Archive for the 'Microsoft Exchange' Category

Exchange 2003 and Daylight Savings Time Fracas

For those of you who don’t know, the U.S. Congress enacted a law in 2005 that changes the start and end time of Daylight Savings Time (DST) in the U.S. effective this year.

There’s a huge body of knowledge of what technologies this affects, and many (if not all) technology companies are scrambling to certify their applications and products as DST 2007 compliant.

At Wharton Computing, we’ve been struggling with the ramifications of the DST 2007 update, especially around user calendars/appointments/meetings on our Exchange 2003 Mailbox servers.

Last night, we finally (it’s been available for nearly three weeks) applied the Exchange-specific DST update to our mailbox and Outlook Web Access (Webmail) servers, after our Technical Account Manager urged us to wait until more substantial documentation as well as Outlook and Exchange specific “Time Zone Update Tools” were available.

That’s the only the first (and probably the easiest) step. We still have to run a process that goes through each mailbox and updates every affected entry on every mailbox we care about. Oh, and we have to test everything, too, before doing it.

Thankfully, the MS Exchange Team blogged step-by-step instructions on how to use the Exchange TZ Update Tool. These instructions drastically simplified the previously extant instructions from MS Support…well, maybe not simplified, but sure made it clearer!

There are a couple of missing pieces, though.

  1. The KB article includes a script to add mailbox permissions for a user, which are required when updating user calendars from the “server-side”. The script uses an obscure LDAP attribute of the user object (legacyExchangeDN) in order to populate these permissions. I don’t understand why we couldn’t just feed it a list of email addresses or usernames!!! There’s no easy way to output this attribute for each user, unless you have mad Perl skillz like Dave. With his help, we were able to pull the legacyExchangeDN attribute we needed to run the permissions script.  You can grab this script here.
  2. This script can *only* be run on a computer that has the Exchange System Manager installed.
  3. The Exchange TZ Update Tool *cannot* be run on a computer that has the Exchange System Manager installed.
  4. The Exchange TZ Update Tool can take *days* to complete in a larger environment. (this is well documented, but had to throw it in here as a pain-point)

Are you confused yet? Wait’ll you see the results of our tests after running the TZ Update tool.

  1. Recurring appointment that spans the new DST Period made from OWA
    1. Unchanged in Outlook
    2. Unchanged in OWA
  2. Single appointment during the new DST Period made from OWA
    1. Moved back one hour in Outlook
    2. Moved back one hour in OWA
  3. Single appointment during the DST Period made from Outlook 2007
    1. Unchanged in Outlook
    2. Unchanged in OWA
  4. Recurring appointment that spans the new DST made from Outlook 2007
    1. Unchanged in Outlook
    2. Unchanged in OWA
  5. Multiple executions of the TZ Update do not change the above. 

Number 2 gives me great consternation. I had assumed that the DST fix would “tag” these calendar items with the right timezone, and thus display correctly across all clients? I guess it’s only saving grace is that it’s consistent. All single appointments made during the new DST Period from OWA are moved back an hour.

Where does that leave us? In a befuddling morass, surely.

We still have to test Outlook 2003 in the above scenario, as well as the Outlook TZ Update Tool. We still have to figure out whether or not to run the Exchange TZ Update tool and just universally update everyone’s mailbox on every Exchange server we run. Do we update Students? How about Faculty? What do we do with Resource Accounts? What happens when a user runs the Outlooks TZ tool while we’re running the Exchange TZ tool? How can we possibly recover from either operation if something goes wrong?

Those questions are going to keep us on our toes for the next week or so. I hope, in the end, we come out the winner, and that everyone in Congress who voted for this gets an itchy rash.

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