Exchange Admins: Save Your Tears

If you thought your Exchange deployment ever made your life miserable, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. If you’re the Exchange admin of a small business deployment, you’re likely to strut around your office and just tell people to get over it.

If you’re an admin of a large enterprise, March is your Month of Suffering. Prepare to sob like a baby.

Congress enacted this little thing called Daylight Saving Time, right? Well, then they decided to make it happen three weeks sooner in the year 2007. They passed this law in 2005.

Well, it seems that someone at the Microsoft New Year’s party for 2007 was sitting around on a couch, sipping a Strongbow Cider and thinking to their self… (self… oh shit… dst hits this year and we’ve not done jack shit about it!)

That’s right gang. Microsoft has basically acted like they were caught completely unaware of the DST ramifications on Exchange 2003 SP2 and Windows XP. Oh sure, there’s some updates to this issue in Outlook 2007… but 2003 products are in for a world of hurt.

Unfortunately, 7 weeks or so away from the actual change taking place, Microsoft is still basically working on figuring out what to do. Yeah, they’re programming away and stuff – but to make a long story short, the basis of our telecons have informed us that they’re just not prepared. The tools aren’t released, the server-side CDO patch isn’t released… all of which are coming “any day now… end of January or so”… okie… January ends in 4 days, guys.

First of all, I encourage you to go to this link and read about this bowel-loosener. Then come back here and you’ll see my bullets… they’ll make a little more sense.

Here’s the link. Go read.

Now that you’re back here, here’s my favorite items about this whole thing:

  • Timing of your client OS desktop deployment is critical because – well, if your servers aren’t patched, meetings are likely to be an hour off.
  • Timing of the Mac patches are also critical and… wait… wait for it… yeah! That’s right! Entourage 11.3.3 is out to address this problem… but if you haven’t patched CDO on your Exchange server (remember kids, the patch isn’t released yet for CDO!) your users are going to miss meetings. Period.
  • You cannot run the server-side rebasing tool if you have clients scattered around in different time zones without MANUALLY telling the server which mailbox to manipulate… from a CSV file. When managing 30,000 mailboxes or so, good f’ing luck.
  • Here’s my ABSOLUTE favorite. When running the rebasing tool and the tool runs across a single-instance meeting you originated, it resends every invitation to meeting invitees again!

And all of this madness ends… three weeks later… on April 1st. Oh, the irony.

Update: to be fair, I should point out that this DST fun affects more than Windows admins.  If you run other operating systems, you owe it to yourself to investigate what’s going to happen.  The same thing goes for applications.

Deprecating webdav

Aquatix was asking on a post or two ago about, “How is deprecating webdav a good thing?”

The problem with webdav is that while webdav is meant to be a standard, I’ve rarely met a client that handled it properly.  I would also point out that some of these problems were not implementations with the client, but implementations with the server side and the relation to the client.

The new model in Exchange 2007 is to deprecate webdav support in favor of web services (via SOAL/XML, etc.).  This is a boon for clients because it uses a standardized model to feed data and the response is just XML.  How badly can a client screw that up?  That means the server-side is no longer an equation in poor Exchange support.

Microsoft falling

(info: this post was started several days ago)

There’s so much more that can be said about Microsoft and the mistakes they are continuing to make. In my experience, product quality is going down… regression bugs are coming back into some products (Exchange 2003 and clustering!)… many enterprise products are a mishmash of spaghetti code… argh, it’s a tough time to be an enterprise admin with Microsoft products.

There’s been a renaissance of Linux here in my house, led by the Mac issue and Not Having Money.  I intend to replace all of the workstations with Macs, but in the meantime, I’ve dual-booted my system with Ubuntu Edgy and Windows.  Now here’s the kicker: I’ve not booted into Windows in about three weeks, maybe longer.  Taitai’s system is still on Windows because Linux is pretty rough around the edges, but she will be the first recipient of a new Mac when the first one is actually purchased.

On the server side, I’ve gotten rid of my lab Windows servers and converted everything to Linux.  It was a hairy migration project – I moved all websites (including this one) to Linux, all databases converted to MySQL, all pictures backed up, etc… then wiped out the box and put it on Dapper LTS Server.  Hoo, boy… does a dual-proc Athlon MP and 2gb of RAM run fast on the server.

So then I migrated everything back over to the new Linux box.  I learned a lot in the migration project and now have one seriously nice setup on the Dapper install.  The only thing I’ve not gotten around to is pptpd, but I intend to fix that one day soon.

Anyway, back to Microsoft.  I actually have zero interest in Vista – which means something has definitely bitten me in the rear in regards to them.  Vista finally feels to me what I hear a lot of complaining about: bloated, overbaked, complex, wasteful (new UI with too much rearranging again), sad use of hardware resources, insecure, incompatible and finally… distrustful.

Distrustful, did you say?

Why, yes I did.

The whole Windows Genuine Advantage thing was a real nail in the coffin for me.  Same goes for Office Genuine Advantage.  I understand that a company like Microsoft who makes a living on software as a base business is concerned about piracy and needs to consider ways to stop it, but this was just going too far.  I do not think that trying to do this in the “interest of security” was a good way to market it.  The end result of Microsoft’s play for WGA/OGA was that I felt like that just distrust me and my users.  Completely.  Regardless of how much is shelled out, the operating system must phone home every week, even if you’re a volume licensing enterprise customer.  Granted, you’re setting up the home that they are writing to, but still folks… bad call.

It leaves a terrible taste in my mouth.  It makes me feel like there’s someone waiting nearby to shackle me when… WHEN they feel there’s been some kind of violation… not if.

Take the Zune for instance.  Incompatible with that WMA library I had built up unless the whole damn thing gets DRM’d.  Come on – I wanted to avoid DRM.  Forget it.  Not interested.

Microsoft clearly distrusts their customer and is producing even buggier software than before.  No longer interested, am I… run away screaming to Apple, I shall.

Apparently, type like Yoda I will.