Saturday, December 10, 2011

Viewing Exchange archive folders

One of the options available to Exchange 2010, whether online or on site, is the ability to create an archive folder and store emails there. It is possible to apply policies to automatically have items archived to these folders if desired. For most Office 365 plans users receive a 25 GB mailbox which can be shared between the normal inbox and this archived location (when enabled). With the Exchange Plan 2 and E 3 Suite in Office 365 this archive has an ‘unlimited’ capacity. Thus, on these plans you effectively receive an unlimited email box.

 

Have a look at these two screen shots.

 

image_2_7E6B1DAB

 

In this second one, note there is an additional item Archive – admin@ciaops365.com.

 

image_4_7E6B1DAB

 

The issue is that these are shots of a connection to the SAME Exchange Online mailbox using Outlook 2010. The first screen shot was with Outlook 2010 from Office 2010 Standard and the second (where the archive mailbox appears) was from Outlook 2010 from Outlook 2010 Professional Plus.

 

It turns out that you need Outlook 2010 from Office 2010 Professional Plus to see the Exchange Archive folder. Now this problem is not unique to Exchange Online via Office 365. Turns out it is a factor of Exchange 2010 Server whether onsite or in the cloud. Here a few links worth looking at to confirm this behaviour:

 

http://community.office365.com/en-us/f/160/t/7510.aspx

 

http://www.msoutlook.info/question/523

 

It all has to do with the licensing for Exchange server Enterprise. Information about that can be found at:

 

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/license-requirements-for-personal-archive-and-retention-policies-HA102576659.aspx

 

You can always view the archive folder using Outlook Web Access but it is a bit of a constraint if you can’t see your mailbox archive via Outlook. The issue is that traditionally only large enterprises used Exchange Archiving and thus they normally had access to Office 2010 Professional Plus. Problem now with Office 365 is that every business utilizing it has access to Exchange Archiving.

 

So how is this going to affect the different plans?

 

No issues

 

E3 suites – because Office 2010 Professional Plus is included as part of the license.

 

Major issues

 

Exchange Plan 2 – if sold to a business that doesn’t already have Office 2010 Professional Plus installed. They won’t be able to see their archived email folder (when enabled).

 

Minor problems

 

Remaining plans - unlikely they will have email archiving enabled as they are limited to 25GB in total spread between inbox and archive (i.e. why do you need archiving when you can put it all in your inbox?).

 

The place it will be an issue is when archiving is enabled. Why would people do that if they can safely store everything in their inboxes as mentioned previously? A good reason that they might want to enable an archive (even on the 25GB max inbox plans) is that they are looking to limit the amount of email that gets synced with the local Outlook via the OST files as archived emails are not cached locally.

 

Now those audiences with the major and minor problems above are probably small but they are still important. Why? For those on Exchange Plan 2 (with the potentially major problem) it is because this is the plan that many will opt for when they start to dip their toes into the ‘cloud’. They will pick Exchange Plan 2 because it provides an unlimited email box size and allows them to attach other products such as SharePoint and Lync as they become more familiar with the ‘cloud’ in the future. Those with the minor problems (most of the other plans with a limited 25GB mailbox) still need to have the ability to configure and utilize archiving, especially to reduce the amount of information they sync with the cloud.

 

In some ways I feel this is something that Microsoft overlooked when it brought the enterprise version of Exchange down to small business. I also don’t believe that it impacts a great audience at this stage but still it is something that Microsoft should address to prevent it being used as ammunition against them and Office 365. Maybe some additional update would be available for installations of Outlook 2010 that connect to Exchange online so they can view the archived emails not matter what version of Outlook 2010 they have on their desktop. Doesn’t seem that hard to do. At worst, maybe a separate version of Outlook for those using Exchange Plan 2 so they can take advantage of the feature?

 

For now it is something to be aware of when working with Exchange and archiving. It is also something to remember affects on site Exchange Enterprise 2010 as well as Exchange Online via Office 365. Is it a big issue? Probably not at the moment but should be rectified as soon as possible to ensure Office 365 continues to grow in acceptance across all businesses, large and small.