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Archive for April, 2009


Have you ever sent a really well thought out,
important email, only to find out (through an automatic response) that
the recipient is on vacation for two weeks? For most of us, this means
either waiting two weeks for a response or emailing an alternate
contact. For the recipient, it means dealing with tons of messages when
returning from vacation.

This scenario is
one of the many reasons we developed MailTips in Exchange Server 2010.
MailTips are there to give you information about your message and its
recipients before you hit the send button.

For instance, this MailTip will show you automatic replies for recipients of your message:

When you know that someone is on vacation before you send them a message, you won’t waste your time writing it, and they won’t have to read as many messages when they get back.

Have
you ever read an email from someone and thought to yourself, "Do they
realize how many people just got that message?" All too often, the
answer is "no." MailTips will tell you when you’re sending a message to
a large audience, and summarize it for you, like this:

Hopefully this person will probably think twice before emailing all 438 people!

Another common email faux pas is
when someone replies-all on a message they received via BCC. When they
do, they reveal to other recipients that they received the message via
BCC-often with embarrassing results. MailTips will warn you when you reply-all on BCC:

External recipients:
MailTips will let you know if you are sending a message to an external
recipient (that is, somebody whose email address is outside your
organization), or if a distribution group you’re sending to contains
external recipients (in the case of external recipients in a DL,
MailTips only says how many external recipients there are, not who they
are). Organizations can turn this MailTip off, if emailing external
recipients is not a concern.

Mailbox full: You can know before you send if the recipient’s mailbox is full, or if the message you’re about to send is big enough to fill the mailbox.

Oversized message: This MailTip is displayed when composing a message that exceeds size limits within your organization.

Moderated group:
MailTips will tell you that you are sending an email to a moderated
group (which is a new feature in Exchange 2010… keep an eye out for a
blog post on that). In this case, your message would be delayed pending
moderator approval.

Restricted recipient: If you don’t have permission to send to a mailbox or distribution list, MailTips will tell you right up front.

Invalid recipient:
If someone leaves your organization, they might remain in the
autocomplete list of Outlook users. In the past, sending a mail to this
user would result in a bounced message (which would then remove them
from the autocomplete list). With MailTips, we can notify you before
send that a user doesn’t exist anymore.

Custom MailTip:
Administrators and group owners can set custom MailTips. These are
intended to replace messages that might otherwise be sent as an
automatic response. Examples of these are messages like "You will
receive a response within 72 hours" or "this mailbox is not monitored."
They might also be useful for a user who works part time, and might not
want to always have an automatic reply set up. Custom MailTips can be
localized so that users can see them in their own language.

FAQ

Q: What clients does MailTips support?
A:
Though the screenshots posted above are from Outlook Web Access,
MailTips are also a feature of Outlook 2010. Legacy Outlook/OWA
versions are not supported.

Q: How do you count the members in a group? Do you count nesting?
A:
There is a service we call Group Metrics which runs on a Mailbox Server
(by default it’s the server that generates the OAB) that counts members
of groups nightly. This data is distributed through Exchange File
Distribution to CAS servers, so that they have the data on-disk. Group
sizes are accurate for a single group, including nesting, but MailTips
cannot detect if you address two groups that have members in common.

Q: Can I configure MailTips?
A:
Administrators have the choice of turning MailTips on or off for the
whole organization. You can also turn the external recipient MailTip on
or off. In OWA, when you close the MailTips bar (by clicking on its
anchor icon), it stays closed and out of your way. Outlook has
configuration client-side, but I’ll leave that to the Outlook team to
talk about.

Q: How up-to-date are MailTips?
A:
Data about group sizes is updated nightly and distributed to CAS
machines thereafter. Other data is cached client-side only
(Outlook/OWA). The standard client-side cache expiry is 24 hours. For
the mailbox full and automatic reply MailTips (which we expect could
change more often), the cache is 2 hours. Clearing this client-side
cache is just a matter of restarting OWA or Outlook.

Q: What about performance?
A:
In our preliminary testing, we have seen no more than 5% increase of
load on CAS servers that have MailTips enabled vs. disabled.

