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Exchange 2016 Migration Process

It has been an exciting year of migrations to our new Exchange platform and now that we’re reaching the tail end (under 500 accounts/domain) we wanted to make sure everyone was up to speed about how the migration will work. While we have done everything to make it completely seamless and non-intrusive for the users (most will just continue working without even noticing anything) we still manage every single migration as if it were our own personal email. Carefully.

Here are some steps that are involved in every migration.

Step 1: Let us know that you want to migrate at least 5 days in advance

It takes a little bit of coordination for every migration project and we want to make sure we treat each migration with white gloves – if we can address issues or potential issues ahead of time and have someone present that you can dial directly, we can minimize problems. Once you know you’re ready to go, let us know at least 5 days in advance and we’ll guide you through the process. After all, you’re paying us, don’t DIY it and chance getting lost Googling for a solution to a random issue that we’ve probably encountered thousands of times.

Step 2: Pick a URL for OWA

Everything at ExchangeDefender is branded for you and each organization comes with it’s own domain for Autodiscover, owa, etc. Anything under 16 characters goes and is typically going to be https://YOUR-ORG-HERE.xd.email

Step 3: Make DNS modifications to lower domain TTL

At least 3 days in advance you’ll want to contact your ISP or domain registrar (where your domain is hosted) and “lower the domain TTL to 5 minutes” – what this means is that you want your DNS to only be cached for 5 minutes. Most DNS servers have the setting at 3 or 1 days so we need to bring this way down so that Outlook clients can switch to the new servers quickly instead of waiting for days.

Step 4: Make backups

You should be making backups all the time but a migration is a great time to do so just because everyone will be in their email aware of the migration. If you rely heavily on Public Folders you’ll have to export that data and add it to the new technology in 2016, Shared Mailboxes. There are millions of reasons to do so from productivity to better reliability and better management.

Always backup.

Step 5: Actual Migration

Best part of the migration is that after the Autodiscover change in your DNS everything is pretty much on autopilot. Email will be moved by our team on the backend to the right servers automatically. Outlook clients will automatically reconnect to the new servers and most won’t even notice any difference except for better speed and more reliability.

Step 6: Cleanup

The last step is where we look at odds and ends: random Microsoft stuff that used to work before but now it’s suddenly broken. We’ve all been here with users, we’ve all dealt with “unique business case scenarios for xyz” and so on – again, we want to make sure everyone is happy with 2016 and productive right away and that means being on top of all the issues right away.

Knock on wood, our migrations process has had enough reps and tests that it’s very fluid and predictable now. While the cutover to the new 2016 platform is pretty much instantaneous, and mail is synced up on the backend, it can take about an hour or so depending on the mailbox for all the data to move and the search index to update. But what you get with 2016 is the most stable, trouble-free, platform we’ve ever offered.

Looking forward to seeing you on 2016.

 

Exchange 2016 Built For End Users

Have you ever wanted an email system that anyone in your organization could manage, with no IT training? Something so simple even a teenager could master it? Well, you’re in luck, now you can do that with Microsoft Exchange 2016 and ExchangeDefender. We’re putting the power of all the enterprise Exchange features  into the hands of businesses to help reduce IT costs and improve office productivity.

How? We’ve made it so it’s impossible to make a mistake.

Why? Because as a service provider, we too pay a price when support is necessary for some basic and routine tasks. We’ve automated them, simplified the process flow, and given you access to provision services and answer all the questions you’ll possibly have in a jargon-free language.

For example, let’s say a new employee starts today. All you have to do is login to our portal at https://support.ownwebnow.com, click on Service Manager, Exchange 2016, Quick Actions, Mailbox.

Just 3 more clicks and some basic information typed in – and you’re done. You’ve created a mailbox.

Thing is, you’ve done far more than just creating a mailbox. You’ve added an email address to the organization and provisioned all the security templates that match your organization. You’ve enforced your corporate password policy. You’ve ordered the correct plan and assigned the right licensing for this user (it’s automatically done for you). You’ve provisioned all the required services that your organization requires be it corporate encryption, 2 factor authentication, or even compliance archiving and eDiscovery.

You’ve also become your own support person for basic settings, configurations, and guides. The entire system is on-demand, self-service, instant gratification to the max. You can get more done, by yourself, on your schedule and quickly. That is the value behind ExchangeDefender powered Exchange 2016.

Now wait till you see what we can do for the IT personnel managing 100+ user organizations! Are you ready to migrate your users to Exchange 2016? Simply click on the Early Adopters banner below, submit a ticket requesting early adoption, and we’ll get started!

The time to move over to Exchange 2016 is NOW!

