Exchange 2013 Improvements

As Exchange 2013 has been available since December 2012 and the 2nd Cumulative Update has just been released it seemed a good time to write an overview of what it offers over previous versions

Hybrid Cloud

The ability to use a cloud service to reduce fixed costs is becoming a key factor with any new system but for many businesses there are still many drivers to maintain some data locally “on premise”. Exchange 2013 makes this Hybrid configuration simpler to maintain than in any previous release, allowing you to host (for example) Sales teams and engineers on the Cloud, Office 365 or Exchange Online offerings whilst still maintaining the HR team and compliance staff on a Local Exchange instance but all using a shared, common domain name and address list. Administration is all performed from the same Web Based “Exchange Admin Console” (EAC) console irrespective of where the users are physically hosted.

Data Loss Prevention

Until now the ability to detect sensitive information being sent out of the business has been left to external systems inspecting e-mail sent from Exchange. Exchange 2013 has introduced the ability to create rules, using templates, that identify & control how sensitive data such as Credit card and National Insurance numbers is treated. If Outlook 2013 is being used then “Policy Tips” are used to display the rules to end users if this type of data is detected and, dependant on the rules, can allow the user to override with a  justification which is then logged for future auditing.

Public Folders

Public Folders have had a complete redesign in Exchange 2013 to take advantage of the Database Availability Group (DAG) replication model. Now based on Mailboxes, Public Folders no longer use a “Multi-Master” replication model to  remove the risk of corruption and increase availability. To the Outlook user the Public Folders still appear just as they always have.

Client Connectivity

All Outlook client connections now use RPC over HTTPS (Outlook Anywhere) irrespective of where they are initiated from, increasing security and maximising performance over slower connections. Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013 are all supported.

Outlook Web App is supported on all modern browsers and now features an Offline mode where it can be used without any connection to the server. OWA is full optimised for use on ‘phones and Tablets as well as desktops and laptops.

High Availability

Exchange 2013 uses DAGs and mailbox database copies, along with other features such as single item recovery, retention policies, and lagged database copies, to provide high availability, site resilience, and  data protection. The high availability platform, the Exchange Information Store and the Extensible Storage Engine, have all been enhanced to provide greater availability, easier management, and to reduce costs. The Managed Availability feature monitors the system and will take action to maintain user connections if possible as well as alerting Administrators of events.

Migrations

Migration and co-existence with Exchange 2007 and 2010 are fully supported (at specific Service Pack & Update levels) and permit a low risk, phased migration onto the new platform.

 

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