Over the last decade or so, Windows has offered a plethora of services regarding their robust exchange server software. If your company relies on an older platform such as Microsoft Exchange 2003, now is probably the time to take the leap into 2016. As Microsoft has cut off support for Exchange 2003 as of April 8th, 2014, you and your company have several options for upgrading. Here we present the benefits and some slight disadvantages to Microsoft’s newest release. Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 offers a variety of new tweaks and adjustments, as well as some changes that have been discontinued from previous installments. This is all of course depending on what your company requires; Exchange 2016 sets out to cover all aspects of your exchange of business and data relevant to your day-to-day tasks and responsibilities.
The architecture: Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 has taken into consideration the strength of the modern, stronger processors of today and their simplified capabilities. The amount of roles in servers has been dwindled down to just two: one for the mailbox service and one for the Edge Transport service. The role of the Edge Transport service is to handle all Internet-facing mail flow, as well as adding additional layers of protection to all your emails. This feature is greatly effective against unwanted spam and viruses. With the mailbox role, you will find all traditional mailbox duties assigned to this server as well as handling all incoming activity for active mailboxes for all your employees.
Outlook on the web: The application formerly known as Outlook Web App, serves to provide unlimited access to your mailbox, even on a web browser. Virtually almost all web browsers support this application; from Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge, to the latest versions of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari. This application is also optimized for current tablets and smartphones.
Office 365 hybrid compatibility: The included Hybrid Configuration Wizard already included in Exchange not only is shifting to cloud-based, but with a simple wizard app can be updated to support any changes related to Office 365. Exchange ActiveSync users can be directed to Office 365 when a user’s mailbox is redirected to Exchange online. This is highly beneficial for the user as it will no longer attempt to contact the on-premises server when attempting to locate their mailbox.
The Client access server role: This role, and as mentioned earlier regarding Exchange simplifying the roles, has been replaced by the Client Access services which now run in the mailbox server role. Microsoft relied heavily on this mentioned simplification of the two server roles, essentially creating the list of roles more streamlined to maintain. The MAPI/CDO library has also been replaced by the Exchange Web Services. If you have an application which uses the MAPI/CDO library, the application will need to be relocated to the Exchange Web Services in order to communicate with this new version of Exchange.
Older version features: Certain features you may have found useful such as third-party replication APIs, RPC over HTTP, and Database Availability Group support for administrator access points are being completely de-emphasized for Exchange 2016 and will be excluded in all future versions.
Of course once again, your company should know the specifics of what you’ll need from Exchange, so depending on what you rely on will dictate your selection to upgrade. These new features and modifications outlined are some of the boldest adjustments to Exchange 2016, but if your company does not necessarily require them, then you could always upgrade to a previous version if your systems are running as far back as Microsoft Exchange 2003. If that is the case, then by that time you should be aware of what version of Exchange will be most effective for your company needs.