Exchange Server 2016 has been announced for some time, but we were able to take a first look inside the Exchange Server 2016 only on the second day of the Microsoft Ignite conference in Chicago. It was a pretty long journey with a lot of live demos and plenty of information that might be difficult to memorize. Therefore, here are some key points regarding the new Exchange 2016 server.
To start with, Exchange Server 2016 is basically the first Exchange server built in the cloud. So we have a total different server release model, which now extends to all Microsoft servers, not only Exchange. Till now, we always had an Exchange Server release and then the server was brought into the cloud. If you remember, Exchange Online was at the beginning an online service based on Exchange Server 2010. Then, Exchange Server 2013 was released and afterwards this server was brought into the cloud and all Exchange Online customers were transitioned to this new Exchange Online versions. I think most IT pros will remember this process, since it was kind of painful at times 🙂
With Exchange Server 2016 we have an opposite approach. Exchange Online has changed a lot in the last years with new features being rolled out at least on a weekly basis. Microsoft gathered a lot of feedback regarding the evolution of Exchange Online and many aspects were improved, new features were added and so on. Exchange Server 2016 was born by putting everything together and using a cloud based architecture.
In this prospective, it is easier for everybody to understand why Microsoft opted for a building block model in Exchange Server 2016, bringing the Client Access and Mailbox server roles together. Trying to keep things simple, the whole coexistence architecture was re-imagined and as a result Microsoft announced a simplified coexistence with Exchange Server 2013 and Exchange Online.
Exchange Server 2016 will come with automated repair features, like finding database corruptions via DB divergence detection, loose truncation improvements and ReFS support. Recovery becomes faster in Exchange Server 2016, with database failovers taking place in around 18 seconds in 95% of the cases.
Simplified deployments will also be possible with Exchange Server 2016 having DAGs without cluster administrative access points.
On the other hand, Exchange Server 2016 will allow organizations to reduce WAN costs, since the search index will use also passive databases, not only active ones.
A major change affects also the Hybrid Configuration Wizard which in the near future can be started also from the Exchange Online side.
As you see, there are a lot of new cool things in Exchange Server 2016 and I think it may take some time till we’ll fully understand all the technical background of these features.