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Dear Colleagues:

 

Here at Hopkins, we have been plagued with problems relating to the integration of iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.) and our Microsoft Exchange servers.  The most egregious problems are related to calendar synchronization with appointments disappearing from a device leading to unreliable calendars.  The more this is happening to our senior leadership and our faculty, the worse it gets for IT!  I am aware that this is a widespread problem, not one unique to us or our environment.  Today, I heard of an organization (not a university) that moved its executives back to Blackberries because they were far more reliable.  I was curious how prevalent the problem has become on other campuses and what, if anything, you have been able to do about it.

 

Thanks for your consideration.

 

Best,

- Geof

 

Geoffrey Corb

Senior Director

IT @ Johns Hopkins - Enterprise Applications

geof@jhu.edu | @geofdotedu | 410.735.4001 | 410.608.5255 (mobile)

 

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Comments

Geof:

 

I/we experience those problems here at the School of Medicine and Physicians Group as well. We have gotten a bit of relief by:

·         Asking our iOS users NOT to schedule using their iOS devices, but to use the Exchange client, either from their desktop or via the browser clients.

·         Instructing folks NOT to drag and drop meetings when rescheduling appointments, but rather opening the event up and changing the date/time from the drop down menus.

·         Finally, we have noticed problems when there have been significant changes (adding/removing participants, changing  locations/dates/times) to long-standing, recurring meetings. We have recommended folks schedule such meetings no more than six months at a time and if something  wonky happens in between, to delete the appointment and create a new one.

I hope this helps.

 

--sean

 

Sean Jackson, D.M.A.

School of Medicine & University Physicians Group Chief Information Officer

 

sean.jackson@virginia.edu

 

University of Virginia School of Medicine     V:  434-243-1919

3115 McKim Hall                                                      F:  434-924-8173

PO Box 800796

Charlottesville, VA 22908-0796

 

University Physicians Group                              V:  434-980-6176

500 Ray C. Hunt Drive

Charlottesville, Virginia  22908

 

Message from mike.cunningham@pct.edu

We have also experienced all the same but also from Android devices, not just iOS. We are currently trying to figure out what causes it with test after test but when we are watching we can’t make it happen. Our most recent thought is that it has only occurred to users who have delegated calendar rights to someone else (usually a secretary) on both sides of the appointment (sender and receiver). We have not found anyone who has had this happen to their calendar and they had not delegated. In some cases full authority was delegated to multiple people “just in case one of them is not”. One person has 6 others delegated with will authority. In a recent test we scheduled a reoccurring appointment and changed individual meetings multiple times with attendees accepting on iPhones, iPads, Androids, webmail, outlook and could not drop an appointment. We even then changed one meeting 6 times in a row and within about 1 minute and everyone had the most recent version and all other sessions.

 

Mike Cunningham

CIO

Penn College

 

 

 

Ø  I/we experience those problems here at the School of Medicine and Physicians Group as well. We have gotten a bit of relief by:

·         Asking our iOS users NOT to schedule using their iOS devices, but to use the Exchange client, either from their desktop or via the browser clients.

·         Instructing folks NOT to drag and drop meetings when rescheduling appointments, but rather opening the event up and changing the date/time from the drop down menus.

·         Finally, we have noticed problems when there have been significant changes (adding/removing participants, changing  locations/dates/times) to long-standing, recurring meetings. We have recommended folks schedule such meetings no more than six months at a time and if something  wonky happens in between, to delete the appointment and create a new one.

 

I speak from a personal perspective rather than an institutional one. Which is to say, I have the problem myself but it’s never really come up as in issue from our user population. It’s possible that they are having the problem and not reporting it.

 

My personal environment is two iOS devices – iPhone and iPad, and two e-mail accounts – Exchange at work and Hotmail at home for personal mail. I don’t know with 100% certainty, but surely Hotmail is Exchange behind the scenes. Which is to say, all the synchronization goes through ActiveSync. I sync both iOS devices with both e-mail accounts.

