This is the continuation of Part 1 in my Exchange 2013 review. Today, we will get to know interesting changes in the Exchange architecture. I also discuss the Exchange Administrator Central in Exchange 2013.

Architecture changes ^

Exchange 2013 still uses Extensible Storage Engine (ESE) as its database engine. ESE code has been completely rewritten in C# to provide better stability. The Exchange 2013 database runs under a new process known as Managed Store (earlier known as Information Store), which provides a more granular level of managing databases as each database runs under its own process. This helps isolate single database issues without impacting other active databases running on the same server. Database failover and physical disk handling have been improved, reducing IOPS utilization by + 50% and now supporting disk capacity up to 8TB. ESE has also been enhanced with deeper checkpoint depth for both active and passive database copies.

Another interesting change in architecture pertains to the Public Folder infrastructure. Many administrators have been experiencing problems with Public Folders because they are complex to manage, configure, and troubleshoot. I believe that the new Public Folder architecture will reduce this complexity. In Exchange 2013, Public Folders are integrated into the mailbox database and can also participate in DAG (Database Availability Group), High Availability, and Site Resilience.

Public Folder contents are stored in one or more mailboxes known as Public Folder Mailboxes. The new mailbox type Public Folder can be created using Exchange Administrator Central (EAC) or the Exchange Management Console (EMC). Users can connect directly to the Public Folder Mailbox. If a user is looking for specific data that does not reside in the current Public Folder Mailbox, he or she will automatically be redirected to the appropriate Public Folder Mailbox. Any Public Folder operations are directly logged into the Public Folder Mailbox if logging is enabled.

Exchange 2013 - Public folder mailbox creation

Exchange 2013 - Public folder mailbox creation

Another important change in architecture for Outlook clients is that they can now connect to a Client Access Server (CAS) for authentication purpose only. Once the client is authenticated by the CAS, it uses a user’s unique GUID to query Active Directory and the Primary Active Manager to determine the active Mailbox server, and then redirects the Outlook request accordingly. The Outlook client will no longer connect to CAS using RPC; it will always connect using RPC over HTTPS. This connection type is also known as Outlook Anywhere.

Exchange Administration Central ^

The new Exchange Administrator Central (EAC) is a web-based GUI management tool in Exchange 2013 that replaces the Exchange Management Console (EMC). Now, we really don’t need to install any management tool to manage Exchange 2013. Just load the EAC URL from any client machine using Internet Explorer or another supported browser, or through MMC (Microsoft Management Console), and start managing it.

EAC provides a lot of customization options. Administrators can create and save a custom view in order to get back to the same view when logged in again. There is no separate tool to manage Public Folders; they can only be managed through EAC. In EAC, you can list up to 20,000 objects of an On-Premises Exchange server and 10,000 objects of Exchange Online (Office 365). You can also size the page view and export the results to a CSV file. EAC also has a notification viewer to view the status of long-running processes and provides options to trigger email notification when required. For example, if you are moving hundreds of mailboxes and you want to be notified when the move mailbox request is completed, this can be configured in EAC.

To access the full (premium) functionality of EAC, you need at least a client with Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008. To access the minimum (light) functionality, you need at least a Windows XP client or Windows Server 2003. Some of the supported web browsers are Internet Explorer 8 and above, Firefox 11 and above, Safari 5.1 and above, and Chrome 18 and above.

I am excited about the architecture changes in Exchange 2013, particularly the new Public Folder features and the new Managed Store. There are even more exciting new features in Exchange 2013, which I will describe in my next post.

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