Exchange & Messaging Year-End Wrap-up

Microsoft Office 365 adoption, the rumored death of email, and the tidal shift in the mobile device market are trends to watch for Microsoft Exchange Server admins.

Paul Robichaux

December 22, 2011

4 Min Read
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It's hard to believe that we're already at the end of another year. Depending on what you believe, 2012 might be a fantastic year for the IT industry,or our planet might suddenly cease to exist after a string of bizarre catastrophes. It's hard to tell which is more likely sometimes.

The year's end is often a time for reflection and retrospective looks at the major events of the year. However, because it seems like every othercolumnist and opinion writer in the technology press is doing that already, I'll resist the temptation -- after all, how many more articles do you need toread about Google+ or the iPhone 4S? Instead, let's talk about some trends of interest to Microsoft Exchange Server administrators.

First is Microsoft Office 365. Most administrators don't know whether to be delighted or terrified at the pace of Office 365 adoption. On the one hand,admit it -- it's gratifying to see a product you have invested your career in gain even wider traction in the marketplace. On the other hand, after ournew cloud overlords have replaced all on-premises email systems with Office 365, those of us who make a living doing on-premises work will have a toughrow to hoe.

As Jim McBee, Tony Redmond, and numerous other Windows IT Pro commentators and columnists have pointed out, the best way to protect yourselfagainst being clouded out of a job is to upgrade your skills. There are many areas of the collaboration and communications world that are, and willremain, in demand: archiving, knowledge management, security, mobile device management and integration, and Exchange Management Shell scripting are allskills that become even more important (and thus in demand) in an Office 365 world.

The second interesting trend is the rumored death of email. You probably saw news stories about the recent announcement by the CEO of French technology firm Atosdecreeing that email couldn't be used internally, and that Facebook and IM would be usedinstead.Frankly I have a hard time taking this too seriously. Any organization that relies on Facebook -- remember them? the most privacy-hostile company onplanet Earth? -- for internal communications isn't one that I'd trust with my business. Internal email that you control is too useful as a business toolto die out any time soon. Having said that, if I were a provider of consumer email services, I'd be a little more worried that Facebook (or some futurereplacement for it) might make a fatal dent in my business.

Speaking of fatal dents, a third trend is the tidal shift in the mobile device market. Where a few years ago RIM's BlackBerry was the undisputed king,now Google Android and Apple iOS are battling for the market lead. Android has more market share, but Apple makes much more money on mobile devicesthan Google and its partners combined. Microsoft's Windows Phone is continuing to get rave reviews, and it seems headed for the number three marketspot after the continuing free-fall of RIM. When I saw the news story about drunken RIM executives whose behavior (including trying to chew through their restraints) caused their Toronto to Beijing flight to be diverted, I thought, "Oh,drunken executives? That explains a lot."

This mobile shift is really a reflection of the broader consumerization of IT. Ten years ago, if you'd told any CIO of a major company that she wouldget to a point where users would pick out and provision their own devices, or that Microsoft and its competitors would all be trying to kill offconventional IPsec and PPTP VPNs, she would have thought you were crazy. Now we live in a world where enterprise systems such as Microsoft Lync getconsumer-oriented clients like the announced-but-not-yet-available Lync for Kinect client (which I hope ships soon, especially now that there are Lync clients for iOS, Android, and WindowsPhone.)

No doubt 2012 will reveal some trends we haven't thought of -- especially if the Mayan-apocalypse predictors are correct. Feel free to send me yourthoughts and predictions to [email protected].

Here's wishing you a happy and safe holiday season and a productive, prosperous, and fulfilling 2012

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