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Exchange experts offer predictions for Ignite conference

Admins should plan on learning more about the newest version of Exchange, Office 365 developments and hybrid functionality at Ignite, our experts say.

With Microsoft Ignite right around the corner, Exchange admins are curious about the kind of news that will come out of the conference. Many admins are curious to learn about the newest version of Exchange Server due later this year, as well as any potential changes coming to Office 365 and how any of these changes could affect their organizations.

We polled some of our Exchange Server experts to get an idea of what they expect will come out of Ignite. Here, they offer their predictions about some of the details we may hear about Exchange Server 2016, Office 365 functionality and potential new features.

Exchange MVP Steve Goodman, technical architect, Ciber UK

Steve GoodmanSteve Goodman

I'm excited to hear about Exchange Server 2016. It seems like only yesterday Exchange 2013 hit the market, but the release cadence is actually in line with previous versions. I'll be hoping to see more about the new features available and expect that some of the updates will decrease I/O requirements and support larger disks. Microsoft said recently that many new features in Exchange will be familiar to on-premises admins, so it will be great to see if functionality like People view and the waffle navigation bar make the cut.

From an Office 365 perspective, it will be great to see if Microsoft chooses Ignite to shed light on the biggest new features on the road map. ExpressRoute for Office 365 is one I'm watching in particular; I can see many large enterprise customers jumping at the chance to use it. We've also heard about a new drive shipping feature for PSTs, so it will be good to see this in action.

If I were to make some predictions on what I'd like to see, then I hope Microsoft will announce better hybrid functionality, and perhaps decide it's time to set out the roadmap for merging Yammer into the rest of the product suite. We saw features such as Groups a year ago, and I think everyone is ready for the next big bold step.

Exchange MVP Michel De Rooij, consultant, Conclusion FIT

Michel De RooijMichel De Rooij

With the recent first look at what customers can expect from Exchange 2016 on the Exchange Team blog, and the Microsoft Ignite event around the corner, interest for Exchange 2016 is rising. While only few teasers have been published, a lot of information is expected to be disclosed at the Ignite event. This not only allows customers to get a sense of what's coming but also to plan ahead. For example, we may learn more about what previous operating systems will still be supported and if Exchange 2016 will introduce different requirements regarding Active Directory forest functional levels or Domain Controller operating systems. Many organizations seem to leapfrog with regards to updating products (e.g., Exchange Server 2007 or Windows Server 2012), so I expect Exchange 2016 to get more traction, especially from organizations that are still happily running Exchange 2010.

I expect integration with Office 365 to be tighter and more functional, especially with hybrid deployments. I don't expect new functionality in comparison with the Office 365 service, yet I hope more features will become on par with it, such as Groups or the RESTful-API interface to create applications which can interface with Office 365 as well as on-premises Exchange. Integration with OneDrive for Business seems that it will be tighter, as the first look article hints at using it as an attachment repository. This would allow users to simply send links to attachments and save bandwidth or attachment size restrictions; but the recent increase of the potential maximum message size to 150 MB in Office 365 somewhat diminishes that urgency for tenants.

With the current Office 2016 preview, it seems that many people's favorite client, Outlook, will finally catch up regarding some of the features currently available in Outlook Web Access in Office 365, such as Groups or native support for Multifactor Authentication (currently in preview for Outlook 2013). I hope some of the requested features will also see daylight, such as roaming signature settings in Outlook and Outlook Web App, or easily selecting an alternate 'From' address based on Send-As permissions when sending email.

I'm afraid I won't attend Ignite, but sessions will be recorded and made available within 48 hours. For those who want to get early hands-on experience with Exchange 2016, they can register for the Exchange on-premises Technology Adaption Program here.

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