Posted by: rkmigblog | 2013/01/22

Quest Migration Manager for Exchange® and Exchange 2010 Calendar Repair Assistant (CRA) – there can be only one!

The CRA

Microsoft Exchange 2010 ships with a very helpful utility that helps to check the consistent state of meeting invitations and responses and can repair broken relationships – the Exchange 2010 Calendar Repair Assistant (CRA). For example: John organizes a meeting and sends meeting invitations by Outlook. Jack accepts the meeting, which is registered in John’s mailbox calendar (as meeting acceptance) and in Jack’s mailbox calendar as appointment. Maybe somehow Jack did a misconfiguration with his handheld and lots of appointments are missing. The CRA would detect, that Jack is listed as participant of John’s meeting and would create the missing item appointment in Jack’s mailbox calendar to bring back the proper meeting organizer – participant relationship.

You can find a deep-dive explanation of Exchange 2010 CRA here:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2013/01/17/exchange-2010-calendar-repair-assistant.aspx

The Problem

Although the CRA is a pretty helpful tool and saves many people from missing meetings because of missing reminders of calendar items, we cannot recommend to use it during an Inter Org Exchange Migration with a running Quest Calendar Synchronization (either uni-directional or bi-directional). We have seen various cases where calendar items in the target mailbox have been duplicated while the duplicates did not exist in the source mailbox. Checking the items’ creator, one can see that one item was created by the calendar sync agent, the other one by the service account of the RCA.

How come? Let’s think of the following example:

Exchange Inter-Org migration from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010 SP2 by using Quest Migration Manager for Exchange. For all user to migrate, we have a source mailbox in 2007 and a target mailbox in 2010. The Quest mail and calendar synchronization synchronizes mail content and calendar data between the corresponding mailbox pairs.

John is a user who was already migrated and switched to Exchange 2010 environment. Jack is a user who is still active on his Exchange 2007 mailbox – nevertheless his Exchange 2010 mailbox is already present and filled by the Quest mail and calendar sync.

John creates a meeting in Outlook, invites Jack to the meeting and sends a meeting request. The meeting request is send as an Outlook message into the Exchange 2010 system. Since the Exchange 2010 mailbox of Jack is present but not active, the targetaddress redirection in the Active Directory object of Jack in the target domain will redirect the message to the Exchange 2007 mailbox of Jack. Jack recognizes the meeting invitation mail in his Outlook Inbox and accepts. A system message is now sent back to John who will see now Jack as confirmed meeting participant. In the same step a new appointment is created in Jack’s calendar to reflect the scheduled meeting. So far business as usual. Please note, that at this time, the calendar of John in Exchange 2010 shows that Jack has accepted, the calendar of Jack in 2007 shows the meeting as appointment, but the calendar of Jack in Exchange 2010 is “empty” due to the “nature” of calendar synchronization latency.

Taking a look onto the Exchange 2010 system only at this moment – we will find an inconsistent state between meeting organizer and participant’s calendar data.

The Race CSA vs. CRA

And now it’s like 2 fire brigades trying to fight the fire at same time – the race begins. Quest calendar synchronization Agent (CSA) detected a change in the source Exchange 2007 mailbox of Jack, picks up the change and transfers to the new mailbox which takes time depending on number of mailboxes, synchronization interval etc. At the same time the CRA running in Exchange 2010 environment for good reasons detects the described inconsistency and tries to correct it by creating the “missing” item from scratch. Whenever the CRA is faster we will see most probably duplicates. The CRA is always running per mailbox server while the Quest Calendar Sync can be tuned to run with multiple instances per mailbox server.

Recommendation

RECOMMENDATION: Disable the MS Exchange CRA for the duration of migration.

Dell/Quest support is reporting the issue in their Knowledge Base in brief:

https://support.quest.com/SolutionDetail.aspx?id=SOL102260&pr=Migration Manager for Exchange

They also list some possibilities to fix the duplicates:

Workaround 1 (for switched mailboxes)

 1. Export the problematic calendar to a PST file with the “Do not export duplicate items” option.

 2. Delete all calendar items.

 3. Re-import the calendar items from the PST.

 Workaround 2 (for non-switched mailboxes)

 1. Disconnect the problematic target mailbox.

 2. Purge it from the mailbox database (to prevent tombstone issues).

 3. Run a full AD re-sync to recreate the target mailbox. Alternatively, perform a “Proxy Toggle” (no need for a full re-sync):

  – Add a dummy address to the source mailbox (ex. <alias>@delete.me)

  – Let DSA sync the change during a normal delta sync cycle, which should recreate the mailbox

  – Remove the dummy address from the source mailbox

 4. Run a calendar sync


Responses

  1. Almost thought I was experiencing this – as the symptoms/result is the same (dupe calendar items). Unfortunately for me, I have no answer @ the monment – as CRA in this environment has no schedule and so did not execute against the suspect mailbox.


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