Tag Archives: onpremises

Microsoft Skype for Business update fixes Mac bugs

The latest software patch for on-premises Skype for Business eliminates bugs and adds features for users that run the Microsoft platform on Mac OS, narrowing an already minimal gap between the Mac and Windows clients.

For Mac users, the Skype for Business update lets delegates — users designated to receive someone else’s calls — create and edit a meeting on behalf of a colleague. Also, users can now be made a delegate even if their account isn’t part of an organization’s enterprise voice plan.

Microsoft has enabled video-based screen sharing for Mac users, the result of a next-generation screen-sharing protocol that the vendor added to Skype for Business earlier this year. The new system is faster and more reliable than the traditional method and works better in low-bandwidth conditions.

The Skype for Business update, available for download now, also fixes several bugs on the Mac client, including a flaw that prevented users from joining a meeting hosted by someone outside their organization.

Microsoft seems to announce updates to the Mac client more quickly than it does for other changes to the Skype for Business platform, and describes Mac upgrades in more detail, said Jim Gaynor, a vice president of the consulting group Directions on Microsoft, based in Kirkland, Wash.

“There are still a few gaps between SfB Mac and Windows clients, most around some of the advanced call control features, file upload/sharing, and the ability to upload PowerPoint decks for online presentations,” Gaynor said. “But they’re fairly minimal.”

Skype for Business 2015 server nears its end of life

The improvements to the Mac client were among roughly 40 enhancements released as part of Microsoft’s biannual update to the Skype for Business 2015 server.

This summer’s Skype for Business update introduces location-based routing for Skype for Business mobile clients. The feature gives businesses more control when steering calls between VoIP and PSTN endpoints based on geography.

Microsoft is expected to stop releasing feature updates and bug fixes for the 2015 server in fall 2020, the end of the typical five-year lifespan for the product.

The vendor recently published a preview of the 2019 server, which is due out by year’s end. That server will extend support for on-premises Skype for Business for at least another five years, primarily to serve large organizations that are not ready to migrate to Skype’s cloud-based successor, Microsoft Teams.

The 2019 server will encourage businesses to host some telephony and messaging features in the cloud. Meanwhile, Microsoft Teams, a team collaboration app similar to Slack, will soon replace Skype for Business Online within the cloud-based Office 365 suite.

How API-based integration dissolves SaaS connectivity limits

As businesses introduce an ever-growing, complex IT ecosystem of on-premises and SaaS applications, APIs, blockchain and other technologies, how can they possibly tie them together?

For many DevOps teams, the answer is API-based integration to enable communication between applications and platforms. Integration projects, however, pose challenges in security, runtime and management.

In this Q&A, Oracle’s Vikas Anand explores industry trends that drive rapid adoption of API-based integrations. He also lays out the hybrid cloud connectivity integration challenges for DevOps teams and ways to bypass those issues.

Anand is vice president of product management for integration, process and API management cloud services at Oracle.

Which technologies and use cases drive use of API-based integration?

Vikas Anand: SaaS connectivity limitations are the No. 1 reason enterprises adopt and then expand API integration programs. When SaaS is not integrated, it quickly changes to silo as a service. Customers can only derive limited value if their SaaS system is not working well in a very heterogeneous enterprise IT environment.

Vikas Anand, vice president of integration, OracleVikas Anand

APIs power new technologies that create better experiences for customers, such as chatbots and many mobile user experiences. APIs provide information from on-premises and cloud back-end systems, such as CRM [customer relationship management] or ERP.

Those new technologies have to be integrated into the existing IT environments and then extended to customers. For example, adoption is growing in API-driven B2B technologies, which provide a nimbler transaction option than traditional EDI [enterprise data integration] [Standard] X12-based transactions. Another example is growing use of smart contracts with blockchain to do transactions in a trusted way. API integration provides the pathways for these transactions.

What problems do DevOps teams encounter in API-based integration implementation and management?

