Are You Moving Exchange Journal Data to Office 365?

Posted by Bob Spurzem • August 25, 2016

Blog08252016.bmpIf you’re moving a legacy email archive to Office 365, chances are good that you also have Exchange journal data to move as well. If you do, it’s likely that the total amount of journal data is equal to or greater than the total size of your email archive.

With regards to Office 365, you might be wondering where the journal data is stored.  It comes down to two possibilities; move the journal into the Personal Archive of an Office 365 active mailbox, or  create separate Office 365 mailboxes (e.g. Journal Mail 001, Journal Mail 002, Journal Mail 003) and move the journal data for groups of custodians into those.  This practice is called "journal splitting”. To many, an unknown concept that raises many questions, the most important being; is journal splitting the best practice for your organization’s regulatory or legal needs?  The answer is it depends…  Let’s break it down so you have all the facts before you make a migration decision on your journal.

Journal splitting and the Office 365 service agreement

To learn more about Exchange journaling, you should refer to this TechNet article

An important consideration revolves around how Microsoft views journal data and Office 365.  Microsoft has been very clear that you cannot store journal data in Office 365. Microsoft has said:

“You can't designate an Office 365 mailbox as a journaling mailbox. You can deliver journal reports to an on-premises archiving system or a third-party archiving service.”

This comment is clearly referring to new journal data, but it is unclear if legacy journal data from an email archive is also prohibited.  Some migration service providers will tell you it’s done all of the time, however we recommend you consult with your Office 365 Account Executive first.

Exporting the complete journal

The journal envelope includes the contents (individual names) for any email distribution lists included in a captured message.  When email is extracted from a journal database, the individual recipient names are moved from the envelope and stored in each message property. 

The issue is this: Office 365 has a recipient limit of 500 names per message.  If your company has a distribution list with greater than 500 names (e.g. “All Company” or distribution lists nested inside distribution lists), once split, it will be truncated – losing important data. 

This results in destruction of data (spoliation) – a major problem when responding to an eDiscovery. The bottom line is that if you are under a litigation hold or expect to be (anticipation), journal splitting should be avoided at all costs. As with any data migration, you should consult with your General Counsel before you make a decision to move journal data to Office 365.

Alternatives to managing legacy journal data

With migrating journal data, you have a couple of choices… The simplest choice is to do nothing.  Keep your legacy on premise email archive system up and running to manage existing journal data until it eventually expires.  This will most likely take years costing your organization annual software and hardware support costs, additional personnel, and ongoing maintenance such as regular backups etc.

Another (we believe better) solution is to utilize Archive360’s Archive2Azure.  We designed Archive2Azure with several use cases in mind, including secure, long term retention of journal data.  We move the complete journal envelope, into ‘cool’ Azure BLOB storage where it can be managed for just pennies per GB per month.

Unlike other vendors who “split” journal data and store it in Office 365, Archive2Azure stores the complete journal envelope and the full distribution list.  Only Archive2Azure gives you the certainty that the full journal envelope for each message is 100% preserved – a critical concern for compliance and legal discovery.

Microsoft Azure is a low cost cool data repository. Archive2Azure provides the management layer for Azure to allow this journal data to be exported into Azure, to provide centralized ultra-low-cost “cool” storage so that your organization’s compliance and low touch data can be managed and searched quickly.

To find out more about migrating and managing your journal data in Microsoft Azure with Archive2Azure, download this great whitepaper:

Best Practices: Compliance Email Archive Migration to Office 365 and Azure