Exchange Online Migrations – PAWsitive update

First off, apologies for the pun… Secondly, there is some new functionality to the way Exchange Online migrations are handled. Protocol Agnostic Workflow (PAW) adds some enhancements to the migration experience, you can read more about it here. The functionality should be available within your tenant, if not, follow the steps in the above link […]

Adventures in Office 365 PowerShell

I’ve been pretty busy over the past few months and one of the engagements I had, was to automate a set of Office 365 migrations for a customer using PowerShell. The engagement started off with a design workshop led by a colleague James Brewster. Corey Goodchild, Joe Majoros and myself worked with the customer to establish […]

Azure App Service vNet Intergration and ExpressRoute

While reviewing a recent customer design we spotted a problem. The design used Azure App Service vNet Integration with an ExpressRoute. vNet Integration is a feature of App Services that allows an App to create an SSL VPN to an Azure VPN Gateway. This allows the App to access resources on an Azure Virtual Network or […]

“Teams” has it made a difference to me?

I have been using Teams for a while now so thought I would share my experience so far. To do this I want to break it down into a few topics, the client, communications, extensibility and then finally has “Teams” made a difference for me. The Client To start then let’s look at the client […]

Removing a domain from Office 365

I recently came across a problem removing a domain from a office 365 tenancy. The customer was moving a SMTP domain from one office 365 tenancy to another. Users were sync’d to the source tenancy via AAD Connect. This was disabled to enable us to remove the domain from all objects in the tenancy (we […]

Exchange 2016/Hybrid Infrastructure Update

Architecture – Server Roles . Exchange 2016 has reduced the number of server roles to two: The Mailbox and Edge Transport server roles with the Edge Transport being optional. In combining the client access server, hub transport roles into the mailbox role, this means Exchange servers in the environment can be the same hardware. This […]

Legacy Public Folder Migrations and Aliases

Recently I completed a legacy Public Folder migration from Exchange 2007 to 2013 and there was one thing that made the entire process painful….aliases. The migration will fail during the Initial Seeding if a public folder is encountered with invalid characters in the alias. In my migration I encountered roughly 3000 invalid aliases in 5000 […]

Increase Recoverbale Items Folder Space in Exchange Online

I find that placing mailboxes on hold in Exchange Online, with the new Retention Policies or in-place/litigation hold in Exchange, is the preferred method for journaling and backup and recovery in Office 365. Placing mailboxes on hold retains all email. If an email is deleted it is moved to the recoverable items folder and it […]

Microsoft Exchange Edge Address Rewrite with Exchange Online

I’ve not used the address rewrite functionality with Microsoft Exchange Edge servers before but had the requirement from a customer to perform a rewrite for email to specific domains when their mailboxes are hosted in Exchange Online. To do this, we require email to be routed back on-premises to a Microsoft Exchange Edge server, which […]

Audio Conferencing Overview Diagram

Microsoft Audio Conferencing; how can you not love a feature that’s so high impact, requires such minimal configuration, and enhances meeting experiences so greatly.  Formerly known as PSTN Conferencing, the service is now available through the Microsoft Teams application as well as Skype for Business Online, and provides a means by which meeting participants can dial-in […]

SCOM Console can now support PowerShell!

Probably what most SCOM Administrators have been waiting to hear for a long time… SCOM is now able to support PowerShell. Based upon an idea from Wei Hao Lim, SquaredUp have now developed a free Management Pack that enables you to create Monitors, Rules, Tasks and more based on PowerShell scripts.  This pack introduces new […]

SCOM 2016 UR4 and TLS 1.2

So, UR4 has now been released which addresses a number of issues, including the previously attempted fix for APM causing IIS crashes. However, one of the main changes is the additional support for TLS 1.2  as SSL and early TLS are not considered strong cryptography.  More details on this from Jarrett Renshaw here. You can […]

Seven technology trends to watch 2017-2020

A couple of weeks ago, risual held its bi-annual summit – the whole company back at HQ for a day of learning in a mini-conference called risual:NXT. I was given the task of running the technical track – with 6 speakers presenting on a variety of topics covering all of our technical practices but I […]

SCM Windows Server 2016 – Member Server Baseline

I was recently hardening some VM templates for a customer. When applying the “SCM Windows Server 2016 – Member Server Baseline – Computer” with LGPO.exe it blocked RDP access to the machine. Here’s the Local Security Policies that need to be changed to restore RDP access: Location Setting Change Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security […]

Outlook Meeting issue after updating SMTP and SIP Domain

Recently I’ve been working with a customer who is going through a rebrand, as part of this change they are updating their SIP and Email addresses with the new brand name, keeping the same format before the @ sign. Since this is a large change we started the preparation some time before the actual legal […]

Extending Skype for Business Certificate Validity

One of the things I love most about working with Skype for Business and Microsoft UC is how much the platform bleeds into other technologies and products. The net result is that in addition to being subject matter experts, consultants are often very well versed in multiple disciplines and possess an extremely well rounded skill set. Whilst […]

Combining Cloud PBX Call Queues and Auto Attendants

With the increase in popularity of Skype for Business Online Cloud PBX (as it is known for now…), I have been approached on many occasions and often presented with pushback, around the limitations of Cloud PBX Call Queues. My first response is quite simple – they aren’t designed to replace an enterprise grade business contact […]

Move user from Skype for Business Online Failed

Issue: When trying to move a user from Skype for Business Online to Skype for Business Server, the following error was being output in the Skype for Business Server Control Panel – “Index was outside the bounds of the array” – not the most helpful issue to troubleshoot! Troubleshooting: A customer had recently requested support for […]

Third Party PBX and Exchange Online Unified Messaging Discontinued support

Microsoft have recently made the announcement that support will be withdrawn, as of July 2018, for third-party PBX systems (Cisco, Avaya, Siemens etc.) to leverage Exchange Online Unified Messaging (UM) via a Session Border Controller (SBC). Today, as shown below, many organisations provide voicemail functionality via Exchange Online UM to the end users mailbox or […]

Controlling Caller ID with Cloud PBX

At the end of last month we were introduced to some additional Cloud PBX functionality around Call Queues and Auto Attendants. As part of these updates we now have the ability “To protect user anonymity, by allowing users to make outbound calls on behalf of an Auto Attendant or Call Queue”, which in layman’s terms […]

Sonus Cloud Link – We failed to run publish-ccappliance

During the deployment of a slave CCE appliance when it came to the last step I received an error message: We failed to run Publish-CCAppliance. I waited around 5 minutes and ran the step again and it completed successfully and the appliance started handling calls, I was unable to see what the Management service was […]

Fix Forward Cisco Call to Skype for Business Cloud Connector

During a recent Sonus Cloud Link deployment integrating Skype for Business Online with Cisco Call Manager I ran into an issue with certain calls failing. As the customer were piloting the system we were not yet removing users existing Cisco extension but rather forwarding it to their Skype number. If Cisco users called the Skype […]

Exchange 2010 Upgrade to 2016 – Arbitration Mailbox Issue

I was upgrading an hybrid Exchange environment for a customer and started to install the first Exchange 2016 server when i received the below error. I hadn’t seen this error before but after some research it looked to be an issue with Arbitration Mailboxes being corrupt. So I decided to look at the state of […]

Sonus Cloud Link – Powershell module is not ready

Having just completed my first Highly Available Sonus Cloud Link I just thought I would mention an error message I came across when installing the second appliance. The Sonus Deployer tool showed a very nice red error message saying the Powershell module is not ready This was also shown in the underlying PowerShell window I […]

Retention and Labels and Classifications, Oh My!!

So I’ve been working on a number of Proof-of-Concept (PoC) deployments for several of our customers, and I’ve run into a couple of interesting things I’d like to talk about. The first things to talk about is some of the confusing Terminology that Microsoft is using in Office 365; and this was highlighted in conversation with […]

Skype Web App VS Skype Meetings App

Back in May 2017 we were introduced to the Skype Meetings App as part of Cumulative Update 5 – an alternative option for clientless users to join meetings through a browser instead of using the traditional Skype Web App. Lets refer to them as Web App (old) and Meetings App (new). Any meetings scheduled using Skype […]

Skype for Business Hybrid – Failed to Connect Live ID Servers

On completion of a Skype for Business hybrid configuration (and all things being well), you should find yourself in the luxurious position of being able to move users from your on-premises servers to O365, and vice-versa. “Failed to Connect live ID Servers…” is an error you might receive if you’re attempting to perform this ‘move’ […]

Skype Broadcast meeting – A few thoughts

After creating some internal training material on Skype Broadcast Meetings I thought I would share a few thoughts on a little used, but great tool for webinar and training sessions. For those unaware Skype Broadcast meeting ( is a part of Skype for Business Online that allows the scheduling, production and broadcast of meetings using […]

Skype for Business Cloud PBX – What are our options today?

The following offerings are available; Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling Cloud PBX with on premise PSTN connectivity Via an existing Lync/Skype for Business Server pool Via Cloud Connector Edition Cloud PBX PSTN conferencing It is important to note that initially, the service does not provide all the functionality that on premise counterpart does, to understand […]

Fun with DKIM

I recently carried out an Office 365 Proof-of-Concept for one of our local government customers. Whilst I was there, I discovered that emails sent from the on-premises mail servers to myself were working fine but emails from the Office 365 tenant were not getting through. A quick trawl through the Office 365 Message Trace shows […]

Does your business have self-service BI?

Many organisations take a supplier/consumer approach to BI. A BI team, often part of the IT department, maintains a backlog of dashboard/report requests from the business and delivers on these. Access to the enterprise data warehouse (EDW) and reporting tools is limited to a few BI professionals. Whilst there are some benefits to this approach, […]

Call Analytics for Skype for Business Online available in preview

New Call Analytics functionality is currently in preview for Skype for Business Online and should hopefully be available for all tenants to try, subject to admin permissions via Call Analytics is similar to the SQL reports available for Skype for Business Server, searching for a user is quick and once found shows the number […]

Words of Wisdom (or Warning)

Last week I was at a customer to carry out an Exchange server upgrade. This customer was still running Exchange 2010 Service Pack 2 across three servers as they hadn’t been patched since their installation. The nice thing about Exchange 2010 SP2 is that Microsoft supply a script that allows someone like myself to isolate […]

On Archiving vs. Compliance

Here at risual, my colleagues and I speak to many different customers. In Exchange Workshops, I often ask about a customer’s Archiving and Compliance policies. The following definitions are the rules of thumb I use when explaining the difference between the two: Archiving is the storage of emails that have been chosen for retention. Compliance […]

CROSS APPLY… EXPLODE! The Hadoop MapReduce “Hello World!” in Azure Data Lake Analytics

If you’ve ever looked at Hadoop MapReduce you’ll have come across the tutorial to count words in a document or series of documents (see It’s a nice way to learn Hadoop because it’s easy to picture multiple mappers breaking up files into individual words and reducers performing the aggregation. MapReduce will output a file […]

Exchange 2013 CU16/Exchange 2016 CU5 .NET requirements

Exchange 2013 CU16 and Exchange 2016 CU5 dropped little over a week ago with one big difference as .NET Framework 4.6.2 is now a requirement. Whereas Exchange 2013 CU15 and Exchange 2016 CU4 would support .NET 4.6.2, newer version of Exchange will require it. If setup is run without .NET 4.6.2 then it will fail. […]

Farewell Site Mailboxes, we barely used you

Around the beginning of February, Microsoft announced that they were retiring the Site Mailbox functionality in Exchange Online. Back when Exchange 2013 was released, there was a lot of publicity about the Site Mailbox capability and how it would make it easier to collaborate between team members. In a nutshell, a Site Mailbox was a […]

Skype for Business error SIP/2.0 503 Service Unavailable

I recently worked on a project where the client was attempting to configure a SIP trunk between an Avaya IP-PBX and Skype for Business Server to enable Dial-in Conferencing. All inbound calls were being rejected with a SIP/2.0 503 Service Unavailable error message. The Windows Event Log showed the calls were being dropped due to […]

SQL Server 2012 Cluster using Azure IaaS

What methods are there for provisioning shared storage for a SQL Server 2012 Cluster in Azure? As a Data Platform consultant, I can think of many ways that this could be achieved, these could include Using an Iscsi target from some provisioned storage e.g. a scale out file server or virtual SAN Using Windows Server […]

SCOM 2016 Agent (MMA) crashing legacy IIS Applications

I have recently deployed a SCOM 2016 solution for a customer.  Yesterday, we were informed of an issue where the agent would ‘break’ the IIS Application Pool and this typically presents itself when IIS is restarted. The issue is linked to APM (Application Performance Monitoring) and this issue occurs even if APM is not enabled in […]

Why upgrade to SCOM 2016 when I can use OMS?

So, you are currently running with SCOM 2012 R2 and you have heard about this superb offering called OMS (Operations Management Suite) and you are currently scratching your head thinking…”If OMS does all this wonderful stuff, why should I bother upgrading to SCOM 2016?”.  Or maybe you are wondering why you are using SCOM at […]

On Public Folders and what to do with them …

As a UC Consultant, I’m often called to deal with some tricky migrations but last week I was asked to deal with a complex situation. I was visiting a customer who was still maintaining an older legacy Exchange environment because of the Public Folders and their access and this customer now wanted to move the […]

The Middle Man in Office 365

So a customer has purchased Office 365… what do they do next? Roll-out Exchange and Skype for Business of course! What about the rest of the amazing features on offer? Risual spotted the gap and acted! We now offer a service to Office 365 customers to help develop their understanding of the features within Office […]

Windows 10 Mobile – Unexpected complex password requirements

Whilst working with a customer to review their Windows Phone 8.1 configuration policies in preparation for upgrading to Windows 10 Mobile I came across an issue. My customer is using Intune Hybrid and aligns end users into “risk profiles” based on their job function. Each of the risk profiles has a different set of MDM […]

Multiple instances of SQL Server with Azure ILB

With the announcements at Ignite 2016 came support for multiple Virtual IP addresses on an Azure Internal Load Balancer (ILB). This was quoted as “Another use case is SQL Always On with Multiple Listeners which is now available in Preview. You can also host multiple availability groups on the same cluster and optimize the number […]

What is Azure DevTest Labs?

  Azure DevTest Labs allow a business to develop/test applications quickly and save money in the process. As the stress of developing, testing and publishing applications quickly continues to rise, Azure DevTest Labs provide a unique and innovative way to reduce the time it takes to go from design to production. Using DevTest Labs will not only provide the […]

Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit SQL Server Status bug

Microsoft have just released the latest version of the Microsoft assessment and planning toolkit, known as MAPS. Version 9.4 was released on the 13th of August 2016 and still contains a bug I noticed a few releases ago. I decided to contact the MAP product team and inform them of the Bug. What is the […]

SQL Server Cluster (or Availability Group) with Azure ILB

When connecting to an Azure IaaS SQL Server Cluster (and Availability Group) that was configured to use an Azure Internal Load Balancer, more on this in another post, I received the following error. “Failed to connect to SQL Server XXXX (Microsoft.SQLServer.ConnectionInfo)” “A network-related or instance-specific error occurred while establishing a connection to SQL Server. The […]

Azure ARM VM auto shutdown feature

For some time now when using DevTest Labs it has been possible to configure an automatic shutdown and start up for virtual machines. This has enabled developers to have ready to go environments as soon as they arrive in work, taking away the time  waiting for virtual machines to start up. Having this ability to configure virtual machines […]

Migrating from Azure Service Management (Classic) to Azure Resource Manager (ARM)

When a business creates various compute, storage, and network resources, they have a choice between using the Classic deployment or the ARM deployment. Even though resources can be created using either deployment model the two portals are not compatible with one another. It has been the case for many businesses that when an environment has […]

Update on data residency options for Office 365 customers in the UK

Back in September, Microsoft started offering Azure and Office 365 services from UK datacenters.  At the time, there was no announcement for customers who had existing Office 365 tenants (hosted elsewhere in Europe) about how to move data to the UK but, yesterday, my colleague Brian Cain (@BrianCainUC) tweeted about a Microsoft article titled “moving […]

When to use Microsoft App-V for application packaging/distribution?

A couple of times this year, I’ve had customers question whether Microsoft App-V is still relevant in this day and age. Well, the answer is “yes” – and especially since it was rolled into the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (build 1607) as predicted by Tim Mangan and verified by my colleague Leo D’Arcy (@LeoDArcy1). So, when […]

Autodiscover HTTP 400

Hi All, When performing an Exchange Upgrade to 2016, I performed a client access switchover and encountered a single user who was receiving a number of errors in Outlook. When troubleshooting we found that autodiscover was not working for this user (it worked fine for everyone else) and when navigating to the Autodiscover URL, they […]

Microsoft’s UK datacentres: what you need to know

This morning, the UK woke up to an announcement from Microsoft that the UK datacentres for Azure and Office 365 are generally available, making Microsoft the first global provider to deliver a complete cloud (Iaas, PaaS and SaaS) from UK data centres. MSFT first global provider to deliver complete #cloud from #UKdatacentres #Azure #Office365 […]

Office 365 and proxy servers: like oil and water?

Office 365 and proxy servers don’t mix very well. Well, to be more accurate, thousands of Outlook, Skype for Business and OneDrive for Business clients, each with multiple connections to online services can quickly build up to a lot of (persistent) connections. If you haven’t already, it’s well-worth reading Paul Collinge’s blog post on ensuring […]

The operating system reported error 615: The password provided is too short to meet the policy of your user account. Please choose a longer password.

I was troubleshooting an issue for a customer where Operating System Deployment (OSD) was failing intermittently at one of their remote offices. Working from head office I had no more information at this point other than the intermittent nature of the issue. I therefore created a Status Message Query to see what information I could […]

Exchange 2013 installs/updates in Azure

Hi all, I stumbled across some issues when upgrading a couple of Exchange 2013 servers that were hosted in Azure the other day. Autopilot told me to just run the update straight away on the server expecting no issues, so I merrily scheduled my change window and started the update. Then at the PreRequisite check stage I […]

Adventures with robocopy.exe

It’s been a while since I had to make copies of large numbers of files in complex directory structures from the Windows command prompt but, faced with the need to take a backup within a command line environment (the WinRE Command Prompt), I needed to refresh my Windows command line skills.  There’s loads of advice out there on […]

SharePoint Online CSOM Update Region Settings

Just a quick post with an example of how to update a SharePoint Online Site Collection’s Region settings via SharePoint Online Management Shell. First, set up your ClientContext in the normal manner: $Password = ConvertTo-SecureString -String "yourPassword" -AsPlainText -Force; $ctx = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.ClientContext(""); $ctx.Credentials = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.SharePointOnlineCredentials(", $Password); Now we need to set up our target […]

Checking if a Microsoft Online tenant already exists

My colleague Gareth Larter (one of risual’s Unified Communications Consultants) found a neat trick this week for checking if a Microsoft Online Services (MSOL) tenant exists (e.g. for Office 365). Gareth’s a bit too shy to blog this himself but his advice is to browse to and, if you get an error, it should […]

Introducing Exchange 2016 – Co-existence

  Welcome to my Introducing Exchange 2016 Blog Series! If you are joining us part way through, please check out my previous posts below: Introducing Exchange 2016 – Requirements and Pre-Requisites – The Install –   Hello All, Co-existence between Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2016 is simple! In my lab I have […]

Removing Default Exchange 2016 Mailbox Database

Hi All, As part of my Exchange 2016 blog posts I was preparing a Mailbox Database in Exchange 2016 and wanted to delete the Default Mailbox Database. Based on past experience I always check to make sure there are no mailboxes, arbitration mailboxes, archive mailboxes or public folder mailboxes in the database. As a default […]

Introducing Exchange 2016 – The Install

Welcome to my Introducing Exchange 2016 Blog Series! If you are joining us part way through, please check out my previous posts below: Introducing Exchange 2016 – Requirements and Pre-Requisites –   So now we know what is required before we can install Exchange 2016, I can show you the process. For those […]

Restricting access to Yammer

A couple of months ago, Matt Ballantine wrote about Enterprise Social Media and the need to focus on building an audience: “Internal communications people can fall into the trap of believing that what they produce is content rather than advertising. Internal communications appears to be the only form of direct marketing to which there is no legal […]

Power BI Desktop Date Table/Dimension

A date table in PowerPivot will be part of the vast majority of models. Date tables allow slice and dice of data by weeks, months, quarters, years and so on. When working with PowerPivot many people turn to the Azure Data Marketplace and use the excellent (and free) DateStream. Alternatively you can add a table […]

Multiple Exchange 2007 Certificate Based Authentication ActiveSync virtual directories in co-existence with Exchange 2013

Synopsis Multiple ActiveSync virtual directories with the added complication of Certificate Based Authentication on Exchange 2007 environment causes issues when upgrading to Exchange 2013 coexistence. The Scenario An Exchange 2007 environment with two ActiveSync Virtual directories load balanced as separate pools across all CAS servers: Generic ActiveSync access for “ordinary” devices, Basic Authentication, using the […]

SCCM USB Boot Media & USB 3.0

Hello, I was recently on a customer site working on a pilot for a Windows 10 deployment. Due to PXE boot constraints they need to use USB boot media for bare metal deployments. They have been deploying Windows 7 and 8.1 to existing kit in this way for some time without any issues. As the […]

Adding Microsoft Azure services to an existing Office 365 tenant

If you have an Office 365 subscription, you use Microsoft Azure because Azure Active Directory is the underlying directory service – regardless of your chosen identity model (even if you use federated identity, you’ll sync your users to the cloud). Within the Office 365 admin center, is an Azure AD link although, if you click […]

Can’t add a domain to Office 365 because it’s already in use

Adding a domain name to Office 365 is usually pretty straightforward. That is unless it’s already been used for another tenant that you don’t have access to – perhaps a trial that’s expired? Or someone signed up for some Microsoft Online services using their work email address but doesn’t have administration rights? I came across […]

AD Certificate Services Support in Azure IaaS

Azure has really taken off – unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere, you’ll know that Infrastructure as a Service in particular has proved extremely popular amongst all sorts of organisations. Platform as a service has been gaining some traction of late, but I am seeing organisations transform their infrastructure and businesses through the […]

Pick the primary domain when activating Yammer on an Office 365 tenant

One of the challenges with working with Office 365 for a living is that it now offers a pretty broad range of services. I work in a unified communications and messaging team (think Skype for Business and Exchange) but I also need to know about: Windows identity topics including Active Directory (AD), Azure Active Directory […]

Introducing Exchange 2016 – Requirements and Pre-Requisites

Welcome to my Introducing Exchange 2016 Blog Series! Please see my introduction post here:   So, before I can start to show off any new features I really need to install Exchange Server 2016. And before I can install Exchange, there are some requirements and pre reqs to go through. This post will outline […]

Default site collections in SharePoint Online

When an Office 365 tenant is created with SharePoint Online, several site collections are created.  It can be confusing to work out what each is for, so here’s a quick reference, based on the SharePoint 2013 sites – I guess this may change as SharePoint 2016 is rolled out. – team site for the company […]

Connected accounts in Office 365 (Exchange Online)

I have a customer who is adopting Office 365 – but in a targeted manner for certain parts of his business. The business case just doesn’t stack up for a total deployment but he does want to make the most of the features and functionality that are available, to showcase how it really can be used […]

Troubleshooting missing objects in Azure AD sync

I have a half-written blog post about Microsoft Azure Active Directory (AAD) Connect – the latest incarnation of the directory synchronisation engine used to populate a cloud directory for Office 365 and other online services. That post will stay half-written for a while longer as it needs a bit more work but, yesterday, I was working […]

Moving mailboxes to/from Exchange Online using the EAC

One of the advantages with deploying Exchange Online in a hybrid configuration (i.e. Exchange on-premises and Office 365 Exchange Online in the cloud) is that you can easily move mailboxes back and forth. It can be done with PowerShell but one of the straightforward methods is from the Exchange Admin Center (EAC), where there’s an […]

Configuring Lync hybrid (split domain) with Lync 2013 and Skype for Business Online

Lync/Skype for Business are not what I would consider to be my core competencies but I was recently involved in the configuration of Lync/Skype for Business Online hybrid (split domain) for a customer as part of their Office 365 project. It brought up a few challenges (which my Skype-focused colleagues were more than capable of dealing with), added to which […]

Viewing Active Directory object updates with RepAdmin

A couple of months ago, I found myself having to investigate what had caused an Active Directory user account to be updated. We could see the last modified time on the Object tab for a user account in Active Directory Users and Computers (dsa.msc) and it’s also available using PowerShell. What I really wanted to know though, was what […]

Looping on the authentication prompt for the ECP virtual directory in Exchange 2013

I had an “interesting” problem on an Exchange server recently… I could access the Exchange Control Panel using https://localhost/ecp but it I tried to use its externally-accessible namespace (which I needed to in order to run the Exchange Hybrid Configuration Wizard), it kept looping on the authentication prompt. The password was correct but it just […]

Manually removing servers from an Exchange organization

I’m starting this blog post with a caveat: the process I’m going to describe here is not a good idea, goes against the advice of my colleagues (who have battle scars from when it’s been attempted in a live environment and not gone so well) and is certainly not recommended. In addition, I can’t be […]

Setting storage quotas in OneDrive for Business

OneDrive for Business comes with 1TB of personal storage for every user, by default – but some organisations may have reasons to restrict the available storage. That capability was recently added, using the Set-SPOSite PowerShell command but I  came across a “gotcha” that even had Microsoft stumped for a while. I found that I could use Get-SPOSite -Identity […]

Introducing Exchange 2016!

New toys!! Exchange 2016 is now officially released to the public and with it comes a plethora of new technologies, features and services. Over the coming months I plan to post a small series of blogs that will introduce Exchange 2016 and go through the new features, the discounted features as well as looking at […]

Resource naming restrictions in Azure

Whilst creating a virtual machine in Azure IaaS recently, I came across an interesting issue around naming… I was creating a temporary server and didn’t fully understand the customer’s naming scheme, so I replaced the numerical part of the server name with xxxxxx. Then, when provisioning, I saw that deployment to the resource group had […]

Exchange Hybrid Free/Busy and Proxy issue

I was investigating an issue with a customer’s deployment where their on-premise Exchange users couldn’t see the free/busy information of the pilot users in Office 365. After looking through the logs on all of their servers I found event id 4002 on one of them: So, the EWS request was being blocked by an authenticating proxy, […]

Testing SMTP connectivity between On-premise Exchange and Exchange Online

Having recently been troubleshooting a customers hybrid Exchange environment I thought I’d write about my experience. The customer had an Exchange 2010 deployment and the Hybrid Configuration Wizard had already been run but they were having mail flow problems from their On-Prem to Online mailboxes. First I decided to perform the basic SMTP connectivity test […]

HTTP Error 403.14 – Forbidden when browsing Certsrv website

Hi, I was recently on a customers site, implimenting a new 2 tier PKI. For the install the customer had provisioned 2 new virtual Windows 2012 R2 servers for the Issuing CA role. I was completing the install and configuration. Part of this is to configure the default web site with an SSL certificate to allow for the […]

ConfigMgr R2 SP1 Media – A clean install

While recently installing ConfigMgr 2012 R2 Service Pack 1 for a customer we encountered some confusion over just which media should be used. The important point to realise during installation is that, from a software installation perspective, ConfigMgr 2012 SP2 and ConfigMgr 2012 R2 SP1 are the same – that’s right. What does this mean in […]

Making use of Asset Intelligence & Software Metering for License Compliance

So you’ve deployed ConfigMgr Asset Intelligence, maybe imported your licensing statement from the Volume Licensing Service Center, maybe some third party licenses and you’ve deployed Software Metering. You’ve got plenty of clients and you decide to delve in to the ConfigMgr built-in reports to see just what’s available and, hopefully, to ascertain just where you […]

Windows 10 in-place upgrade fails with 0x80004005 error

A Windows 10 in-place upgrade Task Sequence was failing repeatedly for one particular device on a customer’s network.  First, the environment: System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2 SP1 CU1 MDT 2013 Update 1 ADK 10 The task sequence error always occurred during the download of the Windows 10 .wim file, and never at exactly the […]

Slow driver import and package bloat with Configuration Manager 2012 R2 SP1

System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2 SP1 introduced a new issue when importing drivers through the SCCM console.  When running through the driver import Wizard and selecting the folder to import drivers from, the Wizard then takes an age to evaluate the drivers.  For a typical Lenovo T540p laptop driver set, this was taking anything up […]

EAC doesn’t show complete list of OUs

Hi All, Came across an quick issue where I didn’t see a lot of coverage online, so though I’d share. A customer reported that when creating a new user in the EAC, not all OUs were displayed when specifying the OU the user should reside in. To fix this requires quick visit to the web.config […]

SharePoint Online – Remove Site Collection from Recycle Bin

Chances are you’re looking at this post because you’ve tried to create a Site Collection within your SharePoint Online tenant that is still pending removal from the Site Collection Recycle bin. If you’re reading this for any other reason, continue at your own discretion. Ever tried executing the New-SPOSite cmdlet (example in reference below) and […]

SharePoint Online – Missing SearchResults.aspx Page Layout

Just a quick reference post for missing SearchResults.aspx Page Layout in a SharePoint Online Site Collection created using the Enterprise Records Centre template. When activating the SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure Site Collection Feature, we have seen instances of it taking over 40 minutes! The subsequent “SharePoint Server Publishing” Site Feature takes only a minute or […]

Getting to grips with Office 365 Message Encryption

As part of my work this week with Exchange transport rules, I needed to recreate another facility that my customer has grown used to in Office 365 – the ability to selectively encrypt emails using keywords. This one is relatively straightforward – Office 365 Message Encryption has been around for a while now (it replaced […]

Detecting audio/video attachments with Exchange transport rules

After my fun creating a profanity filter for Exchange Online earlier this week, my attention turned to some of the other rules that my customer needed re-creating in preparation for the move to Office 365. Most were fairly straightforward blocks on certain domains/addresses or using the normal templates to prevent financial data from being leaked, […]

Creating a profanity filter for Exchange/Exchange Online

As part of recreating the rules that my customer currently has set up with a popular cloud-based message hygiene platform, I needed to create a profanity filter for Office 365 (Exchange Online). There isn’t one built into the product (it disappeared with BPOS) but my colleague Gavin Morrison suggested it’s possible to do some interesting […]

Skype for Business: Sefa Util

For those wondering, Secondary Extension Feature Activation – SEFA 🙂 I am slow off the mark with this one, but for those Administrators that have been using Lync Server 2013 SEFA Util, you will be pleased to know what a Skype for Business iteration has now been released! Download here Installation SEFA util must be […]

Where is my Office 365 tenant?

