Helping you adopt & adapt the Microsoft Modern Workplace & Azure Cloud for your business

Don’t let Microsoft 365 leave your legacy email journals ‘marooned’…

If you are journaling in Microsoft 365, where are you writing your email journals to?

This is what Microsoft says on the subject of journalling in Microsoft 365: 

You can’t designate an Exchange Online mailbox as a journaling mailbox. You can deliver journal reports to an on-premises archiving system or a third-party archiving service.

On-premises? These days, using any system that’s sitting in your physical office is not a great option. Without IT staff on site every day to maintain and backup servers and storage, your records could be at risk.

In the cloud? If you’re using a hosted service like Mimecast or Proofpoint*, switching to Microsoft 365 for the protection of email (and a lot more besides) could save you a lot of money.

So what can you do to improve the situation?

There’s a school of thought that the features available in Microsoft 365 make the need to a run separate email journal unnecessary.

We produced this amusing ‘pirate video’ a while back to explain how Microsoft (arguably) replaces the role of a conventional journal, and why it’s important to carefully consider how legacy journals are migrated into the Microsoft 365 way of doing things.

Understand your options for tackling existing journals

Whether you want to switch entirely to Microsoft 365 for your journaling – or look elsewhere to stash your email records – we can help you work out the best options.

In the first instance we’ll help you assess whether conventional journaling is still required for your business and compliance needs, and talk you through the detail of how you can meet your compliance remit with the various settings and facilities available in Microsoft 365.

When it comes to deciding what to do with your legacy archives, there’s quite a few options open to you, including:

  • Let your legacy journals ‘age in place’ (bury them somewhere safe ;-) )
  • Migrate just the legacy journals you need into Microsoft 365
  • Switch to a cloud based journaling service in Microsoft Azure

*If you feel like you’re being held captive by your current hosted journaling service, we can help you jump ship and save lots of swag.  Sorry – getting too caught up in the pirate theme!

Email Journal Migration

Get in touch to discover your journal migration options arggghhh, Jim lad. 

There’s a lot to think about when migrating email archives.  We caught up with Migration Consultant Jim Fussell over a cup of tea and a biscuit to pick his brains on getting your data into (and out of) Mimecast..

So James, what’s the first step?  Well, first you’ll need to define what you’re migrating. Often this will simply be a case of selecting messages within a time-frame that matches your retention policy. Lots of customers decide to migrate literally everything up until the point that their Mimecast Journal Capture service kicked in (or stopped).

Of course you might want to filter what you’re migrating, or exclude email from leaver’s mailboxes.  It’s up to the customer, their email retention policies any legislation that applies to their industry.

Can you migrate directly into Mimecast?

No, currently you will provide your data in PSTs or EML files. The PSTs need to be structured and named in line with Mimecast’s requirements, which we sort out.  We also keep them below a certain size to avoid corruption. Mimecast sends an encrypted storage device which they pick up when you’re ready and take it from there. Transferring data using this method is actually faster for the larger sites we deal with as network bandwidth can be a bottleneck.

Any other top tips for handling the PSTs in transit?  Yes. We always recommend customers store a copy of extracted PSTs until they receive confirmation that the ingestion is complete, and although it’s temporary, make sure it’s backed up.  It’s also worth bearing in mind that archives like Enterprise Vault compress and de-duplicate your email, so when you extract to PSTs you’ll need storage space that is 2 or 3 times bigger than your archive.

How long will it take? Hmmm, this is the million dollar question.  We get asked this a lot and the answer is, “It depends”.  We automate the extraction process making it a lot quicker than doing it manually.  In fact, any extraction over 1TB is a pain to do manually.  Running a couple of test extractions will give you an idea of timescales, but you should also get an estimate from Mimecast on their current ingestion times for an end-to-end estimate.

When should we switch off archiving on-premises? It’s always preferable to extract from a static archive so if your Exchange servers can cope, it will be best to stop archiving just before extraction. Mimecast will have probably started Journal Capture by then so you won’t be at risk from a compliance perspective.  It might just be a case of making sure your Exchange mailbox sizes don’t grow too large if you were archiving fairly aggressively beforehand.

What if we’ve stopped archiving on-premises already? That’s great, because your archive is static, but it might mean that you will have content in Exchange that you need to migrate too because you’ll have this gap of time between your archive stopping and Mimecast starting.  If possible, I’d recommend archiving everything into your on-premises archive so it can all be extracted from one place.

If that’s not an option, you’ll have to do an extraction from Exchange. We’ve helped a couple of customers with this recently because they needed to define a date range and exclude stubs from the extraction because stubs will obviously be useless once in Mimecast and users might get confused.

Talking of stubs, don’t forget to delete them from user’s mailboxes after you’ve completed the migration.

Any extra tips?  Migration to Mimecast might be a good opportunity to centralise any other email you’ve got in PST files. Mopping up rogue PST files isn’t that easy, but if you have concerns around PSTs now might be a good time to tackle them.

Can we migrate out of Mimecast?

Yes, but not without technical and/or financial pain.  I guess it’s no surprise that a SaaS vendor wants to keep your business.  As a result, open APIs and no-cost options that let you readily take your data (and your business) elsewhere are not common.

With Mimecast it’s possible to export all emails belonging to an individual user (in batches of 10GB and a maximum of 2GB per file).  We’ve also encountered approaches that involve automating eDiscovery searches and exporting the results (exports are currently limited to searches returning fewer than 50,000 messages).  Both of these approaches are a world of pain if you’re trying to navigate a timely and reliable exit strategy for your valuable email records.

The best route for larger enterprises is to pay Mimecast’s per GB extraction fee.  As I say – it’s painful either way.  The default format you’ll get your precious data in is a big, single-instanced bucket of emails.  You are then left with the challenge of how you’re going to move this into your new email/archive/journal platform of choice.

Click here and find out more about how Essential can help your migration to (or out of) Mimecast..

 

Migrate Your Email Archives to the Cloud

Find out more about how Essential can help your migration to (or out of) Mimecast.