In fact, we’ve been rigorously testing — and abusing — Microsoft Exchange 2013 for months (more about that later).
SherWeb has always been among the first (if not the first) to release the latest version of Exchange. And with every new release, we hear the usual chorus of: “How long should I wait before deploying?”
The honest answer? It depends on your Hosted Exchange provider. See why…
Is Your Service Provider Ready to Deploy Exchange 2013?
Not all providers are deploy-ready as of today.
In a nutshell, Microsoft has a vast partner network of hosting providers like SherWeb. But only a small subset of privileged partners was chosen to be part of an early group of testers. As one of these early testers, SherWeb had an opportunity to use and abuse Exchange 2013 over a period of several months to avoid any pitfalls and leverage the efficiencies developed over this time.
What does this mean for you? We were given access to Exchange Server 2013 months ago, and have been developing our EX2013 expertise so that we could release a complete, bug-free infrastructure today that meets our rigorous quality standards.
Simon Poirier is a senior sys admin at SherWeb and one of our in-house Exchange expert. He’s been leading our Exchange 2013 efforts for the past six months. Every time we found a bug, we communicated with Microsoft, gave them our feedback and got a fix. There are few people who know Exchange 2013 like Simon and he makes sure this knowledge is transferred to the rest of the team.
Here are Simon’s thoughts on Exchange 2013:
- what’s to like
- what’s to love
- what’s missing
- if you should wait for a service pack release
- if you should go with Hosted Exchange Server 2013
WHAT’S TO LIKE ABOUT HOSTED EXCHANGE 2013:
1. Better Availability
Exchange 2013’s high availability. The system is more fault-tolerant than previous versions.
2. More transparency.
The servers are self-monitoring and work in teams to ensure high availability. It takes dozens of servers to run Exchange 2013 in hosted mode. When a server detects a problem that could affect the user experience, it takes action such as switching users to another database. It does this transparently.
3. Better user portability
This transparency is unique to Exchange 2013. It allows for better availability and user portability. The servers’ management of users is now simpler and smoother. For example, before users got this message in Outlook:
4. Faster Speed
Users won’t see all the infrastructure deployed for Exchange 2013, but they will see increased speed. Microsoft has thought of everything to ensure larger databases and improved performance, even on slower disks. There’s just no comparison with Exchange 2003 and 2007.
WHAT’S TO LOVE ABOUT HOSTED EXCHANGE 2013:
1. Windows 8 Interface
Microsoft’s Windows 8 interface (formerly called Metro) won’t immediately appeal to everyone, but it will make navigating on mobiles much, much easier.
2. OWA Adapted to Mobility
Outlook Web App has been adapted for mobility and will adapt to the user’s screen, whether it’s on an iPad, iPhone, another tablet, PC or laptop. This is a major improvement over Exchange 2010 because OWA wasn’t properly developed for smartphones. You had to zoom, clicking was a pain… this has all been fixed with EX13.
WHAT’S MISSING IN HOSTED EXCHANGE 2013:
We all have our wish lists for new releases and it’s a rare day when all our wishes are granted. Here’s where we were a little disappointed:
1. No public folders in OWA
We’re guessing this was one of the compromises Microsoft had to make to meet its launch date. This feature will probably show up in the first update. Is it a reason to hold off on deploying Exchange 2013? No.
SHOULD YOU WAIT FOR A SERVICE PACK RELEASE?
There’s no real reason to wait. Exchange 2013 was developed on the same foundation as Exchange 2010, but with lots of improvements. Exchange 2010 has already proven itself to be a stable system and Exchange 2013 is even better.
Exchange 2013 has already been tested by hundreds of administrators in the last six months and they have already found all the major bugs, which have all been corrected by Microsoft. What’s being offered now is stable and complete. Anything that wasn’t hasn’t been included and these are only minor details that won’t affect the user experience anyway. The service pack won’t include many surprises. It’s not true for all new releases but in this case there’s really no reason to wait.
REASONS FOR GOING WITH HOSTED EXCHANGE 2013:
1. Deploying Exchange 2013 requires several SAN, a major load balancer setup and certain servers able to use all the high availability features. In term of costs and training, this isn’t feasible for most businesses with fewer than 100 users. SherWeb is able to implement and offer all the high availability of Exchange 2013.
2. Our system is redundant and covered by backups. We’ve been breaking in Exchange 2013 for six months. We’ve already implemented our parameters. We know the product inside and out.
3. SherWeb customers will not be guinea pigs—for us or for Microsoft. This is the final version.
Will you be an early adopter or wait to deploy Exchange 2013? Why?