Yes, after years of development (since around 2009) and a little late for the mid-Feb 2011 release date – I am finally (and very proudly) in the position to announce the RTP (release to public) version of OOOCTA 3.5 (Out of Office Configuration Tool Assistant).
I had planned to release the tool in Feb 2011 – but, being honest – it just wasn’t ready and I wanted to ensure that the product that I put out reflected the amount of time that I had put into it – and of course ensure that it really did what it said on the tin.
Anyhow – 6000 lines of code later, 30 minutes of video, 44 pages of Installation manual, a very annoyed wife, a child whom just about recognises me and a blog entry later – the OOOCTA 35 is here!
Right from the offset I will be honest – the product is probably not perfect (but please bear in mind that it is free and I work, have a famo etc, etc)– but, I am hoping that with feedback from the readers of the site I can improve the tool over the coming months – however after extensive personal testing I believe that it is ready to be released to the wider Exchange community to those whom are interested.
In this article I would like to give you access to the installation media, take you through how to install the tool (using video guides), basic configuration of the tool (again in video) and how you can get straight to setting the OOF status for users within your environments.
How it works
You might be thinking –well how does this tool work? – It has been well publicised that the EWS 1.1 API library does not allow for modifications to the OOF status of users unless you are the mailbox owner (as it is one of the areas of the API that does not allow for impersonation) – so how did I do it?
Well I guess I cheated to a certain extent as I designed the tools around a two tier system of operation:
- The OOOCTA Interface – based around ASP.NET
- The OOOCTA Command Processor Service – written in C#
The two tiers above share a common SQL database – OOOCTA admins add in the information via the OOOCTA interface into the shared SQL database, where the OOOCTA Command Processor Service takes that information and applies it to the mailbox specified.
The OOOCTA Processor service will take the information from the database and, using an inbuilt Powershell based command engine will apply owner permissions to the selected mailbox (this will be the service account that the OOOCTA service runs under) – and then changes the OOF settings on the mailbox (via EWS 1.1), then removes the permissions that have been applied after processing.
Now I know that there are some people out there whom will be quite worried about the security implications of this (quite rightly), however I would be quick to point out that if you run products such as Symantec Enterprise Vault – or – Blackberry Enterprise server you in essence have a service account which permanently has full mailbox permissions – whereas with the OOOCTA – the service account only has permissions on the mailbox during the OOF setting process – I believe that this is a reasonable trade off given the limitations of the EWS at this point in time.
Windows Management Server
- Windows 2003 x64 (all editions) with Service Pack 2 (and above) or Windows 2003 R2 x64 (all editions) with Service Pack 2 (and above)
- Windows 2008 x 64 (all editions) with Service Pack 1 (and above) or Windows 2008 R2 x 64 (all editions) with Service Pack 1 (and above)
- Powershell 2.0
- Exchange Management Tools x64
- Exchange Web Services Managed API x64
- IIS 6.x (Windows 2003) or IIS 7.x (Windows 2008)
- .NET Framework 3.5 (Minimum)
- SQL 2008 Express Edition x64
- SQL 2008 (any edition) x64
Exchange Server Versions
- Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 x64
- Exchange Server 2010
Exchange Organisation Requirements
As the core functionality of this product is built around Exchange Web Services – it is paramount that your have configured both the Exchange EWS directories and Autodiscover connections points correctly. The OOOCTA will not function if either of these areas are misconfigured or do not have a valid SSL certificate.
You can verify your configuration by running the “Test-OutlookWebServices” cmdlet on your Exchange Server (if you use the Exchange Management Server (e.g. that only has the Exchange Management Tools installed you will need to change the syntax of the test command to “Test-OutlookWebServices –id administrator@” – see below
[PS] C:\>Test-OutlookWebServices | fl Id : 1003 Type : Information Message : About to test AutoDiscover with the e-mail address Administrator@seg. com. Id : 1007 Type : Information Message : Testing server seg-ex27-01.seg.com with the published name https://ow a.justice.lab.local/EWS/Exchange.asmx & https://owa.justice.lab.local /EWS/Exchange.asmx. Id : 1019 Type : Information Message : Found a valid AutoDiscover service connection point. The AutoDiscover URL on this object is https://autodiscover.justice.lab.local/autodis cover/autodiscover.xml. Id : 1006 Type : Information Message : The Autodiscover service was contacted at https://autodiscover.justic e.lab.local/autodiscover/autodiscover.xml. Id : 1016 Type : Success Message : [EXCH]-Successfully contacted the AS service at https://owa.justice.l ab.local/EWS/Exchange.asmx. The elapsed time was 422 milliseconds. Id : 1015 Type : Success Message : [EXCH]-Successfully contacted the OAB service at https://owa.justice. lab.local/EWS/Exchange.asmx. The elapsed time was 0 milliseconds. Id : 1014 Type : Success Message : [EXCH]-Successfully contacted the UM service at https://seg-ex27-01.s eg.com/UnifiedMessaging/Service.asmx. The elapsed time was 15 millise conds. Id : 1006 Type : Success Message : The Autodiscover service was tested successfully.
You can ignore issues with the Unified Messaging role – however if the command output details issues with any other areas of the Web Services configuration you will need to ensure that these are remedied before you use the tool. Failure to do so will result in the system not working as expected.
You should download the tool to your OOOCTA Management Server from the following location:
For guidance on how to install the OOOCTA for both Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 (running either Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010) – please download the following installation guide:
The following video guides have been made available on “You Tube” (as part of the www.telnetport25.com channel) –
Installation of the EWS 1.1
Installation of OOOCTA 35 on Windows 2003
Installation of OOOCTA 35 on Windows 2008
In this part I have been very pleased to present to you the OOOCTA 35 Out of Office configuration Tool Assistant program and installation guides – in the next part I will be covering the “User” guide aspect. I believe that people will be able to work out how to use the tool without a guide (as I have tried to keep the tool very much like me – simple!) – however I am eager to get a proper "manual" out into the world so that people can have some backup..
As I said in the introduction – it is not perfect – but I am happy to listen to folks and work on feedback that I receive – but above all else – I hope that you find it useful.
If you do like the OOOCTA – please blog about it, tell your friends – tweet about it, Facebook it – whatever you can – to support the continued development.