Yesterday, I wrote about some considerations for naming an Office 365 tenant and I mentioned that the name was the second of two important things to think about. For many customers in Europe, the question of where in the world their Office 365 tenant is homed is crucial. Without going into the whys and wherefores […]

Considerations for naming an Office 365 tenant

When signing up for Office 365 there are two really important decisions: Where will my tenant be homed (based on the region selected at sign-up)? What will my tenant be called? The reason these are so important is because, once set, they cannot be changed. I’ll write more about the home location of the tenant […]

Enhanced Skype for Business presence information

I noticed a couple of days ago that my Skype for Business presence information was accompanied by a purple dot/spot. I hadn’t seen this before and I wondered what it meant. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything on the ‘net. risual’s Brian Cain (@BrianCainUC) clearly has better search skills than I, because he found Microsoft knowledge base […]

Exchange Migrations and Outlook Versions

Hi, I found an interesting (and by interesting I mean annoying) issue that appeared when I was piloting a migration of user mailboxes from Exchange 2010 to Exchange 2013. The migration process itself was smooth but after around 100 users someone raised an issue whereby they could not access their Online Archive and received the […]

SharePoint Online Management Shell – Part 4: Enumerating Site Collections

Introduction Welcome to part 4 of my SharePoint Online Management Shell series. Oh boy, it’s really getting exciting now! In today’s post, I’ll show you how to quickly enumerate Site Collections, then we’ll move onto how you apply some filters to optimise the results. Pre-Requisites You must have the SharePoint Online Management Shell for Windows […]

Yammer UI Updates

Apologies for the crude and rushed post, but I just wanted to give a quick highlight of the recent Yammer UI updates. Generally, it looks flatter and some minor colour tweaks, but some features have been re-located too. If you can’t find one and I haven’t listed it below, drop me a comment and I’ll […]

SharePoint Online Management Shell – Part 2: Setup the PowerShell session

Introduction Welcome to part two of my SharePoint Online Management Shell series. Today is by far the simplest and quickest stage where I will walk you through setting up your PowerShell session ready for SharePoint Online operations with PowerShell. Pre-Requisites You must have the SharePoint Online Management Shell for Windows PowerShell installed Process First, open PowerShell […]

Office 365 E5 – Cloud PBX

So as Day 1 Keynote has now taken place, several additional announcements have been made; with respect to UC, the most significant being the announcement of Office 365 E5 Licensing SKU… From a recent summary email; New Office 365 E5 offering: In October, we will introduce a new premium Office 365 enterprise suite. The new […]

Public Folder Migrations to Exchange 2013

Hi All, So this is my first blog post…bit late to the game but never mind 🙂 After much umming and arring over what to write I though I’d share some experiences around Public Folder Migrations to Exchange 2013. I found my first public folder migration to be quite daunting, there’s a lot of data […]

Apps Are Being Renamed

Time to refresh our terminology… Microsoft are updating the platform names for their Apps in the Office and SharePoint. Personally, I was never 100% keen on referring to “Apps” in the Office and SharePoint space as “Apps” is more often than not abbreviated from “Applications” which is something else entirely. Read more on the Apps […]

Failed to acquire server box RAC and CLC for the tenant from ”.

While recently onsite with a customer deploying Azure Rights Management Services with Exchange 2010 Integration I had an interesting issue where OWA integration wasn’t playing nicely at all. To summarise the setup, the customer had a hybrid setup with mailboxes in Office 365 and on premise and wished to deploy Azure RMS to provide protection […]

QuickTip: Centralised Logging Agent – Key does not exist

I hope everyone is well and enjoying their Skype for Business experiences, today’s post is more of a quick tip as opposed to in depth troubleshooting. The fix will help you with you when troubleshooting at the component level though! So a colleague of mine was having issues with Unified Messaging integration (which turned out […]

Skype for Business CU1 Released

Good morning, good afternoon and finally good evening! On June 19th, Microsoft released the first Cumulative Update for Skype for Business Server 2015. More information can be found here whilst the actual download is here. In summary, CU1 addresses the following issues; KB3069206 Exchange UM Auto Attendant can’t transfer call to phone/extension number in Skype […]

ADFS 3.0 and Workday Single Sign-On

This step guide has been generated to assist in the configuration of ADFS 3.0 and Workday to provide Single Sign on Pre Requisites ADFS 3.0 Infrastructure ADFS Administrative Access Workday Tennant Workday Administrative Access Exporting the ADFS Token Signing Certificate In order for the 3rd party online service to trust your Active Directory Federation Service […]

Local Administrator Password Solution

I’ve worked for a number of organisations and with customers who carry out penetration testing on their computer networks. One of the common issues that is raised around penetration testing of Windows clients is that the local administrator password is usually the same on all clients and this increases the risk of a Pass-the-Hash compromise. Microsoft have […]

Skype for Business in Place Upgrade

When carrying out an in place upgrade to Skype for Business ensure that you do not start the services in a mixed mode fashion, upgrade all the Front End Servers in the pool and then execute the new “Start-CSPool” cmdlet, the cmdlet will start all the services on all the Front End Servers in the […]

Skype for Business Upgrade Paths

Skype for Business Upgrade paths Current Topology Desired Topology In Place Upgrade? Lync Server 2013 Skype for Business Server and Lync Server 2013 Yes In Place Upgrade Support from Lync Server 2013 to Skype for Business Server Lync Server 2010 Skype for Business Server and Lync Server 2010 No Requirement to Migrate from Lync Server […]

Installing the Skype for Business Client

First and foremost – RIP Lync 🙁 For those that have missed it, Microsoft has now released the Skype for Business client, KB2889923. Although the Skype for Business Server 2015 server components haven’t been released yet, we can still use the new clients against Lync Server 2010 or 2013. In this post, I will be […]

SharePoint Online Management Shell

As a growing topic in the SharePoint world, I thought I’d write a short series about the SharePoint Online Management Shell and highlight some of the more powerful ways you can get it working for you. Introduction (this post) Setup the PowerShell session Connecting and disconnecting to SPOnline Example: Enumerating Sites Example: Creating a SharePoint […]

Microsoft Cloud Services and UK Security Markings

Many UK Public Sector customers want to adopt Cloud-based IT services but there is often confusion around which services can be consumed depending on the information that is held. This blog post is intended to provide clarification on what is allowed on Microsoft Cloud services. Classifications UK Government security classifications changed to a new, simplified […]

Install SharePoint 2013 SP1 on Windows Server 2012 R2

I get asked about installing SharePoint 2013 on Server 2012 R2 quite frequently, in fact it cropped up twice this week alone! Let’s clear up the most common question “is SharePoint 2013 supported on Server 2012 R2?”. Yes, providing you are using SharePoint 2013 SP1 (or later). Although it is possible to install pre-SP1 on […]

Skype for Business and OneNote

An interesting look at the improved integration for OneNote within Skype for Business! Being able to organise and share the meeting notes directly from the client, makes for a much more seamless experience.

Skype for Business Client Preview Available

Microsoft has released the Skype for Business Client Preview. The is an update for the Lync 2013 Client and enables the Skype for Business User Interface only. Download Link below Why not try out the new Skype for Business Client preview today ! Martin

Lync / Skype for Business – Network Planning for the SILK codec

When undergoing a network assessment for a Lync or Skype for Business, it’s important to understand the behavior and attributes of the underlying RTP traffic for each profile. For reference, TechNet and the Networking guide have some excellent information, but there’s no reference to the Skype audio codec, SILK, in there. For the latest client […]

Lync Online Conferencing with Intercall

Today I’ve had the opportunity to test the Lync Online Dial in conferencing solution provided by Intercall whilst at a customers site, this was my first time using any dial in conferencing solution with Lync Online so I was interested to see the management and user experience. The management side is simple and well documented […]

Lync 2013 – Searching for Future meetings

A customer wanted to identify users that have future Lync meetings scheduled so that they could target and offer assistance to key users in updating their meeting address as part of a migration to Lync Online, other users would have to request installation of the Lync meeting update tool. Rather than look to Exchange and […]

Creating a report from lists in SharePoint Online

I received an email recently with details of a customer that had a concern moving from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint Online. In their SharePoint on-premises they had a number of SharePoint lists and they were creating Excel-based reports off these. The concern was they would not be able to do the same in SharePoint Online. […]

Extracting Lync Contacts from XML export

Whilst a customer’s site they wanted to be able to create an export of all users Lync contacts and be able to provide a list to users of their contacts. Below is the powershell I created to extract the information from the XML export file, the end result was to create a CSV file that […]

Workflow Manager: Maximum number of Arguments per activity exceeded

I was asked to look into an error message being received on a failing Workflow and thought the resolution may benefit others, so here we go… Some information has been sanitised to protect the environment these examples were taken from. Microsoft.Workflow.Client.ActivityValidationException: Workflow XAML failed validation due to the following errors: Activity 'DynamicActivity' has 58 arguments, […]

SharePoint 2013: Specified User or Domain Group Not Found

I was recently asked to explain to a fellow SharePointeer how to dig a little deeper into an error message that occurred when an administrator was attempting to access Service Application from Central Administration: The specified user or domain group was not found On initial observation, is was not clear which account was causing the […]

SharePoint 2013: Folders vs Metadata Views

The MVPs have an excellent write up about the advantages and disadvantages of Folders in SharePoint 2013 with a great “versus” section: It comes up all the time in the SharePoint world, and while it’s easy as a consultant to play the “this way works best” card, in this post I wanted to provide […]

Verify and Test Office Web Apps 2013

As a SharePoint Consultant, it’s kind of a given that we also wear the Office Web Apps guru hat too. However, this post isn’t specifically aimed at the SharePoint audience but rather the wider wearers of the Office Web Apps guru hat too. Most likely, that will include our friends in the Exchange and Lync […]

Distributed Cache Connection Strings

So I’ve been posting a bit about the Distributed Cache recently. Not through any odd or newly found love of the technology, but simply to raise some awareness about it’s presence and to encourage confidence in any junior SharePointeers in the community. So, one of the components you need when configuring the Distributed Cache is […]

PowerShell Performance for Network Adapter Enumeration

As always with Microsoft technologies, there is generally many ways to achieve a common goal. But something that is often overlooked is how quickly you get to that goal. Ok, it’s fair enough that if you’re just running something once or doing anything really lightweight, this probably won’t be a useful read… However, if you’re […]

Lync 2013 Backup Service – Event ID 4054

I’ve not encountered this before so I’d thought I would share. A customer had a Lync 2013 pool pair and we were seeing Event ID 4054 errors on one of the Frontends Sure enough when I ran the get-csbackupservicestatus command it showed the OverallExportStatus was ErrorState. The file in question was located in the pool’s […]

Rollup 1 for Forefront Unified Access Gateway Service Pack 4

Hi, A quick note to say Rollup 1 for Forefront UAG SP4 has been released by Microsoft’s UAG product team. The update contains 23 updates for reported issues.

Microsoft TechEd Europe 2014 – Azure IaaS New Features

Today was the first official day of the Microsoft TechEd Europe 2014 conference (TEE14) which this year is being held at the Fira de Barcelona – Gran Via. Earlier I attended the Introduction to Microsoft Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) session which included some detail on the following new features that are now available or are coming soon: McAfee […]

ConfigMgr 2012 R2 Operating System Deployment – Failed to get client identity 80004005 – Surface Pro 3

I was on site with a customer today building some Surface Pro 3 devices using Operating System Deployment in System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2. The devices were booting from USB Boot Media, however when searching for task sequences the following error message appeared – An error occurred while retrieving policy for this computer (0x80004005). […]

Lync routing between pools in different AD forests

I recently had a customer who had an interesting requirement for their Lync environment. They did not want to deploy Edge servers or connect their Lync environment to the internet. However, they did want to be able to communicate with a partner who had their own Lync environment deployed in a different AD Forest. This […]

Exchange 2013 CU6 hybrid Users with O365 unable to query free/busy for on-premises users

Scenario With a recent deployment of Exchange Server 2013 CU6 in a hybrid configuration with Office 365 user that had mailboxes on O365 couldn’t query for free/busy of on-premises users. Users with on-premises mailboxes could query the free/busy status of O365 mailboxes. The free/busy test for Office 365 in the Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyser ( […]

Lync OWA Intregration stops working after Exchange 2013 CU Update

Hi All, After an Exchange 2013 CU Update always remember to add / restore the app settings for OWA integration in the Exhange 2013 OWA “web.config” file on your Exchange 2013 Server. Typically located in the folder C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V15\ClientAccess\Owa) The CU updates to Exchange 2013 overwrites the web.config and removes your app settings for […]

Schedule Lync Online Meetings in Outlook Web App (OWA)

Following my previous post on scheduling Lync online meetings using the Lync Web Scheduler I also wanted to show you the new functionality in Exchange 2013 CU1 where Lync Online meetings can be scheduled using Outlook Web App (OWA). There some prereqs for this which are shown below and that this is a new feature […]

Lync Meeting Web Scheduler

So you need to schedule a meeting but you don’t have access to outlook so you can use either Lync Web Scheduler OWA (If using Exchange 2013 SP1) This blog post will focus on Lync Web Scheduler, an OWA one will follow shortly. Lync Web Scheduler Lync 2013 include a Web Meeting Scheduler out of […]

Lync on top in Unified Communications Gartner Report 2014

Earlier this week Gartner published their yearly report on vendors in the Unified Communications market space identifying the Market Leaders, challengers, niche players and visionaries in the UC Market today.  The 2013 report ranked Cisco as the number one Leader with Microsoft following second but its all changed in 2014 with Microsoft overtaking Cisco!!!!!! For […]

SharePoint 2013 – Enable PowerPivot Features

Following on from my recent Create PowerPivot Service Application post, I actually have another minor gripe with the PowerPivot for SharePoint 2013 Configuration Tool; the limit of 20 Site Collections displayed on the “Activate PowerPivot Feature in a Site Collection” task. In small environments, or Farms configured for legacy path-based Site Collections, this probably isn’t […]

