As customers move their organization into the Cloud or choose to coexist, there is a need to ensure that some of the basic functionalities users have grown accustomed to, continue to work. While some of you will move all of the users in a cutover fashion which reduces complexity, others will choose a more gradual approach. This troubleshooter is for administrators that have chosen the hybrid approach.

Are you seeing the hash marks in your hybrid Exchange environment as depicted below and want to get rid of them? Then this troubleshooter is for you.

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The reason we focused on a troubleshooter for Free Busy is because it is the most commonly used “feature set” in a hybrid deployment. If you were to resolve issues with Free Busy lookups, many of the other potential issues you have with your hybrid deployment would be resolved as well.

What is a Hybrid Deployment?

A Hybrid Deployment consists of an on-premises Exchange server environment that has at least one Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2013 server. In this environment there is also a DirSync (Directory Synchronization) server, and in many cases, a deployment of ADFS (Active Directory Federation Services) to provide single sign-on capabilities to the users.

The idea of the hybrid environment is to allow two separate organizations (Exchange Online and Exchange On-Premises) to feel like one organization. To accomplish this, we rely on a token authorization process that is made possible through a combination of Organizations Relationships and Federation Trusts with the Microsoft Federation Gateway.

When this is configured properly, you can do basic things like redirect OWA requests to their proper destination, see “MailTips” for a user, and of course the most common feature, view availability information for another user cross-premises.

To read more about Hybrid Deployments click here.

This sounds hard to configure. How can I avoid issues?

If you are the type that does not like running into issues you can attempt to avoid them, all you have to do is deploy using the Hybrid Configuration Wizard and the Exchange Deployment Assistant. These tools have been designed to get you into an optimal Hybrid configuration which should limit the amount of issues you face. However, with all of the moving parts involved and numerous variants in the on-premises deployments you could still run into issues.

You may ask, “Why do I need a troubleshooter? I use Bing or I get Scroogled.”

When working with customers and engineers, we have found that the troubleshooting steps that need to be followed are not very clear. There is confusion on what steps are applicable when free busy works in one direction (Cloud to on-premises), but not in the other (on-premises to Cloud). While searching Bing for answers can definitely lead to a solution, we believe we can be more expedient by using the troubleshooter to target solutions at your specific symptom.

The troubleshooter can be found here or at the following simple URL: http://aka.ms/hybridfreebusy

Thanks to Charlotte Raymundo, Nagesh Mahadev, Edgar Quevedo, John Chappelle, Geoffrey Crisp, Star Li and Chen Jiang for their help in creation and review of this troubleshooter.

Timothy Heeney