TechDays BeLux 2010 Preconference

Another year is another TechDays conference. This year I took my netbook me with me to eliminate the effort of having to type over my paper notes. I did turn off most of the options in the BIOS or in windows (WIFI) to maximalise the battery life.

The sessions in the IT Pro-track focused on Exchange Server 2010 exclusively and are presented by Ilse Van Criekinge and Scott Schnoll. Here’s the stuff that I found most interesting:

Managing Exchange 2010

I was waiting in front of the wrong“Room 2” together with a lot of the other attendees. So  Ilse had already started with her first session concentrating on the new and improved management features of Exchange Server 2010.

We had an internal presentation last week were most of the stuff was covered, she did mention a couple details that we didn’t mention explicitly:

Exchange Control Panel (ECP)

  • Additional virtual directory to add when publishing ECP via reverse proxy
  • It’s possible to set out of office for a user using ECP without having full mailbox access (uses RBAC)
  • Inbox rules are also referenced in message tracking
  • Remote Shell:

    During a internal presentation the question was specifically raised whether it would be possible to use remote PowerShell from a x86 workstation given that the Exchange binaries are only available in 64bit versions. I don’t exactly remember who came up with that one, but it is possible.

    Exchange Management Console (EMC)

    There were 3 things that i didn’t explicitly mentioned:

  • Bulk editing of recipients
  • Certificates GUI wizard
  • Command logging
  • Exchange High Availability

    Scott starts with outlining the HA goals and vision for E2K10, then covers the evolution of the HA options in the history of Exchange Server.

    Key takeaways in this session:

    • Datacenter level events (switchovers) always require manual action (we had an animated discussion)
    • GUI for DAG defaults to DHCP. If you prefer fixed IP-addresses you need to use EMS. Multiple ip’s for different subnets can be separated by a comma.
    • Larger DAG = greater resilience. Don’t be afraid to go big.

    We shortly touched the topic of transitioning to E2K10 but a dedicated presentation will follow on day 2 of the main conference.

    Exchange Information Protection & Control (incl. RBAC)

    These features might not be used very frequently in the deployments we see, it’s always good to know what’s possible:

    Intro

    The goal is to protect your organisation against information leakage and at the same time provide a balance between soft & hard controls.

    MailTips

    Mailtips have partial offline support via the Offline Address Book (OAB)! Group metrics, on the other hand are gathered overnight and cached.

    Given the difficult political situation in Belgium it was not to hard to relate to the demo about mailtips in different languages.

    Transport Rules

    Ilse showed off Dynamic Signatures. Trying to get end users to standardize e-mail signatures is an eternal battle for every organization. I wonder is exchange administrators will be tasked manage convincing marketing and/or communications departments to not overdo it!?

    Moderation

    Set E2K10 server as expansion server when using moderation in a mixed environment.

    We ended with a discussion and demo of Information Rights Management (IRM) and ethical wall.

    Exchange 2010 Client Side

    What’s new when talking about client access/Web services

    • Multi browser support
    • Outlook-on-the-middle-tier: all outlook clients connect to CAS also 2K3 etc. Provides a better end user experience during *overs, but not a 100%. CAS-array keeps the CAS server from becoming a single point of failure.
    • Outlook Web App (OWA): suggested contacts replaces NK2 nickname cache. Multiple mailboxes easily accessible.
    • Exchange Active Sync (EAS)
    • AutoDiscover
    • UM: not covered because of time constraints. Ilse promised a blog about it.

    Exchange Performance/Scalability

    This presentation was less a “what’s new”-type of presentation and went a bit further into the technical details=

    Product team scalability & testing

    • Scale up vs. scale out; msx team recommends scaling out
    • Disable hyperthreading bacause it monitoring & capacity planning challenges

    Guidelines & Ratios

    • CPU: more cores result in reduced gains because of the overhead associated with it
    • Memory; too much memroy won’t hurt but does cost money
    • mailbox scalability for HA; size for double failure
    • network load balancing; RPC required! Not just http

    Toolkit for planning

    • LoadGen
    • JetStress
    • Requirements Calculator
    • Profile Analyzer

    My netbooks battery status at the end of the day was still 48% so I actually had a good experience with digital note-taking.

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