SharePoint 2013 – Create PowerPivot Service Application

Ok, so you’re deploying PowerPivot for SharePoint 2013 and using the configuration tool? It does a great job, but I do have one niggle with it. During the Service Application creation step, you are not given the opportunity to change the database name. While this may not be a concern for some, many organisations (rightly so) […]

SharePoint 2013 SQL Reporting Services Log Files

If you’re troubleshooting issues with the SQL Reporting Services on SharePoint 2013, you can find some very useful logs files (with the “reportserverservice” prefix) tucked away in this directory: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\15\WebServices\LogFiles For example: Needless to say, if you have a multi-server environment, use the ULS logs to track down which server the correlation […]

New Power BI Features Shown at WPC 2014

If you’re interested in what’s coming next in Power BI there is a great demo to watch from this year’s (2014) Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. Take a look at the “The Cloud for Modern Business” video and fast-forward to 21:40. There are some great things coming; slick dashboards, the ability to change visualizations on […]

Executing SSIS Catalog Packages Programmatically with C#

Case: You’ve developed an SSIS project and packages and deployed it to the Catalog using the Project Deployment Model. You need to be able to synchronously/asynchronously execute these packages programmatically from an application you’ve built in .net. How is this done? I’ll step through this by building a .net console application that will execute an […]

Lync 2013 “blind” call transfer

Hello All, Following on from my post about consultative call transfers in Lync 2013 (here) a question has arisen about non-consultative call transfers. (also known as blind transfer). This is used when you just want to transfer a call to another phone or person without needing to speak to that person beforehand. One reason for […]

PowerShell: ForEach vs ForEach-Object

I was helping a fellow colleague with some PowerShell scripting recently and one concept cropped up that inspired this post. What is the difference between ForEach and ForEach-Object, and when should you use them? So, fundamentally for the ForEach-Object cmdlet executes the statement body (that is to say, whatever is contained in your curly braces […]

Photos with Exchange 2013 and Lync 2013

Adding or amending photos when you have both Lync 2013 and Exchange 2013 deployed is significantly easier than it used to be prior to these releases. This is mainly due to where these photos are stored. Previously, photos used to be held in the thumbnailphoto attribute of a User object in Active Directory. Now, these […]

PowerShell – Console Colours

Want a super fast way to enumerate all the available console colours from PowerShell? Try this… ForEach ($colour in [System.Enum]::GetNames("System.ConsoleColor")) { Write-Host $colour -ForegroundColor $colour } Short but sweet, enjoy!

Lync 2013 Front End Service – Starting

This is a bit of an obvious post but I thought I’d add it for clarity and to ensure that people are confident in completing this process. I think it is something that Lync admins may well need to do when they come across this issue that would not have been a problem in previous […]

SharePoint 2013 Web Analytics Logging Database

I was recently helping a customer investigate “blind spots” in their Web Analytics reports. I use the term “blind spot” because there was data present in the reports, however there were intermittent days or user activity which was either missing or occasionally sparse. As ever, first thing we need to establish is the fault and […]

Lync Edge Server–Access Edge Service failing to Start

After deploying a Lync 2013 Edge server the Access Edge service wouldn’t start. In the Event Log > applications > Lync Server I was getting the following error Ensure that no other program is listening to the specified port and that the IP address is valid. I went about checking the configuration of the Edge […]

Lync Management Shell not loading –Windows Server 2012 R2

Hey, I’ve come across this a few times with Lync 2013 and Server 2012 R2 where the Lync Management Shell just sits loading at _ To workaround this I opened PowerShell as Administrator and imported the Lync module.I typed Import-Module Lync Then I closed PowerShell and re opened the Lync Management Shell as Admin and […]

Export/Import Distributed Cache Configuration in SharePoint 2013

Following my post earlier this week Administering Distributed Cache in SharePoint 2013, today I will explain how to export and import the Distributed Cache in SharePoint 2013 – this is a very useful quick-get-me-out-the-doghouse process, but more importantly will hopefully help you grasp an even deeper understanding of SharePoint 2013. The tutorial here will assume that you either […]

Administering Distributed Cache in SharePoint 2013

It’s a topic that SharePoint Administrators have raised with me many times, and for some, seems to be somewhat of a dark art. Occasionally, this is simply down to a misunderstanding of the technology, or not having the confidence to dive in and pick it apart. So, today I will cover what are possibly the […]

Lync – Add a Skype contact

I am often asked how to add a Skype contact to Lync so I thought I’d do a quick write-up. The important thing to remember is that the Skype user must use a Microsoft Account ID (eg to log into Skype; Skype names cannot be included in the Lync client. Additionally, your Lync platform […]

.NET Application Performance Monitoring Management Pack Requirements

Hi there, I was recently on a customer site attempting to configure .NET Application Performance Monitoring (APM). System Center 2012 R2 Operations Manager supports monitoring of .NET applications running on Internet Information Services 7 (IIS7) and Internet Information Services 8 (IIS8). There is therefore a requirement to install the Windows Server 2008 Internet Information Services […]

The Future of InfoPath 2013

During one of the sessions at this year’s SPC2014 conference, it was announced that there is currently no replacement product for InfoPath. While the roadmap should be in place by the end of 2014, that doesn’t help customers and consultants to arrive at a terribly confident position on where best to place their investments (both […]

Lync 2013 – This can happen if the HTTPS certificate has expired, or is untrusted. The certificate serial number is attached for reference. Event ID 32042

Morning All, So today I was having some strange issues with conferencing with Lync 2013. I noticed that I couldn’t share PowerPoint, whiteboard, polls or Q & A, the icons were missing all web conferencing functionality was gone! So I checked the conferencing policy and they were all enabled so I decided to check the […]

SharePoint 2013 Service Pack 1 – Out Now!

Yes fellow SharePointeers, SharePoint 2013 Service Pack 1 has been released and with it a whole array of juicy updates. Most noteworthy for me is the support for Windows Server 2012 R2. This doesn’t mean you can slipstream or install from RTM, you need the actual SP1 media. A few useful links for reference: Foundation […]

SanDisk Introduce 128GB microSD

Ok, so a little off-beat but SanDisk have announced their latest microSD card with a whopping 128GB storage capacity… considering the largest SD card you could get in 2001 was 128MB, I’d say that’s pretty impressive progress. I think my Iconia tablet (running Windows 8.1 of course) just found her new expansion card :]

Windows Phone 8 Error 8000FFFF

I recently upgraded my Windows Phone 8 from the Nokia 820 to the Nokia 1020. After allowing the restore to complete, I noticed a bunch of my Apps were unavailable and listed but greyed out stating “attention required”. From the Store > Downloads page, many Apps were returning a fairly generic message with an error […]

Windows 8.1 Update 1

It doesn’t feel like all that long ago Windows 8.1 landed and already there are unconfirmed reports of the update arriving sometime in March (with general release around April). It’s difficult to ignore the rumours as the Build 2014 Developer conference is scheduled for 2nd to 4th of April…

Lync 2013 Consultative Call Transfer

A consultative call transfer is where a user talks to the person they want to transfer the call to before the transfer is made. This is sometimes referred to as a “warm transfer” or “warm hand-off”. It is a different method of transfer to the “cold transfer” whereby the call is put through to someone […]

SharePoint 2010–User or Domain Group Not Found

A lot of SharePoint Administrators will be well aware of this message in SharePoint 2010 but for those that are not, this post is for you. Symptom While attempting to access any Service Application the following error is returned: The specified user or domain group was not found Cause Everytime a security principal is stored […]

SQL Server Log Reuse Waits

In my previous SQL Server Transaction Log post, I promised Paul Taylor I would write up some of the meanings returned by the “log_reuse_wait_desc”, so here you go Paul 🙂 Active Transactions By far the simplest to summarise; active transaction log reuse wait reason means that there is an open transaction that is keeping the VLF […]


I was overhearing some extremely negative comments today about Windows Phone. To my surprise though, it wasn’t around the usual gripes, it was actually about the lack of satisfaction with the touch interaction on certain web sites. Being the curious type I figured I’d get involved in the conversation (don’t worry I’m not normally a social […]

Office Remote – Windows Phone

Hi there, Really cool WinPho 8 app showcasing some of the integration it has with office. Really cool for presentations etc, no longer scrabbling around for those clickers 😉 Check it out here…. Cheers SteveH

SQL Server Transaction Log

  I was recently asked to describe (to a non-technical audience) what SQL Transaction Logs were. While this is bread-and-butter stuff to think about, it can sometimes be difficult to articulate – especially when asked off the cuff with no context. This prompted me to write up a post so that it might help someone else or […]

Lync 2010 CMS replication error–access denied

I was having problems with CMS Replication failure which kept failing to my Archiving and Monitoring server. I tried several times to force replication using PowerShell with Invoke-csManagementStoreReplication and still replication was failing! From the event log on the master cms replicator it was displaying access denied in the lync even log to the server […]

Bye Bye Avaya and Hello Lync Enterprise Voice !

If your still unsure if Lync can replace your PBX and traditional desk phones then I hope this helps. Lync can replace your traditional PBX and give you more than just your average desk phone ! Try Lync with Enterprise Voice and I’m sure your desk phone will be joining them soon Kind regards, Martin

New Technet Wiki article detailing hotfixes for Windows 7 VDI deployments

A new TechNet Wiki article has been published which details recommended hotfixes to deploy when you are using Windows 7 for VDI deployments. This list is extensive and details both General Distribution Releases (GDR’s) and Limited Distribution Releases (LDR’s). For further information please see the Wiki article. Please remember the application of the hotfixes should be […]

Updated Group Policy Settings for Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2

Hi All Microsoft have just updated their spread sheet detailing group policy settings for Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 This can be download from There is a new column “New in 8.1” that allows you to easily view the newest Group Policy Settings.  

Lync 2010 Location not Automatically Populating

After populating and publishing the LIS Database in Lync 2010 I had some lync clients that were automatically populating the location and some that were not. I noticed the clients that were working were a higher version and found this link on MS Support This is an issue in earlier clients and is fixed […]

SharePoint 2013–Work Management Service Application

Overview The Work Management Service Application is responsible for aggregating tasks into a central repository within SharePoint. It is generally surfaced to users as part of their MySite / Newsfeed experience. The following are the key feature highlights: Users can view and track their tasks and to-do lists Users’ tasks can be cached on their […]

SharePoint 2013-Apps Sample Pack

  If you have SharePoint 2013 up and running but have yet to start introducing Apps, well there are some great samples over at MSDN along with all the source code.The are, of course, geared towards REST API, JSOM, CSOM, etc. Enjoy!

SQL Server 2014 CTP2–First Look

AlwaysOn Oh my, this truly is my favourite improvement to the SQL Server family for some time. When this first landed in SQL 2012, I immediately started talking to new customers about adopting this into their HA solution but also started planting the seeds with existing customers about migrating to AlwaysOn from their existing HA […]

Error 25150 Unable to register the CCM_Service_HostingConfiguration endpoint 80041002

****Update: An article has been created by Microsoft detailing their fix for this issue **** I was recently installing SCCM 2012 SP1 for a customer with their underlying infrastructure running on Server 2012. Although the SCCM 2012 SP1 media had been downloaded back in July upon trying to install the client on the primary site server I […]

Windows 8.1 now available!

Windows 8.1 is now available, more details can be found here

MS to release RDP client for multitude of OSE’s

Hi There, Well good news breaking today that MS will be releasing an RDP client for a variety of platforms including Windows, RT, iOS, OSX and Android. This is the one major shortfall I’ve found when competing against an equivalent offering from the likes of Citrix/VMware with their clients that operate on a variety of […]

Only 6 months of extended support left for Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003

On the 8th April 2014, Microsoft will no longer be offering any support, new security updates or hotfixes for Windows XP SP3 or Office 2003 – that’s only 6 months away! Companies and Organisations still running Windows XP SP3 and/or Office 2003 after this date will be vulnerable to security risks. More information about what […]

SharePoint 2013–Search Query Suggestions

Just a quick self-note that might come in useful for others. To quote TechNet on configuring Search Query Suggestions in PowerShell for SharePoint 2013: “Use the Get-SPEnterpriseSearchQuerySuggestionCandidates cmdlet to return a list of popular queries that can be displayed in a related queries Web Part. The list gives the administrator a chance to review potential […]

SharePoint 2013–Managed Metadata

Overview Metadata holds a crucial role in helping people find information faster and more precisely, You may be familiar with Managed Metadata from SharePoint 2010, and in SharePoint 2013 there remains three core components; Managed Terms, Enterprise Keywords and Term Store. Managed Terms might be self-explanitory but essentially these are pre-defined and organised into a hierarchy […]

ConfigMgr HTTPS Client Authentication Error 403, Forbidden

I was working on internet-based client management for ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 for a client. HTTPS communication was working bar a slight issue whereby the certificate issuing authority we used had specifically been configured not to allow autoenroll. So certificates were having to be issued manually. Given the number of machines the business had this wasn’t […]

SharePoint 2013–Crawl DB Fragmented Indices

What is a Fragmented Index? Well, you might be familiar with the term “fragment” when speaking in SQL tongue. If not, then very basically; data is stored at the table layer within SQL and when the location of that data is controlled the data is grouped in rows and index keys within the table, according […]

Machine name based on serial number in OSD

There was a requirement at a customer site recently to base new build machine names on the serial number of the device.  It was also necessary to further distinguish between laptop and desktop platforms by using a “LT” or “WS” prefix before the serial number to fully identify the device. Using SCCM 2012 SP1 with MDT […]

Nokia Windows Phone–Amber Update

What is it? It’s here! That’s right, the Nokia Amber update has been released which includes the Microsoft GDR2 and a whole bunch of treats from Nokia. What does it give me? Data Sense – on the Start screen you will get a new tile for data sense which records your data usage. Two of […]

SharePoint 2013 People Picker

It’s really not that often that I go against the recommendations from Microsoft, however, I’m becoming increasingly un-receptive of the continued usage of stsadm in SharePoint 2013, especially for the configuration of People Picker. This is my personal opinion though, so you should be reading this post as such and not as “matter of fact”. […]

Workflow Manager Farm-Failed Registration Clean Up

This is a follow-up post of my previous “SharePoint 2013 and Workflow Manager Farms” blog back May 2013. When certain activities fail in the SharePoint world, some actions are not always rolled back fully. This can leave a messy trail, for this post we will take a failed attempt to execute the Register-SPWorkflowService cmdlet as […]

SharePoint and SQL Timeout Issues

Introduction Bit of a sweeping post this time, as intermittent SQL Server connectivity errors can affect all SharePoint products (hence the copious use of Tags) but the audience of this post is generally geared at our older SharePoint product users. While they can occur for a number of reasons, there are several options and tools we can leverage […]

Signing PowerShell Scripts

Introduction If, like me, you use PowerShell on a daily basis then I imagine it’s likely you have come across Execution Policies before. An Execution Policy is a concept within PowerShell that helps deliver a more secure command line administration experience. These policies define the restrictions under which PowerShell loads files for execution and configuration. […]