Anand: The No. 1 challenge is how to secure their APIs. APIs are exposed on the edge, and they are available for everyone to use. A thought-through security model is important. My advice is to focus on using security standards, such as OAuth. Then, you’ll be on the same security level as partners and customers.

Another challenge is documentation of how you define, build and share APIs. Look at standards such as OpenAPI [that] support moving APIs across teams and across API developers.

A third challenge is optimizing API runtime, which relates to monitoring, testing and management. This calls for preproduction work in API interface testing and validating API functionality. In operations, ensure that APIs are not only secured and protected from anomalies, but also can be scaled up as more APIs are consumed by the partners in an ever-growing hybrid environment.

Consider that APIs run not just behind the customer firewall in a data center, but also across multiple clouds and devices. At runtime, you need your APIs to be close to the back-end applications to deliver the timely response, scale and experiences customers want.

Why isn’t integration built into SaaS offerings?

Anand: SaaS only allows you to configure and customize. If you need to extend the applications, API-based integration is a lightweight alternative to legacy, on-premises ESB [enterprise service bus] integration suites.

For example, say you have a CRM application with a coding system, and you might need to have an extension of the business logic to support new discounting rules. Unfortunately, it may not be possible to configure or change the SaaS environment. The vendor will not allow you to do it, because the SaaS product would then be upgrade-unfriendly. So, in such cases, DevOps can use business process automation in alignment with API-based application integration to deliver those extensions.

In hybrid compute environments, how does the business value of APIs and API-based integration play out?

SaaS connectivity limitations are the No. 1 reason enterprises adopt and then expand API integration programs. When SaaS is not integrated, it quickly changes to silo as a service.
Vikas Anandvice president of integration, Oracle

Anand: API integration supports multichannel experiences that improve customer engagement. An example is how integration helps businesses partner with other service providers to offer new capabilities. An example is an API model that makes Uber services available on a United Airlines application.

APIs also spur revenue growth. For instance, a business’s IP [intellectual property] that lies behind firewalls can be exposed as an API to create new revenue channels. Many new-age companies, such as Airbnb and Lyft, leverage the API model to deliver revenue. Traditional companies [in] manufacturing and other [industries] are really applying this to their domain.

API-first design provides modernized back-end interfaces that speed integrations. Doing back-end integrations? You can run the APIs within the data center to integrate SaaS and on-premises applications. A good API, a well-designed API can actually reduce the cost of integration by 50%.

Which best practices do you suggest for API-based integration project success?

Anand: Developers need to transform and route data and apply process automation capabilities. To do integration efficiently, enterprises have to automate data flow, business processes and whatever repeatable, error-prone tasks IT does. This calls for support from automation models, such as robotic process automation, to create single pane of glass for analytics.

Enterprise-level application integration projects used to take a year or two. Now that SaaS applications can be deployed in a matter of months, that won’t do. Fortunately, APIs themselves are now designed so that the integrations can be done more effectively, more efficiently and with better time to market than ever before. For API integration, there are automated, prebuilt connections that can be applied. Also, automated API integrated features are available in some iPaaS offerings now and coming to others soon.

Microsoft Teams e-discovery enabled for hybrid clouds

For businesses with on-premises Exchange mailboxes, Microsoft will facilitate the electronic discovery of Microsoft Teams chats — a feature that should appeal to large enterprises in the process of migrating to the cloud.

Upon request, Microsoft will create cloud-based mailboxes for the sole purpose of storing the Teams chat data of users with on-premises Exchange mailboxes. Those users must have their on-premises identities synced to the cloud in Office 365’s Azure Active Directory. 

Organizations that take advantage of the tool will be able to search, preview and export Teams chat data stored in the cloud. That activity could be useful for Microsoft Teams e-discovery cases, compliance reviews or data service requests related to the General Data Protection Regulation.

However, businesses won’t be able to apply Office 365 retention policies to that chat data or place it on hold. In a blog post announcing Microsoft Teams e-discovery for hybrid setups, Microsoft said it would “provide more updates about our plan to address this gap soon.”

