Tips for Using Exchange Calendar

Last summer, UCI converted calendaring functionality from Oracle Calendar to Exchange Calendar.  Here are some helpful tips gleaned from the first six months’ use of Exchange Calendar.  If you have questions about how to use your calendar, please send email to oit@uci.edu – your question might help many others at UCI.

When I delete the email inviting me to a meeting, sometimes the meeting disappears from my calendar. Why does this happen?

In Exchange Calendar, calendar events and email messages are closely linked. What you do with your calendar can affect your email and vice-versa.  Your individual experience will vary depending on whether Exchange (as opposed to Enterprise Services) is your email server, and whether you use Outlook or Thunderbird as your email client.

If you delete the meeting invitation email from your Exchange inbox before you have responded to the invitation, Exchange interprets that as declining the meeting.  So, just as when you explicitly decline an invitation, the meeting disappears (making room for future invitations.)

Because of this behavior (declining the meeting deletes it), many people leave a meeting in a “tentative” state so that it remains on the calendar.  If they later find they are able to attend, they can respond at that time.  Meanwhile, they have not committed.

How can I better manage calendar-related email?

Consider creating a folder for archiving meeting-related email.  After you’ve responded to a meeting invitation, you can refile the message to get it out of your inbox, and this technique won’t have an impact on your calendar (whereas deleting the invitation may).  If you find calendar-related messages are cluttering your inbox, you may choose to create a filter in your email client (such as Outlook) to file those messages into a folder for later review.  You can create another folder for archiving as above.

When I accept meetings in Exchange Calendar, it deletes the meeting request in my inbox.  How do I keep the email message?

This is normal behavior for Exchange Calendar, but you can change it with an optional setting in Outlook.  Step by step instructions are available in the Exchange FAQ.

Do you have any pointers on scheduling meetings with other people?

Exchange Calendar includes a tool called the Scheduling Assistant.  It offers a great deal of help in coordinating with other people’s calendars, if you know where to look.  A screenshot showing various items of interest is available in the Exchange FAQ.

For other useful tips on effective use of Exchange calendar, read the Microsoft article “Outlook meeting requests: Essential do’s and don’ts”.

Next Steps with Exchange

Data Center

The transition from Oracle Calendar (OCal) to Exchange calendar took place on August 6th.  Exchange offers the potential for email service that is integrated with calendaring, and OIT is examining options for implementation of Exchange email.

Many faculty and staff currently use OIT Mailbox Services for email, which you may know as imap.uci.edu or webmail.uci.edu, and which you may access using Webmail or Thunderbird. Outlook Web Access (OWA) and Outlook are among the tools commonly used to access Exchange services.

We have developed a process for migrating email from OIT Mailbox Services, and we will be pilot testing the process soon.  Considerable manpower is required for email migration; it could take a year or more to move everyone.  We are assessing costs and alternate strategies.

One possibility for speeding the transition is to allow receiving and sending new email using Exchange, but to defer moving stored email.  Users would continue to access pre-existing mail using Thunderbird or Webmail, or as secondary folders mapped to Outlook.  OIT is conducting a second pilot for this model.

Finally, we are working on a pilot of Office 365 (Exchange in “the cloud”), and reviewing recharge rates for Exchange and related services.

We appreciate your patience while we continue planning efforts.  Please share any thoughts you have on migration options with OIT Director Brian Buckler (bbuckler@uci.edu) or CIO Dana Roode (dana.roode@uci.edu).  Please contact our help-desk (949-824-2222 or oit@uci.edu) for assistance with Exchange.

A New Calendar Service for UCI

Oracle Calendar has provided event, meeting, and resource management services to the UCI community for twelve years.   Since Oracle has announced the end of support for this product, OIT conducted a review of alternatives resulting in a decision to offer calendaring services through Microsoft Exchange.

One of the key reasons for selecting Exchange Calendar is compatibility with Microsoft’s Exchange email platform which is already in wide use at UCI.  Cost effectiveness and support for mobile computing (tablets and smart phones) were also major considerations.  The project plan is to use Exchange initially for calendaring only.  The use of Exchange for email will be implemented in a later phase of the project.

Oracle Calendar users have already been issued accounts for the purposes of training and familiarity.  Exchange Calendar will replace Oracle Calendar on August 6.  The Oracle Calendar server will remain available for review purposes for about a month before being permanently retired.

Up-to-date information on the Calendar Project can be found at the OIT Exchange web site.

New OIT Desktop Support Assistant Manager

Sarkis Daglian has joined Desktop Support as Assistant Manager, reporting to manager Jeremy Paje.  Sarkis supervises desktop support staff and manages operations, resource allocation and scheduling to ensure requests are promptly and consistently addressed.

Sarkis graduated from UCI in 2005 with a focus in neurobiology, and spent six years with the Help Desk most recently as a senior consultant.  He led several initiatives with the Help Desk including the establishment of campus Smart Phone support standards.

When not at work, Sarkis enjoys movies and a wide range of professional sports.

Sarkis’s immediate goals are to analyze staff responsibilities and workload, and to enhance communication and operational efficiency to improve the quality and effectiveness of the services provided to OIT clients.

The addition of Sarkis to the team will allow Jeremy Paje to increase his focus on planning and project management.  Current projects include the rollout of Windows 7, Office 2010, and Acrobat X.

 

OIT Upgrades Interface to the Internet

border router

Border Router

OIT used the holiday break as an opportunity to upgrade the border router and campus firewall, improving network performance and reliability.  The timing  was chosen to minimize the impact on the campus community who rely on UCInet Internet connectivity.

Prior to this project, UCI had a single system providing the link between UCInet and the Internet, and this device was also responsible for providing the campus firewall service.  This represented a vulnerability, in that hardware failure could result in loss of connectivity.

The border router was also aging, having been put into service in August of 2003, and Cisco had announced the end of maintenance for this model later this year.

The project replaced the components within the border router, added a second border router, distributed Internet services between them, and isolated the firewall service to its own redundant systems.  Tests have demonstrated a significant increase in network bandwidth as well.  Now if one of the two routers should go down, connectivity will be sustained by the redundant architecture of the new system.

The current arrangement also makes use of Cisco’s Virtual Switching System technology, allowing the two routers to be managed as a single service.

An upcoming goal is to house the two border routers in different buildings.  One will remain in Central Plant, and the other will be housed in OIT’s SSPA network vault.  This geographic distribution will further reduce the risk that loss of power or other facilities to a single building could interrupt UCI’s connection to the Internet.