Exchange Server 2016 Announced at Ignite!

Exchange Server 2016

Great news for all you Exchange consultants and architects out there. A whole new version of Exchange is on it’s way for us to learn about and deploy!

The Ignite 2015 conference played host this year to the announcement of Exchange 2016 as the on premise successor to Exchange 2013. This new version will be released in the latter half of 2015 and has a few notable changes / features added:

  • The Client Access role has been removed completely. In Exchange 2013 the Client Access role was simply an intelligent proxy service and had no real involvement in traffic other than proxying it to the correct location. Now clients will connect to client access services (running within the Mailbox role) and those requests are routed to the Mailbox server holding the active database for that mailbox.
  •  Search has received various improvements, primarily to performance, which was a bugbear in Exchange 2013 due to the slowness of search in Online mode and OWA in particular.
  • Document Collaboration is Microsofts headline feature. This will leverage Office Web Apps and SharePoint servers, and potentially Microsoft Online Services to allow for document versioning and collaboration within the attachment mechanism in Outlook/OWA. In essence, a user can attach an item to an email and not have the issue of dealing with manually merging multiple versions of the same document. This versioning will be handled automatically.
  • Outlook Connectivity will now be handled by MAPI/HTTP by default. This connectivity protocol reduces bandwidth and latency requirements and provides a more stable Outlook experience.
  • Coexistence with Exchange 2013 is going to be a hoot. When deploying Exchange 2016 in your environment, you will not need to move the namespace in order to migrate mailboxes as there is backwards compatibility with the Exchange 2013 namespace model built into Exchange 2016. This means that it will be simple to introduce Exchange 2016 into your environment and start using it in anger. You will still need to migrate this namespace eventually but when you do this is up to you!
  • Hybrid functionality will, of course, be improved, allowing for customers to more easily decide which parts of the component stack they want to remain On Premise and/or move to the Cloud.

Armed with the information we have so far been furnished with, I think that we can all look forward to a more simplified and powerful Exchange On Premise experience. Microsoft must have learned a lot from running the largest Exchange Organisation in the world in Office 365, and I hope that all the On Premise environments around the world will benefit from their lessons learnt.