Exchange 2013 and Other Lessons from MEC

(Post from Mike Cessna - Anexinet Senior Architect):

So now that MEC is over I wanted to let you all know about some of the great info from the conference.

The big news was the reduction in IO for Exchange 2013 (also called v15). Exchange has been dropping its IO considerably since the introduction of 2007, and this release continues along that trend.

Exchange IO is now 50% less than v14, which continues the downward spiral of IO needs for Exchange. The big thing here is that we need Capacity, not Performance with Exchange disks. MS is pushing hard on the JBOD train, which got a lot of people fired up.

Large capacity, cheap, relatively cheap disks is now the present but not necessarily the future for Exchange.  For example, if you needed 30TB of data, look at the cost of 30TB of 15K SAS vs 7200 2GB SATA drives. Which one is more cost efficient?

Our preference is to virtualize the Exchange server for a variety of cost/performance/manageability reasons and this will not change. When in a virtual environment the size of the Exchange drives will lend itself to dedicated LUNs, which is another push away from the fast drives. You won’t be sharing the LUNs for Exchange with other VMs because of the size of the VMDKs that Exchange will use.

Cloud services were also a big talking point and the ease with which Hybrid on-prem/O365 can be deployed. V15 continues with the simplification of Hybrid deployments introduced in 2010SP2. Users can easily set up a hybrid deployment with Office 365 and test the waters for moving some users to the cloud.

High Availability and Disaster Recovery were not changed much from 2010, but were made simpler. This is mainly due to the reduction in roles from 4 (HT,CAS,MB,Edge) to 3 (CAS,MB,Edge). The edge server is actually the 2010 Edge server as there was apparently no need for recoding of the Edge role for 2013.

With the prevalence of high speed/low latency WAN links between datacenters MS finally supports a three datacenter DAG in which the File Share Witness is hosted in the 3rd datacenter to allow for seamless rollover in the event of a Main Datacenter Failure. This is very important as in previous versions there was no supported fully automated datacenter switchover.

A change in the load balancing requirements for Exchange has also helped simplify HA/DR. Load Balancing is now a pure Layer 4 function as opposed to the Layer 7 required in the past. By pushing the connection termination down to the mailbox level MS has been able to kill off any L7 requirements from the past. This makes implementing and deploying LBs much easier/cheaper/faster.

Exchange 2003 has officially been become the red headed step child. There is no direct migration to Exchange 2013! This means those still on 2k3 will need to step-upgrade to 2010 (can do 2007 instead, but no good reason to do so) and then upgrade to 2013. This will be contrary to what many clients still on 2003 were planning. Their plans likely called for a “long jump” upgrade from 2k3 to 2013 which is not supported!

The good news is that the upgrade path from 2010 is a very simple upgrade, and the skills from 2010 are directly transferable to 2013. The migration from 2010 to 2013 is a pretty simple process and does not require any namespace games. This can be split into two projects or consolidated into one larger one.

V15 Introduces a new administration tool that is web-based. No more need to have the Exchange console installed on your admin machine. The EAC (Exchange Admin Console) is designed to be easier to use and has a lot of new features to make large scale and multiple forest complex deployments easier to manage.

2013 also brings with it a new Outlook Web Client. MS has continued to push more and more functionality into the web client as they have in the past. The OWA client now has a new format and comes in three flavors: Full, Tablet, and Phone formats. This is a great step forward, as anyone who has used previous versions of OWA on their cell phone can attest to, it’s not easy to use OWA on a 4” screen!

Public folders have been revamped…..finally! Public folders have been converted into Public Mailboxes which bring them out of their Public Folder Databases and drop them right into the regular Exchange Databases, DAG support and all.

Site mailboxes are another type of new mailbox that integrate in with the new SharePoint sites and store the mail items for a SharePoint site while allowing SharePoint to store the document and work flow items, yet have Outlook access them both as one item.

Your Attention Please! MAPI HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!

MAPI is no longer supported in Exchange 2013. You can use IMAP, POP3, Outlook Anywhere, Active Sync, and OWA. No more MAPI. This is the reason why Outlook 2003 is not supported as a client in v15. Office 2013 leverages a lot of the new little bells and whistles but 2k7 and 2010 will work fine using OA as their connection type.

Main talking points for v15

·        A further 50% reduction in IO over 2010
·        Hybrid on-prem/O365 Deployments
·        Only two main roles MB and CAS, the HT is gone.
·        Full support for three datacenter DAGs (FSW in 3rd site)
·        No direct migration from 2003
·        New administration EAC
·        Greater support for phones and tablets
·        Simplified Disaster Recovery
·        Public Folders become Public Mailboxes
·        The Death of MAPI

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