With the workforce going mobile, connecting with on-site
Exchange servers became a challenge. This new protocol provides a
secure and reliable solution.
For years, the protocol Outlook clients used to connect to
Exchange was RPC. That worked great in a local, internal
environment, where connectivity was good, latency was low, and
firewalls were unheard of. But as soon as users wanted to work from
outside of the office, over a slow public Wi-Fi or an even slower
mobile data connection, the struggle to keep the RPC connection to
an on-premise Exchange server, hidden behind layers of firewalls,
The answer? Microsoft created Outlook Anywhere (OA) – a
way to encapsulate all the RPC calls within HTTP, and transport it
over SSL for a secure and encrypted communication. But for those of
you who still use Exchange 2007 or 2010 may have missed the new
client protocol for accessing Exchange, known as MAPI over HTTP,
brought by Exchange 2016 or the cloud-based Exchange Online.
It uses HTTP for the transport, embedding MAPI commands directly
in the HTTP stream. It also uses TLS to provide encryption, so MAPI
over HTTP may not seem very different from Outlook Anywhere (RPC
over HTTP), but there are several advantages to this new
connection. OA is not deprecated yet, but is deemphasized, so MAPI
over HTTP is the way they are going forward. If this feature is new
to you, then read on to learn more about this client protocol.
What are the benefits?
MAPI is a more efficient way to interact with Exchange mailboxes
than RPC is, even when both are encapsulated within HTTP. Clients
that can use MAPI over HTTP instead of Outlook Anywhere can
reconnect to Exchange more quickly when the network is disrupted,
or the computer is coming out of sleep or hibernation. They can
also reconnect to Exchange faster when switching from wired to
wireless connections, such as when you undock a laptop, which is a
major thing in corporate environments.
The new protocol can also maintain a session-based connect that
is not tied to the network, which provides a more reliable
connection when switching from one network to another, such as when
leaving the corporate network and using cellular services.
There are also two other major benefits that may not be apparent
today, but will be soon. Microsoft has decided that MAPI over HTTP
is the primary, current client protocol for Outlook, so future
innovations will be developed in this protocol, as well as future
authentication methods and optimizations.
Why should I care?
With better connectivity, more support, and future development
happening with MAPI over HTTP, OA will be going away. As you
upgrade from Exchange 2007 or 2010 to either 2013 or 2016, you will
want to take advantage of this new client protocol.
While it is enabled by default in Exchange 2016, it still needs
to be configured, so don't overlook or forget this important
part of deploying Exchange 2016. The new protocol can be set at the
organization level or at the individual mailbox level, and
don't forget that this configuration also involves management
of digital certificates and encryption settings within Exchange.
MAPI over HTTP is not an exclusive option of 2016-version servers,
so those of you who have Exchange 2013 servers in your network can
also leverage the power of the new protocol.
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