Limitations of Exchange ActiveSync and the need for improvement

Exchange ActiveSync is the industry standard when it comes to using Exchange email on mobile devices. But it comes with its shortcomings.

Recently we had business need for several people to use the shared calendar functionality of Exchange. Our colleagues needed the shared calendar to be integrated into their smartphone’s calendar along with their own one. Yes it works flawlessly in OWA and in Outlook but when it comes to ActiveSync – things get pretty hard.

None of today’s ActiveSync clients support shared calendar functionality. That counts even Windows Phone and Windows 10 Technical Preview Mail app. Actually the problem is in Exchange ActiveSync itself, which does not support that delegated functionality, by design.

If you need to have someone’s shared calendar in your smartphone there are two solutions:
1) Add the second ActiveSync account – you need to know someone’s password.
2) Use third-party app – giving your password to someone raises security concerns.
Neither of above are good solutions I think and you agree, I hope.

The functionality is hugely demanded everywhere though. There are assistants who need to have access to their boss’s calendar, there are shared corporate calendars and so on. And while today’s smartphones are so feature-rich devices, such limitations are huge letdown and hinder the otherwise great Exchange experience in mobile world.

There is not much time left until Exchange 2016 (supposedly that will be the name) comes to life, so this is the very time for Microsoft to fix the issue. Either ActiveSync needs to be improved and expanded to support the shared and delegated functionality of Exchange Server or we should have Outlook Anywhere client in the mobile world too which comes with fully flavored Exchange functionality.

On the other hand, I totally understand the need for compliance and the role of ActiveSync in that way. I think Microsoft it pushing ActiveSync heavily by including it in Outlook 2013 and Windows Mail App. And EAS honed over the years and gives pretty neat policy enforcement possibilities and functionality to secure the access to mailbox from any device, anytime.
If it is not possible for Microsoft to deliver the same on mobile devices with Outlook Anywhere client, then improving the ActiveSync functionality is the way to go.

Even if radical changes are needed, Microsoft should not be stopped from doing it as the Exchange experience should be full-featured across the board. Competitors like Apple and Google will quickly integrate the new functionality in iOS and Android as Exchange has huge user base and no one wants to lose customers.

whoami /all or First post and some about me

With more than 7 years of work experience in professional IT, I am now working in Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia as the Head of Systems and Network Maintenance Division, System Administrator and Information Security Officer. Pretty much for one man, you might think, but that’s it.

I am heavily focused on Microsoft technologies, included but not limited to Windows Server, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, SQL, System Center, IIS, TMG and others.
Aside from that I speak two virtual languages: Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere.

Certified since 2011, I passed certifications such as MCSA, MCP, MCITP, MCTS and currently I am working my way on completion of my MCSE certification paths.

I founded MCP-Way Blog a year ago but never was able to find enough time to operate it, untill today. The blog will mainly focus on interesting news, guides and things worth sharing from my everyday working life and experience. Hope I will be able to always find time to share something interesting with you.

You can find me at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Though of course it all began with something:

My relationship with IT begins way back from 2001, when we bought the first PC in family and I fell in love with her. It was based on Willamette Pentium 4, equipped with 128 MB of SDRAM and 20 GB HDD. Pretty nice one for the time being.
At that time I was a 11 year-old kid, so I had plenty of time to learn.

In 2003 I joined CompInfo team – it was the first e-magazine in Georgia. Years in CompInfo, I think, were the most productive in my IT life – igniting an “IT fire” inside me. At that times I got my internet nickname – Power_VANO, which I retained and use even today. You can find me everywhere with that name.

In 2007 Overclockers.ge project emerged and I joined them in 2008. Currently I am the co-founder of modern Overclockers.ge community. This might be the beginning of my official IT career.

After that it was a year in advertising laboratory 919 – one of the best of its kind in Georgia. Great team with great projects and ideas and my role with them – web programmer and general IT Specialist.

Then I moved to EMIS and then to my current home – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia – as IT Support Specialist. After a year I switched to the position of System Administrator – what was after that you already know.