Exchange 2010

I had a play around with the Exchange 2010 beta. It looked pretty good although the “killer” feature I wanted to check out, archiving, wasn’t fully functional. I’ve migrated my email from MailEnable to Exchange 2010. So far, I’m liking:

  • The database availablity group (DAG) feature looks very cool. Haven’t had the chance to test it fully.
  • The Unified Messaging feature set and management UI is a lot more developed. In 2007, it felt kind of half done (especially in 2007 RTM)
  • “Self service” of mailing lists sounds pretty cool but could be a problem in practice. Similarly, the Exchange Control Panel (ECP) allows sys admins the ability to manage Exchange from any web-enabled machine but whether you would is another issue.
  • The Powershell capabilities have matured which is a good thing.

Not liking:

  • The archive feature in its current form is pretty much useless. Most 3rd party archive implementations have two servers and/or storage systems – one with fast, smaller drives for the recent live email where disk IO performance is important, and one with slower, larger drives for the archive data where disk performance is less important than capacity. 2010 forces you to store the archive mailbox in the same database as the user’s main mailbox meaning your small fast SAS drives are being used up by archives.
  • Microsoft being a tad dishonest about using SATA drives for Exchange storage and pushing direct attached storage (DAS) over external storage solutions such as SANs and iSCSI. Yes you can use SATA drives, but according to their own storage calculator you’ll need 2-3 times the drives compared to SAS. For example, you might have a storage design that requires 8 SAS drives for the Exchange databases. With SATA, you would need 16-20 drives. Getting a DAS server chassis that can take those 8 SAS drives isn’t too difficult. Finding one that does 20 drives is more difficult and may compromise the design of other aspects of your server (RAM, CPU, etc).

Currently the server is running under Hyper-V and performing reasonably well considering the specs of the VM.

Upgrading to Windows 7

My new PC has been running Vista up until now. With the release of Windows 7 and the following positive praise for it, I decided to take the plunge. The sealing commentary came from some friends who had nothing but priase for Windows 7, while in the past they had complained constantly about Vista.

So I did all the right things, I ran the upgrade advisor tool. All my hardware was compatible. Only one application was not compatible – iTunes. The upgrade process itself was smooth and fast. The actual use of Windows 7 is pretty nice so far. The UI is very responsive.

I’ve completed three different install methods with Windows 7, just to see how they all work – the traditional installing from a CD/DVD, installing off a USB hard disk and installing via network using Windows Deployment Services (WDS). I think the WDS method ended up being the fastest, followed by the USB hard disk.

Hyper-V migration

I’ve been using VMware’s Server product for a while now for virtualisation. I mainly use it for testing things, like a Linux install or a new server product from Microsoft. I’ve decided to try out Hyper-V, partly to see how it measures up and partly because I’ve been getting performance slowdowns on my VMWare VMs.

Powershell Task of the Day – Move Mailbox for all users in an Organisational Unit (part 2, Bulk move)

A follow on from the previous script was to move a larger number of users in a list of OUs. To make the task easier, I decided to automate it a bit:

$miglist = import-csv c:scriptsmigration.csv

foreach ($item in $miglist)
{
$strTargetmbx = "EXCH02" + $item.tiernumber + "-east" + $item.tiernumber + "-east"
$strReportFile = "c:scripts" + $item.name + ".xml"
Get-Mailbox -server "EXCH01" -OrganizationalUnit $item.ouname | `
Move-Mailbox -Confirm:$False -TargetDatabase $strTargetmbx -SourceMailboxCleanupOptions DeleteSourceMailbox -ReportFile $strReportFile
}

In the first line, I’m importing the contents of a CSV file that listed the OUs, a friendly name for the OU and the “tier” database those users were to go in. Iterating through the $miglist, I construct the target mailbox database name ($strTargetmbx) and report filename ($strReportFile). The Move-Mailbox command uses the -Confirm:$False switch to suppress confirmation. If this switch isn’t used, you will be prompted for confirmation at each step. The rest of the move command is pretty simple, specifying where to move to and a report filename.

Powershell Task of the Day – Move Mailbox for all users in an Organisational Unit

I needed to migrate users from one email server to a new one with more storage. These users mostly fell into neat OU grouping. To do an OU at a time, I used the following command:

Get-Mailbox -server "EXCH01" -OrganizationalUnit "domain.local/Company/State/Office/Department/Team" | `
Move-Mailbox -TargetDatabase "EXCH02StorageGroup1Database1" -SourceMailboxCleanupOptions DeleteSourceMailbox –ReportFile c:migration_report.xml

The first line gets all the mailboxes in the specified OU. Line 2 performs the mailbox move, specifying the target database and a custom report file name for the results.