We
hope that when you start using Exchange 2010 in your organization,
MailTips will help you to be more informed, less stressed, and more
confident about the emails you send.

Happy emailing!

Here is some great info (stolen from THIS technet doc)

Deploying Windows Firewall Settings for Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2
Deploying Windows Firewall Settings With Group Policy
Published: December 17, 2004

The
best way to manage Windows Firewall settings in an organization network
is to use Active Directory and the new Windows Firewall settings in
Computer Configuration Group Policy. This method requires the use of
Active Directory with either Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 domain
controllers. Group Policy updates are requested by the domain member
computer, and are therefore solicited traffic that is not dropped when
Windows Firewall is enabled.

When you use Group Policy
to configure Windows Firewall, by default local administrators will be
unable to change some elements of its configuration locally, using the
Windows Firewall component in Control Panel. Some tabs and options in
the Windows Firewall dialog box will be grayed out and unavailable.

The basic steps for deploying Windows Firewall settings for Windows XP SP2 with Active Directory are the following:

  1. Update your Group Policy objects with the new Windows Firewall settings.

  2. Specify Windows Firewall settings for your Group Policy objects.

The following sections describe these steps in detail.

Notes  It
is strongly recommended that you test your Windows Firewall Group
Policy settings in a test environment before you deploy them in your
production environment to ensure that your Windows Firewall Group
Policy configuration does not result in unintended vulnerabilities.
The
procedure to update your Group Policy object with the new Windows
Firewall settings will replace the System.adm file that is stored for
the Group Policy object being modified with the version that is
provided with Windows XP SP2, which includes the new Windows Firewall
settings. If a Group Policy administrator on your production network
performs this procedure, your production environment will be updated.
Once
you update your Group Policy objects, you can only modify them from a
computer running Windows XP with SP2. An update is available through
Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) to allow you to modify Group
Policy settings from computers running Windows 2000. Microsoft is
working on updates for Windows XP SP1 and Windows Server 2003.

Bb490626.3squares(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

On This Page


Step 1: Updating Your Group Policy Objects With the New Windows Firewall Settings


Step 2: Specifying Windows Firewall Settings for Your Group Policy Objects


Group Policy Settings in Mixed Windows XP Environments

Step 1: Updating Your Group Policy Objects With the New Windows Firewall Settings

To
update your Group Policy objects with the new Windows Firewall settings
using the Group Policy snap-in (provided with Windows XP), do the
following:

  1. Install
    Windows XP SP2 on a computer that is a member of the domain that
    contains the computer accounts of the other computers running Windows
    XP on which you plan to install Windows XP SP2.

  2. Restart
    the computer and log on to the Windows XP with SP2-based computer as a
    member of the Domain Administrators security group, the Enterprise
    Administrators security group, or the Group Policy Creator Owners
    security group.

  3. From the Windows XP desktop, click Start, click Run, type mmc, and then click OK.

  4. On the File menu, click Add/Remove Snap-in.

  5. On the Standalone tab, click Add.

  6. In the Available Standalone Snap-ins list, click Group Policy Object Editor, and then click Add.

  7. In the Select Group Policy Object dialog box, click Browse.

  8. In the Browse for a Group Policy Object,
    click the Group Policy object that you want to update with the new
    Windows Firewall settings. An example is shown in the following figure.


    WSFP1202_big.gif

  9. Click OK.

  10. Click Finish to complete the Group Policy Wizard.

  11. In the Add Standalone Snap-in dialog box, click Close.

  12. In the Add/Remove Snap-in dialog box, click OK.

  13. In the console tree, open Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Network, Network Connections, and then Windows Firewall. An example is shown in the following figure.


    WSFP1203_big.gif

Repeat
this procedure for every Group Policy object that is being used to
apply Group Policy to computers that will have Windows XP SP2 installed.

Note  To
update your Group Policy objects for network environments using Active
Directory and Windows XP SP1, Microsoft recommends that you use the
Group Policy Management Console, a free download. For more information,
see Group Policy Management Console with Service Pack 1.

Step 2: Specifying Windows Firewall Settings for Your Group Policy Objects

After
a Group Policy object has been updated, it can be configured for
Windows Firewall settings that are appropriate for Windows Firewall and
the use of management, server, listener, or peer applications and
services that are being run on your computers running Windows XP with
SP2.

