Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hop count exceeded-possible mail loop

Sometimes when a new Office 365 account is created and you attempt to receive email from outside Office 365 the external sender will receive an email bounce message that looks like:
Generating server: bigfish.com
user@company.com.au
VA3EHSMHS043.bigfish.com #<VA3EHSMHS043.bigfish.com #5.4.6 smtp;554 5.4.6 Hop count exceeded - possible mail loop> #SMTP#
The reason for this is that the Office 365 tenant name that has been used for this account had previously been used and either cancelled or allowed to lapse. Thus, the original tennantname.onmicrosoft.com already exists in the ForeFront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE). This creates a looping condition when emails are received from outside Office 365 to that tenant.

Experience has found that allowing up to 72 hours for the issue to resolve itself can be frustrating if time constraints are upon you. In many cases the response from support to this issue will be to simply wait until the situation is rectified. There is however something that can be done to potentially resolve the issue.
Information about resolving this can be found in the post:

http://www.cloudusergroup.at/post/2012/04/30/hop-count-exceeded-possible-mail-loop-in-office-365-beheben.aspx

which is in German (so you’ll need to use browser translation), however the summary is:

If the affected office 365 tenant is an E plan then you can you can log into the FOPE control panel to check the entries. To login into the FOPE control panel, firstly log into the Office 365 tenant as an administrator.



Select the Manage link from the Exchange section on the Admin Overview page.



Select Mail Control from the list on the left of the page. Then on the right you, under Additional Security Settings, you will see Forefront Online Protection for Exchange. Click the text Configure IP safelisting, perimeter message tracking and e-mail policies.

The Forefront administration console will launch in a new browser.



From this console select Administration then Domain from the menu bar.
This will display the list of domains. You should only see the domains that you have configured for the tenant (as above) however, there may still be a duplicate domain as shown from the original blog post above.



If there is an incorrect entry there you can update FOPE with a Powershell script.
$ LiveCred = Get-Credential
$ Session = New-PSSession ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange ConnectionURI https://ps.outlook.com/powershell/ -Credential $ LiveCred Basic Authentication AllowRedirection
import PSSession $ session AllowClobber
set AcceptedDomain Identity <DOMAIN> -OutboundOnly $true
set-AcceptedDomain identity <DOMAIN> -OutboundOnly $false
You then need to wait about 1 hour and recheck the FOPE entries again. All things being well the duplicate entry should have disappeared. Once the duplicate entry has disappeared then emails from outside the organisation should be received correctly.

It is important to realize that access to the FOPE control panel is not available to users of the Small Business and Professional Plan (P Plan). In that case you can still use the above Powershell commands to clear any duplicate domains.

You will also find that Microsoft has created a knowledge base article covering these issues:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2495882

the resolution in the article is to contact FOPE support to resolve the issue. I also found the following Technet Blog

http://blogs.technet.com/b/hot/archive/2012/02/03/moving-domains-from-bpos-s-to-office-365.aspx

that also contains similar information.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Desktop to Cloud June meeting

Last night was the first night of the monthly Desktop to Cloud User Group and I think it was a resounding success. Why? Because we had about 20 people in attendance, which isn’t bad for a first meeting.

 

014022
Photos taken by Geejay Schneeweiss (GJ’s Computer Services)

 

As you can see from the above shots the venue at the Stanton Library was excellent with plenty of room and great facilities.

 

027021
Photos taken by Geejay Schneeweiss (GJ’s Computer Services)

 

The meeting covered off some basic introductions of everyone in attendance and then some discussions about the direction of the group.

 

016015
Photos taken by Geejay Schneeweiss (GJ’s Computer Services)

 

We also had some good discussion around some cloud solution to common issues such as password management and workflow. You’ll find a copy of the slides from the event here.

 

It was agreed that members should post information, comments and suggestions for content to the Meetup group page at http://www.meetup.com/desktop2cloud/. Over the next few weeks you will start finding more information there.

 

You can also register at http://www.desktoptocloud.com.au and the event site at http://d2cug.eventbrite.com.au/.

 

The meeting is on Wednesday the 25th of July from 6:15pm at Stanton Library, 234 Miller St, North Sydney NSW 2160 and I hope to see you there. Stayed tuned to this blog for further updates on Desktop to Cloud. I have also created a dedicated blog for the group at http://www.ciaops.com/d2cblog so make sure you subscribe for all the updates.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Audible comes to Windows phone



Those who follow this blog and my Goodreads know that I enjoy reading and writing reviews. One of the real killer apps in my books that has been missing from Windows Phone 7 of late has been Audible.

Audible allows you to listen to audio books on your mobile devices. It is another company owned by Amazon (a business I really, really like for many reasons) so purchasing audiobooks is really simple. You can either opt for subscription plan or purchase them as one offs.

Thankfully Audible has finally come to Windows Phone 7 and can be downloaded for free:

http://www.windowsphone.com/en-AU/apps/bdc813dd-c20b-41f8-8646-de72fa0b365d

I have for a long while now used audio to listen to podcasts, books, etc while on the go. It allows to to get through so much more stuff. Once you start you’ll never stop, trust me. Sign up for Audible today and expand your mind.

Office 365 training material

I get plenty of questions about training material for Office 365, especially the certification exams – 71-321 Deploying Office 365 and 71-323 Administrating Office 365. This is becoming more the case now that the 71-323 is part of the new Microsoft SMB competency.

There is currently not a lot out there in the market however the place to start is the recent Office 365 Jump Start range of videos. There are 18 videos in total and can all be downloaded for off site viewing. There are also some older Office 365 Jump Start videos for IT Pros that are also helpful and free again.

Microsoft has also just released some e-learning courseware for the 70-323 Administrating Office 365 exam. There is a cost for this and I can’t provide any recommendation having not used it. It would expect to see some e-learning for the 71-321 Deploying Office 365 become available soon.

Next, you have use the Microsoft Virtual Academy which currently has the following Office 365 courses:

image_2_65696545

There is also plenty of other training material on other technologies in there, all for free.

As for books well I have read the following from MVPs Loryan Strant:

Microsoft Office 365: Exchange Online Implementation and Migration

and Brett Hill


Working with Microsoft Office 365: Running Your Small Business in the Cloud

Both are not specifically aimed at content for passing exams but still offer plenty of information that will help.

Finally, there are the Office 365 Virtual Labs for IT Pros, again free from Microsoft. This will allow you to get you hands dirty in a full virtual environment. This is especially handy for the SMB types who probably don’t have the infrastructure to implement Office 365 Federation.

I’m sure as time goes on there be lots more becoming available so stay tuned.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Beyond the 10GB Companyweb 2010 limit

A hurdle that is fast becoming an issue with Companyweb on SBS 2011 is 10GB database limit imposed by SQL 2008 Express R2. Back in SBS 2008 days Companyweb used SQL 2005 Express Embedded Edition (##SSEE) which allowed unlimited database sizes. However, the issue with SSEE is that it is a 32 bit data platform and SharePoint 2010 Foundation requires a a 64 bit database platform. Enter SQL 2008 Express R2 as the storage platform for Companyweb (SharePoint Foundation 2010) on SBS 2011.

 

As the use of SharePoint increases and customers start storing lots and lots of files in there as well as using version control suddenly 10GB starts to look pretty small. So what options are available to you to break the 10GB barrier with Companyweb on SBS 2011?

 

Option 1 – Split your content across multiple content databases

 

Just because your data exceeds 10GB doesn’t mean it can’t live in multiple content databases. You can easily create a second content database into which you can create another Site Collection. Well, maybe not easily, but it cane be done. See -

 

http://blog.arjanfraaij.com/2011/01/sharepoint-2010-add-site-collection-to.html

 

Once that is created you can create a link from your first site to the second one. In this scenario your total site storage is now 20GB. In theory you could keep adding content databases as you need to, each providing 10GB a pop.

 

Downsides? It is certainly more cumbersome working with multiple SharePoint content databases. You have to make sure that you have set up indexing on that database, assigned rights and linked back and forth from the original. In the end you now have content in two places which can always spell trouble.

 

Option 2 – Implement Remote BLOB storage

 

I have blogged about this before and the issues you may face which you will find here and here. You can do it and it is free but I wouldn’t recommend it for the reasons in those other posts.

 

Downsides? Many (don’t do).

 

Option 3 – Upgrade the existing SharePoint SQL instance on SBS 2011

 

For this you will need to purchase a full version of SQL (typically via the SBS 2011 Premium Add on pack) and then install it over the existing SQL 2008 Express R2 instance that is used for SharePoint.

 

You’ll find details of that process here -

 

http://blogs.technet.com/b/sbs/archive/2011/02/28/how-to-migrate-companyweb-to-a-sql-2008-r2-standard-instance-on-sbs-2011-part-1.aspx

 

Downsides? Firstly, you are going to have purchase a full version of SQL. It also kind of makes SBS 2011 “non-standard”. This doesn’t mean it isn’t a supported configuration (as I understand it) but I can’t say how SBS 2011 wizards and updates handle things being ‘non-standard’ going forward.

 

It also means you have yet another SQL version on your SBS 2011 server that will need separate updates along with the other versions of SQL that are already there (i.e. SQL 2008 Express R2 and SSEE).

 

Option 4 – Install a new version of SQL Server onto the SBS 2011 server

 

Once again here you’ll need to purchase a full version of SQL (typically via the SBS 2011 Premium Add on pack) and then install it as another SQL instance on the SBS 2011 Server.

 

Once you have done this you will need to move the SharePoint content databases from the default SQL 2008 Express R2 instance to the new full SQL instance via SQL detach and reattach as well as ststam –o deletecontentdb and addcontentdb commands.

 

Downsides? Like the above option. You have to buy a full version of SQL and SBS 2011 is now ‘non-standard’ (although supported). You have an additional version of SQL to patch and update. The added downside here is that this new version of SQL has created a new instance which means it is consuming additional RAM on your SBS server. Thus, now you have SSEE, SQL 2008 Express R2, and Full SQL consuming RAM for all their instances, not forgetting that by default SQL wants is not memory trimmed (i.e. it will consume every piece of free RAM it can).

