Three MEC 2014 predictions: Exchange Server 2013 SP1, cloud and social

Exchange 2013 SP1, Office 365 and the social workplace should be hot topics at the upcoming MEC event, Exchange experts said.

Exchange experts who will attend the Microsoft Exchange Conference in Austin, Texas next week are anticipating updates around the latest service pack, cloud and social collaboration tools.

Here's what a few Exchange MVPs expect Microsoft to serve up:

Prediction No. 1: Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1

With the Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1 (SP1) release in February, Microsoft will address migrations and other related topics.

At least three sessions at this year's Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC 2014) will focus on features in SP1, including the traditional Exchange Tips and Tricks session. Other sessions will look at how the service pack affects Outlook Web App, as well as high availability and site resistance.

Many large companies held back on deploying Exchange 2013 until SP1 came out, said Jeff Guillet, Exchange MVP and consultant who is a principal systems architect at ExtraTeam.

"Now that that's happening, more of my larger companies are interested in going to [Exchange] 2013," he said.

Prediction No. 2: Microsoft will continue its Office 365 push

Throughout the conference, Microsoft will look to convince on-premises Exchange shops to move to the cloud.

The under note will always be the cloud because Microsoft thinks that's the future.

Jeff Guillet,
Exchange MVP

"Microsoft is continuing to push the idea that Office 365 is where many of their customers should end up," said Paul Robichaux, Exchange MVP and global principal consultant with Dell Inc.

He pointed to MEC's website, noting how a large portion of the banner art and material talks about Office 365. "It's kind of a, 'Hey, everyone else is moving to the cloud and you should, too' thing," he said.

The challenge Microsoft has at MEC 2014 is finding the right balance in its push, Robichaux said. The company is trying to find a way to encourage customers to move to Office 365 while realizing that many aren't ready just yet, he added.

However, Exchange on-premises isn't going away.

"The under note will always be the cloud because Microsoft thinks that's the future," Guillet said. "But there's still a lot of interest in Exchange on-prem."

Prediction No. 3: We'll hear more about social workplaces

In a pre-conference blog post, Microsoft teased it would cover the email-related aspects of the social workplace and Office Graph news that came out of the recent SharePoint conference. MEC 2014 attendees will likely hear more about how this concept will appear in Exchange.

"I expect the keynote to elaborate a bit more on how the social enterprise will find its way into Exchange," said Michael Van Horenbeeck, Exchange MVP and SearchExchange contributor. With it already appearing in Lync and SharePoint, "I don't see how Exchange could escape this trend."

Microsoft will also go into detail about what exactly appears in its social workplace concept, Robichaux said.

"A lot of email administrators aren't familiar with the vocabulary Microsoft is using right now," he said, pointing to Oslo, one of the new applications announced at the SharePoint conference that will work with the Office Graph feature.

"It's such a new product," he said. "They'll try to replicate that big splash they made at the SharePoint conference."

Microsoft will likely count on its partners to develop other apps, Guillet said.

"We just haven't seen very many apps that are useful yet, but it's there," he said. "It just needs more third-party adoption."

What predictions do you have for MEC 2014? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ExchangeTT.

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