Microsoft Productivity Servers in 2021

What is the future for the on-premises versions of Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, and Skype for Business Server aka the Productivity Servers? Microsoft’s move to the cloud is clear, successful, and accelerating so where does that leave organisations not yet ready to ditch their locally deployed servers? Will there be another release or are the current 2019 versions the end of the road?

More information has been revealed at Microsoft Ignite 2020, both in this Teams session “On Skype for Business? Design your path to Microsoft Teams” and this Exchange session- “Exchange – Here, There, and Everywhere“. There WILL be a new release (or a “vNext” as Microsoft call it) for:

  • Skype for Business Server
  • Exchange Server
  • SharePoint Server

available in the 2nd half of 2021 – so still around 12 months away at the time of writing.

Licensing change

These next releases will be on-premises but available only via a subscription model. Does this mean there will a change to the licensing model i.e. will they remove CALs etc. or is it just the same licenses and metrics but with no perpetual license option? I’m not sure yet but I’ll keep an eye out for more info.

Microsoft are treating this as an intermediate step for customers unwilling to move to Office 365. Once the CAPEX v OPEX argument is removed, I’m sure many orgs will find their move to the cloud speeds up significantly – which is a win for Microsoft.

There are plenty of technical improvements coming for all the products, as well as Exchange Online (including “+ addresses” like Gmail which is cool!) – the Ignite videos and the links below will give more info on those.

Further Reading

TomTalks blog

Petri article

Office 365 Admin Access in Exchange Online

Office 365 Wave 15 (the current release) brought with it a new admin console, that consolidates and streamlines access to most requirements. That said, one of the common worries for IT managers is around loss of control when compared to administering their on-site infrastructure.

A great tip from @12knocksinna shows how to gain access to an extra level of features:


To access this, simply fire up OWA and then change /OWA to /ECP in the URL an hey presto –  you’re in!

I’m sure I remember these features being available in the beta release of Wave 15 – anyone else?!

See Tony’s full blog about it her:

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