SharePoint 2013-How to Re-Provision the UPSS

So, chances are during your SharePoint lifecycle you will, at some point, come across the dreaded User Profile Synchronisation Service (UPSS) misbehaving. Don’t panic, you are not alone! There are many things that can break / halt it from functioning correctly. While I don’t intend to cover every eventuality here, nor do I intend to […]

Lync Server 2013 Workloads Poster

The Lync Server 2013 Workloads Poster has been released and gives you the following: Provides a visual representation of common Lync Server topologies. Illustrates the way messages flow between Lync Server components Shows you the DNS records that you need to configure Lync Server components. Shows you the certificates that you need to assign to […]

Lync 2013 – Mirroring cannot be setup unless SQL Server Service runs under a Network Service Account, Virtual Account, Local System Account or a Domain account

Hey! I came across an interesting issue today where I couldn’t install the Lync 2013 SQL Mirror databases. After I published the topology to create the mirror databases I got the below error and the sql mirror database installation failed. “Mirroring cannot be setup unless SQL server service runs under a network service account, virtual […]

SharePoint 2013–Move the Search Index Location

Chances are if you’re new to SharePoint you may have never thought about the Search Index location. The fact is, it should be a conscious design decision, not simply left to default without thought. It’s really quite an important part of the Search architecture (aren’t they all?) and if you’ve not given it much consideration […]

SharePoint 2013 – Internet Facing Deployments

So you’re thinking about a SharePoint 2013 IFD? But just how secure is it? Well, the short answer is; very secure. However, there are some things that you might want to consider before chucking that web front-end server into your DMZ. Firstly, put this phrase at the top of your draft planning document: “A door […]

SharePoint 2013 – Excel Services

Overview Essentially, the Excel Service allows Excel workbooks to be published and connected across the SharePoint environment. It is commonly classified as a “business intelligence” tool as it allows connection (and automatic refreshing of) external data sources, creation of reports, publishing to a document library and then rendering in the browser. Prerequisites SharePoint 2013 Enterprise Edition

Hyper-V Guest VM cluster communication problems

Hi All, Recently had an issue at a customer whereby a two node windows server 2012 file server cluster would fail to communicate with the passive node when that node was moved to another hyper-v host in the hyper-v cluster. When both virtual machines were on the same node, they communicated fine. After copious amounts […]

Software Updates fail with CBS called Error with 0x80070718

Investigating why a server 2008  server wouldn’t install it’s monthly patches I found the error: CBS called Error with 0x80070718 shown in the windowsupdate.log. This didn’t really assist me in my troubleshooting, however the client is patching servers through SCCM 2012 SP1. Looking at the SCCM deployment it listed the server with error number 0x80070718 but […]

Watch out for KB2859537 / MS13-063

Hi All, KB2859537 / MS13-063 seems to be causing issues for some customers deploying this update. Please review the advisory in the below links before deploying; Known issues with this security update Some users may experience issues with certain programs after they install security update 2859537. In some cases the programs may not successfully start. […]

Windows 8.1, Server 2012 and System Center 2012 R2 – October 18th

Hi All, Shortly after announcing the Windows 8.1 release date, Microsoft have also announced that Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 will also be released on the same day – October 18th. Some great new features across all areas and the simultaneous release outlines Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring all products remain as tightly […]

Lync 2013 Get-CsClientAccessLicense

Lync 2013 now provides a useful PowerShell script for checking your Lync 2013 CALS You can search by UserBased / Device Based, Enterprise, Standard or Plus CALS.  specify Start / End Dates and daily usages as well. An Example can be found below that also outputs to a text file : Get-CsClientAccessLicense -MonitoringDatabase “<Monitoring  SQL […]

Failed to start the ccmsetup service (1068)

Whilst working through some servers that don’t have SCCM client for a customer we found one reporting the error: Failed to start the ccmsetup service (1068). Further investigation led to this being caused by the BITS service being disabled for the server.

ConfigMgr 2012 – Custom Reports – Can’t connect to Data Source

Using ConfigMgr 2012 with Report Builder 3.0 from a remote console one user was receiving an error when creating a custom report. The error was: A connection was successfully established with the server, but then an error occurred during the pre-login handshake (provider: SSL Provider, error:0 – The wait operation timed out.) Investigations led to […]

SharePoint 2013 – Visio Graphics Service

Overview SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint 2013 Online allows users to interact, display and load Visio (.vsdx or .vsdm) or Visio Web Drawings (.vdw) files via the Visio Graphics Service. Basic rendering and navigation of Visio files are supported through the Visio Web Access Web Part. Various data sources can also be used to automatically update […]

Lync 2013 Features Comparison Chart

Having trouble deciding what model is best for your business, do you go for an On-Premise deployment, use a Hosted offering or Office 365? If you want to see a concise and clear comparison of the functionality you get from each of the options then click here to download the Lync 2013 Features Comparison Chart.

“Access denied” error adding Intune subscription to ConfigMgr 2012 SP1

Whilst at a customer’s site recently, I was asked to look into an error they were receiving whilst attempting to add an Intune subscription to ConfigMgr 2012 SP1. In the ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 console: Right click Windows Intune Subscriptions: Create Windows Intune Subscription: Next Enter Intune credentials And here we got the error The credentials […]

Mainstream support ends in under a year for legacy SC products

Hi All, Just a quick reminder to let you know that mainstream support ends for some of the legacy SC products on 08/07/2014 when they enter extended support. Information on exact dates and what that means is mentioned here… Long story short,  get upgrading to System Center 2012! 😉 Thanks, SteveH

SQL Database Mirroring for Lync 2013 CMS

As part of the Lync 2010 to Lync 2013 migration progress you have to migrate the CMS databases from Lync 2010 to Lync 2013 environment before the Lync 2010 environment can be decommissioned. If you are using SQL Mirroring for your Back End databases you have to configure SQL Mirroring for the CMS databases manually. […]

ConfigMgr 2012 Viewing Reports From A Remote Console

A customer asked me why he can happily view reports from his Primary site server’s console but from the remote console on his workstation it doesn’t run or error. Viewing the SmsAdminUI.log located in your <Console installation path>\AdminConsole\AdminUILog\ folder it showed the below message: [1, PID:4008][07/23/2013 13:13:56] :System.IO.FileNotFoundException\r\nCould not load file or assembly ‘Microsoft.ReportViewer.WinForms, Version=, Culture=neutral, […]

An error occurred when storing the task sequence

Hi, I came across the above error today whilst editing task sequences with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 integrated with MDT 2012 Update 1. After adding in an additional task sequence step and clicking the Apply or OK button, a message box appeared displaying the message “An error occurred when storing the task sequence”. […]

Error 414 When Adding Host Into Viritual Machine Manager 2012 SP1

Whilst trying to add a Server 2012 Hyper-V host into System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 SP1 recently I was receiving the error 414 “Agent installation could not access the ADMIN$ share on server Checking the ADMIN$ share from explorer revealed that I was prompted for connection credentials but my Domain Admin account still […]

SharePoint 2013–Branding the Suite Bar via PowerShell

The Suite Bar in SharePoint 2013 is a great place to apply some customised links and can be configured at the Web Application level so that any sub-site renders in a standardised manner. So what’s the safest and quickest way to edit this? Simple, use my old faithful friend, PowerShell! In this example, I will […]

Update Rollup 14 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Good news everyone, Update Rollup 14 has been released for Dynamics CRM 2011. Details can be found here: Download can be found here: Cheers, Jason  

SharePoint 2013 – Secure Store Service

Overview The secure store service is responsible for storing and mapping a user’s credential to an external service. This provides users with a single sign-on experience by allowing SharePoint to access the external system as the user. An example of typical scenarios where Secure Store might be utilised, as the mechanism for passing a user’s […]

Lync 2013 Q & A

One of the new features of the recent July 2013 Lync 2013 updates is the introduction of a more formal Q&A feature in Lync meetings. It is accessed from the Meeting Content button: Once the Q&A session has started, attendees can ask questions in the meeting. The questions can then be answered by anyone who […]

SharePoint 2013 – Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence in SharePoint 2013 certainly seems to be having a snowball effect at the moment. Maybe I’m just becoming more involved with these conversations, or maybe it actually is a growing concept for organisations. Either way, I thought I’d share some of the highlights of Business Intelligence solutions in the SharePoint world. What is Business […]

SharePoint 2013 – Business Data Connectivity Service

Overview Business Data Connectivity Service, or BCS, and is responsible for providing the mechanism for connecting SharePoint to external line-of-business systems, such as; SQL Server, CRM or and any other data-driven applications that can be surfaced through either Windows Communications Foundation (WCF) or Open Data (OData) endpoints. BCS can be deployed on-premise, in cloud-hosted or even […]

SharePoint 2013 – Machine Translation Services

Overview Based on the same architecture as the Word Automation service, the Machine Translation Service Application is brand new for SharePoint 2013 and it provides automatic machine translation of documents, pages and sites. When a translation request it started, the Service Application forwards the request to a cloud-hosted machine translation service, where the actual translation work […]

Change InstantMessagingServerName for Lync OWA Integration

As part of an OCS 2007 R2 decommissioning, a migration task is to enable Microsoft Exchange 2010 Outlook Web App and IM integration. As this was previously configured for OCS Integration I wanted to change the Instant Messaging server name from the OCS 2007 R2 server to the Lync Pool Name. To change the instant messaging server name I […]

Hyper-V closes the gap on VMware according to Gartner

Hi There, Gartner recently released their report on the latest trends in x86 server virtualisation with their Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure. Makes for interesting reading… and it’s quite evident that they believe that the plethora of new features and functionality released recently from Microsoft have closed the gap on VMware. Read more […]

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

Nope, that’s not a typo. Microsoft have now released some detail about Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, here you go: Excited, excited.  EDIT:

ConfigMgr (SCCM) 2012 Verbose Logging

When the standard log data doesn’t quite give you all the information you require you need to enable verbose logging. You can achieve that by following the below: To enable ConfigMgr 2012 verbose logging: Navigate to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\SMS\Components\SMS_REPLICATION_CONFIGURATION_MONITOR Set the dword ‘Verbose Logging’ to 2 0 = Errors and key messages 1 = Everything in value […]

SharePoint 2013–App Management Service

Overview A new feature for SharePoint 2013, the App Management Service stores and provides data for SharePoint App licencing and permissions. It is accessed each time an App is consumed to verify it’s validity. Any licence that is downloaded from the Marketplace is stored in the App Management Service Application. Prerequisites At a very high […]

Tablix body must contain at least one column

Situation: Working in BIDS (Business Intelligence Development Studio) creating reports, all of the data you want to use is grouped (Parent-Child..n) and you’ve got two issues remaining: – Cannot delete the last row, leading to the error: Tablix body must contain at least one column – The grouped columns have a massive amount of white space […]

SharePoint 2013 – Access 2010

Overview Access Services 2010 very simply allows users to modify and publish Access 2010 databases to SharePoint 2013. It might be obvious to say it, but this Service Application does not have a corresponding SQL database and the service can be managed from within Central Administration. Prerequisites Other than a SharePoint environment and the client […]

SharePoint 2013 March CU Installation Steps

Ok… this post has been in “draft” some time and is well overdue for publishing. SharePoint 2013 has well and truly landed now and if you haven’t already, you really should be pushing the installation of the March 2013 CU. Generally speaking, the community and early adopters consider the March 2013 CU a mandatory update for SharePoint 2013. […]

SharePoint 2013–Unable to add categories to a Wiki page

Just a quick post about a problem that was encountered recently when trying to add Categories to a Wiki page in an Enterprise Wiki site. When editing the page, we were unable to type text into the field nor did the Browse Tags window appear. Navigate to Central Administration and click Manage Service Application (under […]

Bulk Change of Lync 2010 Voice Policy

Many large enterprises have multiple voice policies assigned across their user base, you may find that you need to change a large number of users from one voice policy to another, carrying out this maintenance in the Lync Server 2010 Control Panel will prove lengthy as you can only change one user at a time, […]

Exchange 2013 coexistence – ECP redirects to 2010 ECP

During recent deployments of Exchange 2013 into our customer based, there is an interesting issue that happens time and time again. Overview of issue In a coexistence scenario, where you’re running Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 in the same organisation, when you go attempt to the new Exchange 2013 Enterprise Administration Centre (EAC) https://FQDNEX2013SRV/ECP to […]

SharePoint 2013 – Access Services

Overview Access Services allow users to host Access databases within the context of an Access app. Access apps are a new feature in SharePoint 2013 and these Access apps are built via the Access 2013 desktop client. You can create, edit, and update linked Access 2013 databases and then view them directly from the app.  […]

SharePoint 2013 Service Applications

In my upcoming series of blog posts, I will explore the various SharePoint 2013 Service Applications with an overview of what functionality it offers the SharePoint environment. Before reading, if you are a SharePoint 2010 administrator it would be beneficial to familiarise yourself with the changes between the 2010 and 2013 architectures. Microsoft have provided […]

SharePoint 2013 and PowerShell–Retrieving BCS List Items

A colleague and I were recently looking at  synchronising two Lists. One of the Lists was a BCS List and when attempting to connect via PowerShell using the normal methods, it failed and returned the following error: The shim execution failed unexpectedly – Proxy creation failed. Default context not found I’ve trimmed the whole script […]

SharePoint Newsfeed for Windows Phone 8

Are you using SharePoint 2013 or SharePoint Online? Do you have a Windows Phone 8 device? Would you love to access your SharePoint Newsfeed while on the go? Still reading? Good, because Microsoft have provided a great free app available from Windows Phone that “lets you stay connected to your organization’s social pulse” that ticks […]

SharePoint 2013 and Workflow Manager Farms

If you have introduced a Workflow Manager Farm (WFM), first of all good for you! I’m quite excited about what WFM offers and where it’s heading. However, it’s early days and there are (of course) a number of “gotchas”. One in particular has caught my attention on the last few WFM deployments I’ve worked on. Once […]

Dynamics CRM 2011 – Enableprefiltering

While developing reports internally I sometimes get asked how to make reports usable from within a record and more often than not I forget that there are a few things that need to be done (And end up binging the syntax)  to get this working. Normally I use parameters on everything; but this can be a bit […]

Dynamics CRM 2011 – Outlook – CRM failed to load

One of our internal support guys (HarryP) came to me earlier with an error which we rarely see regarding using CRM 2011 through the outlook plugin and being faced with “CRM failed to load” error, as we generally use CRM through IE. The solution is simple: Close down Outlook. Search for “Diagnostics”   Click on […]

You Don’t Need A Traditional Start Menu

I keep seeing users adding third party “traditional” Start menus to their Windows 8 OS. They’re buggy, old fashioned and counter-productive in my opinion. Now, I know how this sounds and please don’t think I’m getting on my high-horse and having a rant about people customising their experience exactly how they want it. In fact, quite […]

Dynamics CRM 2011 – Installing Language Packs

Once in a while I work with a customer who requires the base language of Dynamics to be in a language other than English and the solution is simple enough to achieve: – Visit – Select the new language you want from the language drop down menu (Page will refresh) – Download the language pack […]

