Cloud-based features a big benefit when you buy Exchange 2013

When you implement Exchange 2013 in your organization, you'll become less reliant on third-party software and better prepared for the cloud.

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When we looked at some reasons to consider an upgrade to Exchange 2013 in part one, we considered the infrastructure and features involved in the upgrade. We covered how Exchange can help organizations simplify infrastructure and extend its life by a few years, as well as new features in Exchange 2013 that help with tasks such as automatic reseeding and keeping Exchange up and running.

Here are some additional benefits you gain when you buy Exchange 2013 and implement it in your organization, including cloud readiness, the ability to move away from third-party software and focuses specific to the end user.

Exchange 2013 ensures that end users benefit from new features

We're moving into a bring-your-own-device world, where users lead the way in requesting more features and compatibility with a wider range of devices. Moving to the cloud means you're ready for this, and with the same code base used for on-premises Exchange 2013, you'll gain the same benefits soon after their introduction into Office 365.

With Exchange 2013, we've seen some great new features for end users, with a much-improved Outlook Web App that supports a wider range of devices, with offline OWA access and OWA for Devices. If deploying tablets to your workforce is on your agenda, Exchange 2013 helps you make the most of this so you don't have to rely on the inconsistencies of Exchange ActiveSync.

Features such as Apps for Outlook and OWA also provide a better experience for users, whether it involves suggestions of tasks for end users or handy hints for meeting locations. For organizations with development capabilities, it also offers the ability to develop integration with line-of-business applications and the use of apps on any device.

Exchange 2013 removes reliance on third-party software

Many organizations have complex requirements, and this has meant an almost infinite number of third-party add-on software for Exchange. Organizations have commonly required only a few third-party applications to meet their needs, including software for compliance, backup, antivirus and container-based applications for push email on end-user devices.

When you buy Exchange 2013 and use it out of the box, it can give you a great reason to remove some or all of these apps. Most of these add-ons aren't available for Office 365 and many organizations find they no longer need these add-ons after moving to Exchange Online because Exchange 2013 gives you these same features.

In-Place Hold is Exchange 2013's new compliance feature, and you may be familiar with its predecessor Legal Hold if you're running Exchange 2010. In-Place Hold allows you to easily ensure that multiple mailboxes are retained for as long as you need, or retained based on content and keywords. Like Legal Hold, deleted or altered messages are copied-on-write to an area of the mailbox the end user can't access but can be extracted via the Exchange Admin Center or the e-Discovery features within SharePoint. This means many organizations can stop relying on third-party archiving software and combine lower Exchange 2013 storage costs with the ability to ensure that content isn't changed.

One reason enterprises move to the cloud is for backups. The combination of In-Place Hold, the affordability of keeping multiple copies with lower storage costs and the reliability improvements in Exchange 2013 make it the perfect time to consider if you need to perform traditional Exchange Mailbox backups. Removing your reliance on backup infrastructure can justify the cost of upgrading Exchange and make your deployment cost less than moving to Exchange Online, ultimately making Exchange easier to manage.

The bane of administrators' lives is maintaining anti-malware software for scanning in-transit email between users. When you buy Exchange 2013 and implement it, the functionality is in the product and it's enabled by default. Microsoft replaced the discontinued Forefront Protection for Exchange product with this anti-malware software. Consider it a good-enough solution to complement your existing Edge antispam and anti-malware products.

There are a few Exchange 2013 features to help lower your dependence on other products and help with mobility improvements. For many years, a Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) was the de facto add-on for communicating with mobile devices. The use of BES dropped significantly thanks to ActiveSync, but ActiveSync isn't without its problems.

If your organization replaced ActiveSync with a third-party product, OWA for Devices will provide a built-in alternative. If your organization avoids ActiveSync because of the damage ActiveSync clients can cause to Exchange Servers, built-in features mitigate this threat by blocking badly behaved devices.

Exchange 2013 ensures you are always cloud-ready

No Exchange admin can ignore the cloud. Being ready for future cloud-based features will help better serve your organization's needs. Moving data into a Microsoft data center simply isn't an option for all organizations, but the situation may change, and you'll need to react quickly. For example, with an improved version of Exchange on-premises as a relatively low-cost option, it might be more cost effective to stay on-premises for more than five years. But you might find that your licensing agreement grants you the right to use features like Exchange Online Archiving. A business merger, acquisition or expansion overseas might also mean a move to a hybrid environment makes sense or is the only feasible option.

Currently, Exchange 2010 is compatible with Office 365 and will be for the foreseeable future. But this may not be the case a few years from now. Being up-to-date on-premises means you're less likely to require a major upgrade before you can shift mailboxes across. Exchange 2013 also provides better tools to help implement and make that transition.

About the author:
Steve Goodman is an Exchange MVP and works as a technical architect for one of the U.K.'s leading Microsoft Gold partners, Phoenix IT Group. Goodman has worked in the IT industry for 14 years and has worked extensively with Microsoft Exchange since version 5.5.

This was first published in November 2013

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