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With Compliance Perks, Microsoft Tries To Entice Orgs to Exchange Online

Microsoft has launched new e-discovery, compliance content search, preview and export options for businesses that use the Microsoft Teams enterprise chat service but also keep their Exchange e-mail server data on-premises.

The new capabilities are designed to help organizations using Teams to move to Office 365 and switch to Exchange Online for e-mail, explained Ansuman Acharya, a product manager for security and compliance on Teams, in an announcement last Friday.

"This helps decouple the Exchange cloud migration from a successful deployment of Microsoft Teams," he explained.

The new search capabilities are designed to work across mailbox data that are stored locally on a customer's premises, but presumably these capabilities also makes it easier to switch to using Exchange Online.

Specifically, the new e-discovery capabilities were built for "large enterprise customers" that use Teams and that also have their user identities synchronized between Active Directory and Azure Active Directory, but still house their e-mail operations locally using Exchange Server.

The new capabilities are intended to warm the hearts of corporate lawyers since they can now conduct compliance searches. The new e-discovery and compliance capabilities, though, currently don't include putting holds on cloud storage locations. They also don't include chat retention capabilities for Teams communications (also known as "1xN chats"). Microsoft, though, plans to address both of those shortcomings "soon."

Microsoft isn't offering the e-discovery capabilities for Teams generally. Instead, organizations must specifically request getting assistance from Microsoft Support to add the capabilities. Organizations will get activated after a two- to three-week time period. When activated, the capabilities will be available in the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center management portal, where organizations can use the Content Search tool to export Teams chat data. It's also possible to use PowerShell for the compliance searches.

Details on conducting compliance searches using the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center are described in this Microsoft overview document.

The Teams e-discovery capabilities require having Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, or E5 subscription plans in place, according to this Office 365 search article. There's also a catch right now on how far back a compliance search will go because Microsoft first began storing Teams chat data on its datacenters on Jan. 31, 2018. However, Microsoft is working on adding storage of chat data before that date so that organizations can search further back.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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