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Microsoft to Charge for Ex-employees in Office 365?

STOP PRESS:  As of September 29th we hear that Microsoft’s plan now is to withdraw the charge for inactive mailboxes.  It’s always good to hear that Microsoft responds to feedback, and it would seem that the response from MVPs at Ignite put a halt to this charge – for the time being at least.  

The sheer amount of storage that leavers’ data can consume, coupled with the fact that organisations will want to be able to use Office 365 security and compliance features against this data, will surely lead to a tipping point where some form of fee will need to be levied.


On 28th September we published the following blog article:  
On average, when we do migrations into Office 365, we see a 4:1 ratio of leavers (i.e. ex-employees) to current employees.  This ratio can be a lot bigger in industries with higher staff churn.

Migrating mailboxes and archives belonging to leavers into Office 365 was not a problem – not technically, or financially.

This was thanks to a facility called Inactive Mailboxes which allowed mailboxes belonging to leavers to be put on Indefinite Hold and made available for eDiscovery, without a license penalty (as the licence could be re-assigned to another user).  There was also no storage charge associated with this Inactive Mailbox.

But there’s been rumours for a while (and we’ve had it confirmed at Microsoft Ignite this week) that this is set to change….

Microsoft is about to announce a change to this model with a charge of $3 per mailbox per month for inactive mailboxes to come into force on the 1st October.

The details and any caveats to this charge are yet to be clarified, but this will have a major financial impact on cloud costs to the average enterprise.

One does wonder how this charge came about.

Did Microsoft massively under-estimate the amount of legacy email that enterprises would want to take with them into the cloud or retain indefinitely in the cloud on In-Place Hold (to effectively replace the loss of journal capability)?

TransVault alone has been responsible for migrating Petabytes of legacy data into the cloud.

Who knows?

What we do know for a fact is that live user mailboxes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to moving emails to the cloud, with leavers’ emails making up a good chunk of what’s below the water-line.  This means enterprises will need to think twice about how they preserve their legacy email records if they don’t want to incur hefty charges.

In our next blog post we will be looking at the options open to you (of which TransVault offers many) for preserving and discovering your leaver’s email records as you migrate to Office 365.