This content is part of the Essential Guide: Three essential steps for preparing to migrate to Exchange 2013
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New Exchange 2013 features may help simplify migration decisions

New Exchange 2013 features make on-premises migrations, Office 365 setups and hybrid environments all viable options.

The first part of our latest multi-part series explains features new to Exchange 2013 that may help organizations decide if they want to focus migration efforts there, on Office 365, or on a combination of the two via a hybrid environment.

In versions of Exchange prior to 2010, a hosted Exchange infrastructure was a rather unappealing proposition. Scalability was limited by the product itself, as well as the hosting providers' capacity to deliver large, feature-rich environments with Exchange 2003 or Exchange 2007.

While a hosted email arrangement is a suitable setup for small organizations that don't require a full set of Exchange Server features, companies with an Exchange environment of more than 1,500 users need to bear the cost of provisioning dedicated hardware in the provider's environment to cope with that level of demand. In the past, hosted offerings also tended to reduce functionality for users, as the shared infrastructure model was immature and required the removal of certain features for the application to perform adequately.

But Exchange 2010 made strides to address these limitations, enabling Microsoft to develop Office 365, Microsoft's more scalable and feature-rich cloud-based offering. Office 365 accommodates more than 50,000 users, offers a subscription-based payment model and allows for more applications (such as SharePoint, Lync and Office online) to be added as business requirements grow.

As such, Office 365 poses fewer tradeoffs for IT in terms of providing necessary functionality while also serving environments with many users.

With Exchange 2013, Microsoft has continued to develop the core-product features. New Exchange 2013 features also emphasize Microsoft's "better together" roadmap, which ostensibly provides improved integration among the company's own suite of products, as well as with third-party tools.

For Exchange shops, there are now viable on-premises and cloud-based messaging options. So the question becomes which road to choose.

Stay on-premises or move to the cloud?

For organizations that want to move from their on-premises Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010 deployment and upgrade their version of Exchange, the biggest decision to confront is whether to opt for Office 365 or Exchange 2013.

For various reasons, some organizations may be hesitant to adopt Exchange 2013 directly. Many companies have just moved from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010, so the cost of another migration does not make sense. In other cases, organizations are evaluating a full move to the cloud, and on-premises Exchange 2013 does not figure into their plans.

Finally, many IT shops avoid deploying Microsoft products before the first service pack arrives.

For companies that have just gone through an Exchange 2010 migration and are hesitant about another, a hybrid deployment may be a valid option. With some mail in the cloud, and more secure mail behind the firewall, companies can safely evaluate cost and functionality before making a full commitment.

New features in Exchange 2013

You can review all the new features in Exchange 2013 here and decide if the new advantages outweigh the potential drawbacks.

For example, Exchange 2013 features include better integration for hybrid deployments that mix on- and off-premises, as well as tighter integration between Exchange, Lync (which provides instant messaging, online meetings and voice functionality) and SharePoint. Some highlights of Exchange 2013 include the following capabilities:

  • Users collaborate more effectively via site mailboxes.
  • Lync Server 2013 can archive content in Exchange 2013 and use Exchange 2013 as a contact store.
  • Managers with the Discovery role can perform in-place e-discovery and hold searches across SharePoint 2013, Exchange 2013 and Lync 2013 data.
  • OAuth allows partner applications to authenticate as a service or impersonate users where required.

These improvements are designed to provide a better, more integrated experience between complementary products within the Microsoft product set

Further, if you want to run a hybrid deployment as a migration scenario or as a dual-deployment posture model, Exchange 2013 brings several key improvements, such as the following:

  • The hybrid configuration wizard
  • Integrated support for Exchange 2010 edge transport servers
  • Enhanced secure mail
  • Improved centralized mail transport
  • Better online protection for Exchange
  • Unified mailbox move wizard

About the author
Andy Grogan is a multiple recipient of the Microsoft Exchange MVP award (2009 – 2013) and is based in the U.K. Grogan has worked in the IT industry for the last 16 years -- primarily with Microsoft, HP and IBM technologies. Grogan's main passion is Exchange Server, but he also specializes in Active Directory, SQL Server, storage solutions, technology strategy and technical leadership in large scale enterprises. He currently works for a large county council in Surrey as their technical delivery manager supporting 15,000 customers on more than 240 sites. Visit Andy's website at

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For Enterprises why on Earth go Hybrid??
Have control & security in house with Exchange 2013 On-Premises. Enterprise with 1000 mailbox cost $100K a year for Exchange in cloud.
Again Cloud companies are paying IT websites for ads & IT Authors are promoting Cloud blindly.
So now that Cloud Companies knows they lost the game with "Everyone should go cloud", they are selling us "Everyone should go Hybrid".
Not all large organisations want to have full on premises, but are not in a position to go fully into the cloud for a number of reasons. Might not be the complete trend but a fact none the less.
I agree with the guys below. Cloud companies are trying to sell VERY hard today. But for Enterprise with 1000 mailboxes Exchange in Cloud cost $100K per year and that is NOT cost saving.
MVPs should deep dive into Exchange On-Premises and teach us something today, NOT tell us things that a 10 years old even know I.E. Cloud & Hybrid deployment.
I just surveyed 100 ten year olds and none of them could explain cloud or hybrid deployment so please get real and stop being defensive of your own positions - does the cloud really threaten you that much? The spirit of the article was based around features in Exchange 2013 that make migration options more accessible including hybrid deployments and makes the point that functionality has improved between traditional hosted "providers" that utilise Exchange 2010 as their model and O365 which is offering a more joined up approach. People don't have to go to the cloud - and their own businesses direction will dictate how they deploy - but it is no longer something that can be dismissed as one of the evaluation options - and any person who says otherwise is not living in the real world. Cloud for many orgs is many years away that I agree with - but still needs to be considered.
I always preferred staying On-Premises rather than handing over my exchange data to someone else and not having control over the data at all. I have some of large clients and they wouldn't move to 2013 at least for more than a year.
Moving to Exchange 2013 is not an easy choice. The RTM was dogged by issues, which included co-existence support being absent for quite a few months post RTM which led to a number of MVP's as well as known industry experts say don't deploy on the RTM. CU1 went someway to addressing these issues but there is still a valid question of whether organisation should deploy. My personal view is that if you have only just gone to Exchange 2010 then the business case is probably quite weak to make the jump. If you are on previous versions - then it is probably worth looking at around CU2. There are a lot of good things in 2013 which by CU2 probably represent a good case for pre 2010 setups to move to. As for the cloud comment - prefer on-premises myself, but have to agree that in a number of growing scenarios that I am seeing its worth looking at.