Alternative “Portal” Access to Office 365 Services

A great post by Sean McNeill reminding us that there are alternative methods to access Office 365 services (Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online) in the event of an outage to the primary O365 portal.

Todd (@oddytee)


Inbound Mail Flow Stops to Exchange 2013 Server

Over the past couple of weeks, I have performed a few transitions to Exchange 2013 and each have had a similar issue with inbound mail flow stopping, both oddly enough with a Barracuda spam firewall at the front end.  The issue occurs when mail flow is transitioned from a legacy server to a new Exchange 2013 server where mail flows initially but comes to a complete halt (queued on the Barracuda) after you think all is good.  When the Barracuda is repointed to the legacy server, inbound mail flow resumes its normal function.

What I have found out, in these specific scenarios, is that the default receive connector on the Exchange 2013 server(s) has to be modified.  The default receive connector has an initial limit of 2% for inbound connections from a single IP address for the MaxInboundConnectionPercentagePerSource setting and an initial setting for MaxInboundConnectionPerSource of 100 connections from a single IP address.  Unless you anticipate a very small amount of inbound email, I recommended changing one of these two settings.

To resolve the issue in both cases, I set “MaxInboundConnectionPercentagePerSource” to 100 percent on the default receive connector of the Exchange 2013 server(s).  The command you will need to run from the Exchange Management Shell (EMS) on a 2013 server is…

  • Set-ReceiveConnector -MaxInboundConnectionPercentagePerSource 100

After this change, you can restart the 2013 transport service and repoint the Barracuda to the 2013 server to resume normal mail flow.

For additional information about Exchange 2013 message throttling and receive connector settings, refer to these two TechNet articles…

I am certain there are probably alternate resolutions, therefore I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Thanks and good luck.

Todd (@oddytee)

Force Sync to Office 365 with New DirSync

On June 3, the Directory Synchronization tool was updated.  It is now known as the Windows Azure Active Directory Sync tool and is available to Office 365 customers within their portal.

The following is an update to an earlier post, “Force DirSync for Office 365“.

There might be occasion where a change in your on-premise Active Directory will need to be forcibly replicated to your Office 365 account.  Maybe it is for a new user or a change in a user attribute.  In any case, the standard scheduled sync occurs every 3 hours.  However, we have been given the tools to synchronize those changes on our terms.

From your DirSync server, open PowerShell and navigate to C:\Program Files\Windows Azure Active Directory Sync.  Then enter, .\DirSyncConfigShell.psc1.  A new PowerShell console will open.

From this console, type Start-OnlineCoexistenceSync and press enter.  This command will begin a synchronization of the changes made in the on-premise AD to Office 365.  It is the same command that is automatically scheduled to run every 3 hours.

Once the synchronization is complete, the Office 365 Users management portal will show “Last synced less than an hour ago“.  The Application log in the Event Viewer on the DirSync server will show several events.  The primary one to watch for is Directory Synchronization Event ID 114–this shows us the “Export cycle completed. Tracking id: …

Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) 2010 R2…

FIM is another way to check if the sync has completed successfully and, maybe even more importantly, check what users and attributes have been synced.  FIM is installed with DirSync.  FIM has a application know as the MIIS client that can be located in C:\Program Files\Windows Azure Active Directory Sync\SYNCBUS\Synchronization Service\UIShell.  In this folder, double-click miisclient.exe to open Forefront Synchronization Service Manager (FSSM).

From the Operations section of FSSM, we can monitor the sync process and granular changes.  In the Export Statistics section (bottom left of window) within Operations, we can see (and even double-click) the adds, updates, renames and deletes.  In the Object Details, granular information can be viewed by selecting the properties of a Distinguished Name.

by Todd Nelson (@oddytee)

Simplify OWA URL for Exchange 2010

Here are several references to simplify the URL for OWA.

Redirecting OWA URLs in Exchange 2010…

Redirect OWA Exchange 2010 & Exchange 2013 – The Cool and Easy Method…

NOTE: As of 24 Sep 2013, URL redirection for OWA in Exchange 2013 does not work with the above steps or the MS TechNet article. For simplifying the Exchange 2013 OWA, click here.

Simplify the Outlook Web App URL…

Simplify the Outlook Web Access URL…

Simplify the Outlook Web App URL…

by Todd Nelson (@oddytee)

Room Lists in Exchange 2013

Creating room lists in Exchange 2010 has developed over time into a process that is fairly easy to implement and visually see (Recipient Configuration > Distribution Group).  However, Exchange 2013 is not quite there yet.