We previously blogged about our brand new SMB User Interface initiative around Exchange 2016 hosting – we aim to simplify the management of Microsoft Exchange so that any white collar employee can manage business email administration end to end.

But what about Exchange 2016, what is so great about it? Truthfully (and this will not make our MSP friends happy) bulk of the Exchange 2016 benefits are really centered around making our life easier as the service provider – we’ve never been able to say this about ANY Microsoft product in the two decade history: we’ve had 0 issues. You read that correctly, we’ve had absolutely no problems with Exchange 2016 so the primary benefit is the overall reliability and flexibility of the platform. It’s solid.

But if you want to sit with a client and walk them through a set of features that are new and compelling – and a good reason to upgrade to our Exchange 2016 if they are still on another provider or earlier version of Exchange – here are some talking points.

P.S. We recommend getting a demo account with our sales team and discussing how we often position these services to win business. You can talk about it till you’re blue in the face but just showing them the feature live might make them not want to live without it.

Exchange 2016 Notable Features

Expanding Archives – When an archive mailboxes reaches 50 GBs, the archive mailbox expands. Under the covers, once the mailbox reaches a size of 50 GBs, another archive mailbox is automatically created and linked together to form a chain of mailboxes that acts as one logical mailbox. As archive mailboxes are added, the content is distributed across the mailboxes to even out the load. Keep in mind that auto expanding archives still don’t auto expand your storage backend. Make sure you have adequate storage to accommodate such growth.

Calendar – Do Not Forward: This is similar to Information Rights Management (IRM) for calendar items without the IRM deployment requirements. Attendees can’t forward the invitation to other people, and only the organizer can invite additional attendees.

Calendar – Better Out of Office: Additional options when you won’t be in the office. Key options include: add an event to your calendar that shows you as Away/Out of Office, and a quick option to cancel/decline meetings that will happen while you’re away.

Calendar – Remove-CalendarEvents cmdlet: Enables administrators to cancel meetings that were organized by a user that has left the company. Previously, conference rooms or meeting attendees would have these defunct meetings permanently on their calendars.

Outlook on the Web (Formerly known as OWA)

When you use Outlook on the Web you have access to powerful collaboration tools that help to improve productivity.  As an end user, you can easily engage in document collaboration, URL and video previews in email messages, and access advanced search functions. These capabilities have been especially enhanced for the most recent web browser versions including Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, IE 11, Safari, and Mozilla Firefox. Additionally, there is now a productivity toolbar that appears in the top of your web browser for easy access to the functions you frequently use such as calendars, reading and composing email messages, searches, accessing files and documents, and more.

Pin: This function allows you to highlight a message and pin it to your inbox so you can easily locate important messages.

Undo: The Undo function helps you recover messages that were inadvertently deleted and undo actions you accidentally executed.

Sweep: This capability allows you to easily manage messages you frequently receive by configuring the settings for the messages. You can choose to keep messages for a specified number of days, automatically delete certain messages, keep the latest messages, and more.

Emoji’s: The Emoji’s provide enhancement to expressions in your email messages.  Since contact is not face to face, you can use this function to display emotions.

Organised Archiving: Exchange 2016 allows you to easily organise old email messages into designated folders with one click of your mouse. This helps to reduce inbox clutter.

Personalisation: A series of new themes have been added to Exchange 2016 to provide a more personalized experience when working with email messages.

Outlook 2016

As mentioned earlier, Outlook 2016 offers enhanced features for collaboration in addition to a few other functions mention here.

Quick Access to Recent Files: This feature allows you to easily access recent files stored in OneDrive for Business, SharePoint

Online, and OneDrive using a convenient dropdown menu.

Improved Screen Resolution: The intuitive DPI support features provides you with enhanced screen rendering when using Outlook.

HTML Format for Appointments and Meetings: You can now use rich HTML for email messages and attachments.

TellMe: The TellMe feature prevents you from having to search the productivity ribbon for a function you want to use.

Smart Lookup: Helps you to locate information on the web related to content in an email message. This feature places the information in directly in your inbox from sources such as Wikipedia, Bing, and others.

Small Screen Support: Enhanced support for small screens allows you to automatically adjust Outlook to adapt to your device screen. A back button allows you to easily switch screens to easily work with your message list and reading window.

Enhanced Multilingual Support: Exchange 2016 offers more international characters to support messages and documents in different languages.

Better Storage: Exchange 2016 offers improved settings that allow you to specify how long you want to retain email on your device.  Outlook is designed to monitor disk space.  If your space has become reduced, it will automatically set a smaller timeframe for syncing.

More Office Themes: A new Colorful theme has been added to Outlook 2016 while maintaining the previous white and dark grey theme options.