Microsoft Teams muddles path to cloud for large enterprises

Microsoft needs to continue to promote hybrid capabilities, such as its new Microsoft Teams e-discovery feature, to help on-premises customers feel comfortable with the transition to the cloud — a process that could take years.

“It’s messy to be in the middle, and I think Microsoft forgets that if you’ve got 100,000 people, you’re going to live in the middle for a long time,” said Kevin Kieller, a partner at consulting firm EnableUC in Oakville, Ont.

Many large enterprises with on-premises Skype for Business deployments had previously been gearing up to transition to the cloud version of that platform, Kieller said. Then, Microsoft introduced Teams last year, significantly complicating the cloud migration path for those businesses.

Microsoft has been steadily rolling out interoperability features between Skype for Business and Teams over the past several months, such as persistent chats and aggregated presence. But almost all of those features require businesses to have their employees registered through Skype for Business Online, the cloud version of the service.

“As far as I’ve seen, there isn’t really a good and easy way to migrate from Skype for Business on-prem to Teams,” said Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research in Westminster, Mass. “It just seems like [Microsoft] didn’t think about it very well.”

Advanced telephony features for Teams coming soon

Microsoft is on track to add dozens of telephony features to Teams that are critical to large enterprises by the end of June, including call queues and organizational auto attendants. The final advanced calling features are expected to come online by year’s end.

The perception that Microsoft Teams lacks the full capabilities of Skype for Business has slowed adoption of the platform, particularly among large enterprises. But even as those features get added, Microsoft faces another hurdle: perception.

It could take months to get the message across that Teams is fully built-out, Kieller said. “Microsoft has a tough time, as everybody does, in terms of discoverability of the right information for somebody that’s contemplating this migration.”

Still, there is no end date in sight for support of Skype for Business on premises. However, while Microsoft plans to release a new on-premises server in 2019, the vendor is expected to keep some of its latest and most advanced collaboration tools as cloud-only offerings.

“It’s almost, by definition, going to be a hybrid mode,” Kieller said. “It’s just another way that I think Microsoft, even for on-prem customers … [is] effectively pushing them, moving them, cajoling them to move to the cloud.”

What is the future for Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging?


With the influx of cloud services integrating with on-premises products, many Exchange administrators wonder what…

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changes they’ll see in the next version of Exchange Server, particularly with unified messaging. To predict the evolution of Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging, we can glean some clues from how the company implemented and changed this feature in previous Exchange versions.

The company’s strategy the last several years has been a gradual shift from on-premises products to subscription-based cloud services. In some instances, Microsoft has integrated a cloud service with an on-premises product to sway enterprises toward its cloud offerings. For example, despite its name, Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection filters email for on-premises Exchange Server.

Microsoft plans to release Exchange Server 2019 in the second half of 2018. As of this article’s publication, the preview is under development. But we should expect Microsoft to add — and remove — some cloud-based features in this next version.

History of Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging

Microsoft debuted unified messaging in Exchange 2000 with its instant messaging (IM) feature on the company’s Real-Time Collaboration server platform.

When Microsoft released Exchange 2003, the company included its Live Communications Server (LCS) that split off some functionality from the Real-Time Collaboration stack. The LCS controlled IM, video and voice functions on the platform.

In July 2006, Microsoft and Nortel formed the Innovative Communications Alliance to share technology, improve their unified communications platforms and integrate Nortel telecommunications hardware with Microsoft software.

Microsoft then released Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007, which brought the company closer to a complete telephone system. OCS 2007 did not integrate into the public switched telephone network, but it did allow voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calls. With VoIP, Microsoft needed voicemail, and the company incorporated this feature in Exchange Server 2007.

With all these changes, many IT pros have difficulty understanding what telephone services OCS, Lync and Skype for Business provide and which ones Exchange Server handles. Exchange Server answers the calls, but it does not provide any telephone services up to that point. Microsoft Exchange unified messaging can pick up the line and provide services after a call connects.