There are two sets of Windows Firewall settings to configure:

  • The
    domain profile settings that are used by the computers when they are
    connected to a network that contains domain controllers for the domain
    of which the computer is a member.

  • The
    standard profile settings that are used by the computers when they are
    connected to a network that does not contain domain controllers for the
    domain of which the computer is a member.

If
you do not configure standard profile settings, their default values
are still applied. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you
configure both domain and standard profile settings and that you enable
the Windows Firewall for both profiles, except if you are already using
a third-party host firewall product.

As previously
described, the standard profile settings are typically more restrictive
that the domain profile because the standard profile settings do not
need to include applications and services that are only used in a
managed domain environment.

Both the domain profile and
standard profile contain the same set of Windows Firewall settings, as
shown in the following figure.


WSFP1204_big.gif

The Windows Firewall Group Policy settings for the domain and standard profiles consist of the following:

  • Windows Firewall: Protect all network connections Used to specify that all network connections have Windows Firewall enabled.

  • Windows Firewall: Do not allow exceptions  Used to specify that all unsolicited incoming traffic be dropped, including excepted traffic.

  • Windows Firewall: Define program exceptions  Used to define excepted traffic in terms of program file names.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow local program exceptions  Used to enable local configuration of program exceptions.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow remote administration exception  Used
    to enable remote configuration using tools such as Microsoft Management
    Console (MMC) and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI).

  • Windows Firewall: Allow file and print sharing exception  Used to specify whether file and printer sharing traffic is allowed.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow ICMP exceptions  Used to specify the types of Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) messages that are allowed.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow Remote Desktop exception  Used to specify whether the Windows XP-based computer can accept a Remote Desktop-based connection request.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow UPnP framework exception  Used to specify whether the computer can receive unsolicited UPnP messages.

  • Windows Firewall: Prohibit notifications  Used to disable notifications.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow logging  Used to enable logging of discarded traffic, successful connections, and to configure log file settings.

  • Windows Firewall: Prohibit unicast response to multicast or broadcast requests  Used to discard the unicast packets received in response to a multicast or broadcast request message.

  • Windows Firewall: Define port exceptions  Used to specify excepted traffic in terms of TCP and UDP ports.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow local  port exceptions  Used to enable local configuration of port exceptions.

For detailed information about these settings, including example dialog boxes, see Appendix A.

Use
the Group Policy snap-in to modify the Windows Firewall settings in the
appropriate Group Policy objects. Note that you only need to modify
Windows Firewall settings for Group Policy objects that are applied to
Active Directory system containers (domains, organizational units, and
sites) that contain computer accounts corresponding to computers that
are or will be running Windows XP with SP2.

Once you
configure the Windows Firewall settings, the next refresh of Computer
Configuration Group Policy downloads the new Windows Firewall settings
and applies them for computers running Windows XP with SP2. Computers
that are running Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP with
SP1, or Windows XP with no service packs installed ignore the new
Windows Firewall settings.

Recommended Settings for Windows Firewall Group Policy Settings

The following are the recommendations for the Windows Firewall Group Policy settings for Windows XP SP2:

  • Windows Firewall: Protect all network connections  Enabled

  • Windows Firewall: Do not allow exceptions  Not configured

  • Windows Firewall: Define program exceptions  Enabled
    and configured with the programs (applications and services) used by
    the computers running Windows XP with SP2 on your network for managed,
    server, listener, or peer applications.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow local program exceptions  Enabled, unless you don’t want local administrators to be able to configure program exceptions locally.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow remote administration exception  Disabled,
    unless you want to be able to remotely administer with MMC snap-ins or
    remotely monitor using WMI computers running Windows XP with SP2.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow file and print sharing exception  Enabled only if the computers running Windows XP with SP2 are sharing local folders and printers.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow ICMP exceptions  Enabled only to allow diagnostic or management capabilities that are based on ICMP traffic.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow Remote Desktop exception  Enabled only if you use Remote Desktop to connect to Windows XP with SP2-based computers.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow UPnP framework exception  Enabled only if you use UPnP devices on your network.

