Exchange 2016 – What can we look forward to?

With the release of Exchange Server 2016 slated for the end of the year it seemed a good time to have a look at what new capabilities it will bring over the existing Exchange 2013 product.

Clients

Let’s start with the area that everyone sees – client access.

All access is now via secure HTTPS encrypted connections, whether using the full Outlook client or the newly renamed “Outlook on the web” (formerly Outlook Web App), ensuring data is secure when in transit. While MAPI over HTTP is now the default communication protocol between Outlook and Exchange, clients that don’t support it will fall back to Outlook Anywhere (RPC over HTTP).

Outlook on the web has been enhanced to provide platform-specific experiences for phones (for both iOS & Android), including a “Premium” Android experience for phones when using Chrome on Android 4.2 or later. Search suggestions & refiners have been introduced to anticipate what the user’s looking for and refine that search with contextually-aware filters (such as date range, senders, etc).

Exchange 2016 also brings support for the Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL) authentication model in Outlook clients on Windows, Android, and other platforms. ADAL enables functionality like two-factor authentication to help improve security of your data.

Server Architechture

With the advent of increasingly more powerful servers the primary design goal for Exchange 2016 is now for simplicity of scale, hardware utilization, and failure isolation. Therefore with Exchange 2016 the number of server roles has been reduced to two: the Mailbox and Edge Transport server roles.

The Mailbox server in Exchange 2016 includes all of the server components from the Exchange 2013 Mailbox and Client Access server roles:

  • Mailbox services include all the traditional server components found in the Exchange 2013 Mailbox server role: the Client Access protocols, Transport service, Mailbox databases, and Unified Messaging. The Mailbox server handles all activity for the active mailboxes on that server
  • Client Access services provide authentication, limited redirection, and proxy services. Client Access services don’t do any data rendering and offer all the usual client access protocols: HTTP, POP and IMAP, and SMTP

Exchange 2016 now allows you to proxy traffic from Exchange 2013 to Exchange 2016 in addition to Exchange 2016 to Exchange 2013. This new flexibility gives you more control in how you move to Exchange 2016.

The Edge Transport role, as in previous versions, is typically deployed in your perimeter network, outside your internal Active Directory forest to handle all internet-facing mail flow, and is designed to minimize the attack surface of your Exchange deployment.

Cloud and Hybrid

When you choose to configure a hybrid deployment in Exchange 2016, you’ll be prompted to download and install the wizard as a small app. The wizard will function the same as in previous versions of Exchange, with a few new benefits:

  • The wizard can be updated quickly to support changes in the Office 365 service
  • The wizard can be updated to account for issues detected when customers try to configure a hybrid deployment
  • Improved troubleshooting and diagnostics to help you resolve issues that you run into when running the wizard
  • The same wizard will be used by everyone configuring a hybrid deployment who’s running Exchange 2013 or Exchange 2016

In addition to Hybrid Configuration Wizard improvements, multi-forest hybrid deployments are being simplified with Azure Active Directory Connect (AADConnect). AADConnect introduces management agents that will make it significantly easier to synchronize multiple on-premises Active Directory forests with a single Office 365 tenant.

Hybrid deployments will support the new modern authentication model in Outlook described earlier.

Exchange ActiveSync clients will be seamlessly redirected to Office 365 when a user’s mailbox is moved to Exchange Online.

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Office 365 is more than just mail

I’m spending a large proportion of my time these days talking to clients about Office 365. This is great that so many people are now seeing the value of moving to a cloud service but there does seem to be some confusion over what Office 365 is.
I think the branding doesn’t help, after all Office has always been about Word, Excel & PowerPoint on your PC to most people!
The biggest issue I have is where people (including a number of vendors who should know better) say “Office 365” and it becomes obvious that what they really mean is “Exchange Online”.
I believe this comes from the fact that most people will migrate mail to the cloud first and so this is what becomes associated with the Office 365 name but it really is so much more – SharePoint, Lync, OneDrive for Business and Yammer all add so much more potential and, with the appropriate plan, a copy of Office is included too!
So next time someone talks about Office 365, ask them what they really mean. If they just want mail in the cloud then there is a separate plan for that called Exchange Online!

End of Support – Are you Ready?

Just a quick post to remind you all the following product are due to end support on April 8th

 

Exchange 2010 SP2 will transition out of support on 8th April 2014

Outlook 2003 will transition out of extended support on the 8th of April 2014

Exchange Server 2003 will transition out of extended support on the 8th of April 2014

Windows XP will transition out of extended support on the 8th of April 2014

 

If you’re not already running or planning to upgrade to a newer version of these products you really should be or your systems could be at risk.

