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Unmanaged devices can kill your Exchange environment: Here's how to prevent it

By Thomas Strasser, Worldwide Chief Engineer, Messaging and Collaboration, HP Technology Services Networking

 

Recently I was working with a company where an issue with the Apple iOS platform occurred whereby an automatic update to both corporately and privately owned devices caused major problems for the Exchange infrastructure to which they were connected. The problem centered on an issue related to iOS 6.1. The device repeated multiple meeting requests, causing the Exchange transaction log to grow well beyond the limits for which it was designed. This can have serious consequences, and is to some extent beyond the control of the administrators.

 

This raises a very interesting question around “how to control the BYOD approach”. In my opinion we cannot ignore what’s going on around BYOD, and not just Apple devices. Since CEOs, VPs and many others in most organizations love the experience they get from their shiny devices, it’s not possible to simply block misbehaving platforms. But is it worth the risk of putting your Enterprise Messaging infrastructure into an unstable position because of a few hundred non-standard, unmanaged devices?

 

Fact is, we are experiencing a growing demand to cover such challenges and supply a rich service portfolio similar to the one which people are used to having in the consumer space. Let’s understand the implications and opportunities here. Think about your BYOD strategy, and spend some energy on ways to protect your messaging environment by controlling the mobile devices which connect to it.

 

An acceptable but hard way to do that is by leveraging the Allow/Block/Quarantine (ABQ) list within Exchange 2010/2013. This feature allows companies to better control Exchange ActiveSync enabled devices and can allow only preselected devices to connect to their messaging infrastructure. Microsoft did the right thing to enable such granular control but didn’t make it easy for administrators. So when an admin sees Event Log entries as Exchange runs into issues there is no simple, or even well-defined, way to take the appropriate actions. This could be a reason why the majority of customers don’t use ABQ policies, even though they can be powerful tools.

 

My advice on this is, get familiar with tools like Log Parser for monitoring and identifying device details. Use these later for your self-defined access rules in your Exchange organization. Log parser is a free, powerful tool from Microsoft that provides universal query access to text-based data such as log files, XML files and CSV files, as well as key data sources on the Windows operating system such as the Event Logs.

 

Or maybe come to HP and let an experienced messaging consultant do it on your behalf.

 

The aim of the HP TS Network Consulting Services portfolio is to create solutions for customer business problems, rather than just pure technology issues. Part of this portfolio of services deals with messaging, as a subset of our mobility services offering. With one of our key messaging services – “Design and Deployment Services for Exchange 2013” – we cover:

 

  • Lightweight control of mobile devices, including BYOD
  • High Availability
  • Compliance
  • Private Cloud

 Learn more about how HP Network Consulting Services can help you connect your enterprise to a flexible and optimized network.

 

Thomas Strasser 2.jpgThomas Strasser has over 25 years of professional experience specializing in delivering Unified Communication and Collaboration, Infrastructure Migration services. He leads the WW HP-TS community of Messaging and Collaboration technologists, establishing trusted advisor relationships with key customers (public sector and commercial) and applying new and emerging solutions designed to solve critical customer messaging issues and improve communication strategies. He is a Microsoft Certified Master: Exchange, and a Microsoft Certified Architect: Messaging.

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