August 12, 2013
Over the past year you have seen us integrate our suite of communication applications under a single interface in the ExchangeDefender family. We’re making Exchange, ExchangeDefender Antispam, LocalCloud, Web File Sharing, Encryption, Compliance Archiving and Reporting, Web Filtering and even Shockey Monkey come under a single beautiful and seamless user interface. Our clients live inside of an interface that helps them communicate with each other, customers, vendors and outside partners and having bits and pieces of the functionality spread across many platforms is just not an optimal experience anymore.
On September 12th we will be unveiling changes to our reporting, unifying the control panels and creating a full seamless experience across all of our applications. We are extending the experience to the mobile and Outlook plugins so that you can get access to the same information no matter what sort of device or location you are in. It’s what we are working towards.
Email SPAM Quarantine Reports
To understand the necessary changes it’s important to note how ancient some of these ideas are:
When I originally designed email SPAM reports people didn’t live inside of Outlook. There were no iPads or iPhones and the smartest portable device was the 3com Palm Pilot V. Originally the only problem I had was making sure that technically inept people had a seamless way of seeing the junk mail that we quarantined.
We will first unveil the consolidated SPAM Quarantine reports. Email reports were the first technology that gave users insight into what ExchangeDefender was quarantining as SPAM but over time they have not been able to keep up with the more efficient, realtime, searchable and managed reporting we have available on our web site, Outlook plugins, desktop agents, mobile software and so on. While many have moved on from the legacy email reports platform, many have kept the old email reports running in parallel with the new software and for the most part those reports get ignored and just contribute to wasted space and bandwidth for the user.
We have changed the behavior and style of email reports to address this problem. If a user does not review their SPAM reports (doesn’t click on anything) for over 30 consecutive days, the mail reports will continue to flow but will not include the usual full quarantine message listing. They will instead be presented with a link to their ExchangeDefender web control panel where with one click they will have full access to the realtime SPAM data with the ability to read, respond and release messages, manage whitelists and settings.
But Vlad, my clients need access to this it’s the most important part of your solution!
I understand. The email reports are not going away for people that actually use them. But if they don’t use the email report to release a single message in more than 30 days… Let’s face it, they aren’t using them. And if they are only using them to look at stuff then the more optimal experience is through the Outlook Addin or the desktop agent. If we’re mistaken – go ahead and reenable their full reports – but if another 30 days goes without a single message release/whitelist, it will be reset to consolidated message.
We believe this change will address the complaints frequently raised by our clients and our partners about the wasted storage and mailbox resources that go towards SPAM reports that nobody opens. Even worse, users at times look at a SPAM report that is weeks old and attempt to locate SPAM messages that are long gone.
With the new SPAM reports they will have a convenient and quick way to access SPAM quarantines and settings. Furthermore, the system will automatically track their usage and adjust the SPAM reports from Full to Consolidated to make sure we aren’t slowing their experience down. Of course, if at any time the users feel they need more detailed access to the SPAM quarantines we urge our partners to install the Outlook addin or Windows Desktop addin or configure links to the control panel or HTML5 mobile app to give the user full and realtime control over their mail.
In October we will be beta testing native apps for ExchangeDefender as well so I hope we can continue to expand the solution portfolio to our clients both in a way that is meaningful and with the times.
Vlad Mazek, MCSE
CEO, Own Web Now Corp
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July 18, 2013
This past week we published updates to our ExchangeDefender Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010 and Desktop application. We collected information that was submitted throughout bug/feature section inside of our support portal. We’ve cleaned it up and implemented the features you’ve been asking for:
Below is a list of bugs/features that we have addressed.
· Upon attempting to shut down the computer, the application would hang and prevent the system from shutting down.
o This issue has been resolved. The application will now terminate correctly upon system shutdown or application exit.
o These were not being displayed correctly under the appropriate section.
o There was also an issue preventing some subjects/senders from being shown.
· Releasing Messages
o All issues regarding the release of messages have been fixed.
· Some users complained about the 2007 version now loading.
o This issue has been resolved.
· Application icons / installation banner.
o The icons and installation banners have been updated to our standard ExchangeDefender images.
