OCS Create Pool Wizard Error: Invalid database parameter

Recently I had a project where we were moving the OCS databases to a new clustered SQL 2008 (R1) with SP2 Back-End and ran into a lovely new error I’d never seen before – also not seen before anywhere on Google!

For starters, we followed the steps outlined on Technet. After we had successfully detached and attached all databases and ran the LCSCMD.exe step, we launched the Create Pool wizard and attempted to plug in the info for the new SQL cluster. We got this error back:

An error occurred during the pool backend detection:

Pool backend discovery failed.

Invalid database parameter.

I double-checked the server name, instance, and FQDN and all looked well. We verified the SQL server was accessible via TCP 1433 and no firewall rules were preventing access, so the error didn’t make a lot of sense. Obviously there was some kind of parameter that the wizard GUI was not cool with. I thought maybe this was the SQL allow updates issue, but that solution had no effect on this error. There was definitely some validation check the UI was failing on against our new DB.

Since I couldn’t locate anyone else with this issue I figured my options were to call PSS and extend this process by a few hours, or pull out the ol’ LCSCMD.exe again and try this operation via command line. The Create Pool wizard really is just collecting a bunch of information and then using it to execute the LCSCMD.exe commands in the background so while doing it manually is not fun, it works just as well.

The entire syntax for LCSCMD.exe can be found on Techet, but here is the command we ended up running. Please note, conferencing archiving was not implemented so that paramter is not present.

LCSCMD.exe /Forest /Action:CreatePool /PoolName:MyOCSPool /PoolBE:MySQLServer.ptown.local\OCSInstance /PoolFQDN:MyOCSPool.ptown.local /InternalWebFQDN:MyOCSPool.ptown.local /ExternalWebFQDN:PublicOCSWebComponents.confusedamused.com /RefDomain:ptown.local /ABOutputlocation:\\\\MyFileServer\AddressBook /MeetingContentPath:\\\\MyFileServer\MeetingContent /MeetingMetaPath:\\\\MyFileServer\MeetingMetadata /AppDataLocation:\\\\MyFileServer\AppData /ClientUpdateLocation:\\\\MyFilerServer\ClientUpdates /DBDataPath:"D:\Databases" /DBLogPath:"L:\Logs" /DynDataPath:"D:\Databases" /DynLogPath:"L:\Logs" /ABSDataPath:"D:\Databases" /ABSLogPath:"L:\Logs" /ACDDataPath:"D:\Databases" /ACDLogPath:"L:\Logs"

After running the command manually it succeeded with absolutely no issues. The new cluster has been running for over a week now without any issues so I think this is an problem specific to the UI. I’m not sure exactly what causes it, but our environment was running SQL 2008 with SP2 on top of a 2008 R2 SP1 operating system.

As a sidenote, this process seems to undo any changes made by the OCS2009-DBUpgrade.msi patches. You’ll need to re-run the patch version which lines up with your FE patch levels before the FE services will be able to start.

Outlook Integration Error in Communicator 2007 R2 when Exchange System Manager is installed

Working on an OCS migration project a few weeks ago I ran into everyone’s favorite error:

There was a problem connecting to Microsoft Office Outlook. Your Outlook profile is not configured correctly. Contact your system administrator with the information.

After double checking the lengthy KB 2373585 article discussing Outlook/Communicator errors and ruling out the usual suspects I was stumped. After some digging around on the workstation I found the user had the Exchange 2003 System Manager and tools installed on the machine. Since the System Manager uses a slightly different version of MAPI components Communicator would generate this error immediately upon signing in.

The solution is to open a command prompt and just run the command: fixmapi.