Microsoft Exchange unified messaging in the cloud

Following the launch of Office 365 in 2011, Microsoft focused on the development of its cloud products.

Lync Server 2010 was the private branch exchange (PBX) on the market when Microsoft released Office 365, but its features were limited compared to a cloud PBX offering. Lync Online — now called Skype for Business — only controlled IM and presence services for users who had mailboxes migrated into the service.

To predict the evolution of Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging, we can glean some clues from how the company implemented and changed this feature in previous Exchange versions.

Exchange Online, the hosted email service from Microsoft, provided a full unified messaging service from the cloud with all the same features of the on-premises version of Exchange. Companies could tie on-premises telephone systems to Exchange Online to use the cloud service for voicemail.

Microsoft now offers its Azure Voicemail cloud service, which replaces the unified messaging functionality of Exchange Online for customers who use the Skype for Business Cloud PBX.

Unified messaging in Exchange Server 2013 and 2016

With Exchange 2003, Microsoft introduced the concept of a front-end Exchange server. This wasn’t a complete deployment of separate Exchange bits for separate Exchange functions. Exchange 2007 and 2010 both featured differentiated server roles, such as the Mailbox, Hub Transport and Client Access roles.

With the release of Exchange 2013, Microsoft pared back those roles to more of a front-end/back-end configuration. Exchange 2016 features one Exchange server role other than the edge transport role, which is designed to be deployed in a demilitarized zone.

The Microsoft Exchange unified messaging role received very little development in Exchange Server 2013 and 2016. The only change for unified messaging with those releases is that Exchange 2016 no longer supports the deployment of separate roles. These trends will likely continue with the release of Exchange 2019 with a single deployment option for all the roles on the same physical server.

The future of Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging

At the moment, details on Exchange 2019 are sparse. Microsoft plans to release a public preview of the on-premises product in mid-2018.

Based on recent trends from Microsoft, we can expect that Exchange Server 2019’s minimum requirements will include supported versions of the Windows Server operating system and Active Directory.

Microsoft will continue to steer organizations to its online services over on-premises software. Companies that want the latest features and functionality will need to consider whether a move to Exchange Online is a better fit.

Breaking down the Exchange Online vs. on-premises choice

We all know the cloud is there, but how does an organization determine if a move from an on-premises platform is the right one?

Many companies currently using Exchange Server cannot escape from the siren call of the cloud. Untold numbers of organizations will weigh the pros and cons of Exchange Online vs. on-premises Exchange Server. There are many reasons to move to the cloud, just as there are ones to stay put.

Whether the cloud is better requires some deeper analysis. I’ve spent most of the last eight years migrating organizations of every size to Office 365. Over that time, I’ve grown familiar with the motivations to move to the cloud, as well as the ones to maintain the status quo.

This article will dig into the Exchange Online vs. on-premises Exchange Server debate and examine the differences between the two offerings, as well as which has the advantage in certain areas.

Is Exchange Online less expensive?

In many cases, the first selling point of Exchange Online is the cost. Since Exchange Online and Exchange on premises are very different, it’s difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison. To get started, you must look at several factors.

The first factor to weigh is how long you plan to keep your on-premises servers. If you upgrade your on-premises servers every three years, then it’s likely those costs will exceed the payments for Exchange Online. If you plan to keep your on-premises Exchange servers for 10 years, then you’ll likely pay considerably less than Exchange Online.

There are a number of costs associated with on-premises Exchange, such as hardware, electricity, data center space and repair costs. Due to all of these factors, the real answer is a lot more complicated than the de facto response from Microsoft that the cloud is always cheaper. Of course, it’s to the vendor’s benefit to get as many companies signed up for an Office 365 subscription as possible.

Is Exchange Online more reliable?

Just as there are several ways to look at the question of cost, it’s also difficult to determine reliability in the Exchange Online vs. on-premises equation.

Microsoft touts its 99.9% uptime guarantee for Office 365. Upon closer inspection, does that assurance hold up?

