The functionality in Exchange Hybrid is now quite mature. It’s been available since the launch of Office 365 (or even before if you include the embryotic support in Live@EDU) and provides the rich co-existence functionality that allows organizations to mix mailboxes on-premises and in the cloud, retaining much of the normal sharing capabilities people rely on for day-to-day collaboration.
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With the rise of mobile computing and social networks, organizations have seemingly endless applications available for facilitating collaboration and communication to complete projects faster and more efficiently.
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.
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!
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.
This is a story about one company’s trials and tribulations of migrating to and maintaining a hybrid cloud environment; specifically Microsoft Exchange. Once upon a time Acme Industries decided to move to the cloud. The decision was based on a sales pitch from a cloud vendor that described the pretty blue skies of the cloudy world. “You'll have fewer servers on premise so it’ll be less complex and overall you'll be very happy.” The company agreed that reducing on-premise services, simplifying infrastructure and gaining the ability to reprioritize their IT staff to higher value tasks made a great deal of sense. And while they all agreed this was a wise decision, they knew it was important that they recognized that like any deployment, there were going to be new processes to learn and expectations that need to be managed. However, not everything would be moving to the cloud, there would be some accounts that would remain on-premises. Therefore, theirs would be a hybrid deployment.
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:
There are a many reasons an organization may consider a hybrid email configuration. Hybrid can be used as a stepping stone for moving organizational email to Office 365, it can be used as an option for your archived mail or there may be use cases where some of your mailboxes will be hosted within Office 365 and some remain within Exchange On-Premise. Before starting, determine your organizational use cases since there are many possible Exchange hybrid deployment choices.
For Exchange administrators, Office 365 is at the forefront of considerations for the future of email. When thinking about Office 365, my initial thoughts are, "what about security, compliance, and 3rd party systems that integrate with my current Exchange On-Premises implementation?" After thinking further about what Office 365 means for any organization, I created this article which dives into a few key considerations for Office 365 as it relates to email and hopefully helps you decide what's best for your organization.
Organization Size and SLA’s
As I started investigating Office 365 I quickly learned that the general perception is that it's great for small companies. Two major reasons that stand out are cost affordability and these organizations have few 3rd party systems that integrate with their current Exchange On-Premises configurations. For large to mid-sized companies the conversation changed a bit; primarily related to organizational SLA models. Microsoft offers a 99% SLA, but this is not on ALL services to be available at the same time. For example, they will not guarantee that ActiveSync, Outlook Web App and mailboxes will have 99% up-time cumulatively. ActiveSync could be down, but mailbox access could be up. What is acceptable to your organization? With all the facts up front you can better set expectations for your company; regardless of size, if you choose to move your email into the cloud.
Security and Compliance