Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Really, Really Good Advice

Sriram Krishnan works on the Windows Azure team at Microsoft. He recently published a post, Stuff I've learned at Microsoft, which gives great advice and commentary on things he learned in his five+ years at Microsoft.

I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

TechEd Holiday Discount Ends Soon!

There's only a few more days left to register for TechEd North America 2010 and receive the $300 holiday discount. This discount is an extra $100 off the early bird discount and is scheduled to end on 12/31/2009.

At TechEd, you can learn about today’s cutting edge trends, helping make life easier for you (and everyone else) at work. But the most important benefit just might be the networking: you can build personal connections with Microsoft experts and peers that will last far beyond TechEd.

I'll be there. Will you?

Hotfix ID – What Does This GUID Stand For?

Recently, I came across a problem when running the Cluster Validation Wizard where the two nodes did not match in the Validate Software Update Levels section.

You must run the Validate test on fully configured solutions before you configure the Failover Cluster to verify the proposed solution. All tests must pass with either a green checkmark (passed) or a yellow yield sign (warning), in order to obtain product support from Microsoft. See the Microsoft Support Policy for Windows Server 2008 Failover Clusters.

The yellow yield sign indicates that this particular aspect of the proposed solution is not in alignment with Microsoft best practices. However, this aspect will still work and will be considered a supported configuration. Personally, I never deploy a production cluster unless I get a completely green result.

As shown above, one of the Windows Server 2008 servers was indicating a warning of "Software Updates missing on 'servername'" and the missing updates are listed only as a GUIDs, with no description.

I searched the Interwebs for anything on related to either GUID, with no luck. Then I came across a nifty script by Guy Teverovsky, a Premier Field Engineer for Platforms at Microsoft Israel. You run the script on the node that's missing the updates.

Here's the syntax:

C:\>cscript GetPatchInfo.vbs /?
Displays details of installed patches/hotfixes
Usage: cscript GetPatchInfo.vbs [/guid:]
/guid: The GUID of the hotfix
Running the script without parameters will enumerate all
the patches installed.

Sample output:

C:\>cscript GetPatchInfo.vbs /guid:{47740627-D81D-4A45-A215-03B075A18EC7}
-------------------------------------------------------
Patch Name: Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1)
Patch Code: {47740627-D81D-4A45-A215-03B075A18EC7}
More Info URL:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/937162Patch
State: Installed
Product Code:{90120000-00A4-0409-0000-0000000FF1CE}
Product Name: Microsoft Office 2003 Web Components

I'm also hosting the script here on my blog, just in case it becomes unavailable from his site sometime in the future.

Download GetPatchInfo.zip

In my case, the GUIDs {DEBD1C94-5AAB-4E46-A130-359A52D2bb65} and {2B3A711E-1265-4D05-ACBB-B7677EA6E860} refer to the SCOM 2007 agent, which was missing on one of the nodes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fix for Cannot Logon to OWA Using ISA 2004

A client had a problem where users could not logon to Outlook Web Access (AKA, OWA or Webmail) from the Internet. Users would get the logon page, but would be returned to the same logon page after entering their correct username and password.

Accessing OWA from the internal network would present the same logon page, but the user can successfully logon and access their mailbox. It turns out that the fact that they get the same logon page internally is a clue to the solution. Internal (non-ISA) users will only see the OWA logon page if Exchange is configured to use Forms Based Authentication (FBA). In order for ISA to work properly with OWA, Exchange should NOT be configured for FBA. It should only be configured on the ISA server.

Here's how the two systems should be configured:
  • Install the Exchange server's SSL certificate in the ISA computer's Personal certificate store
  • On the ISA server, configure a Mail Server Publishing firewall rule to allow External users to access the OWA server using HTTPS. Configure an OWA web Listener for HTTPS using the Exchange server's SSL certificate that you imported. Configure the Listener's authentication to use OWA Forms-Based. Ensure that ISA is redirecting requests to the SSL port 443 on the Bridging tab.
  • Ensure that the Exchange server is NOT using Forms Based Authentication. In Exchange System Manager, go to [OrgName] > Administrative Groups > [AdminGroup] > Servers > [ServerName] > Protocols > HTTP. View the properties of the Exchange Virtual Server. Clear the Enable Forms Based Authentication checkbox on the Settings tab.

The customer was using ISA 2004 in front of Exchange 2003, but I assume this problem/solution will also occur with ISA 2006.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Is Microsoft Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server x86 or x64?

After installing Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange (FPE), I ran Task Manager to see what processes were running. I was surprised to see almost all of the Forefront processes are 32-bit. I asked Microsoft why this is, since Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010 are 64-bit only applications.

It turns out that this is because the antivirus engines are still 32-bit. FPE uses up to five different scan engines from different vendors to scan emails (Authentium, Kaspersky, Microsoft, Norman, and VirusBuster). The AV vendors are working to create 64-bit versions of their scan engines, but there is no ETA at this time.

Each scan engine requires approximately 250 MB of memory. Less memory is required if Intelligent Engine Management (IEM) is not enabled and fewer than 5 engines are selected.

