Over the past several years, we have received feedback from all sorts of customers on how the Hybrid Configuration Wizard can be improved. One highly requested piece of feedback has been focused around providing an option to allow a customer to configure the bare essentials to support a hybrid configuration with Office 365.
One of the challenges we needed to overcome is that a Staged Exchange Migration is not supported for customers that are deployed on Exchange Server 2010 or later. That left customers with two options, either perform a cutover migration or a hybrid configuration. A cutover migration is designed for small customer deployments because all the users need to be migrated at the same time, and all Outlook profiles have to be recreated. The limitation of the cutover migration led many customers to deploy a Hybrid configuration. The Hybrid configuration has strict prerequisites around certificates and configuration scenarios that for some customers are confusing and unnecessary.
Today, we are pleased to announce that the Minimal Hybrid Configuration feature is available. When you launch the Hybrid Configuration Wizard (for the first time), you will be presented with a new dialog option, entitled Hybrid Features. This dialog allows you to choose between a Minimal Hybrid Configuration or a Full Hybrid Configuration.
What’s the difference? In a nutshell, the Minimal Hybrid Configuration allows you to just to perform migration and administration in a hybrid deployment. The Minimal Hybrid Configuration excludes configurations of secure email and any Exchange Federation related features, such as free/busy. This new configuration allows a customer to have the user experience benefits tied to a Hybrid migration: when a mailbox is moved you will not have to recreate the user’s Outlook profile; online mailbox moves are performed, unlike in a staged or cutover migration (users are for the most part not disconnected from the mailbox during the move); user account credentials are synchronized; and you get to enjoy uninterrupted mail flow.
What customers should use the Minimal Hybrid Configuration?
- Small or medium sized customers that need a seamless migration experience for their users.
- Customers that do not require enhanced features like:
- Cross-premises Free/Busy
- TLS secured mail flow between on-premises and Exchange Online
- Cross-premises eDiscovery
- Automatic Outlook on the web and ActiveSync redirection for migrated users
- Automatic Retention for Archive Mailbox
- Customers that plan on moving to the service quickly and, therefore, do not require the enhanced features previously mentioned.
- Merger or acquisition scenarios may benefit from this configuration since you can move the mailboxes to a tenant without having to configure all of the Hybrid features.
- Customers that need Exchange installed On-premises for recipient administration purposes
What conditions expose the Hybrid Features dialog?
Customers that are setting up hybrid by executing the Hybrid Configuration Wizard for the first time will see the Hybrid Features dialog and will be able to choose the type of hybrid deployment they want.
If you have already run the Office 365 Hybrid Configuration Wizard in the past, this new dialog option will not be exposed. In addition, once a customer chooses to deploy the Full Hybrid Configuration option, this new dialog option will no longer be available. This new feature is not intended to enable customers to remove a hybrid configuration and start over.
However, if a customer was to choose the Minimal Hybrid Configuration option, subsequent executions of the Hybrid Configuration Wizard will continue to expose the Hybrid Features dialog. This allows a customer to change and deploy a Full Hybrid Configuration in the event they find they need certain additional features, like cross-premises Free/Busy.
Will cross-premises mail flow function in a Minimal Hybrid Configuration?
Yes, mail flow will function between your on-premises environment and Office 365 as the routing domain (e.g., contoso.mail.onmicrosoft.com) is a target address for migrated users. However, the mail flow between your on-premises environment and Office 365 will not be TLS protected. If you require TLS protection, you have two options – you can manually create connectors or you could run the HCW and select the Full Hybrid Configuration option if there is a need for an enhanced feature, like TLS protected mail flow.
Will Exchange Online Archive mailbox access function in a Minimal Hybrid Configuration?
Yes, on-premises mailboxes will be able to access Exchange Online archive mailboxes in a Minimal Hybrid Configuration. However, if you want to have retention policies that move items to the Exchange Online archive mailboxes automatically, then you will need to select the Full Hybrid Configuration option.
How do I move mailboxes after I run the wizard?
We are working on a new MRS migration portal interface for MRS based moves, but you can still use the Exchange Administration Center to move your mailboxes. Even when the new portal experience for migrations is ready the EAC options will still be present.
We are working hard to take the entire on-boarding and hybrid experiences to the next level and this is an important step in that journey. This will allow us to improve the experience for customers that want to move to the service quickly or just want a less painful way to cutover to Exchange Online.
As always, please keep the feedback coming by using the feedback option in the Hybrid Configuration Wizard. We read it all…