  • Windows Firewall: Prohibit notifications  Disabled

  • Windows Firewall: Allow logging  Not configured

  • Windows Firewall: Prohibit unicast response to multicast or broadcast requests  Disabled

  • Windows Firewall: Define port exceptions  Enabled
    and configured with the TCP and UDP ports used by the computers running
    Windows XP with SP2 on your network for managed, server, listener, or
    peer programs that cannot be specified by filename.

  • Windows Firewall: Allow local  port exceptions  Enabled, unless you don’t want local administrators to be able to configure port exceptions locally.

Group Policy Settings in Mixed Windows XP Environments

A
mixed Windows XP environment is one in which there are both Windows XP
with SP1 or Windows XP with no service packs installed and Windows XP
with SP2-based computers present. For computers running Windows XP with
SP1 or Windows XP with no service packs installed, the only way to
control Windows Firewall behavior through Group Policy is to use the Prohibit use of Internet Connection Firewall on your DNS domain network
Computer Configuration Group Policy setting in Computer
Configuration/Administrative Templates/Network/Network Connections.
This Group Policy setting is still present when Group Policy objects
are updated for the new Windows Firewall settings. Computers running
Windows XP with SP1 or Windows XP with no service packs installed only
implement the Prohibit use of Internet Connection Firewall on your DNS domain network Computer Configuration Group Policy setting.

Computers running Windows XP with SP2 implement both the Prohibit use of Internet Connection Firewall on your DNS domain network setting and the new Windows Firewall settings in the following way:

  • If the Prohibit use of Internet Connection Firewall on your DNS domain network
    setting is enabled and there are no changes to the default values of
    the new Windows Firewall settings, then Windows Firewall is disabled
    when connected to the network from which the Group Policy object was
    obtained.

  • If the Prohibit use of Internet Connection Firewall on your DNS domain network setting is enabled and the Windows Firewall: Protect all network connections
    setting is enabled, then Windows Firewall is enabled when connected to
    the network from which the Group Policy object was obtained with new
    Windows Firewall settings.

Disabling the Use of Windows Firewall Across Your Network

If
you are already using a third-party host firewall product, then it is
recommended that you disable Windows Firewall. If you are not already
using a third-party host firewall product, then it is recommended that
you enable Windows Firewall to prevent the spread of malicious programs
that make it past the firewall that separates your network from the
Internet.

If you decide to disable the use of Windows
Firewall across your entire organization network, which contains a
mixture of computers running Windows XP with SP2, Windows XP with SP1,
and Windows XP with no service packs installed, and you are using a
third-party host firewall, then you should configure the following
Group Policy settings:

  • Prohibit use of Internet Connection Firewall on your DNS domain network is set to Enabled

  • Domain profile – Windows Firewall: Protect all network connections is set to Disabled

  • Standard profile – Windows Firewall: Protect all network connections is set to Disabled

These
settings ensure that Windows Firewall is not used, whether the
computers are connected to your organization network or not.

If
you decide to disable the use of Windows Firewall across your entire
organization network, which contains a mixture of computers running
Windows XP with SP2, Windows XP with SP1, and Windows XP with no
service packs installed, and you are not using a third-party host
firewall, then you should configure the following Group Policy settings:

  • Prohibit use of Internet Connection Firewall on your DNS domain network is set to Enabled

  • Domain profile – Windows Firewall: Protect all network connections is set to Disabled

  • Standard profile – Windows Firewall: Protect all network connections is set to Enabled

These
settings ensure that the Windows Firewall is not used on your
organization network, but is used when the computers are not connected
to the organization network.

Here is an awesome FAQ on upgrade considerations
 
 

If you plan to use a server-based deployment scenario for your Microsoft Application Virtualization environment, it is important to understand the differences between the Application Virtualization Management Server and the Application Virtualization Streaming Server. This topic describes those differences

Application Virtualization Management Server

The Application Virtualization Management Server handles user requests for application data and streams that data on demand to authorized users using RTSP or RTSPS protocols. In most configurations using this server, one or more Management Servers share a common data store for configuration and package information.

