Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Exoprise CloudReady Monitor for Office 365

Basic value proposition - supplements Office 365 dashboard capabilities by providing near real-time performance and point-of-access monitoring (includes alerting capabilities via email or SMS when custom defined thresholds are exceeded).

Office 365 Health Dashboard:

Exoprise Sensor Dashboard (sample):
Crowdsourcing feature is pretty interesting - Exoprise service collects (anonymously) performance data across the entire community of users (all sensors that report back to the system), trends, and lets you compare your stats against calculated crowd averages. This may highlight performance problems that are common across the entire O365 Service or something that is not O365 related at all (e.g. local ISP issue). Seems like a very useful feature.

The way performance data is collected - small (<12MB) agent in installed on a workstation (or server, or VM) at the customer's site. The agent performs synthetic transactions (like sending and receiving email, etc.) and measures response times, etc. Thus the agent will need to be configured with a valid O365 account/license (not a big deal, but potentially a small additional expense for the customer) + need to make sure the account's password is set to not expire and least privilege is configured (to avoid any inadvertent information leaks, though the agent itself is only supposed to collect performance data).

The way the service is priced is by sensor, currently the following sensors are available or planned:
  • Exchange Online
  • AD
  • ADFS
  • Azure (beta)
  • SharePoint Online (planned)
The sensor monitors one service (from the list above) at one location (agent installed). For example, if customer has 2 locations (1 main, 1 satellite) and wants to monitor Exchange Online from both, but AD and ADFS only from the main one - 4 sensors would need to be licensed.

For more information visit http://www.exoprise.com/

Friday, November 15, 2013

UAG and Windows 8.1 or IE11

Update (05/15/2014): since the release of another service pack the following information could be depreciated. Read more about UAG 2010 SP4 here  

It seems like every time there's an operating system or browser update something UAG related goes wrong, considering this is an important infrastructure component that supports remote access services this is not cool! And, unfortunately, last series of upgrades - from Windows 8 to 8.1 and from Internet Explorer 10 to 11 - weren't an exception. There were a number of issues that weren't apparent at first, for example - a connectivity issue with UAG displaying Mobile Portal access or an RDP issue when published links would disappear from the portal.

Luckily, there are workarounds for most of these issues. The final resolution should lie with UAG 2010 SP4 that was rumored to be released in Q4 (but really should have been released before Win 8.1 or IE11 if you ask me).

Things like the aforementioned connectivity issue can be resolved by simply adding UAG to the compatibility view list as outlined here - http://bit.ly/17NFGlx. I would not bother with the emulation settings, results are very inconsistent and you have to change them every time you access UAG.

So, this leads me to a more fundamental, although officially unsupported, workaround. If you had published RDP links unexpectedly disappear, this one is for you. I must say I did not come up with it myself, I just followed the breadcrumbs:
  • After some research I found the following discussion containing a lot of good information and links - http://bit.ly/1gSff8b
  • Including a link to the following workaround, which involves modifying web.config file on the UAG server - http://bit.ly/13iMXxn
  • Which looked promising, but contained a number of inconsistencies that were corrected here - http://bit.ly/1aYjxIR
  • The last article not only explains how to properly apply the workaround, but also quite correctly points to the official TechNet article on how to modify the DetectionExpression - http://bit.ly/1e8IDmX 

This is not as complicated as it may sound, just don't forget to make backups of web.config files before modifying them, in case you need to roll back; and use a good text editor, something like Notepad++, to avoid problems with Unicode/formatting.

Until UAG 2010 SP4 :)       

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Update on Office 365 Getting Started and Training Resources

I had a post on this subject before (see Office 365 Information & Resources), so this is more of a refresher and an update (cloud services is a dynamic field). So, here we go.

Often getting familiar with new technologies may seem intimidating at first, but with the right training resources at your disposal the learning curve can be smoothed out considerably. The following site has excellent Office 2013 and Office 365 end-user video and text training resources and they are well organized by the subject and type:


If you have an internal training site and would rather host all training content there, a downloadable Office 365 video training series called "Get to know Office 365" is available for download; it contains quick, introductory videos:


Additional training resources (downloadable and online) are available here: 


Also, consider signing up for the Microsoft IT Academy (an affordable training option); this will get you access to Microsoft training courses and digital MS Press books: