Exchange Unwashed Digest – February 2016


February is the shortest month of the year so fewer posts usually appear. Here’s what happened last month in the Exchange Unwashed Blog on WindowsITPro.com.

Dynamic Office 365 Groups might come with a big cost (Feb 25): I was very happy when Microsoft announced the preview of dynamic Office 365 Groups because I saw this as another step along the road of being able to move away from old-style email distribution groups. But over the last week or so the penny dropped (no pun intended) that using dynamic groups incurred a substantial fee for Azure Active Directory Premium licenses. Not a problem if you’ve already coughed up, but certainly a big issue if you imagined that this is the kind of feature that should be included in Office 365 enterprise plans. Microsoft has time to fix the issue before dynamic Office 365 Groups become generally available. I hope they do something smart.

In praise of the humble archive mailbox (Feb 23): I have concluded that I like archive mailboxes. At least, I like them a lot more than I like PSTs. You might disagree, but that’s your prerogative. And given the size of the quotas available to Exchange mailboxes today (especially in Office 365), it’s entirely reasonable to want to keep everything in your primary mailbox. But that’s a little untidy as you don’t really need to carry around every read-receipt you have ever received, do you? The downside with archive mailboxes is that they can only be accessed online. It can be a bit slow sometimes to fetch something – or even worse, put something there. But even these issues don’t take away from the essential goodness of archive mailboxes as the place where stuff can be put for ever and ever and ever…

How Microsoft’s focus on low-cost storage impacts the Exchange market (Feb 18): Everyone’s entitled to their view of what really matters in terms of hardware configurations for an application like Exchange. The server folks will argue the details of CPU and memory to the nth degree and the storage people really get into I/O, drive speeds, and capacity. It’s all goodness because it keeps people gainfully occupied. But we live in a world where simplicity is becoming a watchword as the influence of cloud services is felt. I wonder what affect this will have on storage vendors who sell into the Exchange market. Microsoft has shown its hand in the way that JBOD is used for Exchange Online and the on-premises market is declining. What will the storage vendors do?

The story of Exchange IOPS: How a crusade to make Exchange less of a storage hog enabled a successful cloud service (Feb 16): We probably realized it at the time (but thought it was OK) – Exchange 2003 was a storage hog. The software just loved to wallow in expensive storage and fully occupy the mind of pernickety Storage Area Networks (SANs). Everything was fine when large enterprises were footing the bill, but something had to be done to reduce the demand for storage. The subsequent project (or crusade in the minds of some) has lasted roughly 12 years and has been tremendously successful in transforming the ability of Exchange to run on low-cost storage. In fact, just the kind of disks that Office 365 has in abundance.

How Exchange’s Recover Deleted Items option could be improved (Feb 11): It’s always nice to have the chance to reverse course, which is what the Recover Deleted Items option gives you when you delete an item in error. Good as this option is, it is implemented in different ways in Outlook and Outlook Web App. It might be nice to have a common approach, but it would be even nicer if Exchange could recover an item to its original folder.

Exchange says no to .NET Framework 4.6.1 (Feb 10): One side of Microsoft is making .NET Framework 4.6.1 available to customers through Windows Update. That’s very helpful and nice, but not if you use Exchange. Some known issues and the need for testing to be completed by the Exchange development group means that you shouldn’t let .NET Framework 4.6.1 anywhere near an Exchange server for now. Be happy with 4.5.2 and be patient.

Office 365 Planner FAQ (Feb 9): Don’t we all love making plans? At least, we think we do when we start out, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed bursting with enthusiasm and ready to sort out whatever tasks we have on hand. Things go downhill rapidly afterwards when the whole task management process becomes so utterly boring. Microsoft thinks that they can help with Office 365 Planner, a new application that helps workgroups manage tasks and get things done. It’s much simpler than Project Server and here’s an FAQ to help resolve questions you might have.

Yammer for all (whether you want it or not) (Feb 4): Joy! Yammer is about to be activated for all Office 365 enterprise customers. What a lovely idea… but will it have any effect on how people collaborate and share information within Office 365? I’m unsure whether this will be the case but Microsoft appears to be determined to insert a touch of Yammer in as many places as possible across the breadth of the service. We’ll just have to wait and see how organizations and users take to this new approach over competing methods such as plain-old-email and Office 365 Groups.

Synchronizing user photos across Office 365 workloads isn’t easy (Feb 2): A user question about how to synchronize photo thumbnails across all Office 365 workloads caused me to peek into this subject. It’s not a pretty sight. Exchange Online works well and Skype for Business seems to co-operate nicely, but SharePoint Online is a bit of a mess. Oh dear…

Nine posts is a pretty good outcome for the month. Some are strategic, like those covering the dropping I/O requirements for Exchange storage over the last decade and what this means to the storage market. Others are observations on what’s happening, like the confusion around .NET Framework 4.6.1, and others complaints… Lots of complaints. It’s what I do best!

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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