Mobile devices are ubiquitous and have become an integral part of our lives. Can you imagine living without your mobile phone? Really makes us wonder what we did before these life-changing devices came to our hands! Today, we use our smartphones for many routine tasks such as checking emails, communicating with family and friends, conference calls, shopping, banking and so much more. Won’t it be nice if we can extend it to all work-related communications too? It will be handy to access all our Outlook information including tasks, calendars, and contacts through our smartphones, so we can stay on top of our work commitments regardless of our physical location. This is good for organizations too because it can enhance the productivity of its employees. But is this possible? Yes, through a protocol called Exchange ActiveSync.
Exchange ActiveSync is a proprietary protocol that syncs your mobile device with your Exchange mailbox, so you can access your email, calendar, contacts, tasks, and so much more. It is based on XML and communicates with a mobile device using HTTP or HTTPS.
This protocol, developed by Microsoft, is enabled by default when you install Exchange 2016, so there is nothing extra you need to do to set it up.
In addition, this protocol is designed to work well in high latency and low bandwidth networks as well, so you can access all your information from any location around the world, even if the signal strength of mobile data or wireless is not that great.
Microsoft has pretty much thought about everything for Exchange ActiveSync, including the security aspect, as you will be exchanging sensitive information over the open Internet. This is why it uses standard encryption services by default. You can also configure Exchange ActiveSync to use security sockets layer (SSL) encryption for communications between Exchange server and your mobile device.
Besides these aspects, here is a detailed look into the features of Exchange ActiveSync.
Below are the salient features of Exchange ActiveSync.
These features greatly enhance the usability of Exchange ActiveSync and make it a handy tool for anyone who wants to stay on top of what is happening at work, even when they are on the move.
Since exchange ActiveSync is enabled by default, no separate installation process is required. All users who use Exchange Server 2016 or Exchange Online can synchronize their mobile device with the Exchange server automatically.
As an exchange administrator, you can control the settings and manage the way employees use this feature. Broadly speaking, below are some aspects you can control.
As an exchange administrator, these features give you complete control over who accesses the organization’s Exchange Server and how.
You have to create an exchange ActiveSync profile in Outlook to access mailbox information on your mobile device. Here is how you can set it up.
As an exchange administrator, you can disable exchange ActiveSync at any time. To do it for the entire organization:
This should disable Exchange ActiveSync for the entire organization. To enable it, follow the same procedure, but instead of “stop,” click “start” from the right-click menu.
Sometimes, you may want to enable or disable Exchange ActiveSync for a single user instead of for the entire organization. The steps for this process are:
You can also run this command in Exchange management shell to disable Exchange ActiveSync for a user.
Set-CASMailbox -Identity<SMTP Address of user> -MobileSyncEnabled $false
To enable, follow the same procedure, but instead of "disable" choose "enable". The command in Exchange management shell is
Set-CASMailbox -Identity <SMTP Address of user> -ActiveSyncEnabled $true
Please note that you need an Exchange organization administrator role for enabling and disabling Exchange ActiveSync.
Though Exchange ActiveSync is a great tool to access your Exchange Server, it still comes with some limitations that you should know before you start using it.
Despite these limitations, Exchange ActiveSync gives you a ton of flexibility as it allows you to access your mailbox at any time through your mobile device.
As you can see, Exchange ActiveSync is a protocol developed by Microsoft to facilitate communication between the organization’s Exchange server and an employee’s mobile device. And as we said before, it comes as a part of Microsoft Exchange 2016, so it does not require any additional setup.
From the Exchange administrators’ point of view, this feature gives them good control over what information is accessed, and also the process to enable and disable Exchange ActiveSync is easy. For these reasons, it is likely to be a great addition to any Exchange admin’s arsenal of tools.
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