April 2005 - Posts
When developing an MPF Named Procedure that includes ANY type of deletion action in it, make sure to put the actual delete action at the end. This is true for all standard MPF providers (Active Directory, Exchange, File System, IIS, etc.). This is because there is no way to roll back or compensate for a deleted action. Thus, during a provisioning request/transaction, if there are a number of steps being performed (such as update database, update user, delete IIS site) you should make the deletion action as the last possible action.
The reason for this is due to the uniqueness of objects. Let's say you deleted a user object in Active Directory and then wrote to a SQL Database for logging. If the logging action failed, you could recreate the same object (in practice, the Active Directory provider will not do this) with all of the same settings and group memberships. But in actuality, this will not be the "same user" as the user now has a different SID and GUID.
This is a collection of Microsoft Webcasts in various areas. This is not a complete list, but a good start.
Today, many hosters allow their customers to manage their SQL Database via SQL Enterprise Manager. This is fine, but the biggest issue is that this requires that the SQL Server is available on the public Internet. It would be great if the Architecture for SQL (for management at least) was "almost" the same as Exchange.
Have the SQL Server sit in the back end network and have a SQL Server "Proxy" server that allows the "SQL Express Manager" to connect to it via port 80 or 443 which would expose a Web Service interface. So now, end cusotmers can manager their database through the rich UI fo the SQL Express Manager, connected via a Web Service Proxy, and keep the SQL Database in the safe back-end.
As for today, there are two web based UI's to manage SQL Databases (SQL Web Administrator and ASP.NET Enterprise Manager). Neither are "Great", but each does provide many of the core functionality.
Perhaps this is there (or will be there) in the final release, but I haven't heard or seen this architecture/feature yet.
I will be speaking at HostingCon 2005 in Chicago. My session is named, "Rapid Deployment & Architecture of Microsoft Hosted Exchange".
If you're going to the HostingCon 2005 event and plan to attend the session, let me know of some areas that you'd like to see covered. I have an agenda already planned, but would be willing to make some adjustments to increase the value and impact of the session.
Here is a link to the conference schedule: http://www.hostingcon.com/attend/conf-schedule.php
If you're going to be there, let me know and perhaps I can setup a gathering to discuss MPS, Provisioning Microsoft products and technologies, or perhaps you have some suggestions.
It appears (as expected) that there are a few Hosters that are providing early access to ASP.NET 2.0 Beta 2 hosting.
Now the question is, "Is it recommended to host ASP.NET 2.0 Beta 2?" Well the answer to that comes down to risk management. Of course you could with the Go Live license (remember that the end customer has to agree to the license as well), but since it's not a final product you have to manage the risk that something may/will go wrong.
Now I have great confidence that Microsoft has done a great job with the code and testing, but let's remember that they aren't done yet otherwise it would have shipped.
So now the next question, "How should I deploy ASP.NET 2.0 Beta 2 in a hosted environment?" I don't have a good answer for that yet, but you can bet I'll be looking into this.
Here are some helpful links for your Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 pleasure:
I also found an intereresting piece of information at the following URL: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;304718
Remote Access User Extensions have been removed from the original released version of the Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools package. The Remote Access User Extensions are available if the version of the Adminpak.msi file that is included in Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is installed on your Windows XP Professional-based computer. If you have the RTM version of the Adminpak.msi file installed, you must unstall it and then install the Windows Server 2003 SP1 version.
This is also some interesting (hoster important) information found at: http://download.microsoft.com/download/d/8/5/d850add9-0a38-45bd-a0b4-fd15c6f08a39/SP1ProductOverview_120904.doc
IIS 6.0 metabase auditing—The metabase is the XML-based, hierarchical store of configuration information for Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0. The ability to audit this store allows network administrators to see which user accessed the metabase in case it becomes corrupted.
WebDAV Redirector—By Updating this behind-the-scenes program, customers can access Web-based Distributed Authoring Versioning (WebDAV) servers, such as Windows SharePoint® Services and MSN Communities, as if they were standard file servers. Moreover, this update
Security Configuration Wizard (SCW)—SCW is a wizard that configures server security based upon existing server roles. SCW asks questions about server roles and then stops all services not necessary to perform those roles. SCW will not add roles, but will configure the server around the roles it performs. Like boarding-up unused doors, this new feature helps reduce the attack surface of Windows Server 2003
More information on WebDAV Redirector:
More information on IIS Metabase Auditing (IIS 6.0):
The guidance to ALL Customers who have deployed the Windows based Hosting Solution, Hosted Exchange, and/or Hosted Messaging and Collaboration Solutions should NOT deploy Service Pack 1 thoughout the environment.
Do NOT install Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 in your production Hosted Environment as it will break certain area. There will be an updated version of these solutions with the proper workarounds and fixes to enable this scenario in the future (no official date set yet, but they're working on it hard).
We (eQuest) are building a Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 Readiness Program to assess a production environment and show where SP1 can be deployed in the environment and where it can't (and why). I'll post more details on this soon on my blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/conrad) or you'll find it soon on the eQuest website (http://www.eqinc.com)
Recommendations for Hosters on Windows Server 2003 SP1
Microsoft Corporation has released Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003. The service pack focuses on tightening security by locking down a number of operating system capabilities, and these security enhancements will help protect our hosting partners from potential viruses and malicious code threats.
Microsoft Hosting Solutions has finished component level testing of the Windows-based Hosting and Hosted Messaging and Collaboration solutions. As a result, we are recommending that hosters using either of the above solutions should not update to Service Pack 1 at this time. Rather, hosters should wait for the next scheduled release of the Windows-based Hosting Solution in June, or the September release of Hosted Messaging and Collaboration if they are hosting Exchange Server. This recommendation is based on the fact that Service Pack 1 focuses primarily on three areas, “Locking down the servers with Group Policy enforcement”, “Tightened protocol communication” and additional “diagnostic tools”. The above solutions currently address the first two of these areas; Group Policy management is implemented extensively, and protocol communication is limited to the back end servers. The solutions offer diagnostic tools through services like Microsoft Operations Manager but not at the core operating system level.
The decision to focus on our next release of the Windows-based Hosting solution (which is currently scheduled to release in June) will give our hosting partners the opportunity to finish testing Service Pack 1 in their environments. This release will fully support Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003. Our next release scheduled for September of Hosted Messaging and Collaboration aligns with the release of Service Pack 2 for Exchange Server and will include support for Service Pack 1 for Windows 2003.
Here is some helpful links on Windows 2003 SP1:
It appears that Exchange is NOT supported on a virtualized platform. Using VMWare or Microsoft Virtual Server is a great way to deploy Exchange in a Proof of Concept, development, or testing is a great scenario for saving boxes, but it’s not a supported scenario in production as noted in the Microsoft Support article below.