OCS 2007 R2 Cumulative Update 6 and Stored Procedure Mismatches

Something not mentioned in the release notes of Cumulative Update (CU6) is that there is a dependency on running the new OCS2009-DBUpgrade.msi before any server updates. If you try to run the ServerUpdateInstaller.exe and apply the server updates without first running the database package you may see an error like this:

Event ID: 30968
Source: Live Communications User Services
Details: The component Live Communications User Services reported a critical error: code C3EE78F8 (Enterprise Edition Server successfully registered with the back-end, but a stored procedure version mismatch was detected. The service will not start until this problem is resolved. Cause: The database schema and the Enterprise Edition Server were updated by different installation packages. Resolution: Ensure both the Enterprise Edition Server and back-end were installed or modified by the same installation package. The service has to stop.

Obviously the error verbiage is a bit outdated with references to LCS, but the error is correct – there is a mismatch between the stored procedure versions which makes the Front-End service to fail to start.

To avoid the issue be sure to apply the latest OCS2009-DBUpgrade.msi package before updating any Front-End servers.

The C Stands for Compact

I believe in my last post about damaged Communicator address book files I pointed out that it was a good idea to keep your OCS clients and servers on the same hotfix levels. I would still argue that’s a good thing to do in general, but in my case this wasn’t the actual resolution. While it worked for awhile after a few weeks the damaged address book files error popped up again:

Communicator cannot synchronize with the corporate address book because the corporate address book file appears to be damaged. Contact your system administrator with this information.

All the MOC clients and OCS servers were at the same revision level this time so that wasn’t the problem. Deleting the GalContacts.db and forcing a full download would succeed and the client goes along perfectly happy. Interestingly enough, deleting the GalContacts.db.idx file on a problematic machine would allow the delta file to download successfully so it appears the issue may be with the index file. Anti-virus logs also showed they weren’t trying to clean or repair the file in any way.

I couldn’t find any errors server-side and everything seemed to be functioning properly so I looked at the IIS logs on the Front-End again. Low and behold – the log was huge compared to previous days – about 10x as big. It was filled with many, many requests for downloads of files in the C-xxxx-xxxx.lsabs format which threw me off because the ABS documentation points out that F-xxxx files are fulls, and D-xxxx-xxxx files are delta changes, but has zero mention of the C-xxxx-xxxx files. These IIS requests were also successful downloads, not failures so I wouldn’t have expected clients to have an error, but every user was also repeatedly downloading the same sets of files and then trying to download previous C-xxxx-xxxx files as well.

I took one of the matching C-xxxx-xxxx and D-xxxx-xxxx files (they’ll have the same hex names) and dumped both to text files using abserver.exe –dumpfile to try and compare. Viewing them side-by-side they seemed to have the same content, but in a slightly different order. So it appears they were both delta files, but the C file was about 50% of the D’s size. Odd, but I still had no clue when they would be used over a D because there was zero documentation about the change.

Thanks to a few kind folks on Twitter (@aumblumberg and @MacRS4 ) who went down this same road with Microsoft via a support case previously, I found out the new C files stand for “Compact” and the change was implemented in the July server-side hotfixes. These are also delta files, but compressed in a way supposedly to make them more efficient. In our case (and theirs), it broke the address book downloads completely.

Fortunately, there is a registry key available to prevent clients from trying to use these compact files. This key only applies if you’re using the October Communicator client-side hotfix:

Key name: GalUseCompactDeltaFile

Possible Values:

  • 0: Do not use compact delta file
  • 1: Use compact delta file (default)
  • 2: Use compact delta file, but do not issue an LDAP query to retrieve the “Title” and “Office” attribute values from Active Directory

You can read more about this registry setting from KB 976985 even though the actual KB is aimed at a different issue with LDAP queries and account lockouts.

I’ll find out today whether this actually fixes the downloads without having to clear out the GalContacts.db file on each client.

It looks like these constant address book changes like this and adding the 0-60 minute download delay are aimed at the larger organizations with a significant address book size, but. I almost feel like these updates are on par with the Resource Kit book providing examples for companies with 100,000+ users in various locations. Great info, but what about the real world? Not everyone using OCS is that big and it would be swell to have guidance around small and medium-sized deployments instead of trying to take those numbers and make them fit. I’d be happy to just let the ABS download the way it used to and leave it alone.

The most frustrating part here has been that this service has been something that traditionally just worked without intervention and instead I’ve been spending hours and hours troubleshooting to figure out what happened because there was nothing mentioned about the change in behavior server or client-side. Maybe there should be some threshold for these ABS disasters optimization changes where they only occur if the full address books are over some value like 10, 20, 50 or 100 MB? Until that happens I’ll be disabling the compact delta files at future OCS deployments to make sure we avoid this problem.

Communicator and Damaged Address Book Files

The past few days I spent wrestling an address book server issue in OCS and I wanted to share the solution. The quick version: make sure you have your server side and client side hotfix revisions match up.

If you want the whole story…the specific details of this case involved a Front-End server which had the OCS 2007 R2 April hotfixes, but the MOC clients had the July hotfixes applied. The issue first manifested itself with clients reporting ABS damaged:

Communicator cannot synchronize with the corporate address book because the corporate address book file appears to be damaged. Contact your system administrator with this information.

We resolved this by deleting the entire contents of the address book file share and forcing a resync of the address book. We also deleted GalContacts.db from a few user workstations, but later found the client error actually disappeared on its own without removing the file.

Things hummed along nicely for a week or so until a large amount of users (600+) were enabled for OCS one Friday evening. The following Monday previously enabled pilot users were reporting they still didn’t have a SIP URI in their address books for the mass-enabled users. The GalContacts.db file was also still showing a timestamp from the day the mass change occurred, indicating they had not downloaded an update yet.

We took a peek at the Front-End logs and it appeared to be generating address book files correctly. The odd thing was in looking at the IIS logs we actually saw quite a few 404 errors of MOC clients trying to request delta files that did not exist. Other users showed successful downloads of the latest delta files which should have included the changes, but they weren’t being applied to their local GalContacts.db for some reason. I also saw those same clients registering a success end up using the fallback logic and downloading older address book files even though they had the newer versions. Very, very strange. Any client we deleted GalContacts.db on would pull down the latest full address book with no issues. The clients looking for deltas that didn’t exist we probably caused by deleting the address book files previously.

Side tip when looking at the IIS logs: Full files start with F-xxxx and delta files follow a D-xxxx-xxxx naming convention. Also, .lsabs files are used by MOC while .dabs files are used by Tanjay devices.

At that point I noticed the mismatch in server (April hotfixes) vs. client (July hotfixes) versions and suggested we get the latest fixes installed on all sides. While that suggestion made its way through change control procedures we opened a PSS case with Microsoft to hit the problem from another angle. The engineer we spoke with immediately blurted out that we needed to match the hotfix versions as soon as we described the behavior. It sounded to me like this was one he had heard before or was familiar with so while we didn’t have a second approach this definitely helped accelerate the change control ticket to an authorized state. After we fully patched the Front-End using the new ServerUpdateInstaller (a lifesaver), applied the back-end database hotfix, and installed the client October hotfix the address book went back to functioning properly. There were a couple of users that needed to delete the GalContacts.db before everything went back to normal, but most of them picked it up without intervention.

As for root cause, the KB 972403 article actually does reference applying both the MOC and server fix together, but the July server hotfix document doesn’t describe this behavior or even mention it. Personally, I think the underlying issue was having the 3.5.6907.37 hotfix on clients while the abserver.exe file was still at 3.5.6907.0. In any case, I learned a lot more about the ABS than I ever cared to, but it was great information that will surely help in the future.

OCS2009-DBUpgrade.msi with a 32-bit SQL Server Back-End

I wanted to point out a quick note about KB 969834 aka the OCS2009-DBUpgrade.msi file – The KB article suggests running the package from your Back-End database server, but if you’re running SQL 2005 x86 you’ll be greeted with the following error:

This installation package is not supported by this processor type.

Basically, the MSI needs to be run from an x64 machine so your only option now is to run the update directly from your Front-End server. If you try to launch from there you might receive this error:

You must install Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Client Tools before you install Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 (KB969834).

