Exchange Active Sync on-boarding to Office 365 – The seamless experience is finally here

For those who are thinking on moving to Office 365, and in what that might mean from a user experience perspective, the release of the Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 8 (CU8) and Exchange 2010 SP3 Rollup Update 9 (RU9) brings a long expected feature – seamless experience on the on-boarding process of ActiveSync users, to Office 365.

You can read the full details on the article Exchange ActiveSync on-boarding to Office 365, published on the Exchange Team Ehlo Blog.

Instead of duplicating all the information that you can read on the official blog article, i will just give you my thoughts on how this works and highlight the key points.

When a user is moved to Office 365, under a Hybrid deployment, that mailbox on premises is converted to a remote mailbox, and a “RemoteRoutingAddress” of the type User@tenant.mail.onmicrosoft.com is configured for the remote mailbox.

That remote routing address should be configured as a domain name on an existing Organization Relationship “On premises to O365”.

Before Exchange 2013 CU8 and Exchange 2010 SP3 RU9, the experience was only seamless for users via Outlook or OWA. When those users, moved to Office 365, tried to connect to the Client Access server on premises, a mailbox wasn’t found.. so what happened next?

“The Client Access server triggers a query to find the “TargetOWAURL” property present on the organization relationship object for the Office 365 tenant. The “RemoteRoutingAddress” property, present on the remote mailbox, is used to find the correct organization relationship.”

That “TargetOWAURL” is then used by Outlook (automatically reconfigured the profile) or OWA (presents the new URL to the user) to redirect the user to the Office 365 mailbox.

After Exchange 2013 CU8 and Exchange 2010 SP3 RU9, that process will also work when the user is connecting via Exchange ActiveSync, making the experience seamless as well for all the ActiveSync users.

Of course for all of you that, like me, spend countless hours explaining to customers that recreating the exchange partnership on all of their user’s phones, was the only option, and helping on the creation of user guides, this new feature is excellent news.

From my personal perspective it makes perfect sense that, with the Client Access services already using the Organization Relationships and the TargetOWAURL, to redirect Outlook and OWA clients, the capability to redirect ActiveSync clients is now also an available feature.

Of course there are some limitations, such as the device EAS version not supporting HTTP 451 redirects or cross-forest migrations.

I highly recommend that you read the official article, for all the details on this new feature.

Well done for the Microsoft Exchange Product Group! 🙂

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