Simon May

Client and cloud

August, 2010

  • Manually configure Outlook 2010 for Exchange Online (BPOS)

    I live in Outlook, I think most people probably do too, so having recently moved the email for my domain over to something a little more reliable – BPOS – I thought it’d be nice to have access to that inbox through my Outlook, in addition to my Microsoft email.  To help with the setup of email the Sign In application can do it all for you the client’s available from the Administration Center or the download site.

    This however results in you having a separate profile within Outlook so it’s not quite what I wanted.

    This is what you need to do to add an Exchange Online mailbox to an existing Outlook profile in Outlook 2010 (the basic steps are universal):

    1. Close Outlook
    2. Open Mail32 (32-bit") from Control Panel
    3. Click E-mail Accounts… and then New… account settings
    4. Select E-mail Account and click Next on the wizard mail32
    5. Select Manually configure server settings or additional server types and Next again
    6. Select Microsoft Exchange or compatible service and Next again add new account
    7. Now fire up your browser of choice, IE nach, and log into your Outlook Web Apps.
    8. Look in the top right and you’ll see Options, then select About and copy the name next to Mailbox server name
    9. Go back to the mail settings dialogue and paste the name of your Exchange Online server in Server and your full Exchange Online email address in User Name
    10. Click the More Settings… button in the lower right and select the Connection tab, tick Connect to Microsoft Exchange using HTTP and click Exchange Proxy Settings… exchange proxy settings
    11. Next you’ll need the address of the mobile device URL for your region which you’ll enter in the first field, then click OK a couple of times to get back to the wizard

    Done, if you start Outlook you’ll find your new account is available for you

    multi accounts

     


     










  • Scenarios where BPOS is brilliant

    As part of my dive into the world of Microsoft Online Services one of the things I’ve not been able to find in one place – please correct me if I’m wrong – is a list scenarios where BPOS can really help you out.  Our various partners who help you get up and running on BPOS have some good stuff so what I’ve done here is aggregated some of that info and made it more generic.

    email coexistence

    You’ve realised that Email is low hanging fruit in the cloud tree

    Email is really easy to move to the cloud.  There are lots of distinct units (mail boxes) that mean the impact on testing and a gradual rollout to BPOS is simple to do.  Not only that but there’s the high availability and low cost of management, you don’t need to patch or any of that stuff and you don’t need to buy the tin.  You also don’t need to get in with both feet.  Your cloud solution (or at least BPOS) can coexist with on premise (dare we say private cloud?) meaning you get to do this as you feel comfortable with it.

    Your internal customers are used to email delivered from the cloud too, in fact they probably expect it – especially the younger members of your staff.  They’ve grown up with services like Hotmail, Yahoo! mail, Gmail and the likes so they expect their email to always be there, to never go down, to never require maintenance, to have huge storage capacity (25gb is the default with BPOS).  This is an example of where the consumerisation of IT is driving your users expectations.  BPOS represents the best first step to the cloud.

    You’ve out-grown your existing Exchange environment

    Coexistence in Exchange means you can add to your existing Exchange infrastructure by connecting to BPOS.  That means you get your GAL extended into the cloud and it all feels seamless for your users.  There are times when you need to deploy new Exchange 2010 boxes internally but they are reducing.  Compliance could be a major turn off but in the case of BPOS that’s not the case!  SOx and the likes are supported by BPOS they aren’t by many other providers.

    Storage is a big thing here.  How much storage do your on premise Exchange users get?  The 25gb offered by BPOS could be an expensive thing to grow to for all your customers, if you needed to buy the spindles and platters.

    Again it goes down the cost of tin and maintenance, there are times when you’ll want to scale out your Exchange infrastructure but it now should be ROI costed against BPOS.

