud and receive benefits from both ends and Microsoft team continue to innovate and bring in new features first with office 365. So, if you are one such customer you will enjoy the benefit first hand and this Hybrid deployment reaches out one step a head wherein you can decide which users to stay On premises and which users to stay in Exchange online based on your Organizations requirements and move them as needed to utilize the service with proper planning and cost which mutually benefits end user experience and Organization's finance budget.

Exchange Server 2013 SP1 benefits more when you have your On premises deployment updated to this release and configured for an Hybrid deployment model with Exchange Online, the vital ones to consider are the below which is really a great significant improvement from Microsoft team and This is a good news for Organizations who are planning to get to migrate to Exchange 2013 then this is the right time.

Hybrid Deployments with Multiple Active Directory Forests is now possible with Exchange Server 2013 SP1 and Organizations using Multiple AD Forests can now migrate to Office 365 and the below TechNet article give you a clear picture on the same with requirements and restrictions to begin.

Check here: Hybrid Deployments with Multiple Active Directory Forests

We can now Configure OAuth Authentication Between Exchange and Exchange Online Organizations which replaces the need of Exchange federation trust configuration process.

Check here for more information:  Configure OAuth Authentication Between Exchange and Exchange Online Organizations

Additionally, Check out the below post from on configuring OAuth for E-Discovery in an Exchange Hybrid Deployment.

Using OAuth Authentication eDiscovery in an Exchange Hybrid and for Partner Applications written by our MVP Henrik Walther

We can expect more in the upcoming days as things are not the same as it was before with Microsoft Product line.

One more Key factor to note, Microsoft team has officially made announcement that we can expect a new version of Exchange Server only by Next year along with other Product line.

Check out the below Redmond Magazine post to know more.

Next Exchange and SharePoint Server Products Arriving in 2015

Monday, March 03, 2014

Still Using XP...Get ready to Upgrade!!!

Microsoft team has already made announcements to the end users and Organizations who are using Windows XP to upgrade to either Windows 7 or 8 at the earliest as the end is near for the extended support by this 8th April 2014, After this date there will not be any support for XP from Microsoft and this puts XP users under trouble as there is already a great deal of Security threats happening around the world and the exploits target is now this legacy Operating system so its good to start the upgrade now itself as this no better day than today.
I already wrote few posts on this earlier and per current analysis already major Organizations started their upgrade and few are still in progress but we have a tight deadline to complete this and few Organizations are still using XP due to various other reasons and Microsoft Security essentials is available as a backup for providing anti-malware support but this is not a good option for a longer run and everyone need to upgrade the end user Operating system sooner or later. Along with XP , IE8 is also reaching its end of support on the same date so browser upgrade becomes mandate once you complete your OS upgrade to the latest version.

Review my old posts to know how things started.

The End is Near for "Legacies"...

Will You still Continue to use XP after Reading this?

O365 - Upgrade your IE

These are only few and there are many other available outside and everyday one new security threat is happening around the world and all these happenings puts us at the verge to get our environment secure at the earliest by all means.

Microsoft team already started to update users who are using XP by providing warning messages to upgrade their Operating system through the last windows update and also provided us a new free data migration tool called PCmover Express for Windows XP which copies your files and settings from your Windows XP PC to a new device running Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1

Review the below  ZDNet post and Windows Experience Blog for more details,

Microsoft to start nagging Windows XP users about April 8 end-of-support date

New Windows XP data transfer tool and end of support notifications

One more TechNet Blog from Microsoft on the Topic which clearly shows the Impact if you delay the upgrade

Small businesses: Stay safe, get up to date before Windows XP, Office 2003 support ends April 8

Additionally, download this guide to from WindowsITPro know the top reasons to Upgrade from XP.

Download here: Top Reasons to Upgrade from Windows XP Now

Get yourself ready and start the transition if you have not started the upgrade yet as the deadline is getting near day by day.

Additional Bytes...

Exchange Server 2003 is also reaching its end of support by the same date 8th April 2014 and now most of the Organizations using these Servers in their Messaging Environment begin their transition to Exchange Server 2010 and I received more calls and news on the same from my circle and soon will be involving in these transitions again after a long break and for sure will get some new challenges and will write a blog post in the upcoming weeks. Stand by for the same...