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November 20, 2012  7:44 PM

Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals (November 2012) – Michael Van Horenbeeck

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

We recently began our “Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals” program on If you’re not familiar with the program, let me break it down for you. Each month we take nominations from readers, contacts and contributors. After reviewing credentials, we select a deserving member from the Exchange Server community.

This month’s winner is Michael Van Horebeeck.

Michael works as a technology consultant with Xylos, an information and communication technology services provider and Microsoft partner in Belgium. Michael is a great choice for our first ever Exchange pro of the month due to his terrific contributions in the Exchange community.

Michael routinely takes time out of his schedule to contribute to the site, as well as the UC Architects podcasts. If you aren’t familiar with either, do yourself a favor and check them out.

Michael was kind enough to answer a few questions as to how he came to work with Exchange, his favorite aspects of the technology and more. You can also follow Michael on Twitter @mvanhorenbeeck.

Do you know someone who is deserving of our Exchange Server pro of the month award (it might be you)? Don’t be shy — send us an email.

 1. Can you give a brief description of how you began working with Exchange Server and related technologies?

I actually was “thrown” into Exchange many years ago when a client was forced to move to Exchange 2003 from Exchange 5.5 during an infrastructure upgrade. At that time, I knew close to nothing about either and was forced to learn about them the hard way (memories)!

I guess that experience somehow made Exchange really stick in my mind as I’ve been primarily working with it ever since.

 2. What’s your favorite part of working with Exchange Server and technologies?

Without a doubt, it is the progress that’s made in every release. It’s interesting to see how Exchange has re-invented itself a few times over the years.

Like many others, I’m really into the Exchange architecture part. So, I guess that the client access server role is probably my favorite part, along with PowerShell.

 3. What are you excited to work on in 2013 and why?

I’m excited to finally put Exchange 2013 into production! It’s a pity we have to wait until [Exchange 2010] SP3 to become available before we can do anything though. We don’t see that many green field installs nowadays, unless if you’re moving from another platform like Notes.

I also hope to find some more time to write articles. I’ve been so busy at work lately, so I haven’t been able to write as much as I’ve wanted to.

November 14, 2012  8:46 PM

IBM ditches ‘Lotus’ brand, preps Notes/Domino 9.0 Social Edition

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

I must admit, it’s been awhile since I covered or thought about IBM or Lotus Notes/Domino, but this announcement struck me as particularly interesting.

In case you missed it, IBM has completely dropped the Lotus moniker. Its next release is IBM Notes/Domino 9.0 Social Edition; the new name really rolls off the tongue doesn’t it? Well there’s a reason IBM has gone this route.

The IBM name is more widely recognized and the company was readying the Lotus Notes/Domino 8.5.4 with Social Edition features. Now it has rolled everything up into one completely new client/server release (though the focus is moreso on the client-side).

Note: A Notes/Domino 8.5.4 update is still planned.

This led me to touch base with a past contact (who wished to remain anonymous).

“I think it’s about time they dropped the name,” he said. “Holding onto the Lotus brand was going to have more of a negative impact than a positive one.”

He suggested that the Lotus name is associated with a legacy platform — whether rightly or wrongly. By tweaking the name, Notes/Domino Social Edition is now a “new” idea.   

Social Edition allows Notes apps to run in a Web browser. Additionally, there are email and calendar enhancements and Xpages improvements, just to name a few.

While IBM’ers tout returning customers, it remains to be seen how effective the new naming convention and features will prove.

The Notes/Domino 9.0 Social Edition beta will be available for download a month from today — December 14 — and the official release is expected Q1 2013. This brings up an interesting point.

Exchange Server 2013 is also slated to release Q1 2013. Is this a coincidence? Yes, it probably is; IBM has been working on these products for a while and the shift has added a bit more work into the process.

Any thoughts on the announcement? Feel free to email me.

November 13, 2012  5:11 PM

Exchange TechNet library URLs ‘updated’ – but why?

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

If you’ve checked in on the Exchange team blog in the past week, you’ve noticed the team decided to do something quite … well, let’s leave it at “confusing.” In case you haven’t read it, allow me to elaborate. Last week, the Exchange team updated TechNet URLs so that if you’ve bookmarked an Exchange 2010 article, clicking it it now brings you to the Exchange 2013 article on the same topic.

It’s obvious that the team put a lot of thought into this, but also that they knew there would be backlash from the Exchange community. Thus, there is documentation on the EHLO blog displaying how to navigate back to the specific Exchange 2010 article, if that’s what you’re looking for. And let’s face it, you probably were if you not only clicked the link, but also had it bookmarked!

