The cloud offers consumers more options for deploying their applications and is attractive from the perspective of predictable costs, reliability and scalability. However, not every component of an Organization’s environment may be fully suited for the cloud due to a variety of reasons including confidentiality and compliance. With the increasing trend of organizations to move parts of IT onto the cloud and retain core aspects of their business within their datacenters, it becomes important for us to understand how Exchange 2013 interoperates between on-premises and cloud. Exchange 2013 is designed from the ground up to support coexistence with the cloud. From both the administrator and end-user’s perspective, Exchange 2013 and Office 365 provide a seamless and feature rich experience. We will explore some of these features in this post.
- Secure mail routing
- Mail routing with the same domain space
- Unified GAL and Free/Busy sharing
- Centralized Egress of Messages
- Unified OWA login
- Centralized Management
- Mailbox Migrations
- Cloud-based Message Archiving
- Architecture Components: A hybrid Exchange 2013 environment comprises of the following components.
- Exchange servers: You may have a combination of Exchange 2013, Exchange 2010 or earlier Exchange Servers and roles deployed on-premises. You will need a minimum of one Exchange 2013 Client Access and one Exchange 2013 Mailbox Server if you deploy Exchange 2013 on-premises in your organization.
- Microsoft Office 365: This is Microsoft’s feature-rich cloud based service that includes cloud-based email, instant messaging and online conferencing, Office Web Apps including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote and Email Archiving. You will need the Midsize Business and Enterprise Plan (E3) in order to configure Active Directory Synchronization with your on-premises environment. You will also need to configure an Exchange Online organization to enable hybrid deployments.
- Exchange Online Protection (EOP): EOP is included in all Office 365 Enterprise tenant subscriptions. EOP enables secure message delivery between cloud and on-premises Exchange Organizations and can also be configured to manage message routing between the Internet and your on-premises Exchange Organization.
- Hybrid Configuration wizard: The Hybrid Configuration wizard is used to manage the hybrid configuration through the Exchange Administrative Center (EAC). The Hybrid Configuration Wizard first performs prerequisite and topology checks, tests account credentials between on-premise and Exchange Online organizations and then subsequently performs the necessary configuration changes to create and enable the hybrid deployment, this includes adding the HybridConfiguration object in the on-premise Active Directory environment.
- Microsoft Federation Gateway: On-premises Exchange Organizations must configure a federation trust with the Microsoft Federation Gateway before they can enable a hybrid configuration with an Exchange Online organization. The Microsoft Federation Gateway acts as a trust broker between the on-premises Exchange and the Online Exchange organizations and federation trusts can be configured manually or via the Hybrid Configuration Wizard. A Federation Trust is necessary for your on-line and on-premise users to be able to share free/busy information.
- Active Directory Synchronization: AD synchronization enables a unified GAL across Online and on-premises users in your Exchange deployment. AD Sync feature requires you to download and install the tool on a separate server (Physical or Virtual) in your on-premises environment. Note that the default limit of 20,000 objects that can be replicated between on-premises Active Directory and the online organization can be increased by contacting the Microsoft Online Services team.
- Active Directory Federation Services (Optional): the AD FS server implementation will enable users in your organization to use their existing network credentials for logging on to the on-premises and Exchange Online organizations using “Single Sign-on”. This is facilitated by configuring trusts between the on-premises Active Directory Forest and the Microsoft Online ID.
- Certificates: To support secure communications between the on-premises and Online environments, Microsoft recommends that you purchase a Subject Alternative Name (SAN) SSL certificate that can be used to secure access to the following services:
- Primary shared SMTP domain: This is your primary email domain and needs to be installed on local Client Access and Mailbox Servers. ie. chimpcorp.com
- Autodiscover: The autodiscover services supports the configuration of remote clients (Outlook and Exchange Active-sync), is installed on your CAS servers and should be provisioned according to the external Autodiscover FQDN of your Exchange 2013 CAS server. ie. autodiscover. chimpcorp.com
- Transport: This is installed on your Exchange 2010 SP3 Edge Transport Servers and matches the external FQDN of your edge transport servers. ie. edge.chimpcorp.com
- AD FS (optional): A certificate is required to establish trust between web clients and federation server proxies and to sign and decrypt security tokens.
- Exchange Federation: A self-signed certificate is required to establish a secure connection between the on-premises Exchange 2013 servers and the Microsoft Federation Gateway.
- Client Access: An SSL certificate is required for use by clients such as OWA and Exchange ActiveSync and Outlook Anywhere. ie. webmail.chimpcorp.com
- Message Transport: Messages between the on-premises and online organizations are encrypted, authenticated and transferred via Transport Layer Security (TLS). Depending on how you choose to configure your hybrid environment, messages can flow either one of the following ways:
- Centralized Mail Transport: All Internet-bound email is delivered via the on-premises Exchange Organization. The Exchange on-premises organization is responsible for message transport and relays all Internet messages from the Exchange Online organization. This configuration is preferable if your organization has compliance or regulatory requirements and must monitor a single point of egress for all messages outside of your organization. Ensure that you provision sufficient bandwidth between the on-premises and online environments to process all outbound messages.
- Online-centric Transport: All Internet-bound email in the Organization is delivered via the Exchange Online organization. In this case, all external outbound messages from the on-premises Exchange Organization are relayed to servers in the Exchange Online organization. This is preferable if you wish to use Microsoft’s Exchange Archiving and Exchange Online Protection (EOP) solutions, as it supports the most efficient flow of messaging traffic.
- Independent message routing: All Internet-bound email from recipients in the Exchange Online organization are delivered directly to the Internet, taking an independent path from your on-premises Exchange 2013 Organization.
- Edge Routing: On-premises endpoint for Exchange and Exchange Online organizations must be an Exchange 2013 CAS Server, or Exchange 2010 SP3 Edge Transport Server. Communications between Exchange Online and older versions of Exchange, SMTP hosts or appliances are not supported.
- Client Access: In Exchange 2013 client access is supported from Outlook via RPC/HTTP and Outlook Web App. Clients connecting to the on-premises Client Access server are redirected to either the on-premises Exchange 2013 Mailbox Server or provided with a link to logon to the Exchange Online organization.
Common Administrative Tasks
- Set up an Office 365 account: Via the Office 365 online portal here.
- Enabling a Hybrid Deployment: Use the Hybrid Deployment Wizard in the EAC.
- Configure or modify the Hybrid Deployment Options: Via the Hybrid Deployment Wizard in the EAC or Powershell
Set-HybridConfiguration -Features OnlineArchive,MailTips,OWARedirection,FreeBusy,MessageTracking
- Verify the configuration was successful: Via PowerShell
- Sharing Free/Busy information: Steps on how to configure Federation Trusts
- Configuring Active Directory Synchronization: Steps to download the AD Synchronization tool from the Office 365 portal.
Top PowerShell Commands/Tools:
Click here to read more briefs on Exchange 2013.
PowerShell Command Reference for Hybrid Configuration
Technet: Article on the Hybrid Configuration Wizard
Technet: Article on Hybrid Certificate Requirements
Technet: Article on configuring message routing
Labs on AD Synchronization
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