Remember, the download center for all ExchangeDefender software is available on our web site by clicking on Documentation > Downloads.
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April 11, 2012
Today is a very exciting day for our Hosted Exchange team as we have finally approved the use of Address Book Policies in our provisioning process (Introduced in Exchange 2010 SP2).
Address Book Policies
Address Book Policies allow Exchange Administrators to easily assign and separate address lists for clients so that clients only see objects from their organization without using ACLs or AD splicing. Prior to the approval of ABP we’ve always used ACLs to control address list segregation in our Hosted Exchange offering. In short, when a new “company” is added to Exchange, we take their primary domain and group all users based on original domain. For the most part, this approach worked well. However, there were certain situations that this would not fare well. For instance, if a new company was split into two sub companies and they joined hosted Exchange then each sub company would only be able to see their own users UNLESS all mailboxes were added with the same primary domain in the order.
With Address Book Policies we now have the ability to create an overall policy for the “Company” which links the appropriate address lists and offline address books to each user. This change will allow companies to utilize multiple primary domains and still see all users in the company. By default we will still create companies as “separate” organizations, but partners can now request that domains for a company be linked together.
The change to automation will be introduced to Rockerduck and LOUIE this week and monitored for a week before rolling the change to all 2010 servers.
VP, Network Operations, ExchangeDefender
(877) 546-0316 x757
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February 13, 2012
On February 9th – February 11th 2012 the ExchangeDefender staff performed maintenance on the Rockerduck cluster in which two separate individual ‘outages’ affected client access on the late half of the evenings and early half of the following morning on February 9th -10th and February 10th-11th .
On the eve of Feb. 9th 2012 (~11:30 PM Eastern) we began upgrades on a failed/failing VPN device that is used to connect ROCKERDUCK:DAL and ROCKERDUCK:LA active directory and internal communication between sites. During the upgrade we began to notice random network related events in which communication seemed saturated and sluggish and randomly affected across the entire network. After various attempts (and configurations) to bring the new VPN router online we determined that the new VPN device was occasionally malfunctioning and flooding the network with ‘dead packets’. Unfortunately the massive flood of packets from the VPN device caused the Database Availability Group (DAG) on ROCKERDUCK to lose communication between nodes and eventually lose quorum. Once quorum was lost between nodes all databases between both sites were automatically dismounted as the DAG was considered unhealthy to Exchange. For the next few hours we worked to restore service to RD clients by replacing the failed VPN routers with our backup VPNs (new vendor) and restoring communication with Los Angeles. After communication was re-established clients were able to access their mailboxes. This outage affected all clients and lasted between the hours of midnight and roughly 3:15 AM.
On the eve of Feb. 10th (~10:30 PM Eastern) we began work to finalize the VPN communication by consolidating both VPN devices in California to the one backup vendor VPN device. The reason we elected to replace the ‘working’ VPN device in California was due to the fear of the abnormal workings of the similar VPN device in Dallas. As part of our protocol to ‘down’ a data center in Exchange hosting we paused SMTP services on Rockerduck. After replacing the VPN device in California we resumed all services (including SMTP) and mail resumed normal flow. Around 5:30 AM Eastern we started to receive alerts about back pressured queues in Rockerduck which would amount to delivery delays. Upon investigation it was discovered that the issue was mail delivery between the EDGE server network and the HUB server network on RD. After two hours of investigating the issue internally (and opening a case with Microsoft) we were able to determine that our course of action would be reapplying the SP2 update to the edge networks. Once SP2 was reapplied to all EDGE nodes mail delivery returned on ROCKERDUCK by 9:15 AM Eastern.
Finally there were about 5% of users who were left in a disconnected state through Outlook but had service through OWA (and some through active sync) between Saturday and Sunday as the database their mailboxes were housed was moved to Los Angeles for the content index database in Dallas to rebuild for RDDB9. Service was restored to these users by noon Eastern.
VP, Network Operations, ExchangeDefender
(877) 546-0316 x757
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January 18, 2012
One of the most common questions that our support team receives with Hosted Exchange is “How can my client choose which email address I want to send as?” and many partners are shocked to hear the answer “You can’t”.