 

 

2013 Service Pack 1 is here

The next wave of updates for the 2013 suite of products have arrived with Service Pack 1 being announced today

Exchange 2013 SP1 – http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=41994

Key updates are

  • Support for Windows Server 2012R2,
  • The return of the Edge role (does anyone actually use this?)
  • The introduction of MAPI over HTTP

Further details are here – http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2014/02/25/exchange-server-2013-service-pack-1-available.aspx

Office 2013 SP1 (32Bit) – http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42005
Office 2013 SP1 (64Bit) – http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42006

SharePoint 2013 – http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42008

Further Office details here – http://blogs.technet.com/b/office_sustained_engineering/archive/2014/02/25/announcing-the-release-of-service-pack-1-for-office-2013-and-sharepoint-2013.

Also released today are Update Rollups for Exchange 2010 SP3 and 2007 SP3

http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2014/02/25/released-update-rollup-5-for-exchange-2010-service-pack-3-and-update-rollup-13-for-exchange-2007-service-pack-3.aspx

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.

 

Exchange 2013 CU1 and Co-Existence

Last night (2nd April) the Exchange team finally released the Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 1 (CU1) patch that we have been waiting for to permit co-existence with previous versions of Exchange. (http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2013/04/02/released-exchange-server-2013-rtm-cumulative-update-1.aspx)

I’ve had a very quick look at this today in my lab environment to see what Exchange 2013 Co-existence looks like out the box.

The first job was to update my Lab Exchange 2010 server to SP3 (required for co-existence) – straightforward enough though it does, as expected, require downtime of Exchange Services to apply the Service Pack, and SP3 also includes an AD Schema update too, so – full backup of AD first!  FYI SP3 is a slipstreamed install and now supports Server 2012.

Next I created a new Server 2012 VM and joined it to my Lab domain. The only pre-requisites, other than Server 2012 Roles & Features, are the Microsoft Unified Communications Managed API 4.0 Runtime (http://www.microsoft.com/en-GB/download/details.aspx?id=34992) and the Office 2010 64Bit FilterPack SP1 (http://www.microsoft.com/en-GB/download/details.aspx?id=26604).

Now I could run the downloaded CU1 Exchange-x64.exe file to unpack the installation files and run Setup.exe.

The Exchange 2013 CU1 installation now runs through with an option to install all required Roles and Features on the server, very helpful other then requiring a re-boot to complete the install, before then needing to re-running setup.exe to actually start the install.

The install itself is, as expected, very straightforward with the only real option being which role or roles to install (Only CAS or Mailbox roles now in 2013).

Once installed the fun starts – as Exchange 2013 no longer has the Exchange Management Console all administration is via the web based “Exchange Control Panel”. This is great but, at this point my Administrator mailbox still resides on the Exchange 2010 server so when I login to the 2013 URL my session is proxied to 2010, presenting me with the 2010 ECP and no knowledge of the Exchange 2013 world!

A quick check of TechNet and I find this:-

If your mailbox
exists on an Exchange 2010 Mailbox server, the Exchange 2010 ECP will
automatically load in your browser. This is by design. You can access the EAC
by adding the Exchange version to the URL. For example, to access the EAC whose
virtual directory is hosted on the Client Access server CAS01-NA, use the
following URL:
https://CAS01-NA/ecp?ExchClientVer=15.

So now I can connect to the 2013 ECP and see all my 2010 objects I test moving a mailbox from my 2010 server – this all works as expected by creating a “New Migration Batch” which even sends me a mail when complete. I can login to the mailbox using OWA and get the new clean, modern interface to send a test mail.

The mail sends to mailboxes on 2010 and I can reply back to 2013 successfully  – job done!

I’ll play with this lab more over the coming weeks and if I find anything of interest I’ll let you know.

 

Good news & Bad news – Exchange 2013 Coexistence

Good news, Microsoft yesterday (12/02/13) finally announced the release of SP3 for Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2007 SP3 RU10 – these are the pieces we have been waiting for since Exchange 2013 was released back in early December to allow installation into an existing environment.

Bad news,   To do this, install Exchange Server 2013 Cumulative Update 1 (CU1). You cannot install Exchange Server 2013 in your existing Exchange Server 2010 organization by using Exchange Server 2013 RTM installation media.

At this time Exchange 2013 CU1 is slated for release Q1 2013 – looks like we will have to wait a little bit longer!