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Exchange Online Protection Service Changeover Beginning This Summer

Microsoft soon will begin moving customers off an older Exchange security service.

The company will take steps to transition organizations from using its Forefront Online Protection for Exchange service toward using its newer Exchange Online Protection service in the next few months. IT pros can expect to get notices of the changeover sometime in the third quarter of this year, according to an announcement made by Microsoft earlier this month.

The company had blandly described this changeover to Exchange Online Protection as "a name change" back in September; it was also described as "the next release" of Forefront Online Protection for Exchange. Details about the switch were briefly described back then in a Microsoft announcement about a major overhaul of the Forefront enterprise security product line.

Exchange Online Protection is a spam filtering and antimalware service that's integrated with Office 365 services. It supports both Exchange Online and Exchange Server deployments. Organizations moving to Exchange Online Protection from the older service will face a service migration scenario that will begin when they receive a notice from Microsoft. The changeover to the new service won't be automatic. There will be steps for IT pros to take before, during and after the migration, which are outlined at this Microsoft transition center page.

About 30 days before the transition to Exchange Online Protection, Microsoft will send an e-mail notice indicating the date of the move. Microsoft next will send a second confirmation 14 days before the transition is scheduled to take place. It's at that point that organizations can request a postponement of 30 days, but they just get one chance to postpone it, according to Microsoft.

When the transition to Exchange Online Protection takes place, Microsoft will take a snapshot of an organization's settings. The snapshot will include malware settings and settings for managing spam, inbound and outbound connectors, as well as "virtual domain settings," according to Microsoft's description. Consequently, on the transition day, IT pros won't be able to make changes to Forefront Online Protection for Exchange settings.

Microsoft will send an e-mail confirming the switch. However, IT pros will have to update their mail exchange (MX) record and their "on-premises smart host" to properly route messages to tap the new Exchange Online Protection service. If those steps aren't taken, then the service will continue to work with the old Forefront Online Protection for Exchange service, according to Microsoft's FAQ. As a final step, Microsoft recommends that IT pros check a migration report that will get automatically generated after the migration process completes.

All told, the migration should take at most 48 hours, according to Microsoft's FAQ. Microsoft explained back in September that Exchange Online Protection will deliver some enhancements over the older service. The main benefit seems to be that antimalware and spam settings will be centralized in the Exchange Administration Center. IT pros will get access to "filters, reports, quarantine, troubleshooting tools, and connectors" in that management console.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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