The above limitation has always existed in Exchange as you can only have one “outgoing” address. Sure, you can create another profile in Outlook and send via SMTP or create a distribution group and add send-as rights..but what do you do if you’re on hosted exchange and you don’t have the freedom to control addresses and configurations at will or find it rather rudimentary?
Now you can…
For the first time (as far as I can tell for any hosting provider) partners/clients will have the ability to control their outgoing address in our Hosted Exchange.
Utilizing our API and a brand new API designed by the ExchangeDefender team for direct client Exchange interaction we now can extend the ability for clients to control their outgoing address on the fly.
The current beta product is a windows based application and will soon be converted to an Outlook 2010 plugin.
If you or your clients are interested in test driving this software please reach out to me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This only applies to rockerduck.
VP, Network Operations, ExchangeDefender
(877) 546-0316 x757
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January 3, 2012
In my previous blog entry I overviewed the failover procedure for Rockerduck and what ‘technically’ goes on in the background during a failover. This blog entry will focus more on the client experience during and after an outage.
Imagine that Jim and Kelly are both a part of “ABC Company LLC”. Jim is very hip with his new Apple laptop using Office 2011 and his iPhone 4s. Kelly still uses Windows along with Outlook 2007 and when she is out of the office she uses her Blackberry Torch connected through Blackberry Enterprise Server.
Currently, everything is working properly and all systems are operational.
If MBOX2 was to go offline, MBOX1 would take over actively hosting DB2 (Which was hosted by MBOX2). This type of failure is an inter-site failure and results in an immediate switch to the passive copies. Customers will see no downtime as long as there is a good copy of the database available.
What happens if Dallas goes offline?
As described in my previous blog entry, disastrous failures are not automatically failed over. At this point, both clients would be offline from their mailbox and unable to access, create or modify items.
However, in following my previous blog entry we would be able to activate our fail over procedure.
After 15 minutes of electing to activate our fail over procedure clients should receive the update DNS records for cas.rockerduck.exchangedefender.com to point to Los Angeles. All clients would then be able to reconnect to their mailboxes and service should resume as normal out of Los Angeles with the exception of Blackberry Enterprise Server which cannot be setup for fault tolerance in our network design.
After repairing/resolving any issues in Dallas, we would then begin to resynchronize the databases from Los Angeles to Dallas. Once all database copies are up to date we would then reconfigure DNS to point to Dallas and resume service as normal. All in all with a disastrous failure we would be able to recover from the event in 15 minutes once the recovery process is executed.
VP, Network Operations, ExchangeDefender
(877) 546-0316 x757
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December 14, 2011
Over the weekend (12/09/11 – 12/10/11) we performed critical, preemptive upgrades for Rockerduck. During our upgrade cycle we were able to increase memory resources for Mailbox servers, rebalance resource distribution on Client Access servers and add additional Mailbox servers for quorum retention and additional high availability.
Mailbox, mailbox, mailbox…
By utilizing the current mailbox server layout, we were able to increase memory in Rockerduck mailbox servers in a staggering pattern without disrupting service to clients on Rockerduck. As each mailbox server was prepared for the upgrade, we moved all active mailboxes from the server to any passive mailbox node and then blocked the mailbox server from activating any database copy. After the memory upgrades were completed we then stress tested each server for 8 hours with a memory stress test for consistency. Once the upgrades were completed on the nodes, we were being the node back into the DAG and back up to availability.
Labs vs. Real World Results
Mailbox servers were not the only servers in Rockerduck to be upgrades. Over the past two weeks we’ve been monitoring the response statistics on CAS servers with a new memory / processor configuration.
Originally when we performed initial testing / scaling Rockerduck we seen the overall lowest latency and response time for RPC and Web Services from having a fewer CAS servers with higher RAM and processor. Over time, we’ve noticed the real world utilization result of overall latency on RPC was significantly outside the scope of our original Lab results causing us to reevaluate our delivery of CAS services.
All CAS servers for Rockerduck sit behind a hardware based load balancer. Each client that connects to the load balancer gets assigned to a specific CAS node for up to 5 hours on certain services (RPC, EWS) based off of the client WAN IP. Original design for the CAS nodes was 3 nodes with 8GB of RAM and 4 Processor cores available.
