A critical look at Microsoft Software Assurance

I’ve come across an interesting article, critical of Microsoft Software Assurance. It’s a good read. The article is split in to the following 6 parts, with a 7th part to come.

  1. Microsoft software licensing: Seven deadly sins
  2. Software Assurance: How Microsoft gambles with your money
  3. Microsoft’s Software Assurance pressures businesses to buy before they’re ready
  4. Software Assurance math adds up for Microsoft, not as much for biz customers
  5. Sticker Shock: Software Assurance’s fourth deadly sin
  6. Software Assurance punishes some loyal Microsoft customers, encourages others to skip upgrades
  7. Software Assurance makes Microsoft less competitive

Increase Mailbox Store limit on Exchange 2003 SP2

Microsoft Exchange 2003 is quite an old product now – but still widely used in production. What I’ve found over the last few months doing migrations is that many people are either running Service Pack 1 or haven’t changed the registry key that allows you to increase the store size.

You may get an error like this in the event log, event id 1216

When you install the service packs, they do not increase the store size. This must be done manually. As you can see, Exchange is SP2 which has a 75GB limit. This is also the case when upgrading Exchange 2003 Standard to 2003 Enterprise.

To fix this, you must edit the registry. Edit the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESystemCurrentControlSetServicesMSExchangeISServer name

Under this key, you will find the private and public stores.

Change ‘Database Size Limit in Gb’ to 75.

You will now need to dismount the database and remount it.

SBS 2003 -> 2011 Migration Part 1 – SBS 2011 Install

Microsoft Small Business Server provides many improvements over Small Business Server 2003 and 2007. Built on Windows Server 2008 R2, SBS 2011 Standard includes Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP1, Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010, and Windows Server Update Services.

This post will cover the following areas:

  • Configuring a SBS 2011 server for migration from SBS 2003 to 2011
  • Migrating Data
  • Migration of Exchange 2003 to Exhcange 2010 SP1
  • Migration of Sharepoint V3 to Foundation 2010

You can download the migration manual here.

I take it if you are reading this document, you have made the decission to upgrade to SBS 2011.

To begin there’s a few things you need to do first.

  1. Your new server requires atleast 120gb on the main partition to be able to install SBS 2011.
  2. Your existing server needs all service packs applied. This includes SBS 2003 SP1, Exchange 2003 SP2 and the Sharepoint updates. If these are not installed, the migration wizard will fail.
  3. Install Powershell 2.0 and the Microsoft Configuration Analyzer on the existing server
To begin:
  1. On the existing server, insert the SBS 2011 install DVD and run the migration tool. Step through this. This will let you know if you are missing any required updates.
  2. At the end of the migration wizard, it will ask you to run the answer file wizard. Run this and create an answer file
  3. Once you know the answer file is correct, you need to copy it on to a USB stick or create an ISO with this file on it (If using VMWare)
  4. You can also copy the Tools directory off the disk and place this folder on the existing server. This folder contains the migration wizard and answer file wizards.
  5. On the new server, install the SBS 2011 installation disk. Run the setup.
  6. Go through the options and install using custom install if you wish. Make sure the USB stick with the migration file is inserted (or mounted).
  7. Once the server is installed and has rebooted, you will see that migration mode is selected. This means it has detected the answer file.
  8. You will see the verify clock settings once you select migration mode. If you don’t seen this, something is wrong with the answer file.
  9. Next you will need to confirm your network settings on the source and destination server.
  10. Next you will need to confirm your source name and authentication credentials.
  11. If you get an error saying “Cannot verify server” hit shift + f10 and check your IP/DNS settings. I recommend doing a NSLOOKUP to ensure these settings are correct.
  12. Next you will need to configure the company information.
  13. Next SBS 2011 will now install any updates and complete the install. After around the 3rd reboot you will see the server in Active Directorty.
  14. Just a note: The setup says this step will take 30 minutes. Ours took a lot longer, around 2 hours. At one point it looks like it fails. Reading the log file in c:program filesWindows Small Business ServerLogs we found there were errors replicating. Replication took along time.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Exchange ActiveSync Returned an HTTP 500 Error Exchange 2003

Using testexchangeconnectivity I got the following error: 

Attempting FolderSync command on ActiveSync session 
FolderSync command test failed 

Additional Details 
Exchange ActiveSync returned an HTTP 500 response. 

