Thursday, February 24, 2005

Using Mobility Tools outside of an SBS network

Surprisingly enough, I get asked many times about using mobility features outside of an SBS network. There have been instances when there is a Small Business VAP trying his hand at medium business, and wants to use the same tools, or perhaps there is a client that is remote to the network and cannot make a connection in. Whatever the reason, if you want the Same experience of configuring mobility on SBS outside of the network, this post is for you.

[Begin Warning]
I first wanted to give you a warning that the items described in this blog post are not tested, not supported, and you're on your own. While I'd be happy to answer any questions, if you choose to go down this road, you are on your own.
[End Warning]

There are two tools that work together to configure a mobile device. The first is Active Sync. It really doesn't matter which version is on the client for the configuration tool to work. It could be version 3.7, 3.7.1 or 3.8 . SBS 2003 deploys 3.7, and the SP1 will deploy 3.8.

The second tool is the sbsmobcfg.exe which actually stands for Small Business Server Mobile Device Configuration Utility.... but we just use the short name. :) This tool is pretty hardcoded as to where it looks for it's data. It performs the following tasks:

  1. Collect and push FQDN and NetBios domain name to the device

  2. Push the self-signed certificate to the device if it exists (note, this only works for 2003+ devices)

  3. Configure a default synch schedule for Inbox, Calendar and Contacts

Seems pretty simple doesn't it? It is.

So, how do you move this tool out of the network? Simply copy the C:\Program Files\Windows Small Business Server\Clients directory from a client computer setup by SBS with ActiveSync assigned to it, to another computer (perhaps the remote computer that cannot connect) in the same location. Then create a shortcut to sbsmobcfg.exe in the start menu. When the user is ready to configure their device, just have them click on the start menu icon, and the device will be configured!!

It's that easy.

There are some gotcha's though:

  • Changes made on the server do not automatically replicate down to clients configured by this methodology. So the directory will have to be re-copied

  • The mobile device is not automatically configured upon first connect, the user will have to click on the icon

  • The user will probably have to go through the getting connected wizard first, before they configure the device. They can put whatever they want in (as long as the username and password are correct) and the tool will change it to the correct items

So, that's all there is to it. Get Mobile!