There are several considerations when upgrading to the new Exchange 2013, whether the on-premises or online version.
Q. We’re currently running Exchange 2010 in our enterprise. We wish to upgrade our on-premises Exchange messaging infrastructure to Exchange 2013. We’re looking forward to some of the new user- and administrator-focused features in this version.
We’ve heard deploying Exchange 2013 into an Exchange 2010-based organization is currently not supported. This makes the upgrade a showstopper because we want to deploy Exchange 2013 into the existing Exchange organization. What are our options regarding upgrading to Exchange 2013?
A. As you probably know, Exchange 2013 reached RTM back in October 2012. However, you could only use this version in the following scenarios:
Unfortunately, you couldn’t deploy Exchange 2013 into an Active Directory forest already containing Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010 servers. Exchange 2013 only supported Exchange 2010 SP3 and Exchange 2007 SP3 RU10.
On Feb. 12 this year, both Exchange 2010 SP3 and Exchange 2007 SP3 RU10 were released to the public. Exchange administrators and consultants around the world thought, “Now I can begin my planned Exchange 2013 upgrade projects.”
Unfortunately, this was once again not the case. To have Exchange 2013 coexist with Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010 in the same Exchange organization, you need the Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 1 (CU1). And, as you may have guessed, CU1 for Exchange 2013 didn’t release on that date. Fortunately, CU1 for Exchange 2013 just released on April 2. So you can now begin upgrading from Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010 to Exchange 2013 in your on-premises organization. Download Exchange 2013 CU1 and read the announcement.
Q. We’re currently using Exchange Online as part of Office 365 as our primary messaging system. We can’t move certain mailboxes to Exchange Online, so we’ve configured an Exchange hybrid deployment. The Exchange hybrid servers are running Exchange 2010 SP2.
We’re very interested in moving to the new Office 365 service as soon as possible. Is there anything we need to be aware of when it comes to running an Exchange hybrid deployment? And do you know if we can do anything to expedite upgrading to the new Office 365?
A. All paying Office 365 customers are treated equally, which means when it comes to having their tenant upgraded to the new Office 365, no paying customer will be prioritized over another. So, no, you can’t affect when the Office 365 team migrates your tenant.
You’ll need to wait for the e-mail telling you your tenant has been scheduled to be upgraded to the new Office 365. If you aren’t ready for the upgrade at that point, you can request to push it back 60 days. However, when that 60-day grace period expires, your tenant will need to be upgraded.
As far as your hybrid deployment, you must upgrade your Exchange 2010 SP2 servers to Exchange 2010 SP3 prior to your tenant being upgraded. If you don’t, then several of the Exchange hybrid deployment features will break, including managing your tenant mailboxes using the Exchange Management Console (EMC).
Although establishing a hybrid environment with Exchange 2010 SP3 is supported with Exchange Online in the new Office 365, upgrading the hybrid servers to Exchange 2013 in the near future is recommended. An Exchange 2013-based hybrid also brings with it some new improvements. For more details on these, see the Exchange 2013 hybrid documentation.
Q. Last year, we moved from an Exchange 2007-based on-premises organization to Exchange Online and Office 365. We’ve been very satisfied with the service so far, but we’re looking forward to the Exchange 2013-based Exchange Online version that will be introduced with the new Office 365.
We’ve heard rumors of some of the new features and improvements included with Exchange Online 2013, but we’re wondering if you could provide us with an insight?
A. With a new version of a product, you get new features as well as improvements to existing ones. This is no different with the Office 365 services. Because the Exchange Online part of the new Office 365 offering is based on Exchange 2013, we’ll see several new changes and improvements. Some of the more significant upgrades include: