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To Virtualize or Not to Virtualize Exchange

 
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Many already realize the overarching benefits of Exchange virtualization, but may have lingering questions regarding deployment, cost, complexity, configuration, support, third party applications, and more. Recently, ENow board member and Microsoft Exchange MVP Tony Redmond authored a white paper titled “Virtualizing Exchange 2013 – the right way” the document deconstructed the arguments for and against Exchange virtualization and presented recommendations and best practices for a level-headed deployment.
To read Tony’s white paper: Please visit VEEAM:  (Requires form fill for download)
In short, virtualization is not for all companies. Every organization has unique needs that must account for the pros and cons of this cloud-based strategy. Cutting through the marketing claims, do you have the right personnel who understand virtual environments and have the right experience (like understanding hypervisors) required to support and maintain virtualization? Tony puts it this way:
“What is true is that any decision to use virtualization for any application should be well-founded and based on real data. Deciding to virtualize on a whim is seldom a good idea.”
However, this is not to dissuade any organization from considering migration of Exchange 2013 to a virtual environment. The decision cannot solely be made on the notion that if the server is virtualized, companies experience a transformation in terms of cost savings and uptime. There is considerable amount of work that goes into either deployment.
However, with that stated, Tony notes virtual servers utilize available hardware more efficiently, and therefore, are able to reduce the overall cost of the solution. This is particularly true in cases where Exchange serves only a couple hundred mailboxes where only a portion of the load is on a single server. Further evidence suggests for larger enterprise deployments where multiple virtual servers can be organized as Data Availability Groups (DAG), thousands of mailboxes can cost-effectively be supported.

In terms of easy deployment, the white paper notes that virtual servers are more flexible and “far faster than it takes to procure new physical hardware and then install Windows, Exchange” and other third party applications. It also highlights superior options for set up and recovery for fixing hardware issues that often plague physical servers.






Lync Call Quality Methodology to enhance the Call Quality and User Satisfaction (Part IV – Score Card)

 
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By: Johan Delimon - 10/17/2014

Lync Call Quality Methodology to enhance the Call Quality and User Satisfaction (Part II – Server Health)

 

Lync Call Quality Methodology to enhance the Call Quality and User Satisfaction Part I: CQM

 

Lync Call Quality Methodology to enhance the Call Quality and User Satisfaction (Part III – Collecting Call Quality)

 

When a Ranking is More Than a Number: Why CIOs Choose ENow

 

By: Joel Brda - 10/09/2014
“No one ever got fired for choosing IBM.” This phrase was very popular in the 1980s. For CIOs, it meant there was a degree of reliability and credibility in an established leading brand. This concept was propagated during a time when the computing world was IBM and everyone else. Though that world is long gone, the CIO still depends on credibility and reliability of a solution when making investments in solving IT issues.

As the evolution of technology has increased its impact across the modern enterprise, the stakes have become much higher. A poor decision can set an organization back months, even years. Using the same IBM concept, many CIOs look to companies like Microsoft, Visio, Intuit, and Oracle to solve various needs. Why? They’ve developed a reputation of credibility and trust. All those companies have one thing in common: they, at one time, were listed on Inc. Magazines top 5000 fastest growing private companies. Like its predecessors, ENow Software has recently achieved this distinction as well (read ENow’s announcement).


Top 10 Tips for Supporting & Troubleshooting Lync 2013 Infographic

 
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Have you recently deployed Lync 2013 or thinking about it? Microsoft’s latest platform has some really powerful features and will enable your user to communicate more efficiently. Setting up, configuring and ongoing support of Lync 2013 is not a trivial task. A Lync deployment is complex and involves cooperation of your networking, SQL, telecommunications and Exchange teams. Hence troubleshooting is almost never easy and root causes are hard to pinpoint. Attend this webinar to learn Best Practice Tips that will enable you to support Lync 2013 faster and easier.

Introduction to Managed Availability: Local Monitoring Files and Overrides Part III

 
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By: Dominik Hoefling - 10/2/2014
Now that you’ve finished Part I & Part II of my three part Managed Availability blog series, I will now provide some information about local .xml monitoring files and overrides of Managed Availability.

Local Managed Availability .xml monitoring files

Some HealthSets, such as the FEP HealthSet are local .xml files. Because FEP is the Forefront Endpoint Protection service, some of you may want to disable this HealthSet on the servers, because there is no use for it.
Browse to %ExchangeInstallationPath%\Microsoft\Exchange\V15\Bin\Monitoring\Config, search for FEPActiveMonitoringContext.xml and open the file with an editor, such as Notepad.
Change line 12 by replacing Enabled = True to Enabled = False
Restart the Microsoft Exchange Health Management service on the server where you modified the .xml file.

Overrides

With overrides, you can change the Managed Availability monitoring thresholds and define you own settings when Managed Availability in case of errors should take action.
There are two kinds of overrides:

  • Local overrides: are used to customize a component on a specific server or on components which aren’t globally available. For example, if you are running multiple datacenters and would like to change only server components on a specific location for individual monitoring. Local overrides are managed with the *-SetMonitoringOverride set of cmdlets. They are stored in the registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\ExchangeServer\v15\ActiveMonitoring\Overrides\ and are automatically updated every 10 minutes. The Microsoft Exchange Health Management service reads the changes in the registry path above.
  • Global overrides: are used to customize a component for a whole Exchange organization. They are managed with the *-GlobalMonitoringOverride set of cmdlets. Global overrides are stored in Active Directory:

CN=Overrides,CN=Monitoring Settings,CN=FM,CN=Microsoft Exchange,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=Xiopia,DC=local
You can set overrides for specific Exchange versions, such as CU6 with version “15.0.995.29”. This setting will then be effective until the Exchange version changes and will be set with the ApplyVersion parameter.
The other method is to set overrides for a specific timeframe. With Exchange 2013 CU6 you can set overrides for a maximum of 365 days with the Duration parameter.

Managed Availability and server reboots

Responders only execute in the event that a monitor is marked in an Unhealthy state and will try to recover that component. Managed Availability provides multi-stage recovery actions:








Introduction to Managed Availability: How to Check, Recover, and Maintain Your Exchange Organization Part II

 
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By: Dominik Hoefling - 10/2/2014
Now that you’ve finished Part I of my three part Managed Availability blog series, I will now go a bit deeper and provide some examples about the functionality and operability of Managed Availability. My virtual test lab contains a two-member DAG based on Windows Server 2012 and Exchange 2013 CU6.

  1. Identify Unhealthy Health Sets and their error description


Introduction to Managed Availability: An Exchange Administrator‘s task? Part I

 

By: Dominik Hoefling - 9/29/2014
Microsoft introduced a new built-in monitoring system called Managed Availability in Exchange 2013, which automatically takes recovery actions for unhealthy services within the Exchange organization.

Microsoft has been operating a cloud version of Exchange since 2007 and have put all their knowledge into Managed Availability monitoring. Managed Availability is a cloud trained system based on an end user’s experience with recovery oriented computing.


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