Considering that each scan engine is runs in its own discreet process, there may not be much of an advantage running 64-bit, anyway. 32-bit scan engines also mean that they can be used on the 32-bit non-production versions of Exchange for testing. Even so, I'd rather see the Forefront Team create a 32-bit version for testing and a 64-bit version for production once the AV vendors have 64-bit scan engines.

Friday, December 11, 2009

TechEd 2010: The Much Coveted TechEd Bag

Here it is already... The Bag!

Fellow Tweep, Scott Ladewig, tweeted about this picture of the bag for TechEd 2010 North America attendees. They are still working on the colors and features of the bag, but it looks good to me!

The picture comes from RobNic_TechEd, one of the owners of Microsoft's TechEd North America event. He and his team are responsible for the execution of the event.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

TechEd 2010: Where's The Krewe?

Looking for TechEd's party side???
  • Follow TheKrewe on Twitter

  • Search for #TheKrewe

  • Join The Krewe Facebook group, here

We're a group of hard working IT Pros and Developers. We gather every year at Microsoft TechEd North America, the largest Microsoft technology education conference. Our mission is to seek out all the happening after-conference activities.

The Facebook site will be used to share information, trade contacts, and schedule up meeting places and times. Come on and join! You know you want to.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No TechEd Connect for 2010

Microsoft TechEd Connect has been used for the past three or four years as a web-based communication platform for TechEd attendees.

We've used it in the past to create discussion groups that are targeted. For example, we used it to create The Krewe (parties and afterhours activities), Exchange Gods (Exchange design and management), and many other groups. It's a great way for like-minded attendees to virtually meet their colleagues.

I emailed the TechEd team to find out when TechEd Connect will be online for TechEd North America 2010. Here was their response:

Hello Jeff,

I have just heard back from this team. It seems that there will be no Tech Ed Connect this year. However, there are networking opportunities through Tech Ed Facebook and Tech Ed Twitter. You can find links to these tools on the Tech Ed event website at ttps://northamerica.msteched.com.

Please let us know if you have any further questions.

Sincerely,

Tech.Ed North America 2010 Registration Team
*E-mail: TechEd2010@microsoft.crgevents.comTech.Ed 2009
Website:
https://northamerica.msteched.com


So it sounds like we're going to have to "roll our own" for TechEd groups and discussions. That's unfortunate, because I know a lot of people who don't (or won't) use Twitter or Facebook. I also know of companies that block social networking sites. This will make it difficult for attendees to get timely updates.

Using a general social networking infrastructure also doesn't lend itself to targeted discussions for attendees with similar interests. How will we find each other?

I'll have to get together with some of the Krewe and those who want to attend the Exchange Roundtable and decide where and how to do this. What do you think?



Monday, December 7, 2009

I'll be there, will you?


I booked my trip to TechEd 2010 North America today. Woohoo!

I'll be joining the Krewe and plan again to organize an Exchange Roundtable. This will be an opportunity to join others, like you, who design, implement, and manage Exchange organizations of any size. I'll post more here and on TechEd Connect, once it's up and running. In the meantime, post a comment here if you'd like to join me.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter!

Microsoft/Prometric Exam FAIL

Not me, Microsoft and Prometric (again). For the second time in a week, I am unable to take a beta Microsoft exam that I received an invitation to take.

The first was for 71-659: TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization. This exam I never got a chance to sign up for, even though I tried 10 minutes after registration opened. That's because some yahoos blogged about the exam and gave the registration code to everyone on the planet. Unfortunately, this was also blogged by a Microsoft MVP. Nice.

The second was for 71-663: Pro: Designing and Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. This time, I was able to register and got a confirmation email immediately from Prometric. My friends markmorow and cxi on Twitter recommended that I confirm that my exam wasn't canceled. I went to the Prometric site today and sure enough, it was canceled.

No notification was sent to me about the cancellation. Nice again. The Microsoft Born to Learn website had this to say about it.

I contacted Prometric, who gave sent me the following information:

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for your interest in the Microsoft Beta 071-663, PRO: Designing & Deploying Messaging Solutions w/MS Exchange Server 2010, examination. Microsoft authorized a registration cap of 300 registrations for this beta. Unfortunately, your appointment was scheduled beyond this cap and, as a result, needed to be cancelled. Due to this, you may have received an email confirmation of the cancellation.

Microsoft is, however, authorizing one free attempt to take the live examination at no cost to you when it is released next year. You will receive an email within a week which will include a voucher number valid for the 070-663 live examination. Please ensure to save the voucher number for use on your exam. It will be required at the time of registration to receive the exam at no cost.

We appreciate your business and apologize for any inconvenience this may have
caused.

Thank you.
Prometric

I'll be looking for this voucher when the Exchange 70-663 becomes official. If you, like me, didn't receive a cancelation email and showed up at the test site, go to http://www.prometric.com/appeals to request reimbursement for lost work and travel time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TechEd 2010 Registration is Open

TechEd North America 2010 registration is open! Save $300, if you register by Dec 31st.
The event for professionals who want to get ahead and stay ahead of the game
This year's TechEd will be in New Orleans, LA and I'm planning to attend.