Exchange 2016 Migration Thoughts

Exchange 2016, the next version of Microsoft’s on-premise messaging platform after Exchange 2013, is getting significant press coverage.

Microsoft have released some great pre-release information on Exchange 2016 – check out the TechNet Blog article.

This blog post looks at Exchange 2016 in terms of an email migration project, and any related features.

Exchange 2016 Mailbox Server Role

The main Exchange 2016 architectural announcement is the dropping of the Client Access Server (CAS) role that was present in Exchange 2013.   Exchange 2016 now only has the Mailbox Role, which encompasses the Client Access Role functions.

exchange2016The protocols are partitioned within the Exchange 2016 server, ensuring services such as EWS and MRS Proxy are dealt with by the Protocol and Server Agents layer.  Client requests can hit any Mailbox Server Role (if via Load Balancer) and be proxied to another Mailbox Server as required.

By placing the roles into the Mailbox Role there will be a need for fewer servers, less rack space, and fewer licences, reducing the cost of deploying Exchange 2013 on-premise.  Cost of the target email platform is a common factor when planning any email migration project.

Exchange 2016 Edge Transport Role

Microsoft will ship the Exchange 2016 Edge Transport role server with Exchange 2016 RTM.   This is good news as Edge Transport role has not always shipped with the RTM release of Exchange Server.  For an email migration project this provides assurance when planning the SMTP Perimeter part of the architecture.

No More MAPI/CDO Support

Exchange 2016 will no longer support the MAPI/CDO library.  Exchange 2016 has MAPI/HTTP enabled by default.   Any Outlook Clients in use will need to support this.

Coexistence with Exchange 2013

Microsoft have deemed that the namespace can stay the same when adding Exchange 2016 into your Exchange 2013 environment.  Exchange 2013 CAS role servers are able to proxy to Exchange 2016 servers hosting the active Database for a mailbox.   Behind a load balancer you can have a mix of Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2016 servers.   This eases the email migration from Exchange 2013 to Exchange 2016.   Currently Exchange 2013 CU11 is required to coexist with Exchange 2016 (subject to change).

Coexistence with Exchange 2010

Exchange 2016 will coexist with Exchange 2010 SP3 RU11 (subject to change), but we do not have details of how this will work exactly.  However it is expected that the Exchange 2016 servers will be able to proxy mailbox requests through to Exchange 2010 SP3 RU11 servers.    From a migration perspective, it is enough to know what version of Exchange 2010 will be able to coexist with Exchange 2016.  There will be no coexistence support for Exchange 2007.

Active Directory

Be aware that Exchange 2016 will be supported on Windows 2012 R2 and the future Windows 10 operating system.   In addition, Domain Controllers are required to be Windows Server 2008 R2 or later, with Forest & Domain Functional Mode of Windows Server 2008 R2 or later.

Load Balancers

Windows Network Load Balancer (NLB) will not be supported with Exchange 2016, as Windows Failover Clustering is integral to Exchange 2016 and this cannot coexist with Windows NLB.

Migrate to Exchange 2016 or Office 365

With the reduced server count for Exchange 2016, Microsoft are supporting those enterprises that want to keep control of their corporate email, but want to reduce costs.    It becomes easier to migrate to Office 365 all the time, but there is still a real choice.

Domino and GroupWise Customers

If your enterprise runs Lotus Notes or GroupWise, you may want to wait for Exchange 2016 to be released before migrating, or you could plan to move now to Exchange 2013, which is now matured significantly since its initial release.

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