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ENow Software's Microsoft Exchange Online blog built by Microsoft MVPs for IT/Sys Admins.

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Michael Van Horenbeeck MVP, MCSM

Michael Van Horenbeeck is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) and Exchange Server MVP from Belgium, with a strong focus on Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Active Directory, and a bit of Lync. Michael has been active in the industry for about 12 years and developed a love for Exchange back in 2000. He is a frequent blogger and a member of the Belgian Unified Communications User Group Pro-Exchange. Besides writing about technology, Michael is a regular contributor to The UC Architects podcast and speaker at various conferences around the world. You can follow Michael via twitter (@mvanhorenbeeck) or his blog michaelvh.wordpress.com.

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Getting started with Microsoft Passport, Windows Hello and Office 365

Image of Michael Van Horenbeeck MVP, MCSM
Michael Van Horenbeeck MVP, MCSM

In Windows 10, Microsoft introduced “Windows Hello” which – to keep things simple – offers the ability to use biometrics to unlock a computer instead of using a regular password. Windows Hello was demoed fairly early on in the Windows 10 development cycle, and there was lots of excitement in the tech press about it, but the fact that you can use biometrics for authentication purposes is not really new; especially in building access control where biometrics havealready been used for many years to verify someone’s identity before granting access to certain areas of a building. Given this, you might wonder what is so special about Windows Hello. The answer lies in the combination of Hello with another feature.

Along with Hello, Microsoft introduced another new feature that didn’t get as much attention: Microsoft Passport. The simplest way to think of Passport is as a replacement for reusable passwords. While Hello can be used to unlock a credential, Passport lets you replace traditional passwords with much stronger cryptographic credentials.

Passwords are, because of the way people use them, inherently insecure. In recent years, researches have suggested that moving from regular passwords to passphrases could help solve the problem of short (even if complex) and insecure passwords. The following xkcd cartoon clearly illustrates that point:

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Should You Upgrade a Hybrid Exchange Configuration to Exchange 2016?

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Michael Van Horenbeeck MVP, MCSM

A few weeks ago, Microsoft released Exchange 2016 to the public. By now, some of you will have had the chance to play with the latest member in the Exchange Server family and perhaps have formed an opinion on whether it’s something you are willing to consider upgrading to now, or after few more Cumulative Updates have been released.

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IT Dev logo

IT/Dev Connections 2015: The Session Run-Down

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Michael Van Horenbeeck MVP, MCSM

With IT/DEV Connections less than two weeks out, I found myself getting anxious to attend these insightful sessions.

The conference, which happens to be one of my favorites, has many advantages: It’s not as hectic as Ignite, and the smaller crowd gives you the opportunity to interact with all the great speakers. As usual, it's held in Las Vegas from September 14 – 17 in the beautiful Aria hotel. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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July 15 Outage — More Visibility Needed! Office 365 Monitoring

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Michael Van Horenbeeck MVP, MCSM

As reported earlier, Office 365 was recently hit with a widespread issue. According to the case details that Microsoft posted to its service dashboard, the problems started around 6:15 PM (EST) on July 15 and were solved by July 15 at 9:30 PM (EST). 

That is a little over three hours that customers were experiencing all sorts of issues! Even though it's unlikely this outage alone will affect Microsoft's 99.9% uptime on a yearly basis, the impact and inconvenience on the customer base is big. While Microsoft does a terrific job running Office 365, this wasn't the first outage, and it likely won’t be the last, either.

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Hybrid Exchange deployments: Highlights from Ignite

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Michael Van Horenbeeck MVP, MCSM

Last week during Microsoft's Ignite conference, I had the pleasure to co-present a session with Timothy Heeney on hybrid Exchange deployments. For those who weren't able to attend Ignite, the recording of that session is available here. During our session, Tim spoke about how Microsoft tests hybrid deployments and the tools it (recently) released to help you troubleshoot hybrid deployments. He also announced some pending changes to the face of the Hybrid Configuration Wizard.

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Is a hybrid Exchange deployment the right option for you?

Image of Michael Van Horenbeeck MVP, MCSM
Michael Van Horenbeeck MVP, MCSM

One of the decisions you have to make when moving to Office 365, is to determine how you will move mailboxes. There are various options available which makes it hard to see the forest through the trees. Choosing the right approach is not an easy task. The decision is influenced by many variables like the size of your organization, the impact on your users and IT department or the bandwidth of your internet connection.

Before we address the question of whether or not you should go down the road of a hybrid deployment, let's quickly review the options that are available to you today. Please note that the descriptions below are not intended to cover all aspects of each approach, rather to paint a picture of the current landscape:

  • Cutover migration. As the name implies, this approach is used to 'move' all mailboxes from your on-premises organization to Office 365 at the same time. At least, the switch to Office 365 happens at the same time. Prior to switching to Office 365, mailbox contents are copied to Office 365. Depending on the amount of mailboxes and the size of the mailboxes you are migrating, the copy process can take several days, if not weeks. During that time, your users continue to use their on-premises mailbox. Once the initial copy process has completed, delta synchronizations keep the mailboxes in Office 365 up-to-date with new contents from the on-premises mailboxes until you switch over to using the Office 365-based mailboxes. During the switch over time (also referred to as the cutover), all your users must reconfigure their email clients to point to Office 365 instead the on-premises organization.
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New Hybrid Configuration Wizard features in Exchange 2013 CU5

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Michael Van Horenbeeck MVP, MCSM

As posted here, Microsoft released Cumulative Update 5 for Exchange 2013. At first sight, this update doesn’t appear to make lots of changes – at least not visibly. However, it does contain a lot of fixes and, as you will find out, there have been some changes to the Hybrid Configuration Wizard as well. 

New options in the Hybrid Configuration Wizard

Whenever you enable an organization for a hybrid deployment in CU5, you will find the following new option:

 

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