Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) | Autodiscover troubleshooting tools | Part 3#4 | Part 23#36 No ratings yet. 13 min read

The Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) tool is the “installable client” or the “software client” version of the ExRCA (Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer Tool) Autodiscover test.

The primary purpose of using the Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) tool versus the Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer web Tool is the ability to test the Autodiscover process from inside the organization’s network or by testing the Autodiscover process from a particular user desktop.

Article Series Table of content | Click to expand

Exchange and Autodiscover infrastructure | Article Series

Exchange Autodiscover – Article series – INDEX

Exchange and Autodiscover infrastructure | The building blocks

Autodiscover infrastructure | FQDN and URL address

Exchange Autodiscover flow in different environments

Autodiscover infrastructure | Exchange infrastructure and namespace convention

Exchange, Autodiscover and security infrastructure

Autodiscover Troubleshooting tools

Autodiscover major flow scenarios

Autodiscover flow in an Exchange on-Premises environment | non-Active Directory environment

Autodiscover flow in an Office 365 based environment

Autodiscover flow in an Exchange Hybrid environment

Exchange Stage migration and Autodiscover infrastructure

ExRCA (Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer Tool)

When using the ExRCA (Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer Tool) web-based tool, we are acutely using and external public server who uses for simulating the Autodiscover flow.

In reality, the Autodiscover communication channel can be implemented from the internal \ private organization network or a public network.

The important issue is that the way that the Autodiscover channel applied in a scenario of private organization’s network versus external \public network is different because different components are involved in the Autodiscover process.

An additional important observation regarding the Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) toll is – that although this tool installed on the user desktop, the Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) tool cannot use for checking or using the Autodiscover method which implemented in an Active Directory-based environment.

In other words, we cannot use the Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) tool for testing the Autodiscover LDAP method in which the Autodiscover client addresses the local Active Directory.

Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) Ability to view -check different Autodiscover methods

MCA advantages and disadvantages

Advantages

  • The Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) serves as an Autodiscover and enables us to inspect and analyze the Autodiscover and Outlook Anywhere flow with Outlook the need of installing a mail client such as Outlook.
  • The Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) enables us to simulate the Autodiscover process by executing the Autodiscover process from a particular host and a specific network versus the ExRCA tool that implemented by using a Microsoft public server.

Disadvantages

  • The Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) client cannot monitor and inspect the Autodiscover in an Active Directory environment (the Autodiscover based on the LDAP query, etc.).
  • The Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) doesn’t include all the options that include when using a tool such as the ExRCA.
  • The Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) toll considers as a software that we download + install versus the ExRCA tool that is a web-based tool.

Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) versus ExRCA (Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer).

1. Software component versus web application

The most noticeable difference between the Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) and the ExRCA (Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer) is that the MCA is a software component which we need to install versus the ExRCA that implemented as a web application (Using the ExRCA performed by accessing the ExRCA URL etc.).

2. Restricted number of “tests” options

An additional difference is that we can relate to the Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) as a “minimized version” or a limited version that offers only a restricted set of “tests” compared to the option that is available when using the Remote Connectivity Analyzer Tool.

3. User interface

The user interface of the Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) is different from the ExRCA (Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer).

Versus the Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer that based on the concepts of “tabs” and a list of optional tests that the user can choose from, the MCA (Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer) interface is on a “wizard-based” interface.

The user chooses the description if the problem that he experiences and, based on the “user section” the Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) offers the most appropriate test.

4. Integrated test implemented – Autodiscover + Outlook Anywhere.

As part of the simplified user interface, the MCA (Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer) combines two separate tests into one.

When a user reports that he cannot create a new Outlook mail profile, the problem could be related to the Autodiscover infrastructure or the Outlook Anywhere sitting on the server side.

In the previous article (Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer (ExRCA) | Autodiscover troubleshooting tools | Part 2#4 | Part 22#36) we review the ExRCA interface and the option of choosing a “dedicated” Autodiscover test.

Versus this option, the MCA (Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer Wizard offers the user to choose an option named – “I can’t log on with Office Outlook”.

In case that the user selects this option, the MCA will perform two different tests at the same time – the Autodiscover test + the Outlook Anywhere (RCP/HTTPS) test.

General notes about the MCA interface

My opinion or wish is that – the user interface should have designed differently and provided an interface that is similar or even identical to the Remote Connectivity Analyzer Tool.

I hope that in future, somebody will read what I have written and adapt my recommendations (yes, I know that I live in a la la land; -))

Download and install the MCA (Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer) software component.

Go to the -Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer (https://testconnectivity.microsoft.com/) site and, choose the Client tab and click on the Install now option.

Download and install the MCA client

MCA – requirement for installation

The requirement for installation MCA (Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer) on a desktop are:

  • The tool supports the following operating systems: Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows 8
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 is required

Using the MCA (Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer)

To demonstrate the use of the use of the MCA (Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer), we will use the following scenario:

A user named John that uses the E-mail address – John@o365info.com, what to create a new Outlook mail profile.

John desk is a domain joined and, John located in the private company network.

Note – Don’t forget that the MCA (Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer) doesn’t know how to use the Active Directory Autodiscover method and the MCA (Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer) can only use the Autodiscover method that implemented in a non-Active Directory environment.

We would like to review the Autodiscover workflow that applied between the Autodiscover client and the Autodiscover Endpoint.

