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Just can't get enough of IT

This blog is about mostly anything in IT. But the primary focuses are Microsoft Technologies like Exchange, Office 365, Azure and Cloud Security.
On September 29, 2017
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This is a map of the current datacenter footprint of Exchange Online, as presented during Microsoft Igite 2017 in Orlando.

Exchange Online Footprint

There is a difference between Exchange Online datacenters hosting mailboxes and front door endpoint datacenters. Front door endpoints are public peering locations providing client connections with higher reliability and lower latency.

 

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Microsoft Ignite 2017It's going to be an interesting week next week at Microsoft Ignite in Orlando, FL.

There will be a lot announcements about Microsoft Technologies to come. 

The conference is the best opportunity to learn about new technologies and to extend your IT professional network.

If you want to talk about OneDrive for Business, Exchange On-Premises and Exchange Online solutions, or how you can move to cloud service contact me by email or Twitter to schedule a meeting.

See you in Orlando.

 

 

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This blog post focusses on an issue where your Exchange Online users are not able to send emails to other Exchange Online recipients outside of your organization when using a 3rd Party Centralized Email Flow Setup. The term 3rd Party Centralized Email Flow Setup describes a solution where you not follow the preferred hybrid architecture proposed by the Exchange product group, but use a 3rd party software as a centralized email gateway.

Problem

You have followed the recommendation to secure the Exchange Online inbound connector for your on-premises email servers by using a certificate name or the remote IP address of your on-premises email gateway.

Assumption

The on-premises email security gateway utilizes a self-signed certificate to secure TLS connections. The gateway is configured to use two different send connector setups:

  • Internet Connector
    Use receipients domain MX records
    Use self-signed certificate
    Target address space: *
     
  • Office 365 Connector
    Use tenant.mail.protection.outlook.com to route internal email messages
    Use self-signed certificate
    Target address space: tenant.mail.onmicrosoft.com

In this case Exchange Online Protection (EOP) will not be able to differentiate between tenant internal inbound mail flow and mail flow targeted to other tenants. Therefore, email messages sent from your Exchange Online users to recipients located in other Exchange Online tenants will be discarded.

Interestingly enough, this will happen silently. Your gateway solution will log a successful delivery to Exchange Online Protection. The tenant administrator of the recipient domain will not find an any information in the Exchange Online message tracking logs.

The following diagram illustrates the setup.

Broken mail flow to other Exchange Online tenants

Solution

The solution for this problem is pretty simple. Just use dedicated certificates for each connector targetting Exchange Online.

Change the Internet Connector to fully trusted 3rd party certificate. In this case you are not required to modify the existing Exchange Online inbound connector setup.

The new connector configurations are:

  • Internet Connector
    Use receipients domain MX records
    Use 3rd party certificate
    Target address space: *
     
  • Office 365 Connector
    Use tenant.mail.protection.outlook.com to route internal email messages
    Use self-signed certificate
    Target address space: tenant.mail.onmicrosoft.com

The following diagram illustrates the new setup:

Workign mail flow to other Exchange Online tenants

 

Links

Enjoy!

 

 

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Updated 2017-04-02

Exchange Speech AssistantAs an Exchange administrator you normally perform tasks by executing PowerShell scripts. Some of these scripts are executed automatically, some are run manually as these scripts require more attention.

Think about a completely different approach. Have you ever thought about administrating Exchange Server or your Exchange Online instance using your voice?

Thanks to Alexa skills we can do something like

"Alexa, ask Exchange Assistant to create a new mailbox for John Doe"

"Alexa, is the CEO's mailbox in good shape?"

Or run something more complicated

"Alexa, start Exchange to setup 5 new Exchange servers, please"

Sounds like magic, right?

Alexa Speech Assistant SkillSolution

As a solution we use the following technologies:

  • Alexa custom skills extension for Exchange
  • Azure subscription supporting
    • Azure Web API
    • Azure Automation
  • Azure Hybrid Runbook Worker

The Azure Hybrid Runbook Worker enables you to execute PowerShell runbooks in your local infrastructure to manage local ressources.

How does it work

The solution consists of a Visual Studio Solution acting as an Alexa skill endpoint. The configured intents connect to your Azure Automation webhooks and trigger the execution of preconfigured PowerShell automation runbooks.

These runbooks can either run againt Azure resources or against your local infrastructure. Automation of your local infrastructure requires the setup of the Azure Hybrid Runbook Worker components.

The following diagram illustrates the functionality.

How does the Exchange Speech Assistant work?

Requirements

Preparation

The solution utilizes the Azure4Alexa and AlexaSkillsSet.NET projects available on Github. Currently the approach requires some manual steps and Visual Studio knowledge, as you want to deploy your own Alexa custom application. This is primarily driven due to security demands. The Hybrid Runbook Worker can access your local infrastructure. So you went to be in charge of the credentials used to access your infrastructure.

  1. Clone the Visual Studio solution from Github (https://github.com/Apoc70/ExchangeSpeechAssistant)
  2. Follow the description provided here to setup your personal Alexa developer account and to get your Azure trial subscription to host the application
  3. Publish the Visual Studio solution as an intital endpoint to setup your Alexa custom skill
    This results in a simple web page demonstrating the new Azure Web App
    Speech Assistant Azure Web App
  4. Modify the AlexaConstants.cs to use your Application Id
  5. Re-Publish the Visual Studio solution with your custom Application Id
  6. Prepare your local infrastructure for the use with Hybrid Runbook Worker
    1. Installing Hybrid Runbook Worker
    2. Create a Runbook Automation Account
      Runbook Automation Account
    3. Create a runbook for whatever action you want to execute
      Runbook Example NewVMs

Start enjoying how your administrator's can orchestrate your Exchange Server environment.

Links

Enjoy your wonderful life with Exchange :-)

Thanks for stopping by on April 1st.

 

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Last updated 2017-07-23

Exchange Server 2013Exchange Server 2016Description

This script has been developed for a custom project with the following requirements:

  • User photos are provided in rectangular format by the HR department and stored in a dedicated folder
  • User photos should be resized automatically to a square format to be suitable for
    • Active Directory thumbnailPhoto attribute (96x96 pixel)
    • Exchange user photo (648x648 pixel)
    • Intrant address book (150x150 pixel)
  • Processed photos should be moved to a processed folder
  • User logon names are used as user photo file names

The script utilizes a self developed C# command line tool, which has been published as open source at Github. The ResizeImage Wiki explains the usage of the command line tool. The application's configuration controls the target size and an optional pixel based offset.

Maybe the script will be useful in your project as well.

Requirements

  • ResizeImage.exe command line tool
  • GlobalFunctions PowerShell module as desribed here
  • Exchange Server 2013+ Management Shell (EMS) for storing user photos in on-premises mailboxes
  • Exchange Online Management Shell for storing user photos in cloud mailboxes
  • Write access to thumbnailPhoto attribute in Active Directory

Examples

The code samples utilize the following folder structure:

  • D:\UserPhotos
    • SOURCE
      Contains all .JPG user photos with file names matching the user logon names
    • AD
      Target folder for tumbnailPicture photos (96 x 96 px)
      • ResizeImage.exe
      • ResizeImage.exe.config (local configuration for Active Directory photos)
    • EXCHANGE
      Target folder for Exchange mailbox user photos (646 x 648 px)
      • ResizeImage.exe
      • ResizeImage.exe.config (local configuration for Exchange mailbox photos)
    • INTRANET
      Target folder for Intranet address book user photos (150 x 150 px)
      • ResizeImage.exe
      • ResizeImage.exe.config (local configuration for Intranet photos)

 

Code Samples

# EXAMPLE
# Resize photos stored in the default PictureSource folder for Exchange On-Premises (648x648) and write images to user mailboxes
.\Set-UserPictures.ps1 -ExchangeOnPrem   

# EXAMPLE
# Resize photos stored on a SRV01 share for Exchange Online and save resized photos on a SRV02 share
.\Set-UserPictures.ps1 -ExchangeOnline -PictureSource '\\SRV01\HRShare\Photos' -TargetPathExchange '\\SRV02\ExScripts\Photos'

 # EXAMPLE
 # Resize photos stored in the default PictureSource folder for Active Directory (96x96) and write images to user thumbnailPhoto attribute
 .\Set-UserPictures.ps1 -ActiveDirectory

# EXAMPLE
# Resize photos stored in the default PictureSource folder for Intranet (150x150)
.\Set-UserPictures.ps1 -Intranet

Version History

  • 1.0, Initial community release
  • 1.1, Exchange Online support added

Links

Follow

 

 

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