SharePoint 2013 – Changing the name of a Web Application

Let us assume that you have a SharePoint 2013 environment with a Web Application called “Intranet” but it should be called “Intranet – 80”. What do you do? Many posts would have you believe you need to remove and re-create the Web Application and re-attach the old Content Database. I don’t see the point, it […]

Dynamics CRM 2011 – Report Scheduling

All, Occasionally get the request to sort out scheduled reports within CRM, and this is also something I see a lot on the Microsoft CRM forums – A lot of people actually give out misleading information when trying to configure reporting, especially with on-premise deployments. This will tell/show you how to configure Dynamics CRM 2011 report […]

SharePoint 2013 Central Administration Mind Map

One of the first things I did when SharePoint 2013 landed was create a “mind map” of Central Administration. It’s just useful reference material that I thought would be worth sharing to save others the effort of creating their own. Enjoy! SP2013 Central Administration Mind Map  

Dynamics CRM – Security Role Configuration (Quick)

I occasionally work with security roles and find that it’s not one of my favourite tasks on any project I work on, especially when it comes to creating full security roles from scratch. Today I removed one I’d made for testing to see how quickly I could get it back and have found a significantly […]

Internet Explorer Crashing with Lync Contact Card

We recently had a Support Ticket raised under the SharePoint banner that reported when some users hovered over a Contact Card in SharePoint, it caused Internet Explorer to “stop working”: Immediately, I questioned the possibility of SharePoint being the root cause as it wasn’t affecting every user, unless they logged onto the same device. The issue was easily […]

Office WebApps Deployment Error

I was recently looking at a failed Office WebApps deployment to a SharePoint 2013 Farm. In this environment, all servers were running Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. Upon executing the New-OfficeWebAppsMachine cmdlet, the Management Shell immediately returned an error: On initial observation, it looks like we have a serious problem but on closer insepection of […]

Uninstalling SharePoint Foundation 2010 Fails

Hi Everyone, Just a quick post today about something i experienced when attempting a re-install of the System Center Service Manager 2012 portal. As  a lot of you are aware, the SCSM 2012 self-service portal is built upon SharePoint 2010, and can also be integrated into the free SharePoint Foundation 2012 product. As the customer […]

Server 2012 Remote management connectivity errors – Large Send Offload

Hello, Recently I was working with a customer where we had very sporadic remote management related problems to random Hyper-V hosts that were deployed on Windows Server 2012. The affected servers would occasionally drop off from Server Manager (host not contactable, or data retrieval errors) and additional when trying to add the nodes to a […]

Clustered SCVMM and SCOM 2012 SP1 Integration

Hello, Whilst configuring integration between a clustered VMM 2012 SP1 environment and SCOM 2012 SP1 recently I ran into an issue whereby once the integration was completed the following error was logged in the connection settings: Operations Manager discovery failed with error: “Exception of type ‘Microsoft.VirtualManager.EnterpriseManagement.Common.DiscoveryDataInvalidRelationshipSourceExceptionOM 10′ was thrown.”. The MPs were reporting some information […]

Service Manager 2012 Portal Blank Content

Hi Everyone, I recently had an issue with the System Center Service Manager 2012 Self-Service portal. What we were seeing was the SharePoint Foundation bits loading correctly, but the central Silverlight application was completely blank. A quick search showed that this symptom is normally experienced when the certificate used by the Web Content server is not trusted […]

Reporting Server AddIn for SQL 2012

When deploying SharePoint 2013 with a SQL 2012 database backend, it’s common to overlook a required add-in for Reporting Services. If you are trying to work with Reporting Services and get hit with the distressing “Sorry, something went wrong” message from SharePoint, then read on…   Recently, when attempting to create some Reporting Services integration […]

Content Deployment Stuck

You know that sinking feeling? You know, the one when you check your emails in the morning and you don’t have the usual “Content Deployment Successful” message waiting? What about when you receive a “Content Deployment Failed” message instead? Well, what really ruins my day is when I don’t receive either… That’s when I know I […]

Could not obtain information about Windows NT group/user ‘domain\user’, error code 0x5. [SQLSTATE 42000] (Error 15404) (ConnIsLoginSysAdmin)

Recently encountered an issue in SQL when running SQL Agent Jobs would give the following error in the agent jobs log: Could not obtain information about Windows NT group/user ‘domain\user’, error code 0x5. [SQLSTATE 42000] (Error 15404)(ConnIsLoginSysAdmin) The solution to this is to add the SQL Server service account to the ‘BUILTIN\Windows Authorization Access Group’ […]

Default OpenInClient Behaviour

  After implementing Office Web Apps server in a SharePoint 2013 environment, the default behaviour for opening Office documents is to launch in the browser, not the client application. However, this might not be your preferred method, or perhaps you have different policies for different web applications. Changing the configuration is relatively straight forward but […]

MIIS Key Import Failure

We’re really excited about SharePoint 2013 but recently ran into a problem during an upgrade from SharePoint 2010. More specifically while attempting to import the MIIS encryption key for the User Profile Synchronisation Service, we received the following error: Now the “Login failed for user” portion would indicate we forgot to grant our SP Admin account […]

The query returned no rows for the dataset. The expression therefore evaluates to null

Working with BIDS, playing with column visibility for formatting issues and I got the above message when using the following: =iif(isNothing(QueryValues)) isNothing doesn’t take into consideration empty datasets. To get around it use the following: =iif(CountRows() = 0, false, true) / =iif(CountRows() = 0, true, false) Depending on your needs for not visible/visible. Cheers, Jason.

Forefront UAG 2010 Service Pack 3 Now Available

Service Pack 3 for Microsoft Forefront UAG 2010 is now available for download. SP3 for Forefront UAG 2010 includes several important new features and enhanced functionality, including: Support for Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) 8.0 client support Exchange Server 2013 SharePoint Server 2013 Support for Office 2013 applications Note:- SP3 […]

SSRS Expression – Number of days in a month.

Tasked with getting all the dates for last month in SSRS without using SQL, just using an expression. Expression: =day(dateadd(“d”, -1, Month(TODAY) – 1 & “/01/” & Year(TODAY))) Can replace the TODAY with a data attribute/parameter if needed. Cheers

No credentials are available in the security package (0x8009030E) message when trying to perform shared nothing live migration in SCVMM 2012 SP1

Hi All, Recently came across an issue when trying to setup shared nothing live migration between two hosts. When attempting to perform the migration via the SCVMM console, the job failed and the following error message was logged in job history :- Error (23284) Migration check for virtual machine <virtual machine name> failed to create […]

Lync 2013 Conferencing failure following migration from 2010

I came across a great problem when migrating Lync 2010 to Lync 2013 recently. This issue did not manifest itself with pilot users on 2013 but it was immediately noticed following the bulk migration of all users, and services to 2013. The migration was successful and everything was working except conferencing. When a user tried […]

CRM 2011 – SSRS – The target principal name is incorrect

Encountered this issue a few times when deploying CRM over multiple servers then trying to run reports/custom reports through the standard report builder , solution: – Open IIS on the server CRM 2011 is installed on – Expand the server name – Click ‘Application Pools’ – Look for ‘CRMAppPool’ and the account it’s running on […]

Add Roles and Features error installing WSUS 4.0 on Windows Server 2012

Since the release of System Center 2012 SP1 all roles are now supported on Windows Server 2012. I was installing WSUS 4.0 role for an installation of Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 when I received the following error. “One or more predeployment tasks failed. InstanceName property does not exist Parameter Name: configurationStore. I was wanting to […]

Lync 2013 AD Prep confirmation

I posted this some time ago so I thought I would update it for Lync 2013: I was asked how to check that Lync Schema upgrade was successful. Hopefully the following information is useful: Use the following cmdlet to verify that schema preparation ran to completion: • Get-CsAdServerSchema This cmdlet returns a value of Schema_Version_State_Current […]

Dynamics CRM 2011 Online – rsProcessingAborted

Many blogs on the web explain how to solve this issue with Dynamics CRM 2011 on-premise by setting SPNs, however I’ve yet to find a blog which explains how to get around this issue using the Dynamics CRM 2011 online service. As you know, using the online platform gives absolutely no permissions to modify SSRS […]

Hyper-V 3.0: Unable to contact cluster service on ‘cluster’

Hi There, I spent some time recently upgrading a WS2012 Hyper-V 3.0 cluster from RC to RTM. This was a four node cluster and my process was to evict a node, rebuild and then add the node back into the cluster. All went relatively smoothly until I wanted to add the cluster back in to SCVMM. I […]

Export SQL Schema and Data from SQL Server 2008 for Azure

Have had some situations where I’ve been given database backup and have been asked to migrate it to the Azure cloud platform, without access to a full version SQL Server. This tends to be when in-house application are written and eventually needs to be move to the cloud. Solution is as followed (Assuming the database […]

Dynamics CRM Online – Cannot access a disposed object

When working with Microsoft’s Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDs) and Dynamics CRM Online and large datasets you may often come across the following error when trying to preview reports through BIDs (Dataset being Dynamics Online): This is caused by paging issues within BIDs and can simply be solved by uploading and running the report through […]

Dynamics CRM / BIDS Reporting – Join

Join: “Returns a string created by joining a number of substrings contained in an array.” Have had a few regular requests when writing reports in BIDs where users want everything they have picked in a pick list to be displayed at the top of the report. Common request, yet many people do not know how […]

Lync Voice NET Telephony Gateway AD Lookup

I configured this feature for a customer recently and whilst I have bestowed the benefits of deploying an “upstream” gateway and allowing it to route all calls based on AD look-ups for a while, when you deploy it and see it working, you really understand the power of these devices and how simple they make your […]

Unable to reset Operations Manager health state after 2012 upgrade

I’ve run into this each time I’ve done a 2012 upgrade in Operations Manager, after the upgrade any resetting of the health state logs the following message in the Task Status View. A module reported and error 0x80070490 from a callback which was running as part of rule “System.Health.ResetState” Error Code:  –2130771918 (Unknown error (0x80ff0032)). […]

Failed to write SQL Server certificate to store (TrustedPeople) on site server

Hi There, I recently got the following error when attempting to connect a new Primary Site to a Central Administration Site; Failed to write <> SQL Server certificate to store (TrustedPeople) on site server This turned out to be because the account I was using to install SCCM on the Primary Site server was not […]

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Beta

The beta of System Center SP1 is available from the Microsoft Download Center New product features and enhancements include Deployment and management of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 Distribution point for Windows Azure to help reduce infrastructure costs Automation of administrative tasks through PowerShell support Management of Mac OS X clients and Linux […]

Dynamics CRM 2011 Online – VBCRLF Replacement / Text Block

Recently been involved in re-writing reports for Dynamics CRM 2011 Online and hit an issue where the VBCRLF function would not work with CRM online. Only to further research that code (non-expression) isn’t supported. In most cases, the following code would work as expected (on an on-premise environment) to have all contact details isolated into […]

Dynamics CRM 2011 – iif isNothing

Imagine this scenario if you will: You are developing a Dynamics CRM 2011 report using Business Intelligence Development Studio, based on the Account entity. You have modified the account entity to have a secondary contact lookup. In your report, you don’t want to hide the columns if no data appears to keep formatting; but you […]

Update Rollup 10 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Just to let everyone know, Update Rollup 10 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 has been released and can be found here: Downloads: Details: Cheers, Jason.

Lync 2013 and VDI

I found this great blog post from Tarek Radi discussing what has changed in the Lync 2013 client to allow support for Audio and Video in VDI environments. BrianC

Forefront UAG 2010 SP2 released

Forefront UAG 2010 Service Pack 2 is now available for download. Before upgrading to UAG 2010 SP2 you must upgrade to TMG 2010 SP2 first. Some cool new features in this service pack include support for more mobile devices and AD FS 2.0 multi-namespace support! More information on what’s new in this service pack can […]

Group Policy WMI Filter for Windows 7 Enterprise only

Currently have a requirement to only apply certain Group Policies to Windows 7 Enterprise machines only, the policies must not be applied to any other edition of Windows 7. I have therefore implemented the following WMI filter which will ensure that the policies are only applied to Windows 7 Enterprise computers. Select * from Win32_OperatingSystem […]

Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 Released to Manufacturing (RTM)

Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 have today been released to manufacturing (RTM). For further details see the following posts:-

Dynamics CRM 2011 – 10,000 Row Export Limit

Recently have had the pleasure of having to export large amounts of data from Dynamic CRM 2011 into an Excel based format. Lucky me that I didn’t realise that you can only (by default) export up to 10,000 rows of CRM data into each excel file. Here is the way around it. Note: Please revert […]

Microsoft Bitlocker Administration and Monitoring MBAM Prerequisite failure

I ran into the following error whilst installing MBAM Setup was unable to verify prerequisites on the computer. Resolution: Setup cannot continue because of an error during the prerequisite check. To run the prerequisite check again, Click Check Prerequisite Again. If this problem continues, exit Setup and check the Setup log for errors. Not the […]

Could not load type System.ServiceModel.Activation.HttpModule

Hi, While rebuilding a customers PKI environment we had a problem with one of the Web enrolment servers that I had rebuilt. It was coming up with the following error when you went to Http://localhost/certsrv : Could not load type ‘System.ServiceModel.Activation.HttpModule’ from assembly ‘System.ServiceModel, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089′. Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution […]

SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 released

SQL Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 2 has been released, download it here; KB article can be found here; Thanks, Steve

FIM 2010 R2 IIS error when installing registration and reset portals on dedicated server – Event id 10005

You may come across this error when installing the password registration and reset portals on a dedicated server in order to provide role separation, especially when publishing the portals externally. When you go through the installation wizard it may fail with the following message: Cannot connect to Internet Information Server. (-2147221164 ) Additionally in the […]

Underscore in Lync FQDNs

I came across this gotcha with a recent Lync installation. My customer wanted to put an underscore “_” in their Lync Pool name. The Lync Topology Builder accepted it and everything seemed fine. However, when I came to request the certificates, the PowerShell command failed as the FQDN was invalid due to the underscore!! Since […]

FEP 2010 – Definition Updates Fail

Hi There, I’ve come across an issue with a few different customers whereby certain machines stop receiving virus definition updates and when you attempt to do this manually you get the following error; ‘Virus and Spyware definition updates failed…’ In both of these instances it seems the clients have received an update that is either faulty, or has not […]

Enabling .NET 3.5 on Server 2012 RP ~ Source files not found

Hi There, Whilst working on a Server 2012 RP instance earlier, I needed to enable .NET 3.5 and tried doing so via the roles and features Wizard. I was greeting  with a response stating the source media could not be found. It seems the CAB files are not included and are left on the installation […]

Dynamics CRM 2011 – Delete Personal Views

Ocasssionally get asked how to delete personal views in Dynamics CRM 2011 and I always end up spending ages trying to remember how to do it. I always think you pick the view and press the delete button! And when the delete button isn’t there, I spend too much time trying to find it.. The simple solution is: […]

VMM 2012 Bare Metal – Failed to Customise WinPE Image

Hi There, I recently upgraded a customers VMM infrastructure from RC2 to RTM and had a couple of issues with the bare-metal deployments that I had previously configured. I was able to initiate a bare-metal build, and PXE boot the machine but as it was starting to provision I had an error relating to certificates; […]

FIM 2010 Password Reset Portal–Enable password history enforcement

One of the things that sometimes gets overlooked when implementing Self Service Password Reset Portal is the enforcement of password history settings in the domain Group Policy. Without configuring correctly users would be able to reset their password through the portal using a password they have used previously. The portal can be configured to enforce […]

FIM 2010 R2 is RTM

Read about that and other interesting stuff in the FIM 2010 R2 Release Notes Its only on MSDN at the moment.

