How to Migrate Email Journals: Journaling in Microsoft 365

In a world of litigation and regulatory compliance, organisations need to ensure that their email records remain intact, readily accessible and fully discoverable over their entire lifecycle. This is particularly true in any email archive migration to Microsoft 365.

We also saw that, with emails retained in journals even for staff who had long since left the business, these repositories would embody enormous volumes and value, and still need to move with the business as technology evolved. Transvault developed the technology that allows you to migrate decades’ worth of email journals into the cloud in a fully compliant way, retaining full and efficient eDiscovery.

What are email journals and why they matter

Journal