Welcome! And it’s time you parted with your desk phone!

Hello and welcome to my IT blog.  My name is Paul Maggs and I am a Lead Systems Engineer residing in Melbourne, Australia.  I have 16 years IT experience and in that time I have spent many hours toiling over problems that required a fix.  

I began my IT career in 1999 working for a financial services firm for a short time and then moved to one of Australia’s top legal firms.  Initially I was a generalist working within the server environment including Novell and Microsoft technologies however over time I expanded my interests and had an opportunity to work with many technologies and deliver many successful projects.  

A few things I have designed, implemented, and maintained over the years –

  • Active Directory
  • PKI
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Microsoft OCS & Lync
  • Microsoft Threat Management Gateway
  • Cisco Call Manager

My main focus these days Unified Communications and it’s an area I am very passionate about.  I could spend hours talking about the subject especially the many benefits of soft phones (hence the blog name). 

I had been wanting to start a technology blog for some time and it’s here I’ll detail my findings and a few solutions to any interesting IT problems that may present themselves. 

Outside of IT I love playing loud drums and I am a massive Utah Jazz supporter.  I watch every game and have converted the entire family (they had no choice really!!!).  Argue basketball with me at your own peril.  

Expect this blog to evolve as I get more comfortable adding content.  It’s a little sparse at the moment however I hope to change that as time goes by.

I can be found on twitter – @nomoredeskphone

The plain text archive

Introduction
A project I am currently heavily involved with is to implement email archiving. Because email archiving can alleviate Exchange storage constraints it is a feature many mail administrators get excited about. Even more exciting is the prospect of a 3rd party offsite archive as storage and system maintenance is someone elses problem.

Problem
The project was running smoothly and the initial implementation had progressed very well.  Email was successfully journaled to the archive and end users were able to read and action content.  However some email content was only viewable as plain text and clearly this had to be resolved asap.

Only some content displayed as plaint text?  Was there a pattern?  There was and it seemed email that had been sent or received with an external recipient was able to be viewed correctly where as internal only communications were affected. There are a couple places where email may be delivered to the archive and this includes the email security gateway and Exchange journaling.  Email routing via the security gateway takes precedence over Exchange when arriving to the archive and these emails were not affected.  Something was happening within Exchange to cause plain text only email to be sent to the archive.

Symptoms
Affected emails displayed as plain text and images no longer displayed within the email and were now attachments.  Below is an example

plain text email

Troubleshooting steps
I quickly start looking through Exchange configuration in an attempt to find anything that may indicate what caused the problem.  After sifting through transport configuration, browsing logs, reviewing send and receive connectors nothing stood out.  Realising remote domains configuration also affects formatting I took a look via the management console.  Nothing specifying plain text was misconfigured.  

Next I looked through Outlook client settings even though I was confident this wouldn’t have any affect on the problem.  Still I wanted to see if i could do something that may change what I see in the archive.  No luck here.  

The focus returned to troubleshooting Exchange server and this time remote domains configuration was reviewed using Exchange management shell and this returns more detail than is viewable in the management console and it revealed what may be the root cause. 

get-remoteDomain | fl identity, domainName, contentType

plain-text-archive_01

ContentType can be configured as MimeHTMLText, MimeText, or MimeHTML.  A quick call to PS to confirmed this would need to be changed from MimeText to MimeHTMLText however I was a little hesitant to make a change during business hours and only internally journaled email was affected.  

Solution/Workaround
The solution was to create a new remote domain for journal specific email and configure the correct content type.  I had no issue implementing this change during business hours and it was performed using the following command 

new-remoteDomain -identity JournalEmail -domain journal@nomoredeskphone.com

Conclusion
When creating a new remote domain the content type is automatically set to MimeHTMLText so no further changes were required after the new journal remote domain configuration was made.  So why was default remote domain set to MimeText? Obviously a legacy setting that hasn’t changed as Exchange versions have been upgraded.  Why did this only affect journal email and nothing else?  I haven’t dug that deep yet however problem resolved and now archive content displays using the correct format.

And remember to always check configuration using the management shell as it returns more detail than the console.