Dynamics CRM 4 – Enable Trace Logs

Have been working with Dynamics CRM 4 recently and have come across a few errors when trying to import customisations from another organisation and the generic ‘An error occurred’ error message isn’t very helpful. Now, I assumed that logging would be enabled by default – Alas, it wasn’t. So here’s how you enable it: 1. […]

Direct Access Manage Out not working

Quite a few weeks ago now I came across this issue on a customer site and managed to resolve narrowing it down to group policy and finding the troublesome policy to be the setting for "Access this computer from the network". On Monday of this week Microsoft released a KB article detailing this problem ( […]

Changing Shortcut name of App-V Application

Hi There, If you have an App-V application published via an App-V Management Server and subsequently want to change the name of the shortcut (be it published to desktop, start menu or elsewhere)… you’ll notice that making a change in either the App-V Management Console, or directly in the OSD file has no effect. You […]

Update Rollup 1 for System Center 2012

Hi There, Update Rollup 1 has been released for System Center 2012. This update addresses a number of issues with VMM, App Controller and OpsMgr See HERE Thanks SteveH  

“An unexpected error has occurred..” when trying to IRM protect content with RMS Administrative Template

I recently had this problem on a customer site, documents could be protected using RMS with manual permissions no problems, bootstrapping process completed and all was fine. However after creating Administrative Templates and attempted to apply protection using those templates it failed with the useful “An unexpected error has occurred..” message. Hmmm head scratcher… So […]

DFs File Share for Lync

If you want to use a DFs share as the file store in a Lync topology, you will need to install the Cumulative Update 5 after installing the Topology Builder but before you run it to configure your topology for the first time. Further details and the fix can be found in this KB Article […]

AD RMS with Hardware Load Balancer

Just wanted to create a quick post to share an issue i had recently while on a customer site installing an AD RMS High Availability solution. The solution had two AD RMS servers using a HLB for redundancy, both servers were installed and joined to the same RMS cluster with no problems. However when the […]

Trials and Tribulations of SCCM replication…

Hi there, A customer I am working with recently implemented a new child primary site and all seemed to be ticking along smoothly until a rather angry DBA turned up to ask why disk space was being consumed at the rate of knots on the SQL server hosting the SCCM databases…First things first, I was […]

Lync Enterprise Voice take-up

This is some great news for advocates of Lync Enterprise Voice. Here is another study (albeit a US centric one) that suggests Lync EV is seeing huge success and is set for even more growth! This concurs with what I am seeing when I’m talking to customers and people in the marketplace about voice platforms. […]

Provider Error when logging in to the SCCM console as non administrator

Hi There, There are a number of underlying permissions that must be granted in order for a user to be able to successfully initiate a console session to an SCCM environment. Firstly you need to make sure the user has the correct site permissions… for example, a user requiring Remote Control access may have the […]

System Center 2012 RTM on MSDN

All the System Center 2012 code has hit MSDN and is available for download. This includes Unified Installer Orchestrator Service Manager App Controller Virtual Machine Manager Data Protection Manager Configuration Manager Operations Manager John Riseam System Center Consultant Risual

Forcing a Child Site Resync – SCCM 2007, site not found

Hi there, I came across an issue recently with a child primary site that had failed to replicate a number of resources from it’s parent site. After working through some of these issues, and rectifying the replication I needed to perform a full child resync. This is simple to do by running the following command; […]

Server 8 Hyper-V and Vyatta

Hi there, Whilst re-building my lab on Server 8 Beta I came across an issue with running Vyatta which I use as a software router/firewall. I attached the network cards as synthetic NICs and upon boot received the following error; Spurious ACK on isa0060/serio0. Some program migh be trying to access hardware directly. This error […]

Deleting a Site System from SCCM is delayed

Hi There, When the need arises to remove a Site System from DP the first thing you need to do is remove all of the roles from the Site System. However, often when you are doing this you find that the ‘ConfigMgr Component Server’ role persists which stops you from deleting the system. Generally just […]

SCCM/App-V – Fixing Deployed Apps

Recently I had the need to do a quick and dirty fix of a couple of virtual applications that had been deployed to users in an environment that uses App-V with SCCM integration. Applications are advertised to users based upon AD Security Group membership and are configured to download and execute, rather than stream from […]

SDBINST: An installed file with the same ID was found, Error: couldn’t open SDB –

Hi There, During testing of a SHIM to fix an application, I accidentally deleted the SDB file from C:\Windows\AppPatch\Custom, rather than using the sdbinst -u <guid> command to uninstall properly. Whilst attempting to re-run this command I was hit with the following error; This error was preventing me from using sdbinst to reinstall the SHIM. The […]

An out of band operation (IPMI) for the BMC failed

Hi There, Whilst working on a bare-metal build for a Hyper-V host (based on HP blades with iLO 3) today using SCVMM 2012 and Host Profiles I came across the following error; An out of band operation (IPMI) for the BMC <FQDN> failed The obvious first line of troubleshooting is to check the IP address […]

Hyper-V MMC -> Cannot connect to the RPC service on computer

Hi there, The above message pops up from time to time when attempting to remotely administer a Hyper-V server from another machine, particularly if the machine you are attempting to access is in another domain or in a workgroup. First things first, make sure all of the config is correct on the Hyper-V server itself […]

VDI Smackdown: Head to Head Analysis – February 2012 Update

Hi There, The February 2012 update to the VDI Smackdown Whitepaper has just been released, it’s a great read if you want to weigh up to the pros and cons of the various virtual desktop technologies… The overall goal of the white paper is share information about: Application and Desktop Delivery Solutions Explain the different […]

VMM 2012 Services: The specified change on the object is not allowed

Whilst tidying up one of our VMM 2012 environments earlier I was having trouble removing a service template that had been created, the following error was appearing when I was hitting delete; As far as I could see I had deleted any related service deployments and could see no services or VMs on any of […]

Cert Publisher’s

Recently I was implementing a new PKI on a customer’s site. They had a single forest with 6 child domains, some of the domains dated back to 2000 and so the “Cert Publisher’s” group was defined as a Global Group. We need to add the computer account of the issuing CA’s to the Cert Publisher’s […]

Hyper-V Toolkit

The following TechNet Wiki links contains a number of very useful tools for Hyper-V, some of my favourites; Core Configurator 2.0 – makes configuring Server Core or Hyper-V Server much easier Disk2VHD – for creating VHDs from physical disks – very useful for the new Host Profile feature in VMM 2012 🙂 Wim2VHD – in […]

System Center Advisor Released – Proactive Server Configuration Management

Today, Microsoft announced the general availability of System Center Advisor (formerly Microsoft codename ‘Atlanta’) enabling IT Professionals to proactively avoid server configuration problems by assessing static, runtime and operational data to identify potential issues that cause outages or poor performance. System Center Operations Manager is great at alerting you to server issues as they happen, […]

Hyper-V 3.0 Evens the Odds with vSphere

Re-post from; At the recent Windows Server Workshop at the Microsoft campus in Redmond Washington Jeff Woolsey, Principle Program Manager Lead for Windows Virtualization in the Windows Server and Cloud division presented the new features in the next version of their Hyper-V virtualization platform. In the introduction to the workshop Jeffery Snover, Distinguished Engineer and […]

Diskpart during an OSD Task Sequence

Whilst at a customer recently I had a requirement to run a ‘Diskpart /Clean’ at the start of a task sequence to remove any encryption on the drive, in this case McAfee. I have done this several times in the past however always hit a few niggles so thought I would blog to refer to […]

Hyper-V 3.0 Feature Glossary

Excellent tabular list of new and upcoming features in Hyper-V 3.0 with Server 8 Cheers, SteveH

App-V 4.5 – “…unable to create the required IIS virtual directory”

Had an issue recently whilst trying to re mediate an App-V 4.5 management server. Another website had been installed which had overwritten the Default Web Site that App-V was using for it’s management web service on the Management Server thus the admin console would not connect. The management server was running on Server 2008 R2 and IIS […]

Lync Mobile client for Windows Mobile 7

So, this week see’s the release of the Lync mobile client for a number of different phone OS’ kicking off with the client for Windows Mobile 7. We were keen to get going with this and as such had prepared our Lync environment on Friday so we could get the clients installed and working first […]

risual is hiring!!

risual is hiring Sales Account Directors Microsoft System Center Consultants Microsoft SharePoint Consultants Support Engineers For more information and to submit your CV click here Sales Account Directors Risual is looking for New Business sales people and Account Managers. Candidates should have a proven sales track record; good solution sales experience and ideally have experience […]

Operations Manager Visio 2010 Add-In Not Showing Data Graphics

Came across this issue at two different customers whilst demoing the cool dashboard functionality. The health status graphics are not shown for any objects either inserted, reconciled, linked to new or exported Visio diagram. Visio 2010 Add-in for System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 can be downloaded from here if you haven’t already tried it  […]

Exchange2010 Management Console error

“Connecting to remote server failed with the following error message: The WinRM client cannot process the request. It cannot determine the content type of the HTTP response from the destination computer. The content type is absent or invalid. For more information, see the about_Remote_Troubleshooting Help topic.” Have recently been on an engagement where we have […]

Lync client bug not displaying Audio Selection Button

We Recently found a bug in the Lync client which stops the Audio Selection Button being displayed if users are not EV enabled. Working with MS to see if we can get a fix. Will post any further developments.

Cert Server do not issue SAN names

I have found cases where the CA server do not include SAN names on certs requests. Below is the command to enable an internal CA so that it allows the issuance of alternative names on a cert request. If this is not set and you request a cert it will just ignore the alternative names when […]

Lync meeting content file store clean-out

When users upload documents etc to their meetings that are hosted by Lync, the files are uploaded to the Lync File store. One question that seems to come up a lot when designing Lync solutions for security sensitive customers is “Is the file store cleaned out regularly?” The files remain on the file store until they are […]

FIM Portal page not displaying

When deploying the FIM Portal the page is built on WSS 3.0. You may notice that after deploying the Portal you are just displayed by the default WSS 3.0 page when browsing locally or remotely. When you deploy the FIM Service and FIM Portal it actually installs two .wsp’s which style the SharePoint site in […]

Server Manager IIS Error – WebDAV

I came across the following error message recently whilst troubleshooting an SCCM Distribution Point; ————————————————————————————————————————– There was an error while performing this operation. Details: Filename: \\?\C:\inetpub\wwwroot\web.config Line number: <LineNumber> Error:  Cannot add duplicate collection entry of type ‘<XXX>‘ with unique key attribute ‘<YYY>‘ set to ‘<ZZZ>‘. ————————————————————————————————————————– Client’s were downloading packages via SMB rather than […]

Lync Server 1 year on…

This is a great blog entry from the Microsoft UC Group Team who have summarised the past year with Lync. It includes links to some excellent content and makes for interesting reading when comparing Lync to other vendor’s offerings. Great post! BrianC

Dial tone heard during Lync call

This article was pointed out to me by a customer that has this exact issue whilst using FUS – Thanks Matthew Thought it was definitely worth a re-blog here:   Communicator/Lync issues with “Fast User Switching” on Windows 7 During work on OCS 2007 R2 and Lync projects, I have come across some strange behaviour […]

Lync Schema Preparation confirmation

I was asked how to check that Lync Schema upgrade was successful. Hopefully the following information is useful: Use the following cmdlet to verify that schema preparation ran to completion: • Get-CsAdServerSchema This cmdlet returns a value of Schema_Version_State_Current if the schema prep was successful. If you want to go a step further: In ADSIedit, […]

Lync2010 Documentation update Aug/Sep 2011

The following blog handily contains a link to all of Microsoft’s recently updated documentation around Lync2010. Good work! NeilC

NET announces support for Pure-IP SIP Trunks

Pure-IP seem to be going from strength to strength. Not only did they get on MS’ Interoperability site a few weeks back but it looks as though NET (Network Equipment Technologies) are happy to sing their praises as well. Good luck NeilC

Lync2010 Server Documentation update

Microsoft have released an update to some of the Lync server documentation. For full details have a look at the following URL: Good luck NeilC

Lync for MAC

Looks like the Lync for MAC client should be going RTM pretty soon: NeilC

Pure-IP for SIP Trunks

Pure-IP is now on MS’ interoperability list for the provision of SIP Trunks. I have allot of time for this company, they are great to deal with, offer flexible services and have a great bunch of people at the end of the phone who will go to all lengths to help. Good luck […]

Lync2010 Server Updates

Some new updates recently released:   Lync2010 Server OCSMCU.msp – Lync2010 Server MediationServer.msp – Lync2010 Server.msp – Lync2010 Server OCSCore.msp – Regards Neil

Lync2010 pre-requisites

There was a requirement for us to create a document recently which listed some general Lync2010 pre-requisites. Thought it would be quite useful to others and so have pretty much copied it into this blog. enjoy…. 1.  Introduction This document aims to detail all the pre-requisites and minimum server hardware specifications for the installation of […]

Lync2010 Help and Training material

We normally add the following Help and Training site to IIS as a value-add on our Lync engagements but recently there was a requirement for a customer to have a look at the material before we were engaged. As such I published the site so they could have a look externally without having to bother […]

Lync2010 Enterprise Voice configuration tool

Came across this handy utility the other day and whilst I still prefer to use my own scripts this tool is really useful for getting all the normalisation rules and routes etc. configured quickly. Have a go and see what you think. Good luck. NeilC

Exchange2010 does not like Archiving solutions that use stub files

This is most definitely worth reading for anyone that is considering implementing a stub based archiving solution against Exchange2010: Good luck NeilC

Out of Band Management console issues – SCCM

Whilst recently implementing out of band management for a customer, I had an issue whereby the out of band console would not connect to any provisioned system. The connection status transitioned between; connecting, busy, disconnected and the oobconsole.log file stated; GetAMTPowerState fail with result: 0x80072EE9 The power control options provided by OOB worked fine, – however […]

User Security Rights – Virtual/Physical Packages

A customer recently wanted to create a security right in Configuration Manager that allowed a user to create packages; both physical and virtual whilst restricting access to the other components in the console. At first glance this seems a fairly trivial task – create a group and add it as an user security right in SCCM, then […]