There is also a navigation tree on the left-hand side of the screen that links the reader to documentation for other versions of Exchange.

Still, with all these “do-good” amendments, the community is not happy. A quick look at the comments section reveals more than a few angry readers.

  • “Why are you updating and removing critical information used to support your customers when the vast majority [is] not on 2013 yet?”
  • “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

And my personal favorite, which includes just a touch of sarcasm:

  • “This makes perfectly good sense. After all, we have all replaced our 2010 environments with [Exchange] 2013, so why would we have any need for articles on Exchange 2010? I’m surprised Microsoft is even keeping the 2010 articles around, since we obviously have no use for them any longer.”

Personally, I wanted to echo Tony Redmond’s sentiment. Not only is this change bad for admins and the like who have bookmarked said links, but it also really hurts sites and blogs like both of ours.

Plenty of my contributors include TechNet links in their articles. Also, I have hyperlinked to TechNet in news stories, tips and guides more times than I can even begin to count. Now, if a reader is looking for more info on a topic and we’ve linked to TechNet, they will be brought to the wrong article; one that does not apply to what they’re reading.

I’m sure the team has its reasons for making this change, including several that I’m sure many have not thought about. That said, when I think about the time I, my contributors, and like-minded folks have put into researching and implementing these links, it’s very disappointing that our work is suddenly for naught.

Can we please go back to the way things were?


Matt Gervais – Site Editor,

October 24, 2012  8:14 PM

Exchange 2013 RTM released to MSDN, TechNet subscribers

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

Earlier today, Microsoft announced that the RTM versions of its Office 2013 suite and server products – namely Exchange Server 2013, Lync 2013 and SharePoint 2013 – are available for download if you’re a TechNet or MSDN subscriber.

While it’s encouraging to see Exchange 2013 RTM available for download, one MVP offered strong words of caution.

“It’s exciting to see Exchange 2013 available for download, but know that you can only start testing Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2010 integration when Exchange 2010 SP3 is released,” said Nicolas Blank an Exchange MCM and Ranger based in Cape Town, South Africa. “Until then, all lab and live deployments will be green fields. That said, it’s still a great chance to play with the bits until then.”

Eager IT folks who are ready to play with those Exchange bits may be impressed with new features, many of which are a product of Microsoft’s own work in the cloud. This is a sentiment that was reiterated time and again at last month’s MEC show. Microsoft is making it clear that the cloud is the direction it is headed in.  

“Many of the improvements in Exchange 2013 are likely the result of Microsoft’s experience offering hosted Exchange services,” said Rob Sanfilippo an analyst with Washington-based Directions on Microsoft. “Even customers that don’t use [cloud] services benefit from Microsoft’s work in that space.”

Timing releases

In my opinion, one of the best things Microsoft has done is show its commitment to hitting their promised release dates (and in this case before) for its  Server products (and Office) on time and in close proximity to one another. 

For instance, in the past, interconnected products such as Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010 were released at different times, affecting purchasing decisions by companies that could use both products, and opening a window of opportunity for competing products to slip in. As these products become increasingly intertwined, delivering them closer together could close that door and  nudge more IT shops toward  all-Microsoft solutions.

What did you think about the announcement? Email me and let me know.

Until next time,


October 23, 2012  5:21 PM

Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

If you were fortunate enough to attend the Microsoft Exchange Conference in Orlando last month, you know that the Microsoft Exchange team and Exchange Server professionals in general take a lot of pride in their community.

To celebrate that, the Exchange team announced the launch of the new website. Exchange Server professionals can visit to post technical questions, download helpful Microsoft PowerPoint presentations and much more.

In my time as editor for, I’ve met more than a few Exchange Server pros who have taken time out of their busy schedules to:

  • Offer valuable insight on topics I’m working on,
  • Answer difficult technical questions, and
  • Chat about what they think is new and interesting.

On that note, I am pleased to announce our new “Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals” program. Each month, we will take nominations from readers as to who they think deserves this prestigious honor. Please feel free to nominate yourself, a co-worker, a colleague or maybe someone who came to your rescue at one time or another.

We will carefully review all nominees’ credentials and select a winner. From there, I will post a profile of each winner so that our vast readership can read about — and possibly connect with — some of the Exchange Server community’s best and brightest.

We know there are a lot of great MVPs and the like out there, but we’re hoping to also profile important and helpful IT pros who may not always get the recognition they deserve.

If you’d like to nominate yourself or someone else, email me with the following information:

  • Nominee’s name, email and title
  • Brief overview of credentials/resume
  • Exactly why this person deserves to be profiled

I know there’s a ton of great people out there doing a lot of great work, so feel free to nominate two to three people at a time if you like.

Happy submitting!



October 12, 2012  7:21 PM

Exchange Server 2013 hits RTM

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

Microsoft announced yesterday that Exchange Server 2013 has reached the release to manufacturing (RTM) milestone. But that’s not the only good news; the rest of the Wave 15 products – Microsoft Office, SharePoint and Lync — have reached RTM as well.

Not only does this make a lot of sense for Microsoft, but it’s also great news for customers as well as admins who are ready to start digging in.

“This is a great driver for wider adoption, especially due to how closely integrated all products have become,” said Steve Goodman, an Exchange MVP and technical architect for Phoenix IT group, based in the United Kingdom.

Remember, there will be new service packs for both Exchange Server 2010 and Exchange Server 2007 coming in early 2013 as well. These service packs will provide coexistence with Exchange 2013, which will aid in the migration process.

No lack of quality Exchange 2013 material

The thing that has impressed me most about the upcoming Exchange 2013 release is the amount of quality information that is already available.

We’ve only just hit Exchange 2013 RTM, and the Exchange team has done a terrific job blogging on many of its ins and outs. It has  covered the Exchange Administration Center (EAC), which is the new and improved web-based management interface, modern public folders, archiving and e-discovery, the new Data Loss Prevention (DLP) feature and really too much more to get into here.

And we at have done our share as well; just click the links above to get a small glimpse. You’re certain to see many and more Exchange 2013 and Outlook 2013 articles in the weeks and months to come as well.

What topics would you like to see specifically covered? Write me and let me know.


September 26, 2012  1:11 PM

Exchange 2010 SP3 to support Exchange 2013 coexistence

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

As first reported here and tweeted about here:

the Exchange team announced plans to release Exchange Server 2010 SP3 in the first half of 2013.

Most of the talk at MEC focused on the upcoming Exchange Server 2013 release. And naturally, Ben Appleby’s session on Hybrid and migration on your own terms touched on the need for Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 to coexist during an Exchange 2013 migration. It was at this time that he told the audience that they could expect Exchange 2010 SP3 “early next year.” This also signals a more clear release date for Exchange 2013.

Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 coexistence is not the only important part of the upcoming service pack. In last night’s EHLO blog post, Kevin Allison, GM for the Exchange customer experience, also wrote that IT pros will be able to install and deploy Exchange 2010 on machines running Windows Server 2012.

To accommodate these new capabilities, Exchange 2010 shops will be required to update their Active Directory schema. I’m curious as to what Exchange admins think about that.

As always, all previous rollup updates will be included in Exchange 2010 Service Pack 3.

Write me and let me know what you think.


September 24, 2012  9:10 PM

Couldn’t make it to MEC? I’ve got you covered

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

Orlando — For months, the Exchange community has been buzzing about what was dubbed “the lost conference.” The Microsoft Exchange Conference, or MEC, is finally here and I wanted to share a few insights with those not able to attend.

At this morning’s keynote, Michael Atalla — director of product management for Exchange Server and Exchange Online, as well as the morning’s MC — began by thanking the audience. He explained that without its strength as a community, the conference never could have been resurrected.

To that note, Atalla also announced the launch of the new I am MEC Web portal. This is all about the Microsoft Exchange community (hence the acronym); it’s all about giving Exchange Server pros a place where they can discuss ideas, view presentations, expert tips and more.  

Continuing with the theme of community, Julia White and Rajesh Jha spoke to the importance of MEC as an interactive conference.

“This community has helped Exchange go from underdog to market leader,” White said.

“We need your help to propel us forward to the next set of challenges,” Jha added.

Other keynote highlights included:

  • Karim Battish and Vivek Sharma talking about hybrid configurations and the Exchange administration center (and showing off an elaborate handshake),
  • Kristian Andaker demonstrating Outlook 2013 and OWA 2013 (the interfaces are really close), and
  • Asaf Kashi explaining new antivirus and antispam capabilities available natively in Exchange 2013, as well as the new data loss prevention feature.  

While there were many other highlights today — including Ross Smith IV’s presentation on Exchange 2013’s new and improved server role architecture — it would be impossible to recap them all here. Below you’ll find a few other choice tidbits from the show:

  • In his presentation on hybrid and migration on your own terms, Ben Appleby mentioned that Exchange 2010 SP3 should be out “early next year.” Exchange 2013 coexistence anyone?
  • Appleby also took the time to carefully describe cutover vs. staged cloud migrations. It seems to me that most folks still don’t have a solid grasp on cloud migrations or hybrid scenarios (more on that topic coming to the site soon).
  • Any and all high availability sessions were heavily populated.
  • You can control the size of .ost files in Outlook 2013.
  • There has been a 99% reduction in IOPS in Exchange 2013 from Exchange 2003.