Powershell Task of the Day – Get Mailbox Size For Users in an OU

During an email migration, I wanted to see how many users would be under the new limits that would be imposed on them. In most cases, the restrictions would match their location in Active Directory. So I was able to export the needed details and view them:

# Process email stats for users in the specified OU and save to CSV file

Add-PSSnapin Quest.ActiveRoles.ADManagement
Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.Exchange.Management.PowerShell.Admin
Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.Exchange.Management.Powershell.Support

if (!$args) # Empty arguments
{
write-host "You must specify correct arguments, specify the OU to check, then the file name. ie. email_stats.ps1 domain.com/OUName/OUName2 oulist.csv"
}

write-host "Processing based on arguments..."
write-host "OU: " $args[0]
write-host "CSV: " $args[1]

$OUName = $args[0]
$FileName = $args[1]
$i=0
$strTest = "Name,Alias,ServerName,OU,TotalSize(KB)`n"

$arrMailboxList = get-mailbox -OrganizationalUnit $OUName | select name, alias,servername,organizationalunit
$arrMailBoxListCount = $arrMailboxList.count
foreach ($item in $arrMailboxList)
{
$i = $i+1
write-progress -id 1 -activity "Getting Mailbox List" -status "Progress:" -percentcomplete ($i/$arrMailboxListCount*100)
$arrMailboxStats = Get-MailboxStatistics -identity $item.alias | select displayname,totalitemsize
foreach ($stat in $arrMailboxStats)
{
$strTest = $strTest + $item.name + "," + $item.alias + "," + $item.servername + "," + $item.organizationalunit + "," + $stat.totalitemsize.value.toKB() + "`n"
}
}

Out-File -filePath $FileName -inputObject $strTest -encoding ASCII

This is my first powershell script using arguments. In this script, I was wanting to submit 2 arguments – the Organisation Unit to check and the CSV file to save the final results to. The basic work flow is to get all the users in the specified OU and then loop through the results, performing a Get-MailboxStatistics cmdlet on each. A CSV-formatted string is stored in a variable and then finally outputted to a CSV file.

Powershell Task of the Day – Bulk add to a distribution list

A follow on from the previous script, I had to then add some users to a distribution list. The following command was used:

get-user -organizationalUnit "domai.local/Company/State/OfficeLocation/Department/Team" | `
select UserPrincipalName | `
foreach { Add-DistributionGroupMember -identity "SA IP Agents" -member $_.UserPrincipalName }

Like the previous script, line 1 is getting users from he specified OU. In this operation, we really only need the User Principle Name. Line 3 iterates through the results, using the Add-DistributionGroupMember cmdlet to add the user.

Powershell Task of the Day – Bulk Email Account Creation

A new office requires a large number of email accounts to be created. Fortunately, the users already had Active Directory accounts and they were in the same organisational unit. I used the following Powershell command to create the users:

get-user -OrganizationalUnit "domain.local/Company/State/OfficeLocation/Department/Team" | `
where-object {$_.RecipientType -eq "User"} | `
Enable-Mailbox -database "EXCH01StorageGroup1Database1"

Line 1 gets the users in the specified organisation unit, while line 2 narrows the results to just User objects. Line 3 performs the actual mailbox creation. 86 users were created with effectively one line of code.

Update on the armory viewer

I haven’t had the opportunity to do a lot of work on the Warcraft armory viewer (http://www.jpboyce.org/armory/) as I’ve been changing servers recently. I have added a couple tweaks. I’ve updated the link the site calls to the updated armory domain name. Also I’ve added an “Upgrade” link that uses the excellent Lightwindow javascript/widget/thingy by Kevin Miller. Any suggestions or comments, feel free to post them.

Armory Reader

The World of Warcraft armory (armory.worldofwarcraft.com) is a nice tool  or looking up characters. But I never liked the way it’s setup, where you have to mouse over every item slot to see the item details. Blizzard were nice enough to make the armory use XML. So I wrote a little ASP.NET application to take that XML and reformat the output in a more lightweight combined fashion. It’s available at www.jpboyce.org/armory

Still on the to do list:

  • Enchants and socketed gems on gear
  • More character details (resistances, etc)
  • Layout cleanup