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Looking back at the world of Exchange in 2015

Looking back at the world of Exchange in 2015

On January 1, 2015, I published some predictions for 2015. Let’s see how well those predictions turned out.

My first prediction was easy: Exchange 2016 arrives. Microsoft delivered Exchange 2016 right on schedule, three years after Exchange 2013. All of the expected cumulative updates arrived on time too and better again, they exhibited increasing quality and dependability.

I said that I would be interested in seeing what technology made its way from Exchange Online to Exchange 2016. As it turns out, most of the transfer occurred in the area of high availability (and some in Outlook Web App). We’re still waiting for the ability for content indexing to be done from passive database copies. That’s due to come in a cumulative update (maybe soon).

I joked that one of the cumulative updates might be called Exchange 2013 SP2 to make the folks who like service packs happy. Well, that didn’t happen, even though a fair case can be made to regard Exchange 2016 as Exchange 2013 SP2 because the two products are very close to each other.

Of course, Office 2016 was delivered too, so we have a new version of Outlook to play with. The bad news here is that Office 2016 offers no great value to anyone using on-premises servers. It’s almost entirely focused on delivering functionality to cloud users.

In passing, let me note that one of the worst exercises in marketing-led naming has got to have been the attempt to make Outlook Web App “on the web”. Oh well, I guess people have to have jobs…

My next prediction was that Ignite will disappoint the MEC crowd. I think it’s fair to say that the content delivered at Ignite was acceptable as so much news was provided about Exchange 2016 and Office 365 that it was very hard to keep up with all the announcements. From that perspective, the initial running of a catch-all technology conference was successful. However, some of the logistics were horrible and soured the experience for many attendees. This might be the reason why Microsoft changed plans for 2016 and replaced Ignite 2.0 in Chicago for Atlanta, moving the event from May to September. As to the MEC crowd, one of the problems that Ignite had was that sessions were spread all over a very large conference center, which made it very difficult for people interested in specific topics to find a natural focal point to gather. I think Ignite failed to support communities in the way that a dedicated conference like MEC can and was just too big to be a natural replacement for MEC. On the upside, we all clocked up many miles of walking during the week.

Third up, I felt that Office 365 would hit a $5 billion run rate. I was wrong. Office 365 did much, much better. Despite changing the way that products are grouped for financial results, Microsoft’s latest figures indicate no slowdown in Office 365 adoption. Previously, Satya Nadella had spoken about an annual revenue run rate of $8 billion, so Microsoft had shattered all expectations long before the end of the year. Expect more of the same in 2016.

Fourth, I expected Office 365 to offer 100 GB mailboxes as standard. Obviously the standard mailbox size remains at 50 GB so I might be criticized for this prediction. I still think that we are on the road to mega-mailboxes and point to the introduction of the ever-expanding archive mailbox as a strong sign for the future. This feature is due to come to Exchange 2016 as well.

Large archive mailboxes are needed to support the Office 365 Import Service and Microsoft’s desire to “bring data home” by ingesting as much information as possible from sources such as PSTs, SharePoint sites, Windows file servers, and third-party data sources such as corporate Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Next, I thought that Someone will complete a large migration of legacy public folders. This prediction was a little tongue in cheek because I know that migrations are ongoing all the time. However, folks who move from legacy to modern public folders using Exchange 2013 on-premises are sometimes frustrated when they cannot move the folders onward to Office 365. Microsoft hasn’t done the work to allow this to happen (yet), but a third party solution like BitTitan MigrationWiz can help.

Google and Microsoft will continue to frustrate (each other and customers):  Things have actually gotten a little better as it’s now possible to use Chrome with Office 365 again. Things aren’t perfect because Chrome has some of the issues that the Edge browser still has, all of which keeps IE11 as the best browser for the Microsoft cloud (funny that…).

I thought that Site mailboxes will disappear and largely I am right because I never hear of anyone using them now. All of the oxygen in the Microsoft collaborative space has been taken by Office 365 Groups and site mailboxes have dropped off the map. I think that the same will happen to Yammer over time. Despite the enthusiasm of the Yammer community and the dedication of an engineering group, it seems like not much progress is happening in that world whereas you hear of new developments for Office 365 Groups on an ongoing basis. For example, Outlook 2016 supports Groups, the mobile apps are quite good, Groups are accessible through the Unified API for Office 365, and some interesting connectors have shown up to link Groups to other cloud data sources.

Office 365 Groups are not perfect. For instance, documents in private group libraries remain invisible to Delve and eDiscovery searches and a lack of migration features exist to allow data to be moved in and out of Groups. But for all that, they seem to be the place where the collaboration puck is moving. We’ll see.

My last prediction was that MVPs will continue to be grumpy. I can report 100% compliance with this prediction as MVPs continued to find plenty to complain about. No doubt this trend will continue in 2016.

Happy New Year!

Follow Tony @12Knocksinna


TAGS: Office 365
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