What’s New and Cool in Exchange 2013

10/1/15: Exchange 2016 is out now! What’s New and Cool in Exchange 2016 post
2/12/13 Update: Exchange 2010 SP3 is out, which provides support for Exchange 2013 CU1. Read more here: https://blog.jasonsherry.net/2013/02/12/exchange-2010-sp3-is-out/
1/8/13 Update: What’s NOT cool in Exchange 2013: See this blog post: Exchange Server 2013 Gotchas by Michael B. Smith. I might do a similar one when I have time, for now I’ve given up on Exchange 2013 in my own environment due to spam filtering, transport, and
other issues. I’ll stay on 2010 until at least SP1/CU1 comes out for 2013.

4/2/13 Update: EHLO post: Released: Exchange Server 2013 RTM Cumulative Update 1
2/15/13 Update: EHLO post: Exchange 2013 Client Access Server Role
2/12/13 Update: Exchange 2010 SP3 is out, which adds co-existance support for Exchange 2013 RTM CU1
11/8 Update: EHLO post: Public folders in the new Office
10/2 Update: EHLO post: Managing High Availability with the EAC
8/23 Update: EHLO post: Site Mailboxes in the new Office
8/9 Update: EHLO post: Managing The New Exchange

Microsoft released the technical preview of Exchange 2013 on July 16th and this is my next in the “What’s New and Cool” series on Exchange. (Goto these links for the Exchange 2010 & 2007 posts) As I have time to work with the beta and additional information is made public, I may update this post and I will create new posts on Exchange 2013.

The main focus for Exchange 2013 is further reducing cost of deployment and management. The four main areas that were changed to meet this goal were roles/deployment, management, storage, and end user productivity. Unlike Exchange 2007 and 2010 there may not be any major must have features for your organization, so if you are currently on Exchange 2010 the upgrade to 2013 might be a bit hard to justify. However if you are on Exchange 2003 you MUST upgrade to 2010 SP3 before you can upgrade to 2013; so now is the time to look at upgrading. If you are still on 2007 the features in 2010, which are further enhanced in 2013, should be reason enough to upgrade.

Deployment Changes

For deployment Microsoft has radically changed from the five roles in Exchange 2007 and 2010 back to the two roles, like Exchange 5.x – 2003. Basically there is a very lightweight front-end role that combines part of the CA & HT role into one, but mainly only provides proxying services. What we used to call the CAS is now being called the CAFÉ (Client Access Front-End) by some. No rendering or other function that used to be carried out by the CAS are done on this server anymore. It also does part of what the HT role used to do, now being called FET (Front-End Transport) for short. The FET services handle basic filtering but mainly route messages to the backend server, or now simply called the Mailbox Server. So that now there are only two roles in Exchange 2013: Client Access Server and Mailbox Server. There were many changes made to support this re-design but the end result is greatly simplified deployments by using CAS and MBX building blocks as needed to scale and to provide redundancy. There are also changes made to simplify setting up and managing DAGs, including support for seeding database from multiple sources, if they exist, which greatly reduced the seeding time.

Management Changes

No more EMC!

On the management side of things the major change in Exchange 2013 is the dropping of the MMC console! EMC has been replaced by a 100% web based console called the Exchange Administration Center (EAC). The major advantage here is that Exchange admins can now do most of their work from anywhere, although many things can still only be done in EMS. This is probably the biggest feature I’ve been wanting for Exchange since I stopped using Netscape Mail in 1996! The EAC should be very close on par with EMC feature wise at RTM.
For more information see this EHLO Blog Post: Managing The New Exchange or Managing High Availability with the EAC.

Public Folders in the DAG

Microsoft also finally decided that Public Folders should NOT be going away and rewrote the way they work in 2013. Now Public Folder data will be stored in special Public Folder Mailboxes, basically every public folder will be mapped to one or more PF mailboxes. These PF mailboxes use the same architecture as user, resource, and site\team mailboxes so they will be just another mailbox on a database in a DAG. The positive of this is that replicate of data and HA is handled by the DAG. The negative is that Public Folders are now single master, while multiple replicas can exist only one will be read and writable by users or applications.
11/8: For more info see this EHLO blog post: Public folders in the new Office


Data Lost Prevention support was added in 2013 that provides the ability to identify, monitor and protect sensitive data (i.e. Credit Card or Social Security numbers) via specialized transport and search\discovery rules. At RTM 2013 will include a set of DLP policies which can be modified as needed or 3rd parties can add their own set of rules. End-user notification will be supported in Outlook 2013 (only at RTM) via Mail Tips so users can be optionally notified before they hit Send that their e-mail may violate policies.