Improved Email Performance: With Exchange 2016, the time it takes to download and display messages as well as wake after hibernation has been reduced.

Outlook for iOS and Android

Early last year, Microsoft introduced Outlook email for the iOS and Android operating systems. This move helped to expand Exchange capabilities to more devices and operating systems.

Some of the features include:

Quick File Access: This features allows you to easily separate important emails from less urgent ones by using the double tab feature.

Calendar Availability Notification: The Calendar feature allows you to easily send the times you are available to your colleagues, friends, and co-workers.

Schedule Emails: This function allows you to remove an inbox message and schedule to appear at a later time when it is more convenient.

Directory Search: The Directory Search function provides a way to quickly find people and their location.

Automatic Replies: Exchange 2016 allows you to set messages to let others know you are out of the office. An icon remains on the screen to remind you this function is activated.

ExchangeDefender is in it’s final stage of Exchange 2016 migration which means tons of small business users are about to experience Exchange 2016 for the first time (coming from 2010, 2013 and even a few 2007 / virtualized SBS folks). While there are tons of advantages and features in 2016, nearly all of them are related to the back end/IT that will make your Exchange/Outlook experience much better. Yes, I can hear you yawning. 🙂

SIMPLICITY

The most exciting thing about ExchangeDefender on Exchange 2016 is the extent to which we have templated, wizarded, and simplified the management of an Exchange 2016 organization – we’ve written tons of control panels and wizards that will make ordinary users as powerful as IT people with a ton of PowerShell experience. As a matter of fact, our Exchange 2016 UI will be on sale shortly as a separate product. All the cool stuff you read about Exchange 2016 is only accessible via PowerShell and coding, something that even an overwhelming majority of trained IT staff aren’t capable of doing effortlessly.

We looked at the Microsoft Exchange platform, surveyed our users, looked at all the tickets and requests we’ve had since the 2016 launch and we built a simple, easy to use, non-IT guy friendly way of managing Exchange 2016 and all it’s new features. This means that for an average organization, ExchangeDefender Exchange 2016 will be the most powerful platform they can get.

FLEXIBILITY

Microsoft has really changed the game in Exchange 2016 with massive improvements around the web – from MAPI over HTTP to Outlook on the Web. Outlook on the web will turn your web browser into something as similar and almost as powerful as your desktop Outlook application. In fact, all ExchangeDefender employees currently use Outlook on the Web as their primary email interface because the search component is flawless and we already spend the entire day in the browser.

MAPI over HTTP component is truly solid and will hopefully eliminate a ton of problems that 2003/07/10/13 users had with configuring their Outlook initially. With the new setup and autodiscover, apps will be able to quickly locate the right server and keep connecting even when there are backend maintenance or outage scenarios. So far so good though, 2016 has been rock solid leading us to..

RELIABILITY

As everyone that’s ever had to deal with Outlook and Exchange will tell you, it’s reliable but when you have an issue it’s usually big – well, not anymore. With better implementation of multiple roles, Managed Store, expanding archives and SharePoint Foundation Search the new version of Exchange can handle larger mailboxes, provide faster searches and assure smooth operation in event of failure.

We have been leveraging Expanding Archives to provide bigger (archived mail) mailboxes while making the recent messages on entirely different storage. The results are phenomenal and you will notice the difference immediately.

Everyone with an AutoDiscover record can be moved on demand, if you don’t have an auto discover record you will need to create one for your domain and point it to autodiscover.xd.email – beyond that Outlook will handle everything just requiring the user to run an online “repair” that takes just a few moments and doesn’t require downloading all of the email, creating a new profile, re-configuring everything and so on. If you don’t have an auto-discover yet you will need it – there is no more “manual” configuration.

We truly look forward to getting all of our clients on 2016 as fast as possible and have additional staff, documents, and resources to make this a successful move for everyone. Once moved, the power of our UI and management infrastructure will give you more flexibility over the Exchange management and implementation while also allowing you to run things without PowerShell, hacking or putting things together. That in fact is our biggest competitive advantage: You don’t need to be in IT to manage your email.

 

Friendly Names, Finally.

You’ve only been waiting 20 years for this feature and we’re happy to finally deliver it: ExchangeDefender will now show friendly display names and email addresses, giving you a better idea of who the email sender is.

