iOS 6.1.2 appears – it might fix the bug that screws up Exchange

It looks like Apple has released iOS 6.1.2 in an attempt to fix the calendar synchronization problem that causes Exchange servers to log a vastly increased number of database transactions and results in more transaction logs being generated, log replication within Database Availability Groups (DAGs) and potentially service disruption if disks fill up.

This problem has lasted for far too long and it follows on other issues with iOS such as calendar hijacking. In fact, dealing with a calendar seems to pose a technical challenge for Apple, possibly because their experience and focus is centered around the development of consumer applications rather than enterprise-ready software.

I don’t know if the latest fix will work or whether some new bugs are lurking and will be exposed when the fix is applied. No one knows how Apple tests their code against Exchange. If we did, we might have more confidence in the new build. Until solid proof emerges to demonstrate that it does (and that no other problem is uncovered by 6.1.2), I recommend that Exchange administrators are cautious and consider taking steps to control iOS clients. Later on, if the problem really is solved, controls like ActiveSync device access rules can be eased back to allow more user choice. If these problems have taught us one thing, it is that BYOD needs to be managed as otherwise chaos can reign.

Let’s hope that the folks in Cupertino have read the ActiveSync protocol command specification and have finally figured out how the iOS mail app should interact with Exchange. It would be nice if an iOS upgrade became something to which users looked forward with anticipation rather than trepidation. Time will tell.

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About Tony Redmond

Lead author for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook and writer about all aspects of the Office 365 ecosystem.
This entry was posted in Email, Exchange 2010, Office 365 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to iOS 6.1.2 appears – it might fix the bug that screws up Exchange

  1. Pingback: iOS 6.1.2 is out – Fixes Exchange calendaring bug | Jason (Izzy) Sherry's Blog

  2. Casey Thomas says:

    Since we can’t rely on Apple to release code that conforms to the ActiveSync protocol, maybe Microsoft can develop an IOS email app and take control into their own hands.

  3. According to reports the Exchange issue is fixed but the lock screen glitch isn’t (there’s seems to be always something seriously amiss with that iOS recently)

  4. Julian West says:

    BYOD as a terms didn’t even really exist until iPhone came out w/ a model that supported Activesync in ’08 — then everyone in management tasked IT with supporting it. Middle-management followed, and it was a gold rush. I remember by fall of ’08, nearly overnight, I had half as many iOS clients as BES clients. It was an all-out assault where we could normally say “no” or “we need to lab/test this against the production environment” there was zero power to do so. “Make it work or we’ll find someone who will” was all BES sys admins heard (though I have no sympathy for BES administrators who had no idea what Activesync even was). IT was calcified and slow from supporting only BES and Goodlink (suck) in the mid 2000s — most mid-sized shops didn’t even know how to react except rush Activesync front-end servers to production — many shops were still running E2003 which was not the best Activesync version — and I remember our getting E2007 into production far earlier than planned to address this. Android soon followed and “BYOD” was truly born by Summer ’09 just in time for iPhone 3GS to be slamming into IT shops.
    Going forward IT has to find a way to balance end-user demand and device variety w/ uptime. Honestly, a well-designed and administered DBs & DAGs with properly cycled logs and/or frequent snapshots/backups probably were ironically safer from being hit by this. We saw the uptick, but it wasn’t a concern. I feel bad for sysadmins where it was. Many shops don’t even have dedicated email administrators and yet they want to treat email systems with the same concern they have electricity or dial-tone.

  5. SS says:

    Maybe Microsoft could fix their ActiveSync protocol so this doesn’t happen again. This has been going on for YEARS now and Microsoft has simply shuffled the issue under the rug. The real cause of the issue is that ActiveSync has security bugs in it STILL after all these years. The fact that a client app can cause trouble for an Exchange server is indicative of a failure on the back-end services, which should handle the problem – and they don’t. So, minus one for apple not coding the app right, but minus 10 to microsoft who continually avoids updating the AS protocol correctly to prevent these kinds of issues.

    • You make a good point. Microsoft should bullet-proof the ActiveSync protocol running on the Exchange server so that clients cannot mess with data. Unfortunately, even if Microsoft upgraded the protocol, we would still be at the mercy of clients who run outdated and buggy code so new faults might emerge. On balance though there is an overwhelming argument that an upgrade for Exchange’s ability to deal with poor client performance is necessary.


  6. Reblogged this on akrameleyan and commented:
    Let us see how IOS fix will help improve Exchange Experience!!

  7. “This problem has lasted for far too long”
    This was a problem introduced in iOS 6.1, correct? 6.1 was released end of January, a month later we have a patch. Not bad considering I’m still waiting for E2010 and E2013 to coexist (yes these problems are like comparing apples to oranges).

    If you think iOS is bad with Activesync, you’ve clearly never used Android Now they need to learn how to follow the specs a tad bit better!

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