What’s new in Microsoft Exchange 2016

If you are a regular user of the Microsoft Exchange Server, chances are this piece of tech is the backbone of your office communications. Text messages, social media and applications such as Twitter and Whatsapp may have changed the way people get in touch, but for a serious organisation, reliable business-class email remains vital. After all, customers want to be sure they can get in touch with you around the clock and need to know that their contact has been registered and is on record. And your employees require a dependable way of keeping records, arranging schedules and communicating with each other.

As well as offering the obvious email and calendar applications, Microsoft Exchange helps to ensure the security of your emails by keeping hackers, viruses and spam at bay and manages to protect confidentiality as well. You also have access to scheduling features, voice mail storage and contact management applications.

If you’re not working in the IT sector, you may wonder what the difference is between Microsoft Exchange and Office Outlook. Well basically, Exchange is more of an in-house server-based tool that takes care of receiving and storing your emails while offering a range of functions. Microsoft Outlook is the desktop application or dashboard for Exchange that allows users to access and retrieve emails from the your server and access calendar and contacts.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 has now been rolled out and with it comes upgraded technology and enhanced data loss prevention tools. There is also a web based administration centre and a system that allows for automatic recovery from any storage failure.

The 2016 update also boosts your productivity by taking into account the need for collaboration between staff and mobile communications, as smartphones, tablets and mobile workforces become the norm. If you are familiar with the 2013 version of Exchange, you will find that the biggest difference is that there is now a focus on hybrid solutions, meaning many of the innovations enjoyed by Office 365 users come into play. Exchange 2016 can be deployed on-site or you can provision your mailboxes in the cloud to enjoy these advantages:

Improved collaboration

Exchange 2016 offers better file handling and an improved way of sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations with the ability to enable co-authoring and ensure version control. New features mean it is also possible to view documents via a split screen display, which is good news for anyone who understands the frustration of trying to compare docs by opening one window at a time. It is also possible to send any attachments as simple links to SharePoint and OneDrive for Business rather than have to search for and attach documents in the traditional and time-consuming way. These improved collaboration features should help drive productivity at a SMB.

A better inbox

For most office workers using the Windows platform, Outlook is their main database, where they check emails and keep up with clients and schedules. Exchange 2016 offers new tools to simplify emails and communication; including “Sweep Pin” which enables you to delete all messages you don’t want (past and future) from one source with just a couple of clicks. You also have a useful undo feature, to quickly correct mistakes, a single line inbox view for faster browsing of your inbox and the ability to post inline images. To improve scheduling there is an option to easily change and arrange meeting times. You can even improve the look of your inbox with a range of new themes.

More mobility

Many SMBs are reliant on their staff using tablets, smartphones and laptops and workers love the flexibility of being able to work from anywhere. Exchange 2016, recognises this “more mobile world” and offers Outlook on Windows 10, iOS and Android to enhance productivity. Mobile workers are better served with the two tabs to read emails, and “Focus” which allows them to filter the most important and urgent emails, while an “Other” box can be used for important, but not vital newsletters, updates and promotions. There are also better editing tools so you can use tables and bullet points when communicating with people via email.

A simpler infrastructure

The popular and easy to use features of Office 365 have influenced Exchange Server 2016 and this is evident by the simplified architecture of the platform. The mailbox and client-access server roles have been brought together to simplify the process of planning on-premise deployments by giving the onsite server only two roles: to run the mailbox & databases; and the Edge Transport roles. This means you enjoy more flexibility and balance capacity when needed. The role of the mailbox is now strictly limited to ensure client access reducing hardware costs as you no longer need a separate server to run client access.

Enhanced security and compliance

Security is an issue for all Australian small businesses. With Exchange 2016 and regular upgrades help you protect your precious data as well as guarantee industry compliance. Most businesses that sell or market services online also have credit card numbers, personal information and, in some cases, health records. Exchange 2016 lets you keep track of the data you hold, and more importantly, keep it secure. Over 80 types of sensitive information can be identified, monitored and protected. What’s more, you can generate incident reports and keep everyone, customers and staff, abreast of any security breaches or risks to be aware of.

There are also strong malware filtering capabilities in Exchange 2016 to help keep you safe. After all, email is one of the main attack routes for malicious software. Emails received and sent are scanned with suspect emails being deleted. When this happens senders and administrators get a notification. Custom messengers can also go to recipients in case they don’t get emails they may have been expecting.

The Director of Empower IT, Salim Sukari says, “While the differences between Exchange Server 2013 and 2016 are not huge, they do reflect the changing needs of companies seeking better security and improved interaction with a more mobile workforce. There is a distinct feeling among early adopters that Microsoft is hoping customers opt for a Cloud-based IT systems for all their needs soon. But there are good features for anyone who wants to retain an on-site solution and a good service provider will be able to ensure you get the best from Exchange 2016 if you feel the cloud is not a step you want to take.”

Want to know more about how Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 can help your business, get in touch with the experts at Empower IT and we can help.