It is true with both Exchange 2010 and 2013 you have to create a room list via EMS.

With Exchange 2010, a distribution group can be converted to a room list…

     Set-DistributionGroup -Identity “West Coast Office” -RoomList

However, with Exchange 2013 CU1 (using the same command syntax), a distribution list cannot be converted to a room list…

     Set-DistributionGroup -Identity “East Coast Office” -RoomList

This is the error receive in the 2013 EMS…

Group “domain1.local/Test/East Coast Office” can’t be converted to a room list. Room lists can only have room mailboxes or room lists as members.
“domain1.local/Exchange Users/Test-Admin” is not a room mailbox or a room list.
    + CategoryInfo          : NotSpecified: (domain1.local/Test/East Coast Office:ADObjectId) [Set-DistributionGroup], TaskInvalidOperationException
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : F25FFBB1,Microsoft.Exchange.Management.RecipientTasks.SetDistributionGroup
    + PSComputerName        : d1-ex13-01.domain1.local

In order to create a room list in Exchange 2013, we have to create a new distribution list as a room list from the very beginning.  Using EMS, we should be able to issue a command similar to the following to create our new room list…

     New-DistributionGroup -Name “East Coast Office” -OrganizationalUnit “domain1.local/Test” -RoomList

Upon successful creation, we will see that the request is completed with the details of the new room list displayed (Name, DisplayName, GroupType, PrimarySmtpAddress).

The biggest difference for me between 2010 and 2013, is that in 2010 we can see the room list (in EMC) after it has been created (or converted).  In 2013 CU1, room lists are not displayed in the EAC under Recipients > Groups–and they are nowhere to be found in the EAC.

But there is a way to confirm they have been created.  Use the following command to display all distribution groups and what type they are…

     Get-DistributionGroup | ft -auto Name, RecipientType, RecipientTypeDetails

Once we have confirmed the new room list has been created we can add members to it.

NOTE: We can only add room mailboxes (or other room lists) to room lists or we will receive an error message similar to this…

     “Only room mailbox or room list can be added into room list”

At this point, make sure you have a room mailbox to add to a room list.  Once you have identified your list of room mailboxes that will be added to your room list, use the following command to add room mailboxes as members of the room list…

     Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity “East Coast Office” -Member

Use the same syntax to add other room mailboxes to your room list.

Now that we have created a room list and assigned room mailboxes to it, scheduling conference rooms for a specific location should be easy using the Office Outlook client or Exchange 2013 OWA.

Reference(s): Scheduling Meetings with Room Finder

by Todd Nelson

On-premise Mail Flow Issue After AD FS Decommission

In my lab last week, I decommissioned AD FS and DirSync to bring Exchange back on-premise after a brief period of co-existence.  The only federated user I had for this environment was no longer able to receive mail in to the on-premise mailbox–however I could send as that user.  The inbound SMTP logs all showed the communication but no successful completion of the connection.

I confirmed the TargetAddress attribute was no longer pointing to the address.

The NDR message received looked like this…

     Delivery has failed to these recipients or distribution lists:


     A problem occurred during the delivery of this message. Microsoft Exchange will not try to redeliver this message for you. Please try resending this message later, or provide the following diagnostic text to your system administrator.

     Diagnostic information for administrators:

     Generating server: exchangeserver.domainname.local

     #< #5.4.6> #SMTP#

The local administrator account also has a mailbox and is able to receive external messages without an issue.  And when I checked this mailbox found NDR messages similar to those just below.  Luckily, I set up the administrator mailbox as the postmaster to be able to see this information…

     The following recipient(s) cannot be reached:

           User on 5/13/2013 11:09 AM

                 A configuration error in the e-mail system caused the message to bounce between two servers or to be forwarded between two recipients.  Contact your administrator.

                 <exchangeserver.domainname.local #5.4.6>

I was able to use the information above to trigger a thought, “Eventhough I removed the reference to, maybe the TargetAddress attribute is still not correct”.

That is when I noticed my mistake, I changed to to and this is the reason the mailbox would not receive emails–from external and internal senders.  The TargetAddress attribute must be cleared if you want mail to flow properly into an on-premise mailbox.  Any value that is set in this field will attempt to send the message out of the environment even when that email address is local to the environment.  Once the TargetAddress attribute was cleared to <Not Set>, mail flow resumed.

by Todd Nelson