This is a slightly technical pragraph that we encourage you to skip. Every email you receive has two From: addresses. One is a “friendly from” or “header from” address that prints the name of the sender as the user configured it inside their mail software such as Outlook or Gmail. The other is an “envelope from” or “mail from / return path from” address that is used for mailer/postmaster reasons to bounce and process messages. As an email security solution, ExchangeDefender only looks at and reports envelope addressing as the friendly from can easily be spoofed and faked and generally has no impact on the underlying SPAM filtering technology, message routing, SPF/DKIM, and a myriad of other technical reasons. Two decades ago, when ExchangeDefender was first and foremost meant to be a front line defense on the edge/perimeter before allowing traffic to get to the firewall, envelope from was what I went with.

What made sense two decades ago, which is centuries in IT terms, doesn’t make sense in 2018. Today ExchangeDefender is no longer primarily an edge security service, it is prime real estate in which end users and business employees spend a considerable amount of their time managing their mail, sending documents, sending encrypted attachments, assuring compliance, collaborating, and as such the design and the content needs to show something relevant to the user (not the IT administrator power user that is likely managing things through our powerful Domain Administrator section).

Oh, and by the way, it’s also going to show up like this in our updated SPAM Reports starting in October for our ExchangeDefender Pro subscribers:

P.S. Please tune into our new feature webinar on Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 at noon EST. Lot’s of new features are coming in ExchangeDefender as we transform the product to better serve the compliance and security needs of our clients. Register Now!

 

Not growing as fast as you’d like, or spending too much time on email/client support? Hear our CEO’s thoughts on what is fueling our growth and how ESS is already playing a huge part in growth of managed services across our client base.

Posted by ExchangeDefender on Friday, April 13, 2018

Not growing as fast as you’d like, or spending too much time on email/client support? Hear our CEO’s thoughts on what is fueling our growth and how ESS is already playing a huge part in growth of managed services across our client base.

ExchangeDefender Become a Partner banner

As you may have noticed from the huge banner in our support portal, our new Service Manager user interface is live! I just recorded a webinar that will walk you through all the “behind the scenes” stuff you should know about the new portal and I encourage you to watch, but I want to sum it up for you in case you don’t have the 20 minutes:

ExchangeDefender is rebranding into a secure communications platform: We are the application that our clients use to securely communicate with clients and vendors. With all the new regulatory requirements, daily hacking/exploit nightmare news stories, lack of trust in social media platforms and data being used for commercial/ad gain – businesses require and demand better than a “consumer” solution to a business problem.

In order for companies to become more efficient (and for our partners to make money in the cloud) we are embedding our support and services into the actual product: so when there is an issue, it’s already being handled. No more middlemen, no more escalations or different vendors fighting over who broke things: It’s our product, our network – we will do the work for you.

How that is accomplished is in the video below:

image

Click here to download the video.

Click here to download the user manual.

We are very excited to announce the launch of the new XD Service Manager that will allow our partners and their clients a much friendlier way to manage their Exchange services. This is a complete rewrite of the code – frontend and backend – and we’ve taken all the feedback and made the beast much friendlier both for smaller accounts as well as for enterprise clients with tons of users to manage directly. The goal was to entirely remove the IT department and “the PowerShell guy” from the equation and put power user tools at your disposal to quickly and effectively make changes on the mass scale.

But first, the frontend – full rewrite – with new responsive UI and controls. Previous jQuery UI that has been hacked, tweaked and kicked along for years is being replaced by this UI that will work as well on the desktop as it does on any mobile device:

screenshot1

Navigation is in line with typical modern design you’ve seen in many other web applications with ability to filter, scope, search and quickly apply changes to multiple accounts.

Actions are context-based, meaning you will not be refreshing the entire page in order to get search results or do quick changes on multiple accounts. We’ve fully extended the Exchange feature set in the new UI giving you the ability to centrally manage all aspects of your Exchange service without having to go back and forth between different screens or modules (so in that regard, it’s even easier to deal with than an Exchange management console)

image

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the new service is very end-user friendly. While 90% of the feature requests for the new service manager came from our power users that expressed a lot of frustration with the speed and accessibility of the portal, we needed to recognize the reality of who manages IT in 2018 – it’s no longer the IT guy or the IT department – users want to be able to take control of their public folders, distribution groups, forwarding, password resets and so on – so our design had to take that into account as well:

screenshot3

As you can tell, the new Service Manager is far friendlier and uses the same wizard approach in the end-user mode that they are likely very familiar with. Because we’ve done very strict implementation on the backend (with all the regulations we are now responsible for), it’s virtually impossible for them to make a mistake. Unfortunately for some of our unskilled IT folks this means no more “Password1” or “NoSPAM” or “Princess1!” as a password going forward but everyone will be experiencing far fewer problems as a result of it.

Better reporting as well – you’ll be able to get the full overview of configuration, who uses what, where they are at and so on.