Open any Office 365 tenant at any time and look at the service health dashboard. Every tenant I check has items marked in red almost every day, but those customers still pay for the full subscription. I’m not saying Office 365 has a lot of downtime, but that 99.9% uptime guarantee is more gray than it is black and white.

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What are the perks and drawbacks
of a switch to hosted email?

As for on-premises Exchange, there is no way to evaluate the overall reliability of Exchange Server. I’ve seen organizations that almost never have problems, while others experience numerous major outages. I don’t think Office 365 is more reliable than on-premises Exchange, but my expectation is data loss is less likely with Exchange Online.

Exchange Server is a very complicated and difficult product to manage. Unless you have some very talented Exchange admins, Exchange Online is the more stable choice.

Do you get newer features with Exchange Online?

In this area, there is no doubt which platform has the advantage. Due to its nature as a cloud service, Exchange Online gets new features well before on-premises Exchange. Not only that, but there are many features that are exclusive to Exchange Online. For a company that wants all the latest and greatest features, the clear choice is Exchange Online.

Every organization has specific needs it must consider, and quite often the traditional on-premises mail system does the job.

However, there is a downside to the constant stream of new features. It can take time for both users and administrators to recover from the culture shock that sets in after the migration to Exchange Online when they realize the feature set changes constantly. There is always something new to learn. Many workers prefer to come into work without spending time to learn about new features in the email system.

What’s the final verdict?

Now that you’ve gone through the Exchange Online vs. on-premises deliberation, which is better? With the sheer number of factors to consider, there is no definitive answer.

Every organization has specific needs it must consider, and quite often the traditional on-premises mail system does the job. For example, a company that relies on public folders might see some difficulties migrating that feature to Exchange Online and decide to stay with the on-premises Exchange.

It’s no secret Microsoft wants its customers to move to the company’s cloud services, but they continue to develop on-premises versions of their software.

Microsoft plans to release Exchange 2019 later this year. When that offering arrives, take the time to evaluate all the features in that release and determine whether it’s worth moving to the cloud. For some organizations, on-premises email might continue to be a better fit.

The Microsoft Cloud can save customers 93 percent and more in energy and carbon efficiency

New report outlines how businesses moving from on-premises datacenters to the Microsoft Cloud can achieve sustainable innovation

REDMOND, Wash. — May 17, 2018 — A new report issued Thursday by Microsoft Corp. in partnership with WSP shows significant energy and carbon emissions reduction potential from the Microsoft Cloud when compared with on-premises datacenters. These gains, as much as 93 percent more energy efficient and as high as 98 percent more carbon efficient, are due to Microsoft’s extensive investments in IT efficiency from chip-to-datacenter infrastructure, as well as renewable energy.

“The world is producing more data than ever, making our infrastructure decisions about how to power this digital transformation incredibly important,” said Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer, Microsoft. “Today’s report confirms what we’ve long believed — that investing in sustainability is good for business, good for customers and good for the planet.”

Specifically, the report found that cloud investments made by Microsoft in IT operational efficiency, IT equipment efficiency, datacenter infrastructure efficiency and renewable electricity were responsible for the environmental benefits. These efficiencies translate into both energy and carbon savings for Microsoft and customers using Microsoft Cloud services.

Microsoft Cloud services achieve energy and emissions reductions in comparison with every on-premises deployment scenario assessed — Microsoft Azure Cloud Compute, Azure Storage, Exchange Online and SharePoint Online.

With more regions than any other cloud provider, Microsoft provides cloud services to customers around the world. As customers across all industries move to the cloud, sustainability and environmental responsibility are key factors in their choice of cloud provider.

“Schneider Electric chose the Microsoft Cloud to power our numerous cloud-based offerings, and it has helped us achieve our goal of becoming a global leader in sustainable energy management,” said Michael MacKenzie, vice president, EcoStruxure Technology Platform – IoT & Digital Offers, Schneider Electric. “The fact that Microsoft shares our sustainability values and focus on decreasing environmental impact makes the company a natural partner for us.”