The Application Virtualization Management Servers use Active Directory Groups to manage user authorization. In addition to Active Directory Domain Services, these servers have SQL Server installed to manage the database and data store. The Management Server is controlled through the Application Virtualization Management Console, a snap-in to the Microsoft Management Console.

Because the Application Virtualization Management Servers stream applications to end-users on demand, these servers are ideally suited for system configurations that have reliable, high-bandwidth LANs.

Application Virtualization Streaming Server

The Application Virtualization Streaming Server addresses the needs of businesses that want to use Application Virtualization with the streaming capabilities of the classic server configuration but might not have the infrastructure to support Management Servers.

The Application Virtualization Streaming Server can be used in environments with an existing electronic software distribution system (ESD). You use the ESD to manage streaming applications. Unlike the Application Virtualization Management Server, the Streaming Server does not use SQL or a management console. These servers use access control lists (ACLs) to grant user authorization.

 
 
 
Taken from …
 
 
It’s important that you don’t confuse SoftGrid virtualization (app-V) with how Windows Vista UAC performs redirection. With UAC, when an application attempts to write to or modify protected areas of the registry or file system, it is redirected to a user-specific view of the registry and file system. SoftGrid, on the other hand, uses a concept of truly virtualizing the application to the operating system—including all registry and file system components that make it up. But the elegance of SoftGrid is that it isn’t a single blob that defines an application. Instead, it consists of:
  • An SFT file of up to 4GB. This contains one or more applications and all of their dependencies except Windows dependencies, which are expected to be on the destination systems.
  • An OSD file of approximately 2KB. This contains a definition of how the application can be requested and executed. You can think of the OSD file as an EXE.
  • An ICO file of about 24KB. This is effectively a shortcut to launch the application.
  • An SPRJ file of about 13KB. This is used by the sequencer (the core of SoftGrid) to publish, open, update, and repair existing packages.
A comprehensive diagram of how SoftGrid Application Virtualization works is available at the Web site softricity.com/ products/architecture.asp.
Here is a link to the technet App-V team blog!
 
so this application virtualizaiton thing is pretty sweet, but do we need to allow or block any kinds of communications to / from clients and the APP-V servers?
 

Server-Related Protocols and External Components

The following table lists the server types that can be used in an Application Virtualization Server-based scenarios, along with their corresponding transmission protocols and the external components needed to support the specific server configuration. The table also includes the reporting mechanism and the active upgrade mechanism for each server type. Because these scenarios all use the Application Virtualization Management Server, you can use the internal reporting functionality that is built into the system. If you use an Application Virtualization Management or an Application Virtualization Streaming Server to deliver packages to the client, packages on the server are automatically upgraded when a user logs into the client; if you use IIS servers or a file to deliver the packages to the client, the packages on the client must be upgraded manually.

 

Server Type

Protocols

External Components Needed

Reporting

Active Upgrade

Application Virtualization Management Server

RTSP

RTSPS

When using HTTPS, use an IIS server to download ICO and OSD files and a firewall to protect the server from exposure to the Internet.

Internal

Supported

Application Virtualization Streaming Server

RTSP

RTSPS

Use a mechanism to synchronize the content between the Management Server and the Streaming Server. When using HTTPS, use an IIS server to download ICO and OSD files and use a firewall to protect the server from exposure to the Internet.

Internal

Supported

IIS server

HTTP

HTTPS

Use a mechanism to synchronize the content between the Management Server and the Streaming Server. When using HTTP or HTTPS, use an IIS server to download ICO and OSD files and a firewall to protect the server from exposure to the Internet.

Internal

Not Supported

File

SMB

You need a way to synchronize the content between the Management Server and the Streaming Server. You need a client computer with file sharing or streaming capability.

Internal

Not Supported

 
Here is a nice writeup on APP-V protocols and communications, should be current for ver 4.6
 
I am having some wierd issues with a GPO being applied properly. How can i know if it’s failing or not. well outside of the standard fare of checking things like blocking of inheritance and enforcement at the server level, we can check local event viewer logs and GPO specific logs. Don’t also forget about the GPOLogView tool which is free from MS :)

Here is a nice TN article on the paths for the different logs..

