Microsoft Exchange and Remote Desktop Services Specialists

SEMblog

Microsoft Exchange Server and
Blackberry Enterprise Server news, views and fixes.

Did Blackberry EZPass? Watch for automatic enrolment in support programme

If you took advantage of the Blackberry EZ-Pass programme earlier this year to get free licences for BES 10 and then BES 12, you should have been receiving emails asking you to renew the support. For all EZPass upgraders, support expires on Jan 31st. 

However it is easy to miss in these emails is that if you do not opt out, then you will be invoices for the renewal automatically. This could end up being very expensive. For my four licences, Blackberry were asking for over £700!

"Important information on opting out 

If you do not wish to renew your Advantage Level Technical Support, you must opt-out of the program in order to avoid being invoiced following the close of the program. Please contact BlackBerry to receive instructions regarding the opt-out process."

What are the options here? 

There are a number of options available, depending on your own needs. 

  1. Renew. 
    The price quoted is for support on all of your Silver CALS that you got for free via the EZPASS programme. They also include support, so when BES 12.1 or higher is released, then you will be able to upgrade. 
  2. Opt out and pay nothing else.
    The EZPASS programme provided Silver Perpetual CALs. Therefore if you opt out, then you will stay on the version that you have now. You will be unable to upgrade to new versions of BES for free and will not get any support. You need to contact Blackberry for the opt out. You will then get an email with a link to a web site to click on and confirm the opt out. If you have not had that email then you have not opted out.
  3. Re-Purchase the licences fresh. 
    All new licences are annual subscription, so you need to pay to renew each year. This is what I am doing. New silver licences here in the UK are £15 a year, therefore I could renew my four licences for 10 years and still save money.
    However another client was quoted the equivalent of £12 a user, so it made sense to renew. 
    Furthermore, if after 12 months they decided not to renew, then their licences are still valid, as they are perpetual. There would simply be no further support available. 
Make a decision - doing nothing is not an option. 

Remember though, I am not an employee of Blackberry and therefore the advice above is my interpretation of the licencing of BES. If you are unclear, you should speak to Blackberry Sales. 

Outlook 2010 MAPI over HTTPS Support

The hotfix for MAPI over HTTP support for Outlook 2010 has been released at last. 

Currently requiring a manual request and installation, no word on whether it will be available through any of the automated distribution methods. 


(This replaces kb2899591 released in December which was withdrawn). 

On the server, MAPI over HTTP requires Exchange 2013 SP1 (aka CU4) or higher. It is a new communication protocol for Exchange/Outlook communication which will eventually replace RPC over HTTP. 

For the client the hot fix requires Outlook 2010 SP2 to be installed. 

Lots more background on MAPI over HTTP on the Exchange team blog: http://semb.ee/mapi-http-blog

Changes to SSL Certificates

There have been a lot of changes to the way that SSL certificates are issued and the impact of those changes are now being particularly felt within the Exchange community. 

What has changed?

The CA/Browser forum (made up of the companies that issue the certificates and the browser developers who use them) decided that that all certificates issued with an expiry date after 1st November 2015 will be restricted to internet resolvable FQDN's only. 
This means that you cannot have an SSL certificate with:
- Single name hosts - such as intranet, server, exch01
- Internal only domains - such as server.example.local
- Internal IP addresses (both Ipv4 and Ipv6). 
This applies to both the common name and any additional names on the certificate. 

Furthermore, if you have a certificate that is still in force with an invalid name from the list above, then it will be revoked on 1st October 2016. 

How does this affect Exchange?

Exchange 2003 isn't really affected by this, because most people simply purchased standard single name SSL certificates. 

Exchange 2007 and later however are being impacted. 
During the early life of Exchange 2007 the advice for SSL certificates was to include both the internal and external host names of the Exchange server. This was because the default configuration of Exchange uses the server's real name and therefore did not require additional modification.

However it quickly became apparent that this wasn't the best way to deploy Exchange web services, as end users were entering the same address internally as they were externally. Split DNS was the answer there http://semb.ee/splitdns

Following the changes to the guidelines for issuing certificates, the changes to Exchange, including setup of a split DNS system is almost mandatory.
I have instructions on how to do that on my main web site at http://semb.ee/hostnames 

Going Forwards

With this change, you can now get away with just two host names on an SSL certificate for full client support:
- host.example.com
- autodiscover.example.com
With our own certificates coming with five "names" available by default, and unlimited server licence, this means you can use the other slots to secure additional services. Once the certificate has been installed on the Exchange server, export it and then import the certificate in to other servers that need it - along side the required intermediate certificate. 
If your DNS provider supports SRV records, then you can even use a standard single name SSL certificate. However mobile devices in particular seem to have some problems with the SRV autodiscover method, so if you are going to deploy mobile devices, stick with a UC (Unified Communications) type certificate. One of the cheapest sources for those is our own site CertificatesforExchange.com http://semb.ee/certs

If you have a certificate with internal names that expires after 1st October 2016, then you should get it rekeyed with the internal names removed, so the certificate is not revoked. 

What else is changing?

From April 2015, the maximum period a certificate can be issued for is being reduced to 39 months. This is to ensure that the names on certificates are checked frequently that they still belong to the original purchaser.

SHA-1 certificates are being phased out very quickly and in 2017 Microsoft will stop trusting them. However a lot of browsers will start showing warning messages on these kinds of certificates in 2016. Therefore to protect yourself, ensure that you are requesting SHA-2 certificates and have replaced any SHA-1 certificates by the end of 2015.

Action Points

What should you do about your own SSL certificates?

  1. Check whether they are SHA-1 or SHA-2. 
    To do that, browse to the SSL site, then open the SSL certificate. Click on the Details tab and then look for Signature Hash Algorithm. It should NOT say SHA1. 
    Do not confuse with Thumbprint Algorithm, which will always say SHA1, no matter the type of the certificate.
    If they are SHA1, then get them rekeyed to SHA-2. If your provider doesn't allow that, then change provider. http://semb.ee/certs

  2. Check your server configuration and start to move everything over to use the same host name internally and externally. This is easily done by setting up a split DNS system, then changing the Exchange configuration. If your certificate still contains the internal names they will continue to work until you change the SSL certificate, providing a time to educate the end users about the names to use. 
Remember if you replace a certificate before it has expired, revoke the old one. This will often happen automatically when you get a certificate rekeyed, but it does no harm to do that yourself anyway. 

Net Framework 3.5 Installation errors Windows 2012/2012 R2

Recently tried to install Net Framework 3.5 on to an existing server which had been in production for a few months. 
Constantly failing with an error about being unable to find the source files, even though it was using an ISO which was used to build this and many other servers in the past. 

Clutching at straws, discovered that the server had a Windows Update installed, released in September 2014 for Net Framework 3.5, even though it wasn't installed. Some research on the internet indicated that it was one of these three:

KB2966826
KB2966827
KB2966828

Removing the update then attempting the installation again was successful. 

Once Net Framework had been installed, I ran Windows Update to reinstall the update I removed, plus numerous others that were required for Net Framework. 

Exchange 2010 Service Pack 2 End of Life

Completely forgot to mention last week that as well as Exchange 2003 going end of life, so did Exchange 2010 Service Pack 2. Therefore to continue to receive updates and support for Exchange 2010, you need to be on Exchange 2010 Service Pack 3. 

This follows Exchange 2010 RTM going end of life in October 2011 and Service Pack one in January 2013.

You can see the full list of Microsoft Exchange end of support dates on the Microsoft Lifecycle web site. http://semb.ee/enddates