Today was a big day for Exchange updates. Not only did we get Cumulative Update 14 for Exchange 2013, but we also got our third update for Exchange 2016.
As always, test these updates in a lab first! I recommend checking out this 7-part guide on configuring Exchange in your lab. It doesn’t take much to get one going.
The updates are as follows:
So what’s new in these Cumulative Updates?
Quite a lot actually. Namely Exchange 2016 can now be deployed on Windows Server 2016. Keep in mind that you must deploy Cumulative Update 3 to Windows Server 2016. Older Cumulative Updates will not work. Exchange 2013 is not supported on Windows Server 2016. It is unlikely support will ever be added.
Exchange will also work with Server 2016 domain controllers. However, this will require raising the domain and forest functional levels to a minimum of Server 2008 R2.
Another amazing addition to Cumulative Update 3 is the ability for search indexes to read from their local database copies. In prior versions, search indexes would reach across the network to read from the active database copy. With search indexes using their local copies network utilization can drop by a staggering 40%.
This is great news for a company that stretches its DAG (database availability group) across geographic sites as this will drop WAN utilization. This change also reduces database failover times by up to 33%. For more information check out this great video by Greg Taylor.
Windows Server 2016 ships with .NET Framework 4.6.2. That said Exchange Server 2016 CU3 on Windows Server 2016 will be the only supported scenario for .NET Framework 4.6.2. The Exchange Team plans to support .NET 4.6.2 for older releases in the December update. Until then keep .NET 4.6.2 blocked from your 2012 servers.
The Exchange Team has also changed how servers are placed into a server-wide offline mode during upgrades. In previous versions, when applying a cumulative update, Exchange 2013 and 2016 would be placed into an offline mode during pre-requisite analysis. If a server were to fail analysis it could remain offline despite no changes being made. Starting with the September releases server-wide offline is not set until after analysis completes and the installation is ready to make changes.
Outlook on the Web gets a small update to the People view. This view now includes a new contact card and Skype for Business presence information. This view aligns on-premises to the features already available in Office 365.
All updates also contain a fix that addresses a vulnerability in licensed Oracle code.
All supported versions will receive updates to daylight savings.
Schema Updates Needed
Exchange 2016 Cumulative Update 3 includes schema updates. You can apply these beforehand by running SETUP /PrepareSchema from the command line. The graphical setup will also perform this step if it detects the schema has not been extended.
Running this command beforehand is critical in environments where the Exchange admin does not have the rights to extend Active Directory. To extend the schema you must be both a Schema Admin and an Enterprise Admin.
You will also want to run SETUP /PrepareAD to get the latest RBAC definitions for both Exchange 2013 and 2016.
If upgrading from Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 7-13 to Cumulative Update 14, then there are no schema changes. However, if migrating from an earlier update you will need to perform a schema update.
For more information on how to extend and verify the schema check our guide here.
For a quick reference on schema and build versions check here.
Required for hybrid
Microsoft requires that anyone in a hybrid environment be on the latest cumulative update.
So what do you think is coming next? What would you like to see? Drop a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter @SuperTekBoy.