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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 www.telnetport25.com/.