Exchange Unwashed Digest – April 2015


April was a very busy month. First, Microsoft had a lot of conferences to attend and therefore had many announcements to make. It seemed like every marketing manager had something to say, so we had a blizzard of announcements that needed to be reviewed and analyzed (rather than being simply recycled, as happens so often in the technical press). Secondly, I had lots to do for “Office 365 for Exchange Professionals” to complete the content of the eBook for its launch at Microsoft Ignite on May 4. The good news is that everything is done and dusted and we will have PDFs and EPUB content available on the exchangeserverpro.com site from May 4 onward. We have the work done to provide books through Amazon’s Kindle program but the whopping royalties demanded by Amazon makes that route less attractive for now.

In any case, here’s what appeared on my Exchange Unwashed blog on WindowsITPro.com in April 2015.

Clearing the decks for Ignite – more on Office 365 numbers, anti-malware, and PST imports (April 30): Lots of interesting things pass by in the Interweb every day. The three things that caught my attention as I prepared for Ignite was an update from Mary-Jo Foley about Office 365 numbers, including a new goal for Microsoft to reach by the end of 2018, the news that the infrastructure used by Outlook.com and Office 365 is converging, and the arrival of the Office 365 import service to allow tenants to import large quantities of PST data into online mailboxes.

Enhanced NDRs for Exchange Online but no news for on-premises servers (April 29): Microsoft is doing a nice job to provide better information in non-delivery reports that tell people when their email didn’t get through to an Office 365 recipient. It would be great to see this in Exchange on-premises too. Maybe Exchange 2016?

Office 365 Groups show up in Outlook 2016 Preview (April 28): I like Office 365 Groups and it’s nice to see them finally show up in a version of Outlook, which remains the most popular or at least the most used of all Office clients. It’s Outlook 2016 Preview of course but there’s a rumor that Microsoft will update Outlook 2013 to support groups too. In the meantime, I tell you how to access groups with Outlook 2013 with a method that works without all the fancy new user interface.

Microsoft on course for $6.3 billion run rate for commercial cloud services implying 90 million Office 365 mailboxes (April 23): Microsoft doesn’t release any data about the number of paid subscribers for Office 365 business, but I have been tracking their financial results in an attempt to make sense of the annualized run rate they report for commercial cloud services (which include Office 365). The current best guess is that we are now north of 90 million mailboxes.

Treat the new Office 365 150 MB maximum message size with caution (April 23): It’s obviously nice to be able to send a mega-attachment, but even nicer if the intended recipient can actually receive it. Connectors, other mail servers, and clients all get in the way.

Customer lockbox the most interesting feature in Office 365 security announcements (April 22): I was interested in the announcements made for the RSA security conference but this post didn’t get too much of a reaction, perhaps because the implementation of most of the stuff described in it won’t be delivered until 2016. Kind of what you expect from a marketing announcement…

Microsoft teases about Exchange 2016 but the real detail will be at Ignite (April 21): The Exchange development group posted on EHLO about Exchange 2016 and managed to communicate not a lot about what will actually be in the new version. But they have Ignite audiences to excite and delight, so we’ll hear all in Chicago.

Struggling with the Dropbox integration with Office Online (April 17): Microsoft made a big thing about the integration between Dropbox and the Office Online apps but the prospect of users being able to save direct into Dropbox left enterprise administrators cold. However, it’s a good way to get information back out of Dropbox, if people will use this method to retrieve files and store them in a more compliance-friendly repository. But they probably won’t.

Why do so many different administration interfaces exist inside Office 365? (April 16): After four years of operation you’d kind of imagine that Office 365 would exhibit a certain consistency across the administrative interfaces used for its various applications. But it doesn’t. And there are good reasons why!

Four challenges facing Amazon WorkMail (April 14): So Amazon wants to run a cloud-based email service, which is nice. But I don’t think they will succeed and offer four major challenges that face the purveyors of books as they start to sell mailboxes.

Do you need Advanced Threat Protection? Maybe some new malware is en route to your mailbox! (April 9): Security researchers fear day zero exploits because they might use a new technique that is not easily detected by current anti-malware techniques. Microsoft’s grand plan is to provide an add-on ($2/month per mailbox) service that routes any suspicious content into a sandbox environment where it is probed and assessed to figure out whether it really is bad. ATP is coming soon. It will be interesting to see how many customers use it.

What’s your back-out plan if an Office 365 deployment is unsuccessful? (April 7): It’s unpopular to consider such thoughts, but it might just be the case that a move to embrace Office 365 turns out to be the wrong decision for a company. If so, what do you do then? It’s relatively easy to get information back out of Exchange Online, but not so easy for the other applications.

Enterprise Collaboration sessions selected for IT/DEV Connections 2015 (April 2): September seems so far away, but it will come around pretty soon and lots of work is ongoing to prepare for IT/DEV Connections. We’ve settled on an excellent group of experienced speakers to deliver the content for Enterprise Collaboration, which includes Exchange on-premises, Office 365, and other topics. Hopefully we’ll see you at the Aria Hotel in September.

Phew. That’s a lot of content – and more to come in May as we go through the information gathered at Ignite and report back on what’s important and what’s not. Stay tuned!

Follow Tony @12Knocksinna

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About Tony Redmond ("Thoughts of an Idle Mind")

Exchange MVP, author, and rugby referee
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