You could try install the SQL Tools and Service Pack updates from installation, but OCS is looking for very specific versions of the SQL tools. The quickest and easiest way is to just use a couple of downloads from the Feature Pack for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 – February 2007.

You’ll want to download and install the following on your R2 Front-End before running the update:

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Backward Compatibility Components (x64 package)
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Management Objects Collection (x64 package)

After running those installers you should be able to run the DB upgrade successfully. Don’t forget – you need to run that MSI from a command line with the poolname (Non-FQDN version) parameter. And if you’re using Server 2008 be sure open the command prompt as Administrator so it runs with elevated rights. Example:

OCS2009-DBUpgrade.msi POOLNAME=MyFirstPool

Your OCS Front-End and DPM 2010 Part 3: Recovery

Now would normally be the time where everyone is running around like their head has been cut off because your Front-End server is totally hosed, but because you followed the backup procedures in Part 1 (you did run the backup, right?) restoring service to your OCS server is fairly simple.

Restore the Database

  1. Open up the DPM console.
  2. Click the Recovery tab at the top.
  3. We need to restore the SQL database and files separately, but let’s start with the database. Expand the tree to <Forest Name>\<OCS Server>\All Protected SQL Instances\<OCS Server>\RTC\rtc
  4. Highlight a suitable recovery date in the calendar and select the RTC database below.
  5. Right-click and select Recover…
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  6. Press Next.
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  7. We’ve successfully screwed up the server to where we might as well recover to the original SQL server. Select that option and press Next.
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  8. Select Leave database operational and press Next.
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  9. No options needed. Just press Next.
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  10. Yup, those are the files we need. Press Recover.
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  11. Press Close while the recovery operation occurs.
  12. If you click the Monitoring tab you can view the jobs in process.

Restore the Files

  1. Now we need to restore files separately. Expand the tree to <Domain Name>\<OCS Server>\All Protected Protected Volumes\<OCS Installation Volume>
  2. Highlight a suitable recovery date in the calendar and select the Program Files folder below.
  3. Right-click Program Files and select Recover…
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  4. Press Next.
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  5. Select Recover to the original location and press Next.
  6. Select to Overwrite the existing versions (if any), and then select to Apply the security settings of the recovery point version. Press Next.
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  7. Now press Recover.
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  8. Press Close while the recovery operation occurs.
  9. If you click the Monitoring tab you can view the jobs in process.

Fix SQL Database Chaining

One thing DPM won’t restore is an option within SQL. If you miss this step your Front-End services will fail to start.

  1. Open SQL Management Studio (Express).
  2. Press the New Query button.
  3. Enter the following text:
    sp_dboption 'rtc','db chaining',TRUE

  4. Press Execute.


Bounce the Server

If you check your OCS Front-End you’ll find all the files you deleted previously have now returned. You could probably get away with restarting services as this point, but since the machine was completed hosed I’m just going to restart the server and cross my fingers.

Check Functionality

After the restart all of my OCS services started successfully and my errors have gone away. You can see now my Communicator list still has my contacts and access levels defined. Likewise, Device Updates and client auto updates should function normally now.

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Your OCS Front-End and DPM 2010 Part 2: Destruction

Now that we’ve verified the DPM backups are running successfully on a regular schedule we can get to really destroying the environment. First up: the RTC database. So shut down your OCS Front-End and SQL services. Then go and delete the RTC.mdf and RTC.ldf files. I know that doesn’t sound like a good idea, but really, delete them.

Open Explorer, jump in to the following volumes and delete the content there:

  • <OCS Installation Volume>\<OCS Installation Folder>\Application Host\Application Data
  • <OCS Installation Volume>\<OCS Installation Folder>\Web Components\AutoUpdate
  • <OCS Installation Volume>\<OCS Installation Folder>\Web Components\Data MCU Web\Web
  • <OCS Installation Volume>\<OCS Installation Folder>\Web Components\Data MCU Web\Non-Web
  • <OCS Installation Volume>\<OCS Installation Folder>\Web Components\DeviceUpdateFiles

Now go and start your SQL services and try starting the OCS services up again. You’ll find a few errors and warnings in your OCS application log because it can’t read the RTC database. Communicator and Live Meeting clients won’t be able to connect to the server as this point either. Oops!

