Exchange & Outlook UPDATE, Exchange Edition--The Inheritance Tax--August 17, 2006

---------------| Exchange & Outlook UPDATE |---------------

*Commentary: The Inheritance Tax
*Exchanging Ideas: Exchange Server 2007 Beta 2 Review
*New and Improved: Report On Your Exchange Server Environment



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***COMMENTARY: The Inheritance Tax
by Paul Robichaux, Exchange Editor, [email protected]

You might know that the United States Congress has been debating whether to change the number and kind of taxes assessed against the estates of people who die. There's a lot of arguing over whether inheritance taxes are fair, who should be subject to them, and so forth. I don't really have an opinion on the topic, but inheritance taxes have been on my mind this week because I've been working with a company whose current email system configuration was more or less inherited from previous systems administrators. The company is paying a healthy "inheritance tax" because of some of the decisions the previous administrators made—or didn't make.

The original Microsoft Exchange Server administrator didn't leave behind any documentation of how the email system was configured or modified. This kind of running record of configuration changes—what old-school mainframe guys would call a "run book"—makes all the difference when it comes time to transfer responsibility for messaging or infrastructure systems. One of the first things I had to do was assess which objects, connectors, and settings were set a particular way on purpose and which ones were merely inherited from the original setup. A written record would have greatly simplified that process. (The parallels here for estate planning are so obvious I won't even point them out.)

I found a number of what I can only describe as amputated components in the system: connectors that pointed to decommissioned servers, trust relationships to domains that no longer existed, and so on. The most common dangling items found in Exchange are the system public folders used for the Offline Address Book (OAB) and individual users' free/busy information. If you don't follow Microsoft's instructions when decommissioning the first server in a site (or in the organization), the site folder attributes will point to the wrong server and your users will have trouble using free/busy information for calendaring and using OABs with Microsoft Outlook. Many of these problems are easy to fix but can be a hassle to deal with, particularly if you don't know to expect them.

I also helped sort out some design and configuration decisions made by the previous administrator that were no longer applicable (or even right) for the organization's current needs. The Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer (ExBPA) can help a lot with this process because it can flag configuration items that aren't in line with Microsoft's recommended practices. Fortunately, the company had already run ExBPA and applied its recommendations where applicable, but there were still a few areas that we had to discuss at the whiteboard to reach an agreement on which design or configuration alternatives were best.

One administrator I worked with said something that struck me: He felt that calling support or bringing in an outside consultant was an admission that he didn't know how to do his job. I wasn't quite sure how to respond to this at first, but then it hit me that his fear of being perceived as incompetent for seeking outside help was also an inheritance tax. As any long-time Exchange administrator knows, Exchange is such a sophisticated environment that even experienced administrators might need help to unravel complex problems. Don't be reluctant to call Customer Service and Support or an outside expert when you're having serious or intractable problems; the cost for their time is probably less than the extended cost of beating your head against a problem you haven't been able to solve on your own—especially if the problem involves downtime.

I'm happy to report that this particular company's inheritance tax is now paid in full; its Exchange system is humming along, with all the junk removed. But what about you? Are you still suffering the effects of decisions made (or not made) by whoever ran your Exchange system before you? Let me know what kinds of hassles you've faced, and I'll excerpt the best ones (anonymously, if you like) in a future column.


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EDITORS' NOTE: Regional Events Cover Four Key Interoperability Topics

Are you a Windows fan, a UNIX diehard or a Linux lover? Check out TechX World, an OS-agnostic event designed to give you the insider's tips on coping with your Windows Plus world.

Spend a Day With Technical Experts Michael Otey, Gil Kirkpatrick, Dustin Puryear and Randy Dyess
Designed specifically for IT professionals who work in a Windows Plus environment, TechX World is a four-track, one-day event featuring information about OS interoperability, data interoperability, directory and security integration, and virtualization. The content will focus on interoperability tips to help make disparate systems work well together.

The regional event series will visit four cities between October 24 and November 2, including Washington DC, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco. Attendees who register before August 31 will receive early bird pricing and a one-year subscription to Windows IT Pro. At $129 per person for four tracks and a full day of learning, it's worth sending the entire team to make sure you cover all the sessions. For complete agenda and speaker details, go to

TechX World, brought to you by people who understand the world you live in never fits the textbook IT infrastructure.