“When organizations choose low-carbon cloud computing, they are taking an important step forward on sustainability,” said Lance Pierce, president of CDP North America. “Sustainable digital transformation, powered by a cleaner cloud, enables the creation of a sustainable and thriving economy that works for people and planet in the long term.”

Learn more about the Microsoft’s investments and approach to sustainability in the cloud at https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=58951. The report can be found in full at “The Carbon Benefits of Cloud Computing: A Study on the Microsoft Cloud.”

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777,

rrt@we-worldwide.com 

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

 

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The Best Infrastructure Management Services of 2018

IT management suites have evolved beyond on-premises equipment, spanning to virtualized cloud infrastructure, cloud services, mobile devices, and even Internet of Things mechanisms. We test the top network infrastructure management services to see how well they can handle their rapidly evolving mission.

SAP defends S/4HANA HCM upgrade amid questions

SAP’s new plan to extend on-premises ERP human capital management support from 2025 to 2030 is raising eyebrows. That’s because maintaining on-premises systems means migrating to S/4HANA HCM, which complicates the decision-making for on-premises users.

The upgrade won’t be available until 2023, and the license for the S/4HANA HCM only runs until “at least” 2030. This doesn’t prevent the vendor from extending support, but users, for now, don’t know.

SAP said it has about 14,000 on-premises HCM customers, with about 80% outside of North America.

SAP believes the S/4HANA HCM migration is best for these users, arguing that the upgrade cost will be offset by the benefits of the in-memory system.

But cloud-based SAP SuccessFactors remains the ultimate HCM upgrade path for its users. This means uncertainty about whether on-premises systems will continue.

“The important thing is that the intention for this is to make life easier for our customers so that they can run their business in the best possible way,” said Amy Wilson, an SAP product manager, in an interview. “It’s not something that we’ve concocted for any other purpose other than this is what our customers are asking for. We care about them, and we empathize with them,” she said.

But there are questions. “Simply extending support for the existing R/3 SAP HCM would probably be very difficult, especially as support has already been extended from 2020 to 2025,” said Paul Cooper, chairman of the U.K. and Ireland SAP User Group, in a statement in response to questions from TechTarget.

“At this stage, it is far enough out for SAP to be encouraging users to move to S/4, rather than extending the deadline further,” Cooper said.

User-group surveys “highlighted that many users have concerns regarding the integration of legacy [SAP HR] and new apps [SuccessFactors] with S/4HANA, so the S/4 HCM announcement does begin to help address this to an extent,” Cooper said.

But Cooper said the announcement also raises issues.

“However, without seeing the product and more information on its scope, it is difficult to judge the complexity of the migration,” Cooper said. “Projects of this nature are time-consuming, resource-hungry and, therefore, they can be disruptive to an organization. The question for a lot of organizations will be, are they prepared to buy and license ‘on-premises’ software that only has a potential life of seven years and won’t be available until 2023?”

Wilson said the upgrade to S/4HANA HCM should be “nondisruptive.”

It’s not something that we’ve concocted for any other purpose other than this is what our customers are asking for.
Amy Wilsonproduct manager at SAP

“In the on-premises world, there’s technical upgrades and then there’s functional upgrades. When you’re talking about a technical upgrade, there is some work to do and some testing and that sort of thing, but it’s more similar to a cloud update,” Wilson said.

SAP’s plan has drawn sharp criticism from Jarret Pazahanick, an SAP HCM consultant who is managing partner of EIC Experts, based in Houston. He also has a large following on his Global SAP and SuccessFactors LinkedIn groups.

Pazahanick said he believes SAP should have extended its support beyond 2025 for its HCM customers.

SAP’s action is “not customer-centric,” Pazahanick said in an email responding to TechTarget questions.

“They are asking loyal maintenance paying customers to wait at least five years [2023] to upgrade to a new SAP HCM on-premises ‘sidecar’ offering and take full ownership of the migration cost and risk associated with that,” Pazahanick said.

