These days, organizations typically need business justification for migrating, and it’s necessary to key in on specific improvements in Exchange 2013 that directly address business benefits worthy of migrating. As much as the underlying improvements of Exchange 2013 add significant value to the overall stability, reliability, scalability, and manageability of Exchange, organizations see these enhancements as “great to have” in terms of improvements, but hard things to convince management as justification to take the leap and do the migration. But if some of these other points we talk about are business critical, these infrastructure improvements become extra benefits as every organization wants their email system to simply work better.
Broad Support for Tablets, Laptops, and Mobile Phones
Exchange 2013 has full support for iPhones, iPads, Android tablets, Android phones, Apple Macs, Linux systems in addition to Windows devices, Windows RT tablets, and Windows 8 systems. There are no special apps or plug-ins that need to be downloaded for multi-endpoint support. The full client support is facilitated by leveraging the native Outlook Web App (OWA) that is provided by Exchange 2013. OWA is full featured and has a common user interface (UI) across all platforms.
Exchange 2013 fully leverages the core capabilities of HTML5. If you’re not familiar with HTML5, it provides offline capabilities. You can effectively go offline with HTML5 written apps, so from your mobile phone or tablet or whatever, you can click “Offline” and you can still open emails, calendar appointments, create new emails, reply to emails, etc. And then when you are back online, anything queued up will do a two-way sync. This is possible because a portion of your mailbox is cached on the system or device, similar to an Offline Store (OST), which can be enabled or disabled for security purposes by policy.
How OWA Fits In
Since the content is cached locally, the responsiveness of accessing OWA content is instantaneous as the client does not have to fetch the content off the Exchange server each and every time typical of traditional Web-based access. That, combined with comparable features between OWA and the full Outlook client and auto-adjustment for various form factors (phone, tablet, full screen) makes OWA in Exchange 2013 a game changer in terms of support for virtually any endpoint device with a browser that supports HTML5.
Enhanced Email Retention, Archiving, Legal Hold, and eDiscovery
While supporting any endpoint, especially in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment, is a critical business need, the functionality in Exchange 2013 that has a direct cost offset of 3rd party tools (and thus economically offsets the cost of migrating to Exchange 2013) are in the areas of email retention, archiving, Legal Hold, and eDiscovery.
Upgrades From Exchange 2010
Exchange 2010 introduced integrated email retention, archiving, journaling, and eDiscovery. With Exchange 2013, Microsoft expanded the capabilities to improve key areas of Classification, integration with Rights Management Services, improved eDiscovery capabilities, and the ability to search and hold not only Exchange data, but holistically across Exchange data, Exchange archives, and SharePoint data so that a single query and action can centrally manage all of the content for users.
This integrated enhancement for eDiscovery and information management comes at a time when organizations are looking for alternatives to their 3rd party archiving tools. Exchange 2013 allows to Preserve and Search e-mail data, without changing user or admin experience. This is where Exchange has a competitive advantage due to the fact it “owns” the data and experience.
- Exchange doesn’t require a separate console or UI for administration or end user experience.
- Admins don’t need to learn a new system for Archiving
- Outlook provides a seamless experience for the user.
- Archive MB is really no different than Primary MB from a user perspective
- No stubbing required
- Single interface for managing Archiving, eDiscovery, DLP
The simplicity of having Exchange 2013’s archiving, retention, legal hold, and eDiscovery built-in, native, and part of the day to day administration of management of Exchange, plus the portability of mailboxes, archiving, policy rules, enterprise search, legal hold, and management becoming universal between Exchange 2013 on premise and Exchange Online in with Office 365, organizations don’t have to create complicated plans and sophisticated training on managing their compliance driven communications.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
One of the driving forces behind compliance in Exchange 2013 is Data Loss Prevention (DLP). DLP is a very powerful and highly customizable feature of Exchange 2013 that can be used in safeguarding against disclosure of sensitive information from within your messaging environment.
Businesses are ever more dependent on their email systems for transferring data these days and the risk of accidently sending sensitive information outside the organization is more prevalent than ever. DLP in Exchange 2013 and Office365 allows you to set policies that govern what data you consider to be sensitive and how that data is to be handled as it passes through Exchange. Exchange 2013 comes with a set of pre-defined policy templates and gives you the ability to import from 3rd parties or create your own. The templates included cover many aspects of sensitive data including financial, personal and business.
A great feature of DLP are the Policy Tips which are used to warn users that they might be in breach of a policy by displaying a warning in the message window much like MailTips in Exchange 2010. Policy Tips will advise the user of what policy they are in breach of and where they can get more information on the policy. Policy tips are also customizable allowing you to direct users to a web site with your corporate policies.
Enterprise Scale and Support
With Exchange 2013, it’s possible to support upwards of 50,000 to 250,000 mailboxes on a single server with enhancements made to the core platform. Additionally, where in the past you had to patch/update the frontend and backend servers simultaneously, with Exchange 2013, the separation between the CAS frontend role and the MBX backend role does not require simultaneous patching and updating.
This basically means that organizations can cut back on the number of servers they have for Exchange. Most organizations should be able to cut the number of servers by at least half, and even to the point of dropping three-quarters of the servers out of the environment and yet have even better high availability and redundancy!
This becomes a financial factor for organizations looking to migrate to Exchange 2013 that can decrease dozens of Exchange servers out of the environment simplifying maintenance and support while improving reliability and redundancy.
On-Premise, In-Cloud, or Both
In the past, the conversation of email in the cloud was a decision of all or nothing; you either decided to pick up and move everything to the cloud, or keep all email on premise. But with Exchange 2013 (and Exchange 2010 at the right patch level), Microsoft has completely changed the concept of cloud email with full support of a Hybrid on premise and cloud model.
An organization can port users between on premise Exchange and Office 365 in the cloud, choosing to migrate users to the cloud, or keeping some users on premise. This split model is frequently necessary when the organization has some key application or function that requires Exchange to be on premise. For those users who need their mailboxes on premise, they can remain on premise. Those who don’t meet the on premise mailbox requirement can have their mailboxes migrated to Office 365.
The tool to administer and manage both on premise and cloud Exchange mailboxes is the exact same tool; the new Exchange Admin Center (EAC). Additionally, when eDiscovery searches are conducted, when mail is archived or retained, when mailboxes are put on legal hold, the same policy, rule, and process is supported for both mailboxes on premise and those in the cloud. No need to configure separate policies, no need to search cloud and on premise separately. The Hybrid model is a tight integration that helps organizations optimize their messaging infrastructure to fit their needs.
Integration with SharePoint, Lync, and Office Web Apps
One of the big topics to help drive the decision for migrating to Exchange 2013 is the tight integration between all of the 2013 applications including Exchange 2013, SharePoint 2013, Lync 2013, and Office Web Apps. Instead of separate applications that have “hooks” between them, the 2013 family of Office Server products are very tightly integrated, so much so that you can completely get rid of multiple frontend Web servers hosting OWA, Lync Web, SharePoint web and have a single Office Web App server frontend (or cluster of servers for redundancy) for all of your 2013 backend servers.
The advantage of this central Web server model is a dramatic decrease in the number of Web servers needed to host the various Exchange / SharePoint / Lync services, combined with the decrease in servers just because of better scalability previously mentioned. Most organizations should be able to achieve a drop in the number of servers in their environment by 50-70% while improving redundancy and high availability!
Also, with the consolidation of servers, there is extremely tight integration where SharePoint document libraries and discussion threads are integrated right into OWA so that a user can not only see their emails, archives, and public folders, but also their SharePoint libraries. And with the addition of a Lync Web Access in 2013, much of Lync’s functionality can also be accessed straight from within OWA or SharePoint or wherever the user connects to as their primary connection point.
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