September 2012 was the month of MEC and many articles appeared to cover the happenings at the conference. I tried, but failed, to stay away from too many mentions of MEC in the “Exchange Unwashed” blog because there were many other topics to discuss, at least early on in the month. Here’s what featured in September.
The upside and downside of Microsoft’s focus on the cloud (September 27). This post discusses how the changing development priorities within Microsoft’s engineering groups influence on-premises products. Microsoft announced the termination of some of its well-known security products during September, including Threat Management Gateway (TMG), a product deployed as a reverse proxy server in many Exchange installations. Offsetting that downside, the upside is the knowledge and experience gained from operating “the service”, Microsoft’s name for Office 365. Exchange 2013 includes a very nice Managed Availability feature that’s built by engineers to avoid the need to get out of bed at night to respond to outages. Sounds good. We shall soon see how it works in practice.
MEC shows that Outlook, OWA, and EAC user interfaces maturing nicely (September 25). If you’ve installed Exchange 2013 Preview and Outlook 2013 Preview, you might be under-impressed at the user interface redesign flowing from the style-whose-name-can-no-longer-be-mentioned. Fortunately, the preview editions are just that and the soon-to-be-released versions boast tweaked user interfaces that are better than their predecessors. OWA and EAC still miss features that won’t be included when Exchange 2013 makes its debut, but we can always wait until SP1 appears – just like every other version of Exchange since Exchange 2000.
Questions for Exchange engineers at MEC (September 20). I find that going to a conference without having some questions that need to be answered is a bad thing. The list of questions help me to focus and provide a good mental checklist of issues that I’m concerned about. So I published my list for all to see the week before MEC. The question now is whether I (or anyone else) is at all clearer on these points after sitting through sessions. Or rather, not being able to get into rooms as was the case for many sessions at MEC.
Choosing the right operating system for Exchange 2013 (September 18). Ever since Microsoft decided that in-place server upgrades were just too hard to engineer, this is a choice that we get to make every time Microsoft releases a brand new version of Exchange. For Exchange 2013 the choice is Windows 2008 R2 SP1 or Windows 2012. It might surprise you that I have a strong view and distinct preference on this topic. Read on to find out…
Will Exchange Customers Trust the Cloud to Provide Anti-Malware Protection? (September 13). The announcement that Microsoft was dropping development of some of its on-premises security products came like a bolt from the blue for many customers, who now have a choice to a) continue to use the existing products like TMG until they turn to dust, b) moving to a cloud-based service, or c) looking elsewhere for replacement products. I think that many will stay with choice a) at least until Microsoft ceases to support the products (2015) and that choice c) will become more attractive over time as competitors move back into a space where Microsoft was a pretty big player. As to b), it’s viable and should improve over time, but it’s not the favourite option for many security professionals who like the comfort of controlling their own anti-malware destiny.
Exchange 2013 Site Mailboxes – a new beginning for collaboration? (September 11). Site mailboxes (which used to be called “team mailboxes” – I think the name was changed to align them better with “SharePoint sites”) are one of the major new features in Exchange 2013 and part of the “let’s work better together” theme that you can see across Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. The question is whether customers will be happy to deploy a SharePoint 2013 infrastructure just to be able to do better collaborative document handling. After reading what Microsoft has published about site mailboxes, I came up with ten “must know” things for Exchange administrators. See if I missed anything important!
The Implications of Outlook 2013 Changing OST Cache Behavior (September 6). One of the little secrets in Outlook 2013 Preview is the way that it updates the OST (offline storage) file. In addition to introducing some very welcome compression of data fields to result in smaller file sizes, Outlook 2013 controls the amount of information that’s cached by setting a cache period. The idea is good as most people don’t care too much about older information – that is, until they need to get to it – but the implementation is a little bothersome as it introduces another deployment hassle for administrators.
Exchange 2013 dumps CAS arrays (September 4). Exchange 2013 concentrates on RPC-over-HTTPS as the connection method for Outlook clients, meaning that the traditional RPC-over-TCP method is consigned to the byte wastebasket. The Exchange 2013 version of the Client Access Server (CAS) is a much simpler stateless entity, so the notion of CAS arrays isn’t really necessary in a world where load balancing is easier. It’s all good stuff, as long as you take account of the changes when you plan your Exchange 2013 deployment.
September was quite a light month as only eight articles appeared. This is accounted for by the tempo of Tuesday and Thursday publication that I follow for “Exchange Unwashed”. Keep on reading to learn about new developments or simply to attempt to understand my somewhat unstructured thought patterns.
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