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Directions to Exchange 2016 Migration

By CIOReview | Wednesday, September 21, 2016

For many years, Microsoft Exchange has been a supportive host for large number of organizations. Its developments have enhanced the communication zone, particularly the messaging system, including mail server, groupware applications and e-mail program (e-mail client) through its updates from Exchange Server 4.0 to Exchange Server 2010 and 2013. With the latest release of Exchange 2016, organizations are finding ways to migrate and upgrade to the latest features and trends.

This article will help organizations and administrators find the right way and best practices to follow upon Exchange 2016 migration.

Take Note before Switching to Exchange 2016

Before deploying Exchange 2016 in the business environment, it is essential to check the current version of Exchange server (either 2010 & 2013 or older), read the release notes for Exchange 2016, and understand disjoint namespace scenarios. Disjoint namespace is the one where primary DNS Suffix of the computers in the domain is not same as the DNS domain name. For example, if the management of DNS in an organization is split between administrators who manage networks and administrators who manage active directory, the system may require topology with a disjoint namespace. Also, validate on the public folders, which need to be migrated to the latest version, load balancing and edge transport server availability, and third-party compatibility.

Employ Exchange Server Deployment Assistant

Though various migration strategies are available, the web-based assistant tool from Microsoft will help organizations to select the most compatible Exchange 2016 deployment with its step-by-step approach. The tool by Microsoft is simple to use and will call for few questions about the environment of the Exchange Server. It will deliver custom suggestion and create a step-by-step checklist to follow. The assistant covers three deployment options: on-premises, cloud, and hybrid. The assistant has an option for those who are migrating to cloud versions of Office 365 and Exchange. The assistant tool will help the CIOs to plan their deployment strategy according to the checklist generated at the end of answering all the suitable choices.

Recovery Plan

It is essential to upgrade to the latest, but before pressing start button to the deployment, it is always a wise approach to have a recovery plan, in case of server failure, network hiccup or power outage and to recover customer data.

Topology Requirements

In order to upgrade to the latest Exchange 2016 server, organizations should have Exchange 2013 or 2010 version. In case they run pre-2010 version, they should upgrade to 2010 or 2013 and then migrate to 2016 version. Also note that only Windows 10 and Windows Server 2012 R2 support Exchange 2016. For Exchange 2010 and 2013, the requirement of domain functional level is Windows Server 2003. But for Exchange 2016, it needs at least Windows Server 2008 R2.

Outlook Requirements

For outlook support, the customers’ system should be running with one of its three versions: Outlook 2010 SP2 (KB2956191 and KB2965295), Outlook 2013 SP1 (KB3020812) and Outlook 2016 to connect to Exchange 2016 mailbox.

Load-balancing and Mailboxes Requirements

As in Exchange 2013, Exchange 2016 does not need session affinity at the load-balancing layer. Concerning the status of multiple protocols, make sure the managed availability and load balancers in Exchange should have same status. With the help of Exchange 2013, Client Access Servers (CAS) introduce the 2016 Exchange Mailbox to the existing Exchange 2013 to up-version proxy the connections to an Exchange 2016 mailbox server. This eases the process of mailboxes role without altering the existing load balancer rule sets or CAS.

Migrating Public Folders

Migration of public folders is a crucial task for the organizations. With the latest update, Microsoft has introduced major changes to Excel. This makes the process little tougher and organizations need to make sure that they are comfortable running scripts to accommodate the migration of public folders. Note that the migration of public folders is supported from Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2013 to Exchange 2016 and not supported for the earlier versions of Exchange.

Exclude Antivirus

Antivirus running in the exchange server will slow down the process of the server. It is recommended to exclude antivirus for specific paths, file types, and processes. By doing so, will reduce the server down time. To generate auto antivirus exclusion, Microsoft has developed a downloadable package, which is available on their official website.