Microsoft released Exchange 2016 in October 2015, and it comes with several new features including new storage architecture. When administrators hear “new architecture,” they are hesitant to migrate to a new version for fear of downtime. Since email servers are a critical component in business productivity, migration is a delicate consideration. If your company is considering the new migration, here are some new features you can expect to find.
Installation is Easier
Exchange 2016 has a simplified installation process, and it coexists with any of your older Exchange servers. It includes a setup wizard and an unattended mode installation, so administrators can deploy multiple servers rapidly.
Transport rules control the flow of messages to specific mailboxes. They also control the properties for messages. For instance, you can set a forward rule that sends a message to a specific distribution list. Exchange 2016 has a few new transport rules available. First, Exchange 2016 lets you search an attachment for specific phrases or words. Second, you can send a notification to a recipient when content is found that causes delivery issues. Finally, administrators can send incident reports to multiple distribution lists.
In-Place Archiving, Retention and eDiscovery
Email is one of the biggest threats to corporate security and compliance. Exchange 2016 has a new discovery tool that allows administrators to find compliance issues within any number of inboxes. Administrators can also run the compliance search from the Exchange Management Shell.
For in-place archiving, administrators can control email workflow. Search any number of public folders and place a hold on content. This can also be run automatically based on user-created queries.
Microsoft redesigned the entire architecture for transport and mail flow. Microsoft added three transport services: the front end service, the standard transport service, and the mailbox service. Together, they form the new Transport Pipeline. They’ve also created new routing procedures that tie into Active Directory, which also queues messages for recipients.
Microsoft’s new SafetyNet is probably the most interesting of all these features. SafetyNet contains a primary and shadow layer. When the primary layer isn’t available for up to 12 hours, the shadow layer kicks in and redelivers messages to the proper recipients. Basically, SafetyNet is a backup and retention feature in case the primary transport layer fails.
Outlook Web App
Microsoft has redesigned and even rebranded many of its standard applications. Outlook Web App (OWA) has been renamed to Outlook on the Web. Internet Explorer was renamed to Microsoft Edge in Windows 10. OWA administrators will recognize some of the older features, but Microsoft added a few more.
To name just a few – offline mode works with HTML5 AppCache specifications. Previews of links lets users see a site destination in the message window. New themes were added as well as a calendar overhaul. Several email improvements and Android support were also added.
MAPI over HTTP
MAPI over HTTP has several improvements over older versions. It allows Outlook to pause and resume without losing messages, and it brings Outlook out of hibernation mode. MAPI over HTTP provides more reliability than older protocols.
High Availability and Site Resilience
SafetyNet was already mentioned, and it offers availability and resilience for your Exchange server. Exchange 2016 also has a few more features. Exchange 2016’s database availability group (DAG) offers resilience to network changes. Automation, managed stores, and multiple databases per disk are other additional features.