Microsoft announced a couple of improvements this month concerning public folder management using its Exchange messaging service.
One of the improvements gives IT pros greater control over who gets to see public folders. The other improvement facilitates migrations to the Exchange Online service, especially when organizations have lots of public folders to move.
Outlook for Windows Controls
First, IT pros can now control which Outlook client users in an organization will see public folders when using the Exchange Online service. The new control capability just works with Windows-based Outlook clients for now. However, Microsoft is working to add support for Outlook for Mac and Outlook on the Web clients, as well, according to an announcement.
While the new public folder access control is available now for organizations using Exchange Online, Microsoft also is considering adding it for organizations using Exchange Server.
The Outlook public folder access control is enabled by two parameters:
Important note: setting the organization parameter to true without setting user attributes to true first will make it so no users will see the public folder object in Outlook for Windows. In other words -- if you want to implement this, we suggest that you plan ahead and populate user attributes first (PublicFolderClientAccess on users that need access set to true) and then set the organization level parameter (PublicFolderShowClientControl set to true). That way, users who need to have access will not lose access unexpectedly.
These parameters were added to address the needs of very large organizations, as well as organizations that are undergoing a mergers and acquisitions, Microsoft indicated.
"This [control over public folder access in Outlook clients] will benefit very large organizations who might have issues with connection limits to public folders and will reduce the load to that infrastructure," the announcement explained. "This will also be helpful to organizations during mergers and acquisitions if moving to EXO [Exchange Online]."
Expanded Public Folder Migration Support
Next, Microsoft announced this month that it has removed some earlier limitations on the migration of public folders from Exchange Server environments to the Exchange Online service. It's now possible to move up to 250,000 public folders from Exchange Server implementations to the Exchange Online service, according to the announcement:
Any Exchange On-Premises customer running Exchange 2010/2013/2016/2019 with up to 250K public folders can now migrate them directly to Exchange Online.
The new 250,000 migration figure was bumped up from an earlier 100,000 public folders limitation that previously had been in effect for Exchange Server 2013 and Exchange Server 2016.
Microsoft's public folder migration document advises Exchange Server 2016 users to have "CU4 or later running" before making the move. Similarly, Exchange Server 2013 users need to have "CU15 or later installed."
Microsoft announced its views last week against using "third-party" multicloud management solutions, and it generally downplayed the use of multiple clouds as a strategy for organizations.
The only organizations that can successfully adopt a multiple-cloud approach are large organizations, argued John M. Clark, a cross-domain solution architect at Microsoft. Most other organizations will just lack the "leverage" to gain any cost benefits from going the multicloud route, he argued:
Attempting to play vendors off against each other for advantaged pricing usually doesn't yield anticipated saving because of current state IT procurement processes. This only works if you are an enormous cloud consumer like Netflix as pricing is fixed based on features, and most companies have insufficient leverage.
Additionally, organizations would need to have IT personnel trained across various cloud services to make a multicloud approach work, he argued.
Clark acknowledged that one of the reasons organizations might take a multicloud approach would be to avoid "vendor lock-in," but he argued that organizations won't be able to easily move, as "there is no simple migrate capability."
Clark critiqued the idea of using "third-party" multicloud management solutions as a way of handling these issues, saying that the use of such tools "borders on insanity." He added that these solutions don't support "modern workloads" and are just focused on a "traditional data center extension into the cloud." He suggested that native tools offered by the cloud services providers could better address cloud management needs.
These views expressed by Clark perhaps represent a shift from previously expressed views about eight years ago that there could be an open cloud world, driven by portable customer data, common standards, ease of migration and tooling choice. That optimistic view was expressed back then by Jean Paoli, Microsoft's general manager for interoperability strategy at the time. Paoli, one of the inventors of XML, left Microsoft in 2017 and is now part of a "stealth startup" organization, according to his Wikipedia entry.
Clark didn't name the third-party (non-Microsoft) multicloud solutions that he critiqued. However, a recent Forrester Wave Q2 report listed the 12 "most significant" vendors in the hybrid cloud management space. Those vendors are BMC Software, Cisco, CloudHealth Technologies, Embotics, HyperGrid, Micro Focus, RackWare, Red Hat, RightScale, Scalr, Turbonomic and VMware.