The new Service Manager goes into Beta next week (last week of March 2018) and will run in parallel with the existing Service Manager (on the same site as https://support.ownwebnow.com) as we get more feedback from our entire user base – so don’t worry about this springing up on you as a surprise. You will see the new link on the Dashboard and will have the ability to access the new infrastructure from there. Both will continue to work for at least a month.

This is also the new UI framework for Shockey Monkey: which we have been working on for a year now. The same infrastructure, MVC, UI and upgraded backend are going to be driving ExchangeDefender, SM, XD and all other services which means that you’ll very soon be managing everything from the same look and feel that will be extended to your site as well. What it ultimately means is that the new UI will follow your branding and your color schemes and no matter where in the ExchangeDefender universe your client ends up, they will be dealing directly with your brand.

And we’ll be there in a live chat to provide support and help them out with every service.

Thereby ultimately managing the entire communications, collaboration and business management platform end-to-end. Very exciting times ahead!

-Vlad

CEO, ExchangeDefender

Attachment download: New Service Manager Partner Guide (pdf).

We live in interesting times. With over 1.4 billion compromised accounts and users relying on the same password for every site, it’s nearly impossible to secure users that don’t want to set strong passwords. Nevertheless, that’s what you pay us for and we’re doing our best.

Until the new Service Manager is in and automatic service policies with full compliance are added in, we’ve been forced to institute lockouts on accounts that are being compromised or have suspicious activity. Unfortunately, when an attack on a mailbox is launched it doesn’t come from one IP address, it comes from hundreds, and blocking them is impossible.

But locking the account and making the client change the password to something that isn’t on the dark web.. that’s simpler. This is something that absolutely has to get done, if the account is used for spamming purposes it can blacklist that address, domain or worse.

sm_2

If your account gets locked out due to a security compromise, you can now unlock them and restore service automatically.

Just go to the Service Manager, find the user, reset the password and you should be all set.

P.S. In the event that you aren’t regularly changing your clients passwords, or you have ridiculously simple ones, we need to talk. Part of the issue is that your clients, regardless of size location or industry, are just SPAM zombies waiting to happen if you don’t set long and complex passwords that aren’t used anywhere else. If you don’t want to do that, we need to talk about two factor authentication. ExchangeDefender network has never been compromised – but individual accounts get popped all the time and it’s generally with a password that is well known and available in a simple Google search.

ExchangeDefender is excited to announce a redesigned Exchange Hosting Essentials service aimed at entry level market. By providing an affordable and hassle-free way to purchase, provision and budget Exchange services we are hoping to give our partners a better way to design solutions for small business email problems.

. . .

When we first introduced Exchange Essentials a few years ago, we created an offering with cost reduction in mind, by allowing the users to compromise on support, redundancy and features in order to get the product that fit their budget. What we found out with the product matrix is that interest is primarily polar – client either demands the lowest price or the highest set of features for the buck but nothing in between. In numerous discussions with our most successful partners we’ve come up with a better plan that more closely matches the way service providers offer Exchange services within their plans.

Matrix1

This old matrix is now history.

We agreed with our partners that the model needs to be simpler – to budget, to position and to customize with clients specific needs in mind.

We’re starting off with the low entry level price of $3.99 per user, billable monthly with no contract, commitment, minimum or maximum and a powerful Exchange platform to run their business on. This gives our partners a competitive pricing point to offer an entry level service and keep them under their control, brand, management and centralized billing.

We’re making additional features simple and easy to add on as well. As each client has unique demands and requirements, we’ve made each functionality easy to add on as necessary giving them predictable costs that are easy to budget as the business grows and needs more sophisticated solutions. Don’t want to deal with SPAM or want to keep vulgar content out? That’s just $1. Business continuity in the event of an outage? Just another $1 more. Compliance Archiving? Encryption? As the business demands grow these additional features can be added and removed as necessary giving our partners unprecedented control.

NewExchangeEssentials. . .

Our agenda is simple: We want to deliver the most affordable, most flexible way to get businesses running on Exchange in the cloud. We have a lot of partners that are still managing their own on-premise Exchange deployments that will need massive upgrades with low ROI and we believe that many will take advantage of this affordable way to get into the cloud while maintaining the profit margin and client control. We believe that many of our partners serve small business clients on older infrastructure that may have hesitated pulling the trigger on the cloud migration because of upgrade requirements, long contracts and commitments.

With our announcement today, ExchangeDefender is making a tremendous offer – come to the cloud and we’ll pay for the first year. No minimums, contracts, commitments or prepayments. The faster you act, the more you’ll save.  

Get in touch with your account manager today and let’s come up with a plan to get your clients to the cloud you own.

 

Link: Webinar: New Exchange Essentials 2017

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