Description of Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 3
It looks like Exchange 2007 SP3 RU4 has a lot of goodies in it. At least 5 of the items in this list are impacting the environment at my day job.
While it’s good to see progress, I’m always wary of these updates because of the regression bugs they often introduce. Test and patch carefully, gang.
It’s brutally important that you understand this article if you support Exchange 2007 or 2010.
Read it. Now.
One item you’ve probably learned by now if you’re an Exchange admin working on a 2007 deployment is that Microsoft has changed the behavior of the recipient update policy. Most of you won’t care about this and that’s just fine. You shouldn’t. I would dare say that if your Exchange environment is engineered well and planned out the way Microsoft probably expects it to be, you should have almost no issues whatsoever.
Consider, however, if you’ve deployed Exchange with some type of “non-standard” approach. Yes, please picture air quotes around that. We’re trying to be politically correct here. What if your Exchange deployment wasn’t, for instance, master of all mail within your TLD?
Let’s say you have a TLD of contoso.com. Now let’s say you set up an Exchange service forest called services.contoso.com (see my earlier post about why an Exchange service forest is a Bad Idea). Now let’s say that because there are many other businesses and entities within contoso.com that route their own mail, the decision is made that Exchange cannot be authoritative for all mail coming in to contoso.com. You need to forward it up to some traffic directors at the top level to determine where the traffic goes. Now you have Exchange installed in a service forest and you’re not authoritative for contoso.com. So let’s say you decide to become authoritative for mail.contoso.com.
Now your recipient policy probably says that when new users are created, give them a service.contoso.com and a mail.contoso.com SMTP address. What about the contoso.com address? Well, since you’re handling that elsewhere, a third party process has to come in and manually assign that address. Fine.
Now in 2003, once the user object is created and the addresses are stamped, RUS will never touch the object again and muck with it unless you forcibly tell it to do so. Believe me though, it’s rare in this setup that you’ll be running this manually.
When you begin to roll out Exchange 2007, you get a new issue. If you’re configured in this manner and make any changes to the user object… say… moving a mailbox or anything of that nature… then you’ll notice that RUS will take your user object and mangle it up according to what it thinks the SMTP addresses should be. It’ll reset the primary address. Fun. Now your users start to complain that their mailing list memberships are failing, their business cards are incorrect, yadda yadda. Yes, the behavior of RUS changed in 2007 from 2003. Take note of it, because if you’re set up in a wonky way that prevents you from being authoritative in your domain, this is going to bite you once for every user you have.
I was one of the engineers on the call documented here from last weekend. This was the Friday night from hell.
I won’t rehash the technical details of what happened. If you want to know the tech piece of it, head to the link. There’s no need to restate it – besides, it would bring back memories that might cause me to draw my own blood and scrawl nasty proverbs on the wall.
Needless to say, we learned a lot about 2007 that night, which will be good for the time that we run into this issue in production (because we will – and so will you). However, there is that feeling once again that someone shipped Exchange 2007 far too early.
There’s another conference call about this very subject tomorrow night that should prove to be interesting and enlightening. Here’s to hoping that Microsoft is listening to my coworker there (because they sure as hell don’t read my blog, I know that). My coworker tends to get a little emotional about things like this, but given how much of his life he has sunk into supporting Microsoft, perhaps he has license to feel this way. I certainly feel as though I have some license to register complaints as well.
Look, in the past it was always known that products would ship first and patch later, but at least the software was usable in some form or fashion. I wouldn’t even call Vista or Exchange 2007 usable in the “can be used” sense of the word. This type of product mismanagement is going to get the the core of Microsoft and, couple that with running them in circles, may continue to be their undoing.
Even Bill Gates knows Microsoft can’t be around forever and one day will be unseated.
But ya know, enough about tech. I’m feeling the urge to do some artsy stuff. I really am. I hope to share more of that with you soon. I’m doing my best to find myself there… where I left myself years ago… on that street corner by the garage, under the coffee sign, with a cigarette that makes my trenchcoat smell quite bad. I’m there and waiting to come and visit you again. I have things to share.
I have a lot of digging to do first.