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Congratulations, you’ve successfully messed up your Front-End server to the point where it is non-functional. The device update files have been lost, the MOC Auto-Update files have been lost and all your meeting content is gone. In the next section I’ll demonstrate how to get the server back to an operational state with DPM.

Your OCS Front-End and DPM 2010 Part 1: Backup

The goal of this series is to demonstrate how to recover your OCS Front-End’s RTC database in the event of a disaster where your database or disk hosting the RTC database has become corrupted. Or maybe you’ve recovered a server’s installation and configuration, but now need to recover the user information. I’m going to do this in 3 different parts: backing up, destroying, recovering. To get started we need to have a semi-realistic OCS environment running so in this example I have a Standard Edition Front-End running where I’ve done the following:

  • Added a few users to my contact list and changed the access levels around.
  • Uploaded and approved the latest UCUpdates.cab package for phone devices.
  • Added a MOC hotfix to the auto update feature.
  • Created a couple of conferences with content in Live Meeting.

These items may seem a little random, but they’ve been done to illustrate what’s restorable from the RTC database and the file shares on a Front-End. I also have another machine called OR1DEVDPM01 running the beta of DPM 2010, which is what we’ll be using for the backup and restore.

Now that we have a machine running we first need to get this thing backed up before we trash it. You’ll want to create an exception on the OCS machine for the firewall to allow any traffic from the DPM machine. This will allow installation of the DPM agent, and allow backups and restores to occur.

Install the DPM Agent

  1. Open the DPM console.  
  2. Click the Management tab at the top.
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  3. Click the Agents tab below the main navigation line.
  4. Click Install in the action pane.
  5. Select Install agents and press Next.
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  6. Select the server you’re pushing the agent to (OR1DEVOCS01) and press the Add button. Then press Next.
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  7. Enter the credentials of an account with administrative rights on the server and press Next.
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  8. Since this is a lab and I’m using Server 2008 I’m not too concerned the server restarting, but in production I’d advise opting for the manual restart.
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  9. Press Install and then you can click close while the agent deploys.
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  10. After a minute or two the agent status should change to OK. Now we can start backing up the server.
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Add the OCS Protection Group

  1. In the DPM console again click on the Protection tab.
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  2. Click Create protection group in the action pane.
  3. Select Servers and press Next.
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  4. Expand the OCS Front-End, OR1DEVOCS01 and you’ll see a few different nodes such as shares, SQL, volumes and system state. The OCS Backup and Restore guide provides some guidance on what actually needs to be backed up from the server. These options pertain to a Standard Edition Front-End so be sure to check the document for any other role. Here are the items we need to select:
    • All SQL Servers\<\RTC\rtc<>
    • All volumes\<OCS Installation Volume>\<OCS Installation Folder>\Application Host\Application Data
    • All volumes\<OCS Installation Volume>\<OCS Installation Folder>\Web Components\AutoUpdate
    • All volumes\<OCS Installation Volume>\<OCS Installation Folder>\Web Components\Data MCU Web\Web
    • All volumes\<OCS Installation Volume>\<OCS Installation Folder>\Web Components\Data MCU Web\Non-Web
    • All volumes\<OCS Installation Volume>\<OCS Installation Folder>\Web Components\DeviceUpdateFiles

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  5. You can press OK and ignore the warning that pops up about adding the system state backup. Press Next to continue after selecting all of the above options.
  6. Name the Protection Group something descriptive. I’m going out on a limb here, but I used OCS Front-Ends as the name. I don’t have any tape libraries hooked up, so I’ll just be opting for short-term protection to disk. Press Next. 
  7. I imagine you’ll generally want more than 5 days of backups, but this works for the purpose here. 15 minute synchronizations are OK, but keep in mind OCS uses a simple recovery model in SQL meaning you take full backups and you restore full backups. None of this full, plus incremental and rolling logs forward fun. Just flat out restore of the entire DB and logs at once. The problem here is a simple database recovery model cannot leverage the synchronization feature of DPM like incremental backups can, so we’re limited to being able to restore only from a full backup, or an “Application recovery point” in DPM terms. You’ll see the default is to back up every day at 8 PM which may or may not be acceptable for you.