Search\discovery has also been improved and now supports in-place retention holds based on queries. Transport rules also got an upgrade to better support regular expressions (RegEx).

SharePoint and Exchange are finally getting some REAL integration! You can now create a “Site Mailbox” that is linked to a SharePoint 2013 team site. When documents are e-mailed or dragged and dropped (required Outlook 2013) into a team mailbox they will be stored in SharePoint and messages will be left in Exchange. From SharePoint or Outlook 2013 users will be able to get a similar view of all data, both files and messages. In addition, some policies can be configured at the site level and will apply to SharePoint and Exchange data. Searching will also be supported across Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync.
For more info on site mailboxes see this 8/22 EHLO blog post on them

Also in the management area is the reduction of complexities by only having two roles that need to be deployed, which can still be configured on a single server, and the dropping of RPC support for clients. Therefore, when deploying, mainly only HTTPS and STMP traffic needs to be taken into consideration, from a networking perspective.

Storage Changes

In the storage area Microsoft has made additional improvements to the database engine (still using ESE) to further optimize IO and performance. The database engine was also rewritten, again, to improve memory management and reduce IO. Again Microsoft is predicting a 50% IOPS reduction over Exchange 2010. So if you are still on Exchange 2003 this means .125 IOPS per mailbox verses the current 1 IOPS. The changes made also enable much better support for multiple databases per volume or drive. JBOD support is further improved due to these changes; there was also a design goal to support 8TB SATA drives (which should be out during the lifecycle of Exchange 2013).

End user productivity

There are many improvements in end user productivity, with Site Mailboxes being the biggest for some organizations. OWA will now support for touch, offline access, includes calendar improvements, and similar UI across desktop, tablet, & mobile devices. Contact can also be linked across Outlook (mailbox based), Address Book, LinkedIn, and more supported sources to come. See “The New OWA Rocks Tablets and Phones!” on the Exchange Team (EHLO) Blog for more details.

Key Points

  1. Exchange 2013 will NOT support migrating from Exchange 2003 or earlier! So if you are on 2003 then NOW is the time to migrate to Exchange 2010 SP3!
  2. Deployment and management will be much easier
  3. SharePoint and Exchange finally get some real integration
    • But really required Outlook, SharePoint, and Exchange 2013 for full support

Outline summary of changes

Major Changes

  1. Front End\Back End roles only – Building block based
    • AKA: Client Access Front End (CAFÉ)
    1. Client Access (CAFÉ) now a Front End\proxy type server ONLY
      1. Provides authentication, redirection, and proxy services only; no data is stored or queued on this role anymore
      2. Front-end is no longer rendering OWA or carrying out management tasks the way 2007 and 2010 did
      3. Only thin and stateless protocols are supported
        1. Does not require session affinity (layer 7), designed to work with TCP (layer 4)
        2. DNS round robin will be fully supported, but an intelligent LB will be required to detect down servers
      4. Reduces complexity since only HTTPS client traffic needs to be managed
      5. SMTP traffic is just relayed to BE server, but does not replace the need for EDGE type servers
        1. Transport rules, bifurcation, etc all happens on BE servers
    2. Mailbox = Back End = All functionality of CA, HT, MB, and UM roles from 2010
      1. All rending for OWA, message routing, rule and policy processing, and more all done by this role
      2. Greatly simplifies deployments, updates, and failovers
    3. All clients can connect to a single name space and Exchange figures out where to send or redirect traffic
      1. Global Traffic Manager (GTM) DNS solution needed for global deployments
      2. Microsoft DNS already returns best IP based on client IP, so more complex solutions may not be needed for many organizations
    4. Benefits
      1. Greatly simplified deployments
      2. Simplifies upgrades, upgrade\update order not as important
      3. Network\geographic flexibility
      4. Will greatly reduce the FE:BE ratio
  2. No more EMC\MMC
    1. Exchange Administration Center (EAC) is a 100% web-based administration and is the only GUI console for Exchange 2013
      1. Support on-premises, on-line, or hybrid deployments
      2. Replaces most of the functionality provided EMC and ECP in Exchange 2010 and adds support that neither of those had
    2. Benefits
      1. No deployment of Exchange management tools required for most operations
  3. Pubic Folders – YES they are still here!
    1. REDESIGNED architecture, now based on mailbox architecture
      1. Public Folder architecture hasn’t changed since Exchange 4.0 (1995/96), while they had multi-master and replication support (based on e-mail messages) the support was very problematic to support
      2. SINGLE MASTER ONLY – Public Folders will be mapped to mailboxes, only one replica of these mailboxes can be active, but the active copies can be distributed based on load or network constraints
      3. Uses DAG architecture for redundancy\HA, so replication is now handled by the same method as mailboxes
    2. Benefits
      1. Higher reliability and supportability

