MEC Day One Breakouts

Just a quick overview of my findings from yesterdays breakout sessions before I start day two.

Managed Availability

This session gave an overview of this great sounding new feature in Exchange 2013. As mentioned in the Keynotes, this has come from the Office 365 support team who need to monitor & maintain all the servers but don’t like getting a call at 2am just to restart a service!

The focus of this service is End User SLA, which as we all know is what really matters in the real world.

The expertise has come from System Centre and Exchange teams so the added benefit is better focused reporting in SCOM.

The whole concept is to monitor the service and react appropriately if something goes wrong, as an example:-

An OWA user experiences a crash, the system will initially perform a reset of the IIS APP Pool, this could resolve the problem. If the problem occurs again, or is not resolved then the next step might be to perform a failover to another server (User focus remember) this should resolve the problem for the user. The Server Admin will now be alerted but only has to resolve a problem on a passive server, not a live one, and once resolved the service will become available again on all servers.

Sounds good – can’t wait to try it out!

Security & Protection

This session highlighted the security features added to Exchange 2013.

Some stats to start, 30% of Exchange servers have no AV installed (better in some countries than others). More than 90% of mail is spam, only 5% is important.

Following the recent announcement that Forefront for Exchange will be discontinued, a “Basic” anti-malware engine will ship with Exchange 2013. This is based on the same engine as SCEP & Security Essentials.

It is recommended to use an external product such as Exchange Online Protection (I’m personally a big fan of Mimecast or Websense). By using EOP you would be able to get consistent protection & reporting for hybrid environments.

The new engine is built into the transport service so can be configured using transport rules.

The other Security feature was DLP. This is becoming very important and the feature looked pretty good.

A number of standard templates are included (e.g. Credit card numbers, social security, etc) to allow you to create protection rules.

These rules are displayed to Outlook users by “Policy Tips”, just like mail-tips, to explain to the user that they cannot send this content, with a possible override if permitted on that particular rule (all overrides are logged).

Once again, something to look at and test.

Exchange Hybrid Deployments

This final session of the day covered an area that I feel will be more & more significant in the coming months, so I was surprised that the room was fairly empty.

A quick overview of the possible migration options from on-premise to Office 365 was given:-

  • IMAP
  • Cutover
  • Staged
  • Hybrid

Key takeaway here is that Exchange 2010 is not supported for Staged migration.

The appeal on the Hybrid environment is that the two worlds are synchronised to the point that mailbox migrations work just like on premise – a migrated user will just have to restart Outlook to connect to the new service (as long as the environment has been correctly configured)

When using Exchange 2013 for Hybrid deployments, the oldest on-premise server you can have is Exchange 2007 and the Office 365 service must be the new wave 15.

Exchange 2010 will need Service Pack 3 installed to co-exist – this will be released early next year (I assume to tie in with the 2013 launch).

The Hybrid configuration Wizard has been greatly improved to make the deployment simpler, but I get the impression that it still relies on having a number of prerequisites in-place before you begin.


So a good day yesterday, now to go and grab some breakfast and see what today has to offer….



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