 

Option 5 – Install a new member server that includes SQL Server

 

Here you’ll need to purchase an additional Windows Server and SQL License (typically via the SBS 2011 Premium Add on pack), some additional hardware (or virtual machine) and create a new member server in SBS 2011 domain with full SQL installed on it.

 

Once you have done that you will need to move the databases (much like in Option 4 above) to the new server with full SQL.

 

Details on doing that are found at -

 

http://blogs.technet.com/b/sbs/archive/2011/03/02/how-to-migrate-companyweb-to-a-sql-2008-r2-standard-instance-on-sbs-2011-part-2-premium-second-server.aspx 

 

and -

 

http://blogs.technet.com/b/sbs/archive/2011/03/07/how-to-migrate-companyweb-to-a-sql-2008-r2-standard-instance-on-sbs-2011-part-3-migrating-the-content-database.aspx.

 

Downsides? Again SBS 2011 is not longer ‘standard’ (but again still supported). You need to spend more money on SQL and Windows licenses and potentially additional hardware. The other downside is that now database requests for SharePoint are sent from the second server with SQL installed back to the SBS 2011 box out via IIS to the client (if I understand the flow correctly here). That means extra network traffic and potential latency as data requests for SharePoint are pull from a database across the network. You might never notice this with the fast infrastructure we have today but it is still slower than having it all hosted on one server.

 

But hand on a sec ….

 

This whole discussion has really focused on just the SharePoint content database, however this is not the only database that SharePoint Foundation uses. In SharePoint you’ll also find the following databases typically:

 

Sharepoint_config

SharePoint_admincontent_<GUID>

WSS_logging_<GUID>

WSS_search_<GUID>

 

so what about these? Should they also be moved? The following article does tell you how to go about this (Although I believe there are issues with the document),

 

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg616007.aspx

 

In theory I would say no for every database except one. The first three databases should generally remain small and no exceed the 10GB limit, however what will also grow as your content database grows? The search database. If you leave it where it is on SQL 2008 Express R2 it will be limited to 10GB in size. The only way that you’d probably notice that the search database has reached its limit is when search results are not returned for information you KNOW is in the database.

 

Can’t say that I have ever seen a search database exceed 10GB but in theory, given enough SharePoint content to index, it could. So, if you go a full version of SQL with unlimited database sizes I would also be moving the search database (wss_search_<guid> by default) to the full version of SQL to allow it breathing space as your content grows.

 

To move the search databases the easiest way is probably to recreate them by stopping and restarting the SharePoint search service but in this case nominating the location of the full SQL server for the storage of the index data.

 

Conclusion

 

For most people that need to exceed the 10GB option the best option I would say is to get the Premium Add on. Install full SQL on a new member server and swing the content (ShareWebDb) and the Search database only across to this new SQL instance that has no limits on the database size. However, I hope this post has at least provided you with some options of what is possible.

CIAOPS Podcast–Episode 31

Just uploaded the latest edition of the CIAOPS Need to Know podcast. In this episode I speak with Michael Jenkin about the value of community and the benefits of volunteering.

 

Michael speaks across his involvement as a Microsoft MVP, being involved with the Australian Scout Jamboree and his involvement with GITCA. Michael really highlights the benefits that come from giving, not only personally but also professionally.

 

Listen to this episode at:

 

http://ciaops.podbean.com/2012/06/26/episode-31-michael-jenkin/

 

A good place to start volunteering and giving back to the community might be to appear on an episode of the CIAOPS Need to Know podcast. It is simple, painless and can maybe help others with business and technology challenges. If you are at all interested in appearing please do not hesitate to contact me (director@ciaops.com) to discuss getting involved.

 

I also always appreciate feedback on the episode which you can do directly on the Need to Know podcast site or via the email address above.

 

Once again, a big thanks to Michael for once again giving back.

Windows Phone 8

 

Microsoft has provided details of Windows Phone 8 due out soon. Here’s a video of some of the new features (some of which will be available to Windows Phone 7 users via an update I believe).

 

Windows Phone 8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25DKXGKblOw

 

A good summary can be found at:

 

http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2012/06/the-new-features-coming-to-windows-phone-8/

 

So if you are looking for a Windows Phone then perhaps it maybe worth a wait until the new models become available (September-October is the rumoured date). Downside is that existing Windows Phone 7 devices typically can’t be upgraded to Windows Phone 8 (nothing surprising there) but will receive a number of updates to improve the experience.

 

Even though Windows Phone has taken a knock with falling revenues with Nokia I still reckon Windows Phone is better than most out there in the market. Being as late to the game as Microsoft is with Windows Phone makes it an enormous mountain to climb. However, more competition and choice is only going to benefit customers on the long run. So I’m still saying that you shouldn’t write off Windows Phone just yet but it will certainly have to kick some major goals soon and perhaps with Windows 8 Phone it will?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Getting Started with SharePoint Small Business–The Video

As a companion to my recently released ‘Getting Started with SharePoint Online for Small Business’ I have created a video covering the same (and some more) material. You can find it at:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZ-FVJugkRU

 

About 30 minutes in length.

 

Look out for one covering the E Plan coming soon.