Important Changes

  1. Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
    1. Provides the ability to identify, monitor, and protect sensitive data (ie Credit Card or Social Security #s) through deep content analysis
    2. Includes a set of DLP policies out of the box
    3. Extensible for 3rd parties to add their own set of rules
    4. Notification, via MailTips, in Outlook 2013
    5. In-place holds support for on-going retention hold based on query, not just a snapshot anymore
  2. Storage changes
    1. Reduced IOPS from Exchange 2010 by 50%
      1. Extensible Storage Engine (ESE) still used
      2. Mailbox schema, ESE pre-read optimizations, and improved caching support
      3. More random IOs eliminated
      4. Additional logical contiguity support added
      5. Views and indexes are normally only updated when accessed by users
      6. Improved message quota checking
      7. Additional changes to better support JBOD configurations
    2. Store process rewritten (again), this time in managed code
      1. Each DB runs under its own process, so if a store.exe process crashes or hangs only that one DB is affected
      2. Additional IO reductions
    3. Designed with 100GB mailboxes and 8TB SATA drives in mind
  3. FAST search replaces the traditional Exchange team designed search engine (MS Search)
  4. Database reseeding improvements
    1. Auto-reseed support
    2. Supports multiple sources for greatly increased reseed performance
      • According to Microsoft, it’s now possible to complete a reseed operation for a 2TB database in approximately 10 hours rather than the 23 hours previously required if three healthy database copies are available – From Tony Redmond’s post here: Exchange Server 2013 Preview
    3. Site Mailboxes
      1. Can be linked to a SharePoint 2013 team site to store messages in Exchange and documents in SharePoint
      2. Similar view of data in Outlook 2013 as when view a SharePoint 2013 team site
      3. Permissions and some policies will span Exchange and SharePoint
      4. Site Mailboxes can automatically be added to Outlook 2013 or OWA clients for easy access
    4. Archiving, Retention, and Discovery
      1. Lync archives to Exchange mailboxes
      2. Federated discovery across Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync

Minor Changes

  1. DAG
    1. Reduced failover times (~30 secs)
    2. Best copy choice now takes into account health of key services
  2. Additional GUI admin support added in EAC
    1. Creation of mailboxes
    2. Group naming policy support
    3. Forefront for Exchange management
    4. RBAC management
    5. Support for multiple forests
  3. Transport service
    1. Now broken into three different services: Front End Transport on Client Access servers, Hub Transport, and Mailbox Transport on Mailbox servers
    2. Routing is now “DAG aware”
      1. A queue will exist per database
      2. Active Manager will be queried to find the current active copy of a database
  4. OWA improvements
    1. Apps support added to extend integration between OWA & Outlook and applications and web resources
    2. Linked contacts
    3. Calendar improvements for viewing multiple calendars, month view, and actions
    4. Off-line support when using IE 10, Chrome 16, or Safari 5.1 or later
    5. Touch support
    6. More browsers supported
  5. Transport Rules
    1. New predicate and action support
    2. Improved regular expression (RegEx) support
    3. Monitoring of rule performance
  6. Virus Scanning (VSAPI) changes
    1. Interface to store process removed to improve reliability
    2. EWS supported for scheduled scans

Dropped Support

  1. Upgrading from Exchange 2003 NOT supported
    • If you are on Exchange 2003 today NOW is the time to migrate to Exchange 2010. Contact me (Jason.Sherry@service1.net) if you would like a quote to migrate to Exchange 2010.
  2. MAPI over RPC/TCP
    1. Outlook 2003 and earlier will NOT work with Exchange 2013
    2. RPC over HTTPS is required for all clients now
  3. CAS Arrays
    1. No longer needed, all clients connect to a single name space and DNS and Exchange figure out where to send the traffic
  4. Multi-master support in Public Folders
  5. OWA access to Public Folders
    1. Will be in SP1
  6. Legacy mailbox access to Public Folders on Exchange 2013
  7. VSAPI support in store process

Besides the many links to TechNet on Exchange 2013 above I also recommend reading these articles:

This entry was posted in Exchange, Microsoft, Technical and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to What’s New and Cool in Exchange 2013

  1. Pingback: Izzy's Blog

  2. David says:

    Nice writeup of Exchange Server 2013.


  3. butter says:

    nice! … will used this in next proposal for exchange deployment


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