 

If all of this worked correctly all the time for calendars, it would solve a longstanding philosophical argument I have with myself about managing calendars. Namely, I think I ought to keep my personal calendar separate from my professional calendar and not have any personal items on my Exchange calendar at all. But obviously to avoid double booking and other scheduling disasters I really need to keep a single consolidated calendar. So I keep my professional calendar on Exchange at work and my personal calendar on Hotmail. Syncing an iOS device with both calendars then gives me the single consolidated calendar view that I need.

 

I have wondered if syncing two iOS devices is the problem, but I doubt it. I get the sync problems on my iPhone alone even if I leave my iPad powered off for extended periods of time. My personal opinion which I can’t completely defend with evidence is that at least 90% of the problems and maybe 100% of them are on the ActiveSync side of the house rather than on the iOS side of the house. With respect to the message I’m quoting above, I have also found that scheduling calendar items only through an Exchange client rather than from an iOS device helps a lot, and I’ve found that recurring appointments wreak havoc with the sync process so I don’t use recurring appointments at all. I don’t drag and drop meetings to reschedule them. I always change calendar items from the menus. So I don’t have any experience with that process as a possible source of sync problems.

 

There are numerous, numerous messages about this problem on various Microsoft forums. All the messages I’ve seen are from users, not from Microsoft itself. A good number of users have posted “solutions” that apparently work for them but I have not seen any solution that appears to be of general applicability.  But whether the root cause is in ActiveSync or iOS or Android, it is in desperate need of being fixed and being reliable.

 

Jerry

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jerry Bryan • Vice President of Information Services • Pellissippi State • 10915 Hardin Valley Road • P.O. Box 22990 • Knoxville, TN 37933-0990

Voice: 865 539-7127 •  Fax: 865 539-7653 •  E-mail: jbryan@pstcc.edu

 

 

 

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

This is consistent with our experience as well. We suspect delegated rights as contributing to the issue in some way, but we haven’t been able to observe or force an error. This is what makes us think that there is an element of time at work as well.

--sean

 

>             This is consistent with our experience as well. We suspect delegated rights as contributing to the issue in some way, but we haven’t been able to observe or force an error. This is what makes us >      think that there is an element of time at work as well.

 

My Exchange calendar is delegated to my Executive Assistant. But I have never suspected the delegated rights as contributing to the problem because I also have the problem when syncing to my Hotmail calendar and my Hotmail calendar has no delegated rights.

 

The postings on the Microsoft forums about the problem seem to be mostly from users who are not describing any delegated rights. But obviously there could be multiple causes, and the multiple causes could interact with each other in unpredictable and unrepeatable ways to aggravate the problem.

 

Jerry

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jerry Bryan • Vice President of Information Services • Pellissippi State • 10915 Hardin Valley Road • P.O. Box 22990 • Knoxville, TN 37933-0990

Voice: 865 539-7127 •  Fax: 865 539-7653 •  E-mail: jbryan@pstcc.edu

 

 

 

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

The University of Memphis has this same issue.  We have reported the issue several times to Microsoft.  We currently have a change request/support case with Microsoft, [REG:112030774471579]. 

 

While the Microsoft Exchange Product Group is able to reproduce some of the issues, they have rejected the Design Change for now.  There is no timeline on when this change will be considered.

 

We posted a similar question regarding this issue on the Office 365 listserv.  Six universities reported having the same issue.  Most have created a web page with some best practices/recommendations for limiting the calendar corruption.

 

Michelle

 

 

Michelle Belton

Systems Administrator II

Enterprise Infrastructure Services Division

University of Memphis

mbelton@memphis.edu

(901) 678-1304

 

 

 

Message from mike.cunningham@pct.edu

I would very much like to see those best practices, Does anyone have a list they would share?

 

We are in the process of creating a page using the information in the attached document.

 

Cornell University:  http://www.it.cornell.edu/services/guides/facstaff_email/harmony/index.cfm

 

University of Iowa: http://its.uiowa.edu/apps2/support/article/3521

 

Carnegie Mellon University said they created a web page for tips and best practices but did not provide the URL.

 

 

Michelle

 

 

Michelle Belton

Systems Administrator II

Enterprise Infrastructure Services Division

University of Memphis

mbelton@memphis.edu

(901) 678-1304

 

 

Message from waynestrider@att.net

 

 

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