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    If you press the Modify button you can add in additional time slots to run an express full backup. Unfortunately (hoping this is a beta bug), you can’t select all the time slots and press Add. So just press Add quite a few times until each timeslot is added and you’ll have a recovery point every 30 minutes for your database. The trade off to running with this kind of frequency is the disk space used. Pick a schedule that’s appropriate for your deployment. Press OK to accept the schedule and then press Next to save the short-term goals.

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  8. On the next page you’ll see the disk allocation. Press Next to continue.
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  9. Select when to create the replica of your data (now) and press Next.
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  10. Choose when to run consistency checks and press Next.
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  11. On the last page you can review your selections and then press Create Group. The initial replica jobs will be created and then you can press Close.
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  12. If you click the Monitoring tab you can view the jobs in process.
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At this point we should have the backups running from the Front-End server. The next part of this will be destroying the data and blowing up the server. After that I’ll show how to recover everything we destroyed.

Checking Communicator Endpoint Versions On Your OCS Pools

One of the questions that comes up with OCS deployments that have been around for a while is the question of what clients are connecting to the pool. This can be controlled with client version filters and the auto update feature of R2, but more often than not there are some straggling clients out there. The challenge for those without some sort of configuration management tool is identifying what users have those old clients.

Microsoft has been nice enough to provide a handy tool within the OCS 2007 R2 Management Console that checks what kind of endpoints are connected to your Front-End server. If you open the OCS MMC, click the pool object and then click the database tab you’ll see a number of reports you can run. One of the more useful ones is the client version summary. Just press Go next to it and you’ll see it return a list of endpoints.

You can see from the results we still have quite a mix, and even someone still using a Communicator 2005 client! This is useful in providing an overall picture of what’s been used, but the question I immediately hear next is “Who’s using that version?” Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to tell in the console. You can run a per-user-report which will tell you the endpoints a particular user is signed in with, but that’s going to be a tedious effort to chug through a long list of names trying to find the offenders who haven’t updated their clients. You can see below what searching for a single user returns.

In order to answer the question of who’s using what we need to run a SQL query against the RTCDyn database. I’ll say this is definitely not a recommended/supported task, so be sure you know what you’re doing here before you start messing around in SQL Management studio. You have the potential to really hose your OCS installation if you start changing database content. The query we’ll run is just a SELECT statement so we shouldn’t cause any problems. Still, you’ve been warned.

Open SQL Management Studio. If you have a standard edition pool you can download and install SQL Management Studio Express for free. Press the New Query button and paste in the following query. Then just press the Execute button. You’ll get a list back of SIP URIs along with the endpoint they are currently using.

SELECT CAST([SipHeaderFrom] as varchar) as "SIP URI"
      ,CAST([ClientApp] AS varchar) as "Endpoint"
FROM [rtcdyn].[dbo].[Endpoint]

That will give us a nice long of everything in use and what SIP URI is signed in with that client.

Say we want to filter because we’re looking for people with a specific version. In this case, we want to find everyone still using the R1 MOC client so we can add a WHERE clause that searches for strings that match the agent header.

SELECT CAST([SipHeaderFrom] as varchar) as "SIP URI"
      ,CAST([ClientApp] AS varchar) as "Endpoint"
FROM [rtcdyn].[dbo].[Endpoint]
WHERE CAST([ClientApp] as varchar) like '%2.0%'

You could replace that 2.0 with anything else returned in the agent headers such as 3.5, OC, LCC, etc. This only queries the clients that are connected at a specific point in time so you may want to run this from time to time to catch clients that may not have been connected the first time you Hope this helps you identify your clients.