Got any questions or comments regarding this blog or the show? Email me and let me know.


September 14, 2012  2:22 PM

Farewell, Forefront!

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

Everyone say see ya, adios, sayonara to the Forefront line. Well, most of it.

This week Microsoft announced it will discontinue several of its Forefront security products. Those products are as follows: Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange (FPE), Forefront Protection 2010 for SharePoint, Forefront Security for Office Communications Server, Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010 and Forefront Threat Management Gateway Web Protection Services.

This is not to say that the companies that rely on these products should stop using them. It simply means that as of December 1, 2012, the aforementioned products will be no longer be available for purchase (mainstream support will continue until April, 2015).

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with Exchange MVP and MCM Devin Ganger to get his take on the announcement.

“This is going to hurt small- to medium-sized businesses more than large ones,” said Ganger. “TMG filled a much-needed role for them. The industry has to step up and see who is going to provide a replacement product for these capabilities.”

But why did it happen?

“This is pure speculation, but it seems like the architectural limitations of the product caught up to it and Microsoft wasn’t willing to put in the work to bring it up to snuff,” Ganger added. 

He also pointed to TMG limitations,which you can read about on his blog.

FOPE name change

On a related note, Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) has been renamed “Exchange Online Protection.”

What do you think of the announcement? Do you use Forefront? Were you considering a purchase? Let me know.

Until next time,


August 16, 2012  4:59 PM

Q&A with Nicolas Blank: Talking MEC talk

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

Microsoft’s Exchange Conference is fast approaching (just five more weeks!) and I thought it would be interesting to get some insight from a respected member of the Exchange community. Fortunately, my search didn’t take very long as Exchange MVP, Certified Master and conference speaker Nicolas Blank was happy to oblige.

After a few telephone difficulties — I’m in Newton, Mass. and Nicolas is in Cape Town, South Africa — we were able to spend some time talking about MEC and what folks should look forward to if heading to or considering the conference. Below you’ll get a quick glimpse into our conversation. Enjoy!

1.       Why are you excited about MEC?

Nicolas – Well, I’ve been working with Exchange for about 14 or 15 years now and it’s the reason I get out of bed in the morning. [Exchange] is something I’m really passionate about; it’s THE application. It’s not only about what Exchange is, but what it does for people.

I think the Exchange team does a heroic job at [fixing] things we take for granted and I’m looking forward to taking part in and observing conversations at an MVP level. Attendees are going to have the chance to talk to these folks and vice versa.

This is more than responding to people via a blog; it’s a no-holds barred opportunity to chat with the product team and everything gets answered; that doesn’t happen anywhere very often. The entire Exchange team will be there and we’ll all be able to talk Exchange all week.

2.       Which sessions and/or speakers are you looking most forward to?

Nicolas – I don’t think it’s fair because there are so many great speakers and sessions, and everyone does such a great job. When you put your heart and soul into a session, it might be months of work. Everyone that’s helping to put on the show deserves the utmost recognition.

Let’s put it this way, MEC is not a conference where you’re going to deliver a mediocre session; you’d better bring it.

3.       Besides the obvious Exchange 2013 content, what do you hope to get out of MEC?

Nicolas – I really enjoy the sessions where we’re demonstrating value to organizations; mostly anything that has to do with architecture or migrations. I like finding out how I can apply this knowledge to business decisions, such as whether or not a new feature will help a business migrate.

4.       If you can self-promote for a moment, what’s a “can’t-miss” session you’ll be presenting?

Nicolas – I’ll be working at the “Exchange Masters Challenge.” This is going to be a real treat. It’s an opportunity for people to test their [Exchange administration] skills and do whatever they want without risking or breaking anything in a production environment. This is a chance to prove your mettle. It’s going to be a friendly crowd with a product you love.

I thoroughly encourage everyone to come; it’s definitely worth the challenge. You’ll have the opportunity to stand next to certified masters and work with them to figure things out you’d never see in your own environment. Come find out how you stack up.

5.       Anything else you’d like to add about MEC?

Nicolas – This is THE premier Exchange event of the year. There will be terrific personalities and speakers everywhere you turn. It has the right content, product and experience. There’s a certain mix of skills it takes to be a good Exchange admin; you’ll have the chance to be around lots of those people.

A big thank you goes out to Nicolas Blank for taking the time to speak with me. Be sure to check out Nicolas’ Blankman blog, follow him on Twitter and have a look at the ITPro Africa site which offers lots of great Exchange info.

What are you looking forward to at MEC? Write and let me know.

See you in Orlando!


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