You may get the following error when syncing your mobile phone or using www.testexchangeconnectivity.com. This error can be caused by many different issues. If you’ve tried everything, have a look on the virtual directories and check that the IP settings are not set to DENY for certain IP addresses. This was the cause of my pain recently.

Installing SBS SP1 on SBS Server will cause the deny ip settings to be inserted. Only local IP addresses were granted access on the exchange-oma and exchange directories.

Microsoft Exchange 2010 SP2 announced

Microsoft have announced service pack 2 for Exchange 2010. I wonder how many update roll-ups will be broken by this?

  • Outlook Web App (OWA) Mini: A browse-only version of OWA designed for low bandwidth and resolution devices. Based on the existing Exchange 2010 SP1 OWA infrastructure, this feature provides a simple text based interface to navigate the user’s mailbox and access to the global address list from a plurality of mobile devices.
  • Cross-Site Silent Redirection for Outlook Web App: With Service Pack 2, you will have the ability to enable silent redirection when CAS must redirect an OWA request to CAS infrastructure located in another Active Directory site.  Silent redirection can also provide a single sign-on experience when Forms-Based Authentication is used.
  • Hybrid Configuration Wizard: Organizations can choose to deploy a hybrid scenario where some mailboxes are on-premises and some are in Exchange Online with Microsoft Office 365. Hybrid deployments may be needed for migrations taking place over weeks, months or indefinite timeframes. This wizard helps simplify the configuration of Exchange sharing features, like: calendar and free/busy sharing, secure mailflow, mailbox moves, as well as online archive.
  • Address Book Policies: Allows organizations to segment their address books into smaller scoped subsets of users providing a more refined user experience than the previous manual configuration approach. We also blogged about this new feature recently in GAL Segmentation, Exchange Server 2010 and Address Book Policies.
  • Customer Requested Fixes: All fixes contained within update rollups released prior to Service Pack 2 will also be contained within SP2. Details of our regular Exchange 2010 release rhythm can be found in Exchange 2010 Servicing.

Installing SBS 2003 SP1 after Exchange SP2 and Windows 2003 SP2 already installed

Doing a migration to SBS 2011 and I’ve had a few interesting issues. With this customer, SP1 for SBS 2003 was not installed. Interestingly, the other service packs were installed. Upon installing SBS SP1 I got the following error in the error log saying that the current user didn’t have the correct access. I was logged in with administrator (which you need to be logged in with to install SP1 for some odd reason).

Upon further investigation I found that the SBS user templates were disabled. I re-ran the SP1 wizard and it installed correctly.

OWA and Exchange 2010 issues

If anyone is using Exchange 2010 and OWA with Update Rollup 2 installed, they might be having some issues.

One issue we came across, was that OWA was not being displayed after login. The current setup was Router<->TMG Server<->Exchange. As you can see, we have OWA published through Microsoft Threat Management Gateway (TMG) server.

What was happened, after the login screen, we were being presented with a blank page. Looking at the code of that page, you saw that not a lot was being returned.
After some digging around (a lot of digging around), I found a page with some information on Update Rollup 2.

We decided to go a head and install Update Rollup 3. This can be found here. After installing this update, OWA now functioned, with a new problem. Images are not being displayed in OWA. All we get is a blank navigation menu.

After doing some research, the only fix I have found is by doing an reinstall of the CA role. This can be done by doing the following:

Setup.com /mode:uninstall /role:CA
Setup.com /mode:install /role:CA

My advice would be to stay away from the update rollups unless you need to install them. From what I can tell, they are causing more problems than they are fixing.