Exchange Queue & A: The new face of Exchange

There are several considerations when upgrading to the new Exchange 2013, whether the on-premises or online version.

Henrik Walther

In with the new

Q. We’re currently running Exchange 2010 in our enterprise. We wish to upgrade our on-premises Exchange messaging infrastructure to Exchange 2013. We’re looking forward to some of the new user- and administrator-focused features in this version.

We’ve heard deploying Exchange 2013 into an Exchange 2010-based organization is currently not supported. This makes the upgrade a showstopper because we want to deploy Exchange 2013 into the existing Exchange organization. What are our options regarding upgrading to Exchange 2013?

A. As you probably know, Exchange 2013 reached RTM back in October 2012. However, you could only use this version in the following scenarios:

  • For testing purposes in a lab environment
  • Deployment in an Active Directory forest that didn’t contain an earlier version of Exchange
  • Cross-forest migration from an earlier version of Exchange to Exchange 2013 in a new Active Directory forest

Unfortunately, you couldn’t deploy Exchange 2013 into an Active Directory forest already containing Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010 servers. Exchange 2013 only supported Exchange 2010 SP3 and Exchange 2007 SP3 RU10.

On Feb. 12 this year, both Exchange 2010 SP3 and Exchange 2007 SP3 RU10 were released to the public. Exchange administrators and consultants around the world thought, “Now I can begin my planned Exchange 2013 upgrade projects.”

Unfortunately, this was once again not the case. To have Exchange 2013 coexist with Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010 in the same Exchange organization, you need the Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 1 (CU1). And, as you may have guessed, CU1 for Exchange 2013 didn’t release on that date. Fortunately, CU1 for Exchange 2013 just released on April 2. So you can now begin upgrading from Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010 to Exchange 2013 in your on-premises organization. Download Exchange 2013 CU1 and read the announcement.

Hybrid environments

Q. We’re currently using Exchange Online as part of Office 365 as our primary messaging system. We can’t move certain mailboxes to Exchange Online, so we’ve configured an Exchange hybrid deployment. The Exchange hybrid servers are running Exchange 2010 SP2.

We’re very interested in moving to the new Office 365 service as soon as possible. Is there anything we need to be aware of when it comes to running an Exchange hybrid deployment? And do you know if we can do anything to expedite upgrading to the new Office 365?

A. All paying Office 365 customers are treated equally, which means when it comes to having their tenant upgraded to the new Office 365, no paying customer will be prioritized over another. So, no, you can’t affect when the Office 365 team migrates your tenant.

You’ll need to wait for the e-mail telling you your tenant has been scheduled to be upgraded to the new Office 365. If you aren’t ready for the upgrade at that point, you can request to push it back 60 days. However, when that 60-day grace period expires, your tenant will need to be upgraded.

As far as your hybrid deployment, you must upgrade your Exchange 2010 SP2 servers to Exchange 2010 SP3 prior to your tenant being upgraded. If you don’t, then several of the Exchange hybrid deployment features will break, including managing your tenant mailboxes using the Exchange Management Console (EMC).

Although establishing a hybrid environment with Exchange 2010 SP3 is supported with Exchange Online in the new Office 365, upgrading the hybrid servers to Exchange 2013 in the near future is recommended. An Exchange 2013-based hybrid also brings with it some new improvements. For more details on these, see the Exchange 2013 hybrid documentation.

Sneak preview

Q. Last year, we moved from an Exchange 2007-based on-premises organization to Exchange Online and Office 365. We’ve been very satisfied with the service so far, but we’re looking forward to the Exchange 2013-based Exchange Online version that will be introduced with the new Office 365.

We’ve heard rumors of some of the new features and improvements included with Exchange Online 2013, but we’re wondering if you could provide us with an insight?

A. With a new version of a product, you get new features as well as improvements to existing ones. This is no different with the Office 365 services. Because the Exchange Online part of the new Office 365 offering is based on Exchange 2013, we’ll see several new changes and improvements. Some of the more significant upgrades include:

  • Exchange Administration Center (EAC): Just like Exchange 2013 for on-premises environments, the new EAC has replaced the Exchange Control Panel (ECP) in Exchange Online. You can use the EAC to do most of the configuration and management you could do with the EMC in Exchange 2010. The EAC is browser-based and lets you add your Office 365 tenant, so you can manage both Exchange Online and on-premises Exchange from within the same browser window. There’s even transparent single sign-on (SSO) when switching between Exchange Online and Exchange on-premises.
  • Exchange Online Protection (EOP): EOP replaces Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE). As with FOPE, each EOP instance is automatically associated with a tenant. EOP protects your organization from viruses, spam, phishing scams and policy violations. It also controls routing between the Internet, Exchange Online and your on-premises mail environment.
  • Outlook Web App (OWA): Once again, OWA is getting a serious facelift. The new OWA is being developed with touch in mind. OWA 2013 also provides the so-called OWA apps and connects much better with social networks.
  • Reporting: The reporting features in Office 365 have been greatly improved. You’ll be able to view information mailboxes and groups in your organization, spam and malware sent to and from your organization, the total volume of mail sent to and from your organization, rules that affected mail sent to and from your organization, and data loss prevention (DLP) policies.
  • New Migration Features: With Exchange 2013, you can now create so-called batch moves and migration endpoints. Migration endpoints are management objects that describe the remote server as well as connections that can be associated with one or multiple batch moves. By using the new batch move architecture, Mailbox Replication Service (MRS) moves are improved by enhancing the management capability. More specifically, you can now move multiple mailboxes in large batches; you’ll get e-mail notifications with reporting during the moves and have automatic retry and prioritization of moves; the primary and personal archive mailboxes can be moved together or separately; and there will now be periodic incremental syncs that update migration changes. All of this happens within the EAC, so it doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with on-premises moves or online moves.
  • Public Folders: As with on-premises Exchange organizations, organizations that move to Exchange Online can take advantage of public folder functionality. Organizations with on-premises public folders can even migrate their on-premises public folder data to public folders in Exchange Online. Public folders in Exchange 2013 are based on mailboxes, so you’ll have the same high-availability history for public folders as you do for “normal” mailboxes. Both also are stored in database availability group (DAG)-protected mailbox databases.
  • Message Trace: The search functionality within the message trace tool is being improved. Every time a trace result is viewed for a message, Exchange will provide the subject line text for each message. There’s also a detailed view that describes all the events that happened to the message.
  • Address Book Policies (ABPs): You’ll now have the option to create custom address lists and do Global Address List (GAL) segmentation. Note that you’ll have to configure these options via Windows PowerShell.
  • Custom Address Lists: You’ll also be able to create custom address lists. This option is included with the new Exchange Online and has recently been made available in the existing version of Exchange Online.

Henrik Walther

Henrik Walther is a Microsoft Certified Master: Exchange 2007 and Exchange MVP with more than 16 years of experience in the IT business. He works as a technology architect for a Microsoft gold partner in Denmark, and as a technical writer for Biblioso Corp. (a U.S.-based company that specializes in managed documentation and localization services). He’s also a contracted vendor working on various product teams (including Exchange and Lync) at Microsoft.