Unfortunately, this “least connected” model had the potential (and sometimes did) tie larger groups of users together from different IP addresses, essentially choking the server with queued requests.
The new setup for the CAS nodes is a balance of 6GB of RAM with 3 Processor cores available. This new configuration allowed us to introduce two new CAS servers to more efficiently process requests across multiple nodes without any additional “upgrades” to the CAS roles.
During our statistical collection phase, the new configuration nodes had a 40% reduction in response time on RPC requests and Address Book requests:
Originally: 22 ms
Now: 13.2 ms
VP Network Operations, ExchangeDefender
(877) 546-0316 x757
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November 7, 2011
Last week we have made a lot of improvements across several of our products. Monday & Tuesday were bug squashing days, we went through the bugs that have been submitted via https://support.ownwebnow.com/create.asp?item=development and resolved most of the outstanding issues. Remember, if you have an important bug make sure you submit it to our development queue. The rest of the week was spent implementing our new message decryption engine across several of our platforms.
One of the most common and repeating issues was in regards to rendering issues with messages viewed at https://encryption.exchangedefender.com and SPAM previews through ExchangeDefender. While most messages would render without any problems, there were still those handful of clients who had issues with some messages. Typically this was caused by the use of different 3rd party e-mail clients that would use an unexpected RFC type or submit the data using a weird/foreign content-encoding type. This is even more prevalent in SPAM previews, because most of the time those messages are garbled or gibberish! So that makes the decryption process even more challenging!
So these last few months, we’ve been examining a new core technology to decrypt these messages and help bring more legible content to our users and their clients. With this new decryption core it handles most MIME types flawlessly and adheres to most RFC standards for messages. We ran it through several test cases where previously: “the messages was unpleasant to read” and it converted them to “a perfect rendered instant of the original message”. However, there are still the few instances where our old engine is better than the new decryption core.
That’s why we’ve implemented dual decryption core technology. This is a custom implementation that will programmatically decide which engine is best to use on a per message basis. First, it examines the message and tries to load it with the new decryption engine, while it decodes the message it makes note of any issues that have occurred upon the decryption process. If there was an issue, it will run the message through the second decryption engine and compare the results, then render the best instance of that message.
You’re going to see a lot of rapid development over the following months here at ExchangeDefender. Like I discussed in previous posts, we’ve starting to implement SOAP across several platforms and it’s really taking hold. The Compliance Archive enhancements, Decryption Engine enhancement and even planned Shockey Monkey Dynamic Callback Mechanism have all been made possible by the use of SOAP that we’ve implemented here at ExchangeDefender over the past several months.
VP Development, ExchangeDefender
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March 10, 2009
We are proud to announce an upgrade for ExchangeDefender Client Software Suite. You can read more about the software here. They are free and recommended for client interaction with ExchangeDefender service.
Bug Fixes – 03/10/2009
– Fixed an issue causing some users spam/surespam to not be displayed correctly.
– Fixed an issue where the application would Pop-up each time the application loaded.
Features – 03/10/2009
– Added an “About Form”
– Automatic version checking has been added as a feature upon viewing the about page.
There are several other minor bug fixes. If the current software is working for you there is no reason to upgrade. However, if you do experience an issue our support teams will ask you to upgrade to the latest version before working the case.
Downloads are available at www.exchangedefender.com
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May 31, 2008
The long awaited upgrades to our client software are finally out and available for download below. These updates address the issues found in the original releases that prevented the systems from rebooting in certain circumstances. This is a bugfix release only, if you’re not having problems there is no need to download them.
First up, ExchangeDefender SPAM Monitor that alerts you of SPAM waiting for you on the server:
ExchangeDefender SPAM Monitor
Second, the Shockey Monkey Server Agent software designed for Microsoft Windows (2000, XP, 2003, Vista and 2008) used to collect server inventory, logs, WMI data and intelligently feed it to Shockey Monkey for managed services and asset management:
Shockey Server Agent
Two builds are provided as .exe and .msi, you only need one. The .msi build is special because it can be used to roll out the software automatically using third party management tools.
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