There is no native HCM in S/4HANA, hence the “sidecar” meaning. SAP HCM for S/4HANA will run on a separate instance, but tightly integrated with S/4HANA. SAP said it has the tools and services to support this approach.

“All SAP had to do was make an announcement of, ‘We will support SAP HCM and customers until 2030 on their current offering,’ which would have been simple, clear and, ultimately, what some portion of their customer base wants,” Pazahanick said.

Prepare for an upgrade to Exchange 2016 with these pointers

As a new version of Exchange Server draws near, an enterprise with an on-premises messaging platform must decide…

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if it will upgrade, migrate to the cloud or wait until the next major release of Exchange.

Many organizations that choose to stay on premises generally make this determination due to business requirements or to prolong a significant investment in infrastructure. Some enterprises might hold off on an upgrade to Exchange 2016 since Exchange 2019 isn’t far off — Microsoft says to expect a final release at the end of 2018.

If a business recently moved to Exchange 2013, it may prefer to stay on premises until this new version arrives. But the tradeoff is the company must wait a bit longer to get more modern features and enhanced security capabilities that can benefit the organization now.

But the choice to upgrade also brings challenges. Administrators must prepare their environment, their teams and end users for the substantial change.

So, what are some areas IT must prepare for when they consider an upgrade to Exchange 2016 from a legacy version? And, once the upgrade is done, what can they do to ensure they can adequately support the platform?

Plan and define the Exchange 2016 requirements

Whenever administrators look to upgrade the messaging platform, they should right-size for the latest Exchange environment to ensure the new version functions appropriately, and can accommodate changes and growth. Administrators can use several online resources, but most rely on a useful calculator from Microsoft. The Excel template, named the Exchange Server Role Requirements Calculator, offers IT a way to quickly assess the numerous requirements around the following critical areas:

  • Role requirements
  • Volume requirements
  • Backup requirements
  • Replication requirements
  • Storage design
  • Distribution
  • Activation scenarios

Get ready for the new Exchange Server

After designing the environment in the design phase, IT can then build it with the latest updates and patches on all the servers. Microsoft recommends either Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Server 2016 as the server OS for Exchange 2016.

Make sure to update the .NET Framework; it is a crucial component of Exchange 2016 that determines the performance and reliability of Exchange functions.

If responsiveness is an issue after the upgrade to Exchange 2016, administrators will need to dig through the usual suspects. Check the storage and networking hardware configurations, power settings for the CPU or network interfaces, and review the sizing and architecture of the Exchange environment.

Keep up with monitoring and health checks

Once the business completes its upgrade to Exchange 2016, admins must keep the new environment healthy with regular maintenance. This doesn’t require expensive software — just due diligence. Many admins stick with simple tools, such as Paul Cunningham’s Health Report for an Exchange Server PowerShell script, System Monitor (Perfmon) counters and other utilities to keep an eye on Exchange logs and monitor the overall health of the system.

Use the right tools to troubleshoot other problems

Even with thorough planning and a flawless upgrade to Exchange 2016, administrators might face some issues or challenges with the system after deployment. Be prepared to troubleshoot any problems that could arise by gaining an understanding of PowerShell and Log Parser, and any Exchange-specific utilities that identify the source of errors or email issues.

Dig Deeper on Microsoft Exchange Server 2016

Understand Azure VM boot diagnostics

There are several tools you can use to troubleshoot and get to the root cause of VM issues in on-premises Hyper-V…

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$(this).removeClass(“errorMessageInput hidden”).addClass(“sign-up-error-msg hidden”);
} else {
$(this).removeClass(“errorMessageInput”).addClass(“sign-up-error-msg”);
}
});
}

/**
* when validation function is called, replace “errorMessageInput” with “sign-up-error-msg”
* before return
*/
function validateThis(v, form) {
var validateReturn = urValidation.validate(v, form);
renameErrorMsgClass();
return validateReturn;
}

/**
* DoC pop-up window js – included in moScripts.js which is not included in responsive page
*/
$(“#inlineRegistration”).on(“click”,”a.consentWindow”, function(e) {
window.open(this.href, “Consent”, “width=500,height=600,scrollbars=1”);
e.preventDefault();
});

hosts. When it comes to troubleshooting issues for VMs deployed in a cloud environment, such as Microsoft Azure public cloud, you need to rely on the troubleshooting mechanisms provided by the cloud vendor. For example, you might not be able to see the boot output of an Azure VM, as the VM is operating in a cloud. If any of the Azure VMs fail to boot, you might want to see what’s going on during the boot process that’s causing the failure. Similarly, you might want to capture screenshots to see the current state of the Azure VM.