Exchange 2010 SP1 Update 4 recall details

An interesting read from the General Manager of the Exchange Team at MS:   The Exchange Sustained Engineering team recently made the decision to recall the June 22, 2011 release of Exchange 2010 SP1 Rollup 4. This was not an action we took lightly and we understand how disruptive this was to customers. We would […]

Lync cumulative update–July 2011

Microsoft have released a new CU for Lync Server and client as of July 23rd 2011. Links as per below: Server: Client:    Good luck NeilC

Operations Manager 2012 Beta released

The first public beta of Operations Manager has been released to the internet, it can be downloaded from the following link.   Overview System Center Operations Manager 2012 provides the monitoring component of cloud and datacenter solutions, to help you manage your datacenter and cloud environments by: Delivering flexible and cost effective enterprise-class monitoring […]

USMT Migration Outlook 2003 to Outlook 2010

Ran into this issue when launching Outlook 2010 after a USMT migration. Cannot open your default e-mail folders. The attempt to logon to Microsoft Exchange has failed. The scenario is a  Windows XP SP3 with Office 2003, to Windows 7 SP1 with Office 2010 RTM migration. User State Migration Toolkit (USMT) 4.0 was used to […]

Exchange 2010 Auto Attendant not forwarding calls to extensions

Had an issue at a customer whereby the AA would not forward key mappings to an extension number although it would work if you browsed the directory on the AA and entered it there… annoying. Found this really useful blog which saved me some valuable time so thought I would re-blog it. Thanks NeilC

Exchange and Lync continually prompting for a restart during setup

I have come across a number of issues recently where when installing Lync or Exchange on a virtual server it has continually prompted for restarts. In Lync this has always been at the point that the SQL database is installed for SE; it usually restarts then picks up the install and continues but in this […]

Bitlocker, Windows 7 and SCCM Task Sequences

I had the following scenario, Windows 7 Enterprise deployment enabling BitLocker with TPM and PIN and Dell Latitude laptop hardware.   The companies business requirement was to encrypt laptops, the cost of this could be reduced by implementing Windows 7 Enterprise edition.   The following is a high level list of the components that need […]

Problem deploying Lync Monitoring Server Reports

Whilst running the SSRS on the Archive/ Monitoring Server I was getting the following error: an error occurred when deploying monitoring server reports. an underlying connection was closed. an unexpected error occurred on send   The fix for me was to remove all binding from the Web Services URL and Report Manager URL in the […]

Exchange 2010 MCM videos

A few official videos have been produced by the Exchange MCM team, well worth a look if you’re considering attending (which you should because it rocks): Detail from Bojan on his thoughts heading into the MCM: Video featuring a number of instructors for the programme (& a view of the classroom – where you’ll […]

PowerShell to assign permissions to home directories

I have a situation where user data is migrating from one forest to another and there is a need to set permissions on folders which will form home ‘drives’ for users. The users’ home directory names match their SAM account names, I have written a simple PowerShell script to assign full control NTFS permissions to […]

DCDiag functionality

DCDiag is one of those tools which is generally only used when things are going wrong, it can be very handy in finding directory services issues (which can manifest themselves in all kinds of ways….) Ned Pyle on the Directory Services team blog has written a brilliant post on this tool & what the various […]

RSS, Chimney & NetDMA

Hi,   I was recently on a call with some Exchange peers & we were fortunate enough to have a guest appearance from Tod Edwards from the Windows Server team at Microsoft. He attended to provide some background & recommendations to making the above technologies work successfully with Windows Server and why they should be […]

Lync2010 UM integration failing with Exchange 2010

During a migration from OCS R2 to Lync I started having a problem when testing UM access to voicemail; displayed an error on call or redirect and disconnected. Ran some tracing and the following error was flagged in the diagnostics field: MS-client-diagnostics: 52059;reason=”Invalid SDP in response” Turns out this is caused by the VoIP Security […]

Error when attempting to merge OCS to Lync Topology

When attempting to merge the existing OCS estate into Lync I get the following error: 2011-03-14 17:25:46 INFORMATION :  User input file path: "C:\Users\risual\AppData\Local\Temp\TopologyBuilder\2011_03_14_17_25_44\MergeTopologyInput.xml" 2011-03-14 17:25:46 ERROR :  Total number of validation errors: "1" 2011-03-14 17:25:46 ERROR :  Topology error description: "There was a problem validating the topology XML against the XSD that defines the […]

Lync Client for Windows Phone 7

Finally… some information about the Lync Client for Windows 7 mobile. Stumbled across this blog earlier and thought it was well worth passing on as information about the development of the client has been… well, thin. Neil

Lync soak test is 100% successful

I was forwarded an article by one of the Directors yesterday and it makes for really interesting reading. A concern often raised around Lync is how can such a new product be stable enough to operate as your sole phone system. Normally I would say that the product has been years in the making, developing […]

Script to normalise a users AD phone number into Lync LineURI

Found this really useful and time saving PowerShell script for extracting a users phone number from Active Directory and then adding it as a normalised LineURI to their Lync account – how cool is that. Save me regurgitating it all: Regards NeilC

Customising Windows XP Reference images in SCCM with Unattend.txt

My preferred method when creating images is to build the machine in a virtual environment using a fully automated build and capture task sequence in SCCM or MDT. This makes the images consistent, repeatable and reliable which are all good, things to consider if you think ahead are the settings which can be applied, these […]

Lync Powershell Cmdlet

Came across the following TechNet article which lists all the current Lync Powershell cmdlets along with a description of what they do. NeilC

Lync–Secondary Pools

Just came across this really interesting and useful article on using secondary pools for Lync resilience and the best way of getting clients to pick up the secondary pool in the event of failure. Happy reading. NeilC

Creating collections in SCCM based on Active Directory OU Membership

To create a collection like this we need to setup a collection based on a query, the attributes that we will use will be.. Attribute Class: System Resource Attribute: System OU Name The Operator can be set to : is equal to Values should be available when you click the value button. If the values […]

Office 2010 MAK Activation

To activate Office at installation time can be the preferred method when installing operating system via SCCM in a production environment. You would expect this to be an option in the Office Customisation Tool but after much searching you may find that it doesn’t appear as a listed item.     You need to add […]

Installing KB977384 in an SCCM Task Sequence

With R3 being the latest feature pack to be released and the first to be labelled R3 in Microsoft’s history, along with functional improvements it brings its own challenges. You can roll out the hotfix to existing agents via the standard software distribution method, however I like to deploy my SCCM Clients in my task […]

SMS SRS web service is not running on SRS Reporting point server "SCCMServer".

SCCM is supported to run on Windows 2008 R2 and SQL 2008 R2 (The latest and greatest) but if you have installed SRS and enabled the ConfigMgr Reporting Services Point you will be presented with a reoccurring error in the Site System and Component Status for this role. Message ID: 7403 Component: SMS_SRS_REPORTING_POINT Description: SMS […]

Speed dial entry to Lync Conference Calls

Found this useful looking article detailing a handy way of getting entry to a Lync Conference Call via a mobile when you are out and about using a saved speed-dial system. Thanks to the guys at the Lync Team for this one. Ever been stuck in traffic in your car, late for a meeting you […]

IP Update failure on UAG array

Recently I had to undertake an IP change on a UAG array, after having made the IP change on the interfaces on both servers in my array I needed to update the portal configuration within UAG to bind it to the new IP address, annoyingly only one of the two nodes was showing the correct […]

Exchange CAS & NLB

This is something which I’m really pleased to see Microsoft talking about, whilst technically supported using NLB for CAS it’s a bad solution, some of the reasons being: It doesn’t scale well It isn’t service aware (if the NLB service is running on the target server it will get its share of client requests regardless […]

Support for NLB on Teamed / VLAN Tagged NICs

I didn’t think we’d ever see this!  Ori on the Forefront TMG product blog has announced Update 2 for TMG SP1, which includes support for NLB with teamed or VLAN Tagged NICs.  The blog entry is here: & the update itself here: Rob

Microsoft Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer

I was onsite the other day in need of testing an ActiveSync connection at which point I remembered about this great tool: It can be used to test ActiveSync, Exchange Web Services (EWS), Outlook Connectivity (Anywhere and Autodiscover) and basic email sending/ receiving. A really useful tool which saves time faffing about having to […]

Server 2008r2 Static Routes

I ran into this one in the wild today – as has Neil C, adding routes using route add under server 2008r2 seems to give some inconsistent results – using netsh does the job nicely, there’s a nice write up of the commands here: Rob

Calculating bandwidth requirements for Exchange users

This seems to be a bit of a black art – however Microsoft have published guidance for BPOS / Office 365, which is ideal for calculating your own numbers:  Rob

Lync call detail information

Just required this detail for a customer so thought that you may all find it as useful as I (taken from MS detail).   Some information on call details: When planning for media bandwidth usage per scenario, use the following tables, which describe the average amount of bandwidth used per media type. Audio/Video Capacity Planning, […]

Lync and MSN audio calls

You may or may not be aware but with Lync Federation to MSN enabled and a remote contact using MSN 2011 you can now do audio calls – this could be a useful feature if you have users on MAC’s as I believe they have to use the MSN client (I haven’t tested this however). […]

Lync-Ready Voice Partner with Microsoft Unified Communications

Good news!!! Risual has completed the Lync TRP program and we have now been certified by Microsoft as a ‘Lync-Ready Voice Partner with Microsoft Unified Communications’. This means that Risual are again ahead of the curve with regards to gaining certification on the latest and greatest Communications product pre-general release (Lync RTM Virtual Launch – […]

Routing Group auto forward/ transfer of calls failing on Lync

We recently removed the OCS R2 Mediation Server from our Lync environment which was the last little bit of backward compatibility kit we had in. Everything worked pretty well after I had configured the gateway to route calls to the new Lync Mediation Server and visa-versa. One problem that did cause me a significant head-ache […]

Running Exchange 2010 scripts from Task Scheduler

Linked to my previous post around mailbox exports I had a need to run a mailbox export from a scheduled task (as it was going to take several days and my session would be reset if left idle for too long), so a scheduled task felt like a good solution, setup a scheduled task & […]

Changes in Exchange 2010 SP1 Mailbox export / import process

With the arrival of Exchange 2010 SP1 the process around mailbox import and export, along with the requirements around it have changed significantly (for the better).  Under Exchange 2010 RTM the export import process required Outlook 2010 x64 to be installed on the mailbox server where the export was taking place, there were several issues […]

Microsoft Certified Master: Exchange 2010

The Microsoft Certified Master Programme is borne out of what used to be known as Ranger training, a Microsoft only programme designed to equip their best technical staff with the best training available with the goal of improving the quality and configuration of Exchange deployments in the wild.  In 2008 Microsoft split the Ranger programme […]

Microsoft Lync Virtual Launch Event–17/11/10

Microsoft is doing a virtual launch of its new Lync product (OCS replacement) on 17th November. Stick it in your calendar and go here for all the details: Extract: Join us as keynote speakers Chris Capossela, Senior Vice President of the Information Worker Product Management Group at Microsoft, and Gurdeep Singh Pall, Corporate Vice […]

OCS ‘reference error ID 504 (source ID 239)’

If you try and IM a user who is using Exchange 2010 OWA with OCS integration and receive a ‘reference error ID 504’ error then don’t despair. You will probably find that the user can send IM out but you can’t reply. The resolution is to simply apply update UcmaRedist.msp on your Exchange 2010 CAS […]

Exchange 2010SP1 RPC Static ports

If you’re using a load balancer with Exchange 2010 you’ll be wanting to fix the two ports (RPC Client Access and Address book) used for Outlook connectivity (note – this is for non Outlook Anywhere connections), these ports are set on all client access servers, and the RPC Client access port on public folder servers. […]

Controlling Exchange Active Sync Device access

Many of my customers use Exchange Active Sync (EAS) to provide user’s access to their mailboxes whilst they’re on the move, as someone who is field based it’s invaluable, alongside this device policies are generally implemented to enforce a PIN code, encrypt the data on the device etc… The main issue with the above is […]

Using PowerShell to add windows features on Windows 7

On server 2008r2 you can do import-module servermanager & then add-windowsfeature to configure features etc.. from PowerShell, this doesn’t exist out of the box on 7, however if you install this: you have an equivalent set of modules 🙂   Handy eh!   Rob

Problems removing first Exchange 2003 Server

Recently had a problem un-installing the first Exchange 2003 Server in the organisation even after moving off all the Users, Offline Address Book, removing the RUS etc. etc. “One or more users currently use this mailbox store. These users must be moved to a different mailbox store or be mail disabled before deleting this store”. […]

Installing Proliant Support Pack to DL385 G1 running Windows 2008 R2

We came across an issue recently where-by we had a DL385 G1 running Windows 2008 R2. As this OS is not on the supported matrix for this Server it means that there isn’t a PSP for it and therefore no monitoring for us. If you run the setup you will received a ‘Failed Dependencies’ alert […]

PowerShell string manipulation

Whilst trying to automate some reporting automation and analysis , I overcome a requirement to reformat a csv ( loosest sense of the term) so that PowerShell will process it.  The following is a useful demonstration of how to manipulate text data and reformat it, also the use of regex (Regular Expression) in PowerShell to […]

URL Rewrite module for IIS7

As part of a larger project I’ve been involved with which uses an IIS7 web application (I’ve been helping the client with their infrastructure and integrating the application with AD) we hit an issue where some 3rd party pieces of code were using absolute links *tut tut*! rather than relative ones, this had the side […]

Windows 2008 R2 activation problem ( 0x8004FE2F , 0x8007232B on x64 servers)

Like the 100’s of times before,  you install Windows 2008 R2 on to a server , try activating it ,and get the error :- 0x8007232B – DNS name does not exist then you remember to set the proxy settings.. you open internet explorer and change the proxy settings , you can now browse the internet, […]

Archiving Event Logs

As part of a recent engagement I was asked to implement a solution to automatically export & archive System and Security logs from servers to a central location, the requirements were: Nightly time stamped archive of Security and System event logs to a central location Clear the local log once the archive has been successfully […]

Windows could not apply unattended settings during pass (null).

When trying to deploy a Windows 7 image from WDS I was confronted by the above error. The error occurred whilst trying to deploy different Windows 7 images to different computers and laptops. After routing through log files and the internet I was starting to get a little frustrated. At this point I thought that […]

CWA 0-1-492

I recently hit a problem with CWA being published behind TMG, CWA was accessible internally from a terminal server but would throw the above error when login was attempted via TMG’s reverse proxy.  The solution (for me – there is a fair bit written about this involving SPNs which were not the issue in this […]

Migrating from ISA to TMG

Richard Hicks has a great blog entry on this at so I won’t go into detail on the overall process. However, there are a couple of gotchas to be aware of, although these aren’t anything to do with TMG itself. First, as you are probably moving from Server 2003 to Server 2008, the number […]

Securing a Windows Server

Just a quick one, there are two great (free!) tools from MS for taking your default server install and securing it. The first, SCW, is installed by default on all servers – run the tool and it will walk you through the process of identifying which roles and features have been installed and then produce […]