Exchange isn’t going away any time soon, and with big crowds for the sessions about both on-premises and online, interest remains strong. Microsoft have repeatedly this week stated that it’s the most used service, and some big behind the scenes changes mean that Exchange isn’t just a foundation for email – it’s a foundation for services like Teams and even provides a back-end compliance store for Yammer.
A big surprise to many is the announcement of Exchange Server 2019. The TAP program will be open to new members shortly meaning there will be new features to test soon. It’s interesting that Microsoft are bringing out a new version so soon – especially as it offers some interesting Exchange Server 2019-only features like native modern authentication, indicating it’s not just “Exchange 2016 R2” – it’s a new release; and could potentially be the last.
My sessions were well attended, especially the Top ten PowerShell commands for Exchange. It was a fun session – I even cracked up laughing during presenting – something that doesn’t happen often when talking PowerShell, I must say.
Second place was Exchange – through the eyes of the MVPs, which was a panel Q&A session with myself, Tony Redmond, Michael Van Horenbeeck, Ingo Gegenwarth, Jeff Guillet and Andrew Higginbotham. Given the chance to ask their most troubling questions to an assorted team of Exchange-focused MVPs, you won’t be surprised to hear that the majority of questions aligned to the kind of large projects we encounter – multi-forest, multi-geo with complex security and compliance requirements.
My FastTrack session was well received – this was a session focused on helping people understand what their responsibilities are in a FastTrack project and why although there’s still a lot to do from a customer/partner perspective, how the FastTrack Center can be very useful.
Looking through the comments received in the evaluations makes it all worthwhile along with the questions people ask after the session. I was even asked for a selfie a few times, which always makes me blush.
However, of interest to many of those working with Exchange Server will be the improvements coming in Hybrid. These promise to simplify the overall process needed to implement Exchange Hybrid and configure the Office 365 tenant. Simpler migrations will require less time to configure pre-requisites and remove a lot of tough decisions, such as those around firewall rules and SSL certificate replacement. And, potential improvements to Calendar sharing across Hybrid will make planning Hybrid migrations and long-term coexistence easier.
Multi-Geo and Tenant Mergers
Thanks to our Content and Code’s participation in preview programmes I’ve been lucky to get exposure to the new multi-geo features in Exchange Online, but it’s good to see the detail made public. It’s not a common request, but it does come up with other customers and naturally we’ve been eager to discuss it.
Of more interest though, is upcoming tenant to tenant migration capabilities built into the Office 365 product. As with so much of Office 365, these features are coming to Exchange Online first before other technologies, reflecting the importance our clients place against having a working email system on day one of a merger first and foremost.
My personal highlights of the week were Exchange’s 21st Birthday which was attended by the Exchange Product Group and many other Exchange luminaries. It may not have been as Avant Garde as SharePoint vendor parties, but that’s Exchange for you. We’re usually the kids at the back of the class causing trouble.
Through the week a few more memorable moments included joining the Cloud Architects’ Podcast hosted by Nic Blank and Chris Goosen. We had a great old chat about Intune MDM and its challenges in the Community Central area. And I had a book signing on the Quadrotech stand in the Expo area, signing copies of the new Public Folder book I co-authored alongside a few other Office 365 experts.
The Ignite party at Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was fantastic. And that was mostly due to being with fellow Content and Coders. Dario’s recommendations for rides ensured we had a wonderful evening. Not only did Mike Parker enjoy his first roller-coaster, but I’m the proud owner of an Elder Wand. Or rather, my daughter is… Just an invisibility cloak and resurrection stone to go. Truly the best part of my week was hanging out with the Content and Code family.