Microsoft added support for the VM boot diagnostics extension, which enables debugging to troubleshoot VM boot-related issues and also help in capturing screenshots of the current state of the VM. There are two features provided as part of the VM boot diagnostics extension: console output and screenshots. Both features are available for Windows, as well as Linux Azure VMs.

By default, Azure VM boot diagnostics isn’t enabled for VMs. There are two ways to enable the VM boot diagnostics extension: Azure Portal and PowerShell. You might want to use the PowerShell method if you need to enable the diagnostics extension for multiple VMs.

Enable boot diagnostics for Azure VMs using Azure Portal

To enable diagnostics extension using Azure Portal and when creating a new Azure VM, follow the steps outlined below:

  1. When creating a new Azure VM, select Azure Resource Manager from the deployment model. Note that the Azure classic model won’t have the VM boot diagnostics option. VM boot diagnostics can only be enabled for an existing VM deployed using the Resource Manager model.
  2. After entering the VM’s basic settings, enable Diagnostics in the Monitoring section as shown below:
    Enable Azure VM boot diagnostics
    Enable VM boot diagnostics for a new Azure VM.


  3. Once Diagnostics is enabled, Azure will capture boot logging data and provide screenshots.

Enable boot diagnostics for Azure VMs using PowerShell

Microsoft also provides necessary PowerShell support to manage Azure resources, including enabling VM boot diagnostics for Azure VMs. To enable or disable VM boot diagnostics using PowerShell, use the Set-AzureRMVMBootDiagnostics PowerShell cmdlet. Execute the PowerShell commands below to enable VM boot diagnostics for a VM:

$ThisVM = Get-AzureRMVM –ResourceGroupName “ResourceGroup1” –Name “SQLVM”

Set-AzureRMVMBootDiagnostics –VM $ThisVM –Enable –ResourceGroupName “ResourceGroup1” –StorageAccountName “StorageAccountName”

If you need to enable diagnostics for all Azure VMs, here is the PowerShell script that can help:

$TheseVMs = Get-AzureRMVM *

ForEach ($ThisVMNow in $TheseVMs)

{

Set-AzureRMVMBootDiagnostics –VM $ThisVMNow –Enable

}

Check and download boot diagnostics data for Azure VMs

Once the Diagnostics extension is enabled, Azure will capture boot logs and provide screenshots. From Azure Portal, navigate to the VM for which you want to see the console output, click on All Settings, and then click on Boot Diagnostics. Clicking on Boot Diagnostics will show the current console output of the VM. From here, you can download the log file to the local machine.

To download diagnostics log files to your local machine using PowerShell, execute the Get-AzureRMVMBootDiagnosticsData PowerShell cmdlet as shown below:

Get-AzureRMVMBootDiagnosticsData –ResourceGroupName “RSGroup1” –Name “SQLVM” –Windows –LocalPath “C:VMBootDataSQLVM”

Note that when using the PowerShell cmdlet to download diagnostics log files, you need to specify the type of VM you’re running the command against. If the target Azure VM is running Linux, you need to specify -Linux, and if it’s a Windows VM, you need to specify -Windows.

There are a few other things you need to know about the VM boot diagnostics feature. For example, VM boot diagnostics is only available to Azure VMs deployed in Resource Manager. In other words, the Azure classic model doesn’t support the VM boot diagnostics extension. Also, it might take up to 10 minutes before screenshots are available for viewing.

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