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Tag Archive: Exchange 2003


First off, I’d like to apologize for the large gap in blog posts. Even 6 1/2 months in I am still trying to get a complete handle on all things PFE, thus the gap.

In all the areas our customers present issues with, we in premier field engineering are only second to our PSS (Premier support services) & CTS (Consumer technical support) in the level of detail and volume of odd issues. The following blog post outlines one such issue.

Background..

mixed Exchange 2003 & 2007 server environment. Large number of users 50k +. Clients using a mix of Outlook 2003 and 2007 in accessing the mailboxes. This particular group of users that experienced the calendaring item “corruption” was on exchange 2003 and have recently moved to Outlook 2007 Sp2. The reported issues were as follows..

Calendar reminders either not triggering or unable to be cleared
Calendar items mysteriously being removed from the calendar, even off of the meeting organizers
Opening a reminder and the calendar item itself is completely blank including subject / attendees / etc..

After some initial triage we found this to be an issue only with Cache mode clients. Once we moved the users to Online Mode, the issues immediately disappeared. We tried then creating a new local OST and even a new profile with immediate issues reappearing. This initially led us to think this was an issue with the way the OST file was being created with Outlook 2007 sp2. We had them do some initial testing with some SP3 clients to rule out a patch or bug that could have been fixed. An interim work around was to leave any users reporting the issue in online mode until the root cause could be located. The only issue with this is there was a portion of the affected users that were mobile and although an interim “manual” syncing of certain folders worked, it introduced additional steps the users had to perform which was deemed unacceptable.

During this investigative process one way the client was trying to resolve this issue was using the MFCMAPI tool. They were able to manually deleted the reminders which couldn’t be dismissed by the end users, but couldn’t address missing items in the local OST that were there when viewed using OWA. This meant they had a partial fix, but even this fix was a long manual process which wasn’t feasible in the long run.

Then we tried to look at some of the commonalities of the affected users. Did they all work for one department? did they all use the same Outlook client? Did they all use a similar type of mobile device and tried modifying mail (more specifically calendar) items from mobile devices? Now I have to give this customer a lot of credit here. They published some internal best practices documents to try and minimize possible causes of mailbox corruption (reduce delegates, don’t use more than one version of outlook for mailbox management, don’t use mobile devices for calendar item management, etc..) After some more analysis we found ALL the affected users were in one data store on one server. They then moved the mailboxes to another store on another server and the users no longer had the issues.

NOTE: Some of them did have to recreate their OST local cache, but once complete all was well

After the mailstore was empty, they noted they couldn’t delete the database as it appeared to have some orphaned items in it. they forced the maintenance cycle on the database which then allowed them to finally and permanently delete the EDB and STM files.

Case solved.

So near the end of January I was lucky enough to escaped the void of the classroom and get back to hands-on work. I was able to act as a consultant for my training firm and go on-site to an old student of mine’s place of business. Our task seemed simple. Migrate a single exchange 2003 server to a mailbox redundant 2010 solution.

Just drop down a few new 2010 boxes and call it a day right? Not so much. Any migration can have hiccups and issues along the way. We had originally chipped out four days to complete the process. Due to some SAN issues we lost our first day and then had to get everything ready in just 3. One box and about 350 mailboxes it should be easy right? We planned for extra time thank goodness. If we originally planned on 3 and now only got 2 we’d be very hard pressed to have that done. We did in fact get the major steps done in 3 days. let’s review all that happened.

For security purposes let’s not give out our clients domain name and such, let’s focus on what we know and what was learned over the 3 days. Here is where we started.

Single domain forest. All DC’s and GC’s were at the Exchange 2010 minimum of 2003 SP1 or higher. Domain functional level was 2003 as was the forest functional level. Permissions on the accounts to be used for installation were in place, so let’s get started. All inbound mail via his MX record was going into his SonicWall and then being placed into his Cisco IronPort device for scrubbing before being delivered to the 2003 Exchange server.

We began with bringing up the OS of the first Exchange 2010 box in a VMWare virtual environment. The OS was to be 2008 R2 Enterprise edition. Why enterprise? Well we planned on using a DAG (Database Availability Group). This HA (High Availability) feature requires the failover clustering component within Server 2008. That was still in standard edition back in the 2003 Server days, but has been removed in 2008 RTM and higher. So now that R2 server is ready and fully patched / updated, let’s get the Exchange pre-req’s on there for the Exchange bits install. To speed things up we used a pre-made script that automates all the installation of required items as they pertain to Exchange role requirements. You too can download it HERE. It was created by Exchange MVP Dejan Foro. You can hit his whole site here – www.exchangemaster.net.

Think your ready for Exchange install time? Not so fast son. There are four KB document fixes that will need to get put on 2008 R2 before anything else is started.

Before you start contemplating putting that Exchange 2010 media in or mounting that ISO. Check your DNS and active directory to ensure it’s solid and stable before continuing. Also make sure that you have your 2003 / AD settings all up to snuff.

  • Ensure your 2003 address policies are not split between authoritative and non-authoritative. This may require you to modify or even rebuild them.
  • Check your Recipient update services in that they are pointing to a valid DC that still exists Smile
  • Ensure any external or manually created trusts are working and verifiable.
  • Is your domain a SLD? (Single label domain – “Consoso”, not “contoso.com” when you have ADUC open).
  • Ensure IPv6 and the windows firewall is enabled. Either of these could kill your install of Exchange.

OK, NOW you can begin your installation of Exchange. I recommend copying the source files locally to a new folder called “C:source” or something like that. Now download the latest rollup (RU) for the version of Exchange (RTM vs. SP1) and placing it in the updates folder. This will slipstream the updates during the installation and save you steps later!

Step 1.) Preparation of AD

This went very easy as we had a single domain and all the rights necessary. Wasn’t a fast process but experienced no errors when we ran setup.com with the following switches..

/preparelegacypermissions – this is ONLY needed if you have 2003 exchange. Skip if you have 2007

/PrepareAD – do you know your organization name? you can find it in the ESM.

Step 2.) Install Exchange on your first server. Have a plan here. Don’t just rip off a “typical” install (core 3 roles – CAS/HUB/MBox) if  you’re unsure, use the Exchange Deployment assistant.

We knew we were only going to have 2 servers with all three roles on them. We chose to do the “typical” install. We also set the “External” address for his CAS role to the same thing as his existing 2003 OWA URL (I.E. – “Http://mail.contoso.com”)

Now we have a fully functional Exchange 2010 server with nothing coming into it, and not hosting any mailboxes.

 

This is a great starting post and will continue to cover hiccups we hit in a future post. (ran out of time Smile )