Roadshow Targets Oracle/SQL Server Interoperability
Cross-platform experts from Scalability Experts and Solid Quality Learning will present interoperability tips to IT professionals and DBAs who work with Oracle or SQL Server in a one-day roadshow that kicks off September 7 in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by Oracle Magazine, Windows IT Pro, HP, Intel, and Microsoft, the show will feature information about the Windows 64-bit platform for database computing, an under-the-hood tour of Oracle and SQL Server, an overview of deploying highly available Oracle and SQL Server databases, guidelines for using SQL Server business intelligence on the Oracle platform, and a research-based session about how IT professionals can prepare for the changing database job market.

The roadshow will visit 12 cities between September 7 and October 24: Washington, D.C.; Boston; Columbus, Ohio; Chicago; St. Louis; Houston; Irvine, Calif.; San Francisco; Phoenix; New York; Atlanta; and Seattle. Attendees who register before August 25 will enter a drawing for a free iPod nano sponsored by Windows IT Pro. For complete agenda and speaker information, go to



Focus: Exchange Server 2007 Beta 2 Review

Microsoft has shipped public releases of both Exchange Server 2007 Beta 2 and the first beta version of Forefront Security for Exchange Server. Read Paul Thurrott's take on these new products.

Have a question? Got answers? Join your peers in the Exchange discussion forums:
Current Threads:
Block Blank Subject Lines in E-mail
How often should I restart?
Routing Groups container in AG

The voting has ended in the Windows IT Pro Exchange & Outlook nonscientific Instant Poll for the question "Which Exchange 2007 feature appeals to you most?" Here are the results from the 25 votes:
- 24% New server roles
- 20% New management console
- 28% Windows PowerShell
- 28% Outlook 2007 integration

Tell us what you think in this month's Instant Poll:
"What's the best use for virtualization technology?"
a. Testing software
b. Consolidating servers
c. Enabling redundancy/business continuity
d. Running legacy OSs and apps

~~~~ Hot Spot: ~~~~

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by Blake Eno, [email protected]

Report On Your Exchange Server Environment
PROMODAG announced updates to its email-reporting tool, PROMODAG Reports for Microsoft Exchange Server 7.4. PROMODAG Reports measures the usage of your Exchange environment, analyzes traffic patterns, and examines mailboxes and public folders content. The integration of PROMODAG Reports Synthesis in PROMODAG Reports consolidates your PROMODAG Reports database into a smaller PROMODAG Reports Synthesis database with less detailed information to quickly produce trend reports. New reports highlight access rights to mailboxes, messages forwarded and replied to, user defined rules, and global traffic trends. For more information, contact PROMODAG at 888-696-5404.

Wanted: your reviews of products you've tested and used in production. Share your experiences and ratings of products to "[email protected]" and get a Best Buy gift certificate.


These Windows-related events, papers, and resources will help you keep your knowledge and skills up to date and help you deploy, secure, and maintain the latest Exchange- and Windows-related technologies. For additional resources, visit

Exchange & Office 2007 Roadshow Coming to EMEA!
Get the facts about deploying Exchange & Office 2007! You'll come away with a clear understanding of how to implement a best-practices migration to Exchange Server 2007 and how you and your end users can get the most out of Office 2007, and you'll learn more about Windows Vista.

Is your continuity solution letting you down? If you're not getting 100% coverage against lost or missing messages, even for short, unplanned outages, you might be jeopardizing your messaging system's integrity and your company's productivity. Learn how to manage disruptions to your messaging environment without breaking the bank in the process. View the on-demand Web seminar today!

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Any unscheduled downtime--especially of your Exchange systems--can quickly affect your company's bottom line. Learn the essential skills to reduce downtime to minutes instead of hours.

Are you ready for the next spyware attack? Make sure--learn from industry expert Mark Joseph Edwards. Protect against emerging spyware threats, including rootkits, keyloggers, and distribution methods. View the on-demand Web seminar today!



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