VMware topped the report's "Leaders" category when correlated with market presence, sharing that category with other leaders such as RightScale, Scalr and Embotics. The report's author, Lauren Nelson, described the current hybrid cloud management space as "uncertain," but the vendors were continuing to differentiate. They've added tools for developer roles support, an API abstraction layer and analytics engines for optimizing costs, among other such details.
Microsoft offers its own cloud management solution, the "Operations Management Suite," which didn't make Forrester's list. To place in Forrester's hybrid cloud management list, vendor solutions had to be capable of managing generic cloud workloads and at least have support for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure and vSphere clouds, and the revenue of the solutions had to be more than $7.5 million in 2017.
Microsoft on Monday announced the release of its 2019-branded application servers, including Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, Project Server and Skype for Business Server.
The new servers are at the "general availability" release stage and can be used in production environments. However, there's a catch for organizations expecting to run them using the new Windows Server 2019 product. Microsoft released Windows Server 2019 on Oct. 2, but later held it back due to a file deletion issue that affected Windows 10 version 1809 users. Those client and server operating systems are still on hold, but Microsoft is planning to release an update, and it plans to update the new application servers accordingly.
"We will provide an update when refreshed media is available and will ensure that all Office 2019 services are fully compatible with the newly refreshed version," explained Jared Spataro, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Office and Windows marketing, in Microsoft's announcement.
In addition, for organizations planning to run Windows Server 2019 in their own datacenters, they won't find the OS on certified hardware until around "mid-January 2019," according to Cosmos Darwin, a senior program manager on Microsoft's Core OS team.
Exchange Server 2019
Exchange Server 2019 is available for download from Microsoft's Volume Licensing Service Center.
One caveat is that Exchange Server 2019 has a dependency on Windows Server 2019, which restricts organizations wanting it right away. This dependency also represents a deal-breaker for organizations sticking with Windows Server 2016. The lack of Windows Server 2016 support is perhaps a surprising switch from Microsoft's usual second-generation product support scenario.
In addition, Microsoft is touting Exchange Server 2019 for use on the Core install option of Windows Server 2019. The new messaging server works on the Desktop option of Windows Server 2019 also, but Spataro claimed that the Core option represents "the best choice for our code" and that "Core provides the most secure platform for Exchange."
Organizations also will get the Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2 protocol by default with Exchange Server 2019, according to an Exchange team post. Microsoft has plans in place to end support for the earlier versions (TLS 1.0 and 1.1) by the end of this month -- not just for the server products, but also across Office 365 services. Upgrading the underlying OS appears to be the typical solution to the unsecure TLS 1.0 and 1.l protocols. For instance, Microsoft has previously indicated that Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 or later OS versions use TLS 1.2 by default. In addition to those efforts, browser makers earlier announced that they plan to end support for TLS 1.0 and 1.1 in 2020.
As mentioned back in July, Microsoft has pulled the Unified Messaging role from Exchange Server 2019. The lack of that role is a potential issue for organizations that connected "either a 3rd party PBX or Skype for Business Server to Exchange Server," Microsoft indicated. Microsoft's recommendation for those organizations is to "consider migrating to Skype for Business Server 2019 and using Cloud Voicemail, or migrating to Office 365 with Cloud Voicemail."
Exchange Server 2019 features include:
SharePoint Server 2019
SharePoint Server 2019 can be downloaded at this Microsoft Download Center page. It's not possible to upgrade from the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) version. SharePoint Server 2019 is supported on Windows Server 2019 (when available) and Windows Server 2016.
This latest version of Microsoft's intranet server for collaboration and document sharing is mostly bringing down support for so-called "modern features," namely modern Sites, Pages, Lists, Libraries and Communication Sites, which all are already available for users of the SharePoint Online service.
The main modern element missing from SharePoint Server 2019 is support for Hub Sites, which is the top-level organizing page in Microsoft's modernized pages scheme. By modernized, Microsoft is referring to a more simplified user interface, plus responsive design for the mobile SharePoint app so that it adapts well to various screen sizes. In addition, the availability of the new SharePoint Framework open source tooling for developers is part of the modernized theme.
Features in SharePoint Server 2019 include:
Skype for Business Server 2019
Microsoft's latest unified communications server for use in an organization's datacenters can be downloaded from a link at this page. At press time, though, the link led to a generic page, so Skype for Business Server 2019 may not be downloadable just yet. The new server is supported on Windows Server 2019 (when available) and Windows Server 2016.
Skype for Business Server 2019 has the following features, according to an announcement: