Exchange 2013 CU6 – Time to Migrate?

Introduction | Exchange 2013 CU6

Exchange 2013 CU6 has been out for a short while now, and many people will be considering a migration to Exchange 2013 off other platforms (eg: Exchange, Domino, GroupWise).   Is this a good time to migrate ?  Is Exchange 2013 sufficiently mature as a product to migrate to it now ?   This article offers an independent view on this questions.

With the ongoing quarterly updates to Exchange 2013, CU4 was in effect, Exchange 2013 SP1.  Many people prefer to wait for at least SP1 before moving to a new Exchange version – based on varying experiences.

Bugs | Exchange 2013 CU6

Reading the TechNet Blog for Exchange 2013 CU6 the first thing that I saw, was a warning about Exchange 2013 Databases in a DAG unexpectedly failing over if you are in an Exchange 2007 coexistence environment.   This is triggered by an Exchange 2007 mailbox accessing an Exchange 2013 mailbox via delegation rights – causing the Exchange 2013 Store process to crash.    In my opinion this shows poor pre-release testing of Exchange 2013 CU6, and does not reflect badly on the maturity of Exchange 2013 as a whole.  A hotfix (see KB2997209) or workaround is available.

There is another issue related to ActiveSync traffic (KB2997847) not routing through Exchange 2013 CU6 to Exchange 2007 – again, poor testing, and adds weight to my advice to not deploy the latest Microsoft updates for Exchange, but follow an N-1 strategy.   Use the hotfix or a workaround for this.

New Features | Exchange 2013 CU6

Having covered some bugs with Exchange 2013 CU6, lets focus on what new features are included, that could influence your decision to migrate to Exchange 2013 CU6.

The main new feature is the increase in the number of supported Public Folders ten-fold to 100,000.   I suspect that Microsoft under-estimated the amount of Public Folders in use amongst their customers still on older Exchange 2007 (or 2010) platforms.   And their preference for customers to move away from Public Folders is not as easy as they may realise.  Form a migration point of view then, this is a good new feature, and may allow for more Exchange 2007 (or 2010) customers to move to Exchange 2013 CU6.    These customers may also be prevented from migrating to Office 365 (tighter scaling restrictions) due to their reliance on Public Folders.   Hopefully Microsoft will continue to develop SharePoint to allow this to be a viable alternative.

Exchange 2013 CU6 also provides some other Public Folder enhancements such as ensuring the hierarchy is fully synced at migration time, and a promise to provide more Public Folder guidance documentation.

More Public Folder scaling improvements are promised in future CU releases.  Bring them on, I say.

Time to Migrate | Exchange 2013 CU6

Exchange 2013 has certainly matured now it has got past Exchange 2013 SP1, and I am seeing more customers moving to it now.   There are still plenty of Domino and GroupWise customers who are considering on-premise Exchange 2013 or Office 365 as their next mail platform.    If you are using these non-Microsoft platforms, it is often makes more sense to consider Office 365, but that is a whole new debate.

I would happily recommend moving to Exchange 2013 now, especially if you are still on Exchange 2007 (with a large Public Folder infrastructure) based on the bug fixes and features that have been added since its initial release.

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