Exchange Unwashed Digest October 2015


October 2015 started with the launch of Exchange 2016, included a fight about a report issued by a security company to show how user credentials might be exposed by OWA and ended at yet another conference in Las Vegas. Lots of things to discuss… Here’s what happened during the month on my Exchange Unwashed blog at WindowsITPro.com.

Understanding what the Exchange 2016 Preferred Architecture really means (Oct 29): As part of their launch of Exchange 2016, Microsoft is taking a harder line about the kind of designs that customers use in their deployments, which is why the Preferred Architecture exists. Of course, it’s only Microsoft’s view and you might have good reasons (like virtualization) to move away from their approach. All explained here.

Transition from on-premises to cloud reflected in Microsoft’s latest results (Oct 27): Microsoft’s Q1 FY16 results were the first using the new product categories so it was harder to make a direct comparison with the past, especially when currency fluctuations also exert an influence. But any look at their results demonstrate that Office 365 is still growing and that on-premises servers are declining.

Veeam and Office 365 – not today, maybe in the future (Oct 26): I visited the VeeamON conference in Las Vegas to get a view of what Veaam is up to and a good discussion about backups for cloud services resulted. In a nutshell, they’re waiting to see whether a true market develops.

What Exchange admins need to know about SharePoint Online backup and restore (Oct 22): You might know that Exchange Online disdains to take backups and depends on Native Data Protection. SharePoint Online is different and some backups are taken. It’s a small but important point to understand.

Creating a common groups platform for Office 365 (Oct 20): A follow up article to a previous post to explain what I would do to create a common technical framework for Office 365 Groups and Yammer to run upon. It seems strange that three years after the Yammer acquisition so much distance still exists between the two most common collaborative applications within Office 365.

Outlook’s likes and mentions really don’t float my boat (Oct 15): It’s Grumpy Old Man (GOM) time again. The news that Outlook and Outlook Web App are going to support Facebook-like “likes” and Twitter-like “mentions” brought a cold chill to my bones. I don’t like the ideas very much at all because I cannot see how likes will improve the quality or effectiveness of email communication. I am more positive about mentions. But at the end of the day, it all depends on how people use the technology. Some will like it (no pun intended). Others, like me, will simply be grumpy.

FUD continues over OWA backdoor exploit (Oct 13): I respect companies who focus on IT Security because their work keeps the bad guys away from essential IT systems. The research that they do leads to innovate techniques that detect, isolate, and deal with threats. It’s a difficult area of the industry because some of the challenges that these companies take on are mind-bendingly hard. And when something good happens, it’s right that a company who makes a breakthrough should benefit from that work. Unfortunately, all the whoo-hah about the OWA backdoor attack reported in early October obscured what seems to be some interesting techniques developed by Cybereason in favor of clickbait, press headlines, and page views. It would have been so easy to better present the offending report but that didn’t happen. Oh well…

The ongoing debate over Office 365 Groups and Yammer (Oct 8): One of the most common questions I see asked by Office 365 tenant administrators in Microsoft’s IT Pro Network is whether they should use Office 365 Groups or Yammer to help users to collaborate and work smarter. This is a complex question that cannot be adequately answered to the satisfaction of all in an article, but it’s a question that deserves some comment. So here goes. I now batten down my hatches in anticipation of some “forthright” comments!

Doubtful security report about OWA flaw gains headlines but offers little real value (Oct 7): FUD is a well-known term in the computer industry and it’s alive and well as evident in a recent report of an OWA vulnerability that emerged from security researchers Cybereason. The report is not well written and contains insufficient detail to know whether the issue it describes is real. I don’t think it is, but it’s hard to make the call without understanding how a hacker magically penetrated an Exchange server. Make your own mind up!

Microsoft intends to charge for the Office 365 Import Service (Oct 6): An interesting FAQ released to Microsoft partners contained the news that Microsoft intends to charge to allow Office 365 tenants to import PSTs and other data using the Office 365 Import Service. That news isn’t stunning because it’s a service and you can make the case that someone has to pay for the infrastructure, etc. etc. What was surprising was the price point. $8/GB is, shall we say, ludicrous? Anyway, now that we know what’s coming, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft prices the Import Service – and how third parties price to compete with the folks from Redmond.

Exchange 2016 debuts to delight on-premises customers (Oct 1): It’s October, it’s three years since the last version of Exchange Server was released, so it must be time for a new version. And so it is as Exchange 2016 makes its debut and becomes generally available to all who would like to install the new software. Of course, installing a new version (or an update) of Exchange is not something that anyone with an ounce of sense rushes to do, even in a greenfield environment, so the time clock starts now for the planning exercises that should lead to a wave of deployments as people who want to stay on-premises and run older versions seek to get to a version that will be supported for the next decade.

November is already proving to be busy. I guess it’s better that way than the other…

Stay in touch by following Tony @12Knocksinna

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

Exchange MVP, author, and rugby referee
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