GPO log file locations

So after a long silent period apart from Outlook live lab videos on the Exchange blog, suddenly there is Exchange 2010 beta!

So what can you expect in the new industry standard mail platform, this is part 1.

Well the major change is in High Availability, take LCR, CCR and SCR
from Exchange 2007, mix it all together and you have the best of all
three! So there is no more LCR, CCR and SCR in Exchange 2010, but it is
called Database Availability Group and so yes another acronym: DAG.

The major change is that Windows Failover Clustering is not involved
in DAG, the high availability is at database level. You can have up to
16 (!) copies of each mailbox database spread over you mailbox server
farm. There are no more storage groups, you now set the databases at
organization level and not at server level.

Well that sounds really enterprise/datacenter level, well with just
2 servers you can have high availability! without the need of expensive
cluster storage solutions. Copies of databases may be placed on servers
that have other exchange servers installed.

Another major improvement that benefits DAG is the 50-70%
performance gain in IOPS. So there is no need for expensive fast
spindles for storage, you can use direct storage, even desktop class
SATA disks. So with this cheap storage you can give your users larger
mailboxes. Microsoft even claims you can use the cheaper SATA drives
without RAID, since you have copies of the databases on other servers.
So now you can have a performing high availability exchange solution at
home :-)

But of course DAG works best in a datacenter environment, with 16
copies per database you can have site redundancy spread all over the
world.

There has been no announcement yet about the Exchange SKUs, so I
don’t know what form of DAG will be available in the standard edition,
but LCR was available in Exchange 2007 in the standard edition which
requires a manual recovery. I assume that 2010 standard edition will
allow at least 1 database copy with automatic recovery support.

Another part of high availability is the new move-mailbox feature:
online mailbox move. Now the end user can continue working with their
email, reading, sending and receiving, while the administrator moves
the mailbox to another server, all just during work hours. At the last
stage the end user will expect a interruption, when the last sent and
received email is copied over to the new location. So this is like
Vmotion on VMware ESX (and soon Live Migration on Hyper-V

Functional Descriptions

Database Availability Group: A set of Mailbox
servers that uses continuous replication to provide automatic recovery
from a variety of failures (disk level, server level, datacenter level).

Database-Level Failover: Exchange Server Database
Availability Groups provide automatic failover at the database level,
without the complexity of traditional clustering. A database-level
disruption, such as a disk failure, no longer affects all the users on
a server. Because there is no longer a strong tie between databases and
servers, it is easy to move between database copies as disks fail. This
change, coupled with faster failover times (30 seconds), dramatically
improves an organization’s overall uptime.

Improved Site Resiliency: Exchange Server Database
Availability Groups makes it easier to implement site resilience by
simplifying the process to extend data replication between datacenters
to achieve site failover. Log files are also compressed to improve
transmission time and reduce network bandwidth usage.

Easier Deployment: Administrators can add high
availability to their Exchange environment after their initial
deployment, without reinstalling servers. Small organizations can
deploy a simple two-server configuration that provides full redundancy
of mailbox data along with Client Access and Hub Transport roles. These
changes put high availability within the reach of organizations that
once considered it impractical.

Integrated Cluster Administration: Exchange Server
Database Availability Groups feature automatic failover without the
complexity of traditional clustering. The proven capabilities of
Windows clustering are integrated with Exchange and are transparent to
the administrator. Administrators no longer need to master clustering
concepts or deal with separate administration tools in order to provide
enterprise-class uptime.

Backup-less Support: The Exchange Server Database
Availability Group architecture allows log file replay to be lagged,
enabling administrators to perform point-in-time database restores
without the need for tapes. Organizations can rely on their high
availability infrastructure rather than tape backups to recover from
failures, and substantially decrease their operating costs.

Transport Resiliency: Transport servers in Exchange
Server 2010 feature built-in protection against the loss of message
queues due to disk or server failure. Servers retain a "shadow" copy of
each mail item after it is delivered to the next hop inside the
organization. If the subsequent hop fails before reporting successful
delivery, the message is resubmitted through a different route.