Microsoft Messaging and Mobility / Unified Communications User Group – November 2009

November 7th, 2009 | Tags: , ,

Yesterday I attended a UK Unified Communications & Exchange user group meeting (thanks to Nathan and Russ for setting this up, definitely time well spent!) The kind folks at Microsoft hosted the event at the London, Victoria offices.

Astrid McClean (Exchange TPM) and Yancey Smith (OCS DPM) stopped by on their way through to TechEd Europe and unfortunately they brought their NDAs with them – but wait there are a few Exchange 2010 titbits worth sharing… (in no particular order)

Exchange Control Panel (ECP)

A lot of effort has gone into developing a new web based UI for both end users and service desk administrators, allowing delegation of common Exchange chores. This web based console can either be accessed via Outlook 2010 or directly in a web browser via https://hostname/owa/ecp typo this should acually read https://hostname/ecp (thanks to Arman for spotting this grave error!). The ECP shares OWA code, but is a separate application.

Other noteworthy features include:

· Creation and modification of distribution lists with built in workflows for approvals (the Exchange 2010 arbitration engine is much improved and supports Outlook 2007)

· Joining distribution lists also via workflow

· Message tracking

· Modification of user details (e-mail address, telephone numbers etc.)

· Ability to set “Out of Office” for other users – yay!

Exchange Management Console (EMC)

· Ability to execute more PowerShell Cmdlets i.e. archiving and high availability

· Select multiple mailboxes for bulk updates (happiness resonated amongst the user group guys)

· Role based access control (RBAC) which makes it easier to delegate and customise the UI

· Manage multiple Exchange forests (hybrid management)

· PowerShell script visibility, not per execution but view all previously run tasks

Exchange Management Shell (EMS)

As the Exchange team decided on restricting remote administration tools to x64 clients (a few gasps were heard amongst the user group folks, myself included!) improvements to PowerShell are evident. Astrid mentioned that by making the decision to completely drop 32bit code regression testing was cut in half, she went on to state that “a change in this decision is unlikely, but not impossible”.

Other pointers:

· The shell is now “Firewall friendly” – connectivity is over HTTP/HTTPS

· The shell can be run remotely without a local install of Exchange 2010 Cmdlets

· All PowerShell executions are logged

Other miscellaneous Exchange nuggets worth mentioning:

· Exchange 2010 has much better compliance controls

o “User hold” option allows full auditing of a single user

o By using the discovery mailbox and defining key words your compliance officer can view suspect activity without granting full rights to specific user mailbox

· RBAC consists of 60+ out of the box role groups and you can pick and choose which ones to assign depending on specific administrative tasks, these can be customised further via PowerShell

· Adoption of PowerShell and ECP are pretty much mandatory for administrators running 32bit clients (otherwise RDP is your friend, but far from ideal)

Interesting Exchange 2010 facts:

· The Exchange 2010 Operations Manager management pack contains a default logo in the top left hand corner of any reports, this can’t be changed and was spotted after RTM – this is confirmed to be addressed as a high priority in SP1!

· The ability to create mailboxes within ECP was included and dropped when the developers realised that there was no easy way of setting/modifying permissions without a lot more coding

· Finally Exchange 2010 is scheduled to go general release on Monday, this will coincide with the Exchange launch at TechEd Europe

The second half of this meeting was NDA’d and focussed on the next release of OCS. There are a few things that I can say as they are either “Bingable” or non-sensitive.

· The next release of OCS is currently referred to as “OCS Wave 14” or “OCS W14”

· OCS W14 is scheduled for release in 2010

· This will be followed (logically) by Wave 15

· In September 2009 Microsoft sent over 76m IMs via OCS

· Surprisingly Microsoft has not yet deployed an XMPP federation (perhaps for compliance reasons?)

· OCS Wave W14 looks, how can I put it? Fantastic!

Well that is all I can say folks, for those attending TechEd I’m sure there is much more information to come, thanks again to Nathan and Russ for facilitating the evening.