    You’ve acquired a company on another system

    I love this one.  Your company bought another company, again, without thinking about how to integrate the IT systems.  Email just works right?  Well…er..er…

    We’ve seen Exchange Online used for just this scenario quite a lot.  You have to get people onto your email system yesterday, it’s imperative to keep the newly acquired business functional, profitable and (possibly) to show them who’s boss.  The ability to integrate Exchange Online rapidly with your existing structure, you can do it in about an hour if the DNS gods are shing on you and the wind is in the right direction, is superb.  They need access to your GAL, they’ve got it, they need to start receiving email @contoso.com , they’ve got it.

    Not only that but all their mail can be in brought over too so they don’t loose their archive of 10 year old email Exchanges that they intend to use to justify that pay rise.

    email coexistence

    You need to move from another Internet based mail system

    Same solution as above, mailboxes can be imported.  That is super cool for moving from one provider to another, if they had an outage recently because they can’t really scale and don’t really have an enterprise ready solution.  In fact this scenario applies to moving off of other in house email systems.

    Asside: I once helped move from a green screen email system to a gui based one.  Email volume tripled overnight and the reason was it became more usable.  Unfortunately that solution didn’t scale, but it delivers a bit of sage advice.  Be sure what you move to can scale beyond what you currently consider the norm.

    You use SBS and you’ve outgrown your 75 user limit

    SBS or Small Business Server includes Exchange and it’s all a small business needs to get started.  However there’s a limit of 75 users and a tighter limit on the disk space you have installed in your box (that’s a physical limit not an OS limit).  If you need more than 75 mail boxes or you need more space than you have in that box Exchange Online is for you.

    SBS and Exchange Online have been used in other interesting places too, for example the two work really well for project offices.  Everyone on the project only really works on the project but they need to be able to deal with email at a higher level.

    You’re company has expanded into a new country and mail’s slow

    storageThis is another of my favourite scenarios, mainly because a friend of mine has been hit by the crippling situation that is SLoooooooooooooooW email.  She’s just started work at a new company, the company is actually new to UK and it’s main offices are in India.  Things are not so good from a reliability perspective and a speed perspective.  For example they have on premise Exchange in India (where everyone is in the same building) but have a slow link out the Internet.

    When something is sent internally it’s instant, when it goes to her it can take a while, especially when it’s a 10mb Excel doc.  When she checks her email it has to cross that little tiny pipe to get back to her, whilst she’s waiting.

    This could be solved by Exchange Online.  If her company set up Exchange Online for her she’d be able to take advantage of her fast home broadband connect when she’s connected to the Exchange Online servers.  Sure the files would still have to cross a tiny pipe but not whilst she’s waiting.  Her experience would be better…in fact she might not be quitting next week.

    In fact there is more to BPOS than just email, Sharepoint provides the perfect solution to this problem when it’s in the cloud.  The ability to place a large file somewhere, or a report or just some info, and to only have to manage one place is astounding.  When it’s in the cloud with BPOS it’s even better for people working remotely because you don’t need to worry about your network links.

    You have a short term need for extra people with email

    You need 100 seats now.  You’ve got a massive sales drive hitting the ground and you need 100 new call handlers with email access like it was yesterday.  BPOS can do that, you don’t need to wait to buy the tin, build it, connect it…none of that.  You just do it.  And when it’s done, as long as it’s been over a year you unsubscribe those seats and if it’s not you begin your cloud migration because you just proved that cloud email works.

    Summary

    I wrote this because cloud based email is worth thinking about.  IT Pros need to be questioning when they can move to the cloud and Emails the easy way.  I’d really love to know what you think, which is what the comments are for.  Have I missed any scenarios that you think we all need to be considering?

    Here’s more on BPOS by me you should signup for BPOS and start trying it out today too.

  • Another not-very-revolutionary feature: Gmail does “undo send”

    image

    Gmail’s undo send feature is being talked up all over the web right now.  Why.  It’s revolutionary of course.  WRONG.

    Outlook has done this for YEARS, all that’s happening is that a delay is introduced.  To do this in Outlook 2010:

    • Go to Options > Advanced
    • Scroll down to Send and receive and remove the tick from Send immediately when connected

    You can leave it there, or configure the time between send and receives by clicking the Send/Receive button.  Now stuff will sit in your Outbox (from where you can stop it sending by editing it) until the next send and receive which you can obviously start.

  • Blog Wrap Up Creator (a tool by me)

    wlwwrapup

    Every week I write a simple wrap up of all the things I’ve posted during the week you can subscribe to them here.  Creating it can be slow going if I’ve posted tons of stuff and copy and pasting all the links creating some spiffy text to flow around it and that sort of thing can be a pain.  So I decided to automate it.

    I wanted to be able to use Windows Live Writer to create the post so that I had maximum flexibility and a really great editor to be able tweak the post in.  I’m currently using the Windows Live Writer Beta from the Live Essentials Beta, which really is the best blogging tool available and it has super cool plug-in framework.  I went looking for a way of getting those posts and producing the wrap-up post but there weren’t any plug-ins out there.

    So it was time to do some digging into what resources are available for creating plug-ins.  The Windows Live Writer SDK came up containing a bunch of useful APIs, there are three really: Application (for manipulating the Application), Content Source Plugin (which really is used to do stuff inside a post) and the Provider Customization API (used to customise how WLW works with different blog engines).

    I went directly for the Application API.  Also just so you know, I’m not a very good coder.

    The Application API is what’s used to poke stuff into WLW, essentially it’s how the Blog This stuff in IE works.  I have an idea, an API, now what…err…..I grabbed Visual C# Express 2010, a free download and tried to remember how C# works (I’m a VB guy and any chance I get now I move my botched programs skills to C#).  Express is great for having your first play with code.  The next thing I did was to work out how the UI was going to work, I wanted it to be really obvious how to use this thing.  I thought about 2 calendars and some text boxes and a REALLY big button.

    I created a WPF form and found the calendar control.  Then I started to read up on it and found out that it’s possible to use it to select a date range…brilliant, I only need one calendar control which is far less clutter.  A couple of text boxes and a button and we’re done.

    I’m not going to go through all the code but Windows Live Writer MVP Scott’s Live Spaces page guided me through what I needed to do.

    Essentially the core of the code is this:

    wlwapp = new WindowsLiveWriterApplication(); ((IWindowsLiveWriterApplication2)this.wlwapp).BlogThisHtml(textBox2.Text, BuildHTML);

    All I’m doing is creating a new instance of the wlwapp and passing it a prepopulated string of HTML called BuildHTML.  That kind of begs the question, where does BuildHTML come from?  The answer is that I use SyndicationFeed (part of .net 4) to read my blogs RSS feed and poke it into Build HTML.  It’s very simple stuff as you can see… I’ve also been very lazy and not renamed my TextBoxes or any other controls oops… Embarrassed smile

    XmlReader reader = XmlReader.Create(textBox1.Text); SyndicationFeed feed = SyndicationFeed.Load(reader); ///parse the feed items foreach (var item in feed.Items) { ///check that the item is within the range we want if (calendar1.SelectedDates.Contains(item.PublishDate.Date)) { BuildHTML = BuildHTML + "<li><a href='"; //within each item we look for the link foreach (var link in item.Links) { BuildHTML = BuildHTML + link.Uri.ToString() + "'>"; } BuildHTML = BuildHTML + item.Title.Text + "</a></li> "; } } reader.Close();

    There’s not much more to this application really other than the fact that I’ve published it (Project > Publish xxx in Visual C# Express 2010) to the internet and that built me an install on my server to publish and maintain the application.  This simple tool will save me 1 hour a week from here to eternity.  If you do it once, great, if you do it twice, automate.

    Check out my tool at its application page.

  • Thoughts on OpsMgr: SCOM Operators Basics SuperFlow

    Last week this popped up in my twitter feed and I really think it’s worth of some link love, so that’s just what I’m doing. 

    Thoughts on OpsMgr: SCOM Operators Basics SuperFlow

    It’s on Maarten Goet’s blog, he’s a SCOM MVP and knows far too much about System Center Operations Manager.  The superflow tool he’s talking about here is your perfect resource for training your operators.