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-01

Step 1- Choosing the required test

To be able to perform the Autodiscover test, we will need to choose the option – “I can’t log on with Office Outlook”.

Note – In case this option is selected the MCA will perform two tests at the same time -the Autodiscover test + the Outlook Anywhere (RCP/HTTPS) test.

Step 2- Providing user credentials

In case that we use an Exchange on-Premises server infrastructure, most of the time the authentication naming convention will be based on the “formula” of –
<Doman name>\<User name>

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-02

Step 3- viewing or saving the test results

After the test completed, we can choose one of the following options:

Viewing the test results or saving the test results.

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-03

Analyzing the content of the test results

In the following screenshot, we can see that the test result completes successfully, but it’s important to notice that the test was implemented by using two different Exchange services:

  1. Autodiscover infrastructure test
  2. Outlook Anywhere infrastructure (RPC\HTTPS) test

In our scenario, we can see that both of this test were completed successfully.

The result’s screen divided into two parts:

1. General summary of the test results (Part A in the screenshot)

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-01

2. A detailed report about each of the operations that were included in the test (Part B in the screenshot)

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-02

The MCA (Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer) result is display based on the same hierarchical concept that used by the ExRCA tool.

The “top level” result can be “expanded” so we can see each of the “steps” that were involved in a particular test and most of the time, we also have the ability to “expand” each of the concrete steps to get more detailed information.

Part B.1 – analyzing the Autodiscover test results

Step 1: Trying to connect the Autodiscover Endpoint host using the Root domain name

In the following screenshot, we can see that the Autodiscover process in non-Active Directory environment is implemented by using the recipient E-mail address, domain name and then, using the domain name as a potential Autodiscover Endpoint host name.

In our scenario, although the host manage to resolve the hostname to IP address when the Autodiscover client tries to verify if the potential Autodiscover Endpoint can communicate using HTTPS, the test fails (number 1).

Step 2: Trying to connect the potential Autodiscover Endpoint using the Autodiscover standard host name

In the following screenshot, we can see that the Autodiscover client “move on” to the next hostname option in which he will try to look for the potential Autodiscover Endpoint using the naming convention: Autodiscover + recipient SMTP domain name.

In our scenario, the potential Autodiscover Endpoint will be – autodiscover.o365info.com

We can see that the steps of Resolving the host name to IP and Verify the potential Autodiscover Endpoint can communicate using HTTPS complete successfully (number 2).

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-03

Looking at the details of the Autodiscover test

To be able to get more detailed information about the specific steps that implemented and a full description of the results for each if this step, all we need to do is just double-click on the “expand icon” that appear to the left of the Autodiscover method title
(attempting to test Potential Autodiscover URL https://autodiscover.o365info.com/Autodiscover/autodiscer.xml)

In the following screenshot, we can see the “headers” of the five steps that were implemented by the Autodiscover client

Step 1 – Attempting to resolve the host names autodiscover.o365info.com

Step 2 – Testing TCP port 443

Step 3 – Testing the SSL certificate

Step 4 – Checking the IIS configuration for client certificate authentication

Step 5 – attempting to send an Autodiscover Post request to the Potential Autodiscover URLs

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-04

The End of the Journey – the client gets the required Autodiscover.xml file

In the following screenshot, we can see that the Autodiscover client sends the Autodiscover Endpoint a request:

attempting to send an Autodiscover POST request to Potential Autodiscover URLs.

The Autodiscover Endpoint generates the required information and sends it to the Autodiscover client. We can see that the content of the information includes the data in an XML format.

The Autodiscover server response includes the URL address of the different Exchange web services such as – Availability services, OOO and so on.

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-05

Part B.2 – analyzing the Outlook Anywhere test results

The next part of the MCA (Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer) result relates to the Outlook Anywhere service (or the former name RPC/HTTPS).

In case that the mail client needs access from an external network, the Autodiscover serves as the infrastructure for the Outlook Anywhere services.

Only when the first part of the Autodiscover process will be successful completed, then the “second part” of Outlook Anywhere can also be completed.

We will not go into a detailed review of the Outlook Anywhere service test results, but it’s important to understand that the Outlook Anywhere includes a complete set of “steps” that need to implemented.

In case that we want to view a detail report of the Outlook Anywhere results, we need to expand the required section.

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-06

In the following screenshot, we can see all the steps that are involved in an Outlook Anywhere communication channel.

For example, we can see that the Outlook Anywhere client is “talking” with the internal name of the Exchange On-Premise server, by using the host name – exo1.o365info.lcoal (number 5).

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-07

The Outlook Anywhere “journey” is not finished it!

In the following screenshot, we can see the “reset” of the steps that are implemented by the Outlook Anywhere client.

For example, the Outlook Anywhere client will try to “RPC ping” the RPC Proxy server. In our scenario, the RPC proxy server name is – mail.o365info.com (number 6).

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-08

Saving the test results

In case that we want to save the report for additional analyses, we can save the report to an HTML file.

In the report result choose the option of- save results.

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-09

In the HTML result file, we can see the report information.

The upper part includes a general summary and on the bottom part we can use, the expand button to get a detailed overview about each of the steps that were implemented.

MCA -Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer-10

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