The Year of Launches

Michael Tweddle (Profile)
Monday, February 25th 2013

Though the holidays have long wrapped up, Microsoft is deep into its “season of launch,” which includes new versions of the products you know and love – Windows Server 2012, Office 2013 (Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, Office 365, Windows Phone, and Windows 8 desktop) – 15 separate product launches in all. This is a significant and unprecedented launch calendar for Microsoft in an attempt to define the “New Era of Work.”

What does this mean for your business? How do you cut through the hype to make the best business decisions? To answer those questions, you must first look at the reasons behind the New Era of Work.

The Trends

Microsoft has clearly embraced its position as both a consumer and business solutions provider, and the New Era of Work is the result of the convergence of two trends: the consumerization of IT and bring your own device (BYOD).

End users demand the same experience at work as they have at home. Not only do they demand the same experience, they want continuity of the experience, regardless of the device they’re using. For example, email on the mobile phone should be the same as email on the laptop, which would be the same as email on the tablet, etc. So the question for IT becomes: if your end users are demanding it, and your security policies allow it, BYOD will happen ─ do you want a complex management experience or a seamless one? (Hint: choose seamless).

Now is the time to take a hard look at your Exchange messaging environment, as well as your Windows Server/AD infrastructure, to determine whether you’re ready for the New Era of Work. In 2013, IT will be playing a big role in creating a seamless back end, enabling users to achieve continuity.

Exchange Server 2013: What’s New and What to Consider

First, do you have a mixed environment? A little Exchange 2003, maybe some Exchange 2007 with a bit of Exchange 2010 sprinkled in? If so, don’t expect to be able to migrate directly from 2003 to Exchange 2013, or even to O365. There are many steps to follow if you need to quickly get users off 2003; for example, native tools and some third-party tools require a two-step migration, which could be disruptive to the business and not seamless to end users.

Security is regularly top of mind for CEOs, especially with recent news reports of breaches and scandals related to leaked email. If you’ve considered the DLP capabilities in Exchange, you know that, at this time, they are only available in Office 365 and not in the on-premises version. To improve your security posture, and keep your name out of the papers and the auditors off your back, you’ll need DLP across both on-premises and Office 365 deployments.

Collaboration and productivity have been significant themes in the development of Exchange 2013, and this is particularly evident with the addition of site mailboxes. Housed in Exchange, but viewable by members of SharePoint workspaces, these site mailboxes will require the same amount of backup, recovery, security, and fidelity that the rest of Exchange does. So, if you’re investing in third-party tools to help you with those aspects of managing Exchange, make sure they will support site mailboxes.

Finally, from an administration perspective, Microsoft has made managing Exchange much friendlier with the new Exchange Administration Center (EAC). The search tool allows you to put an in-place hold on items, or perform in-place discovery. But, the same old issue applies: how do you unify search, not just across live Exchange, but also across the sneaky little silos where email hides ─ places like PSTs and other platforms’ backups? There is great risk in being unable to produce the needle in the proverbial haystack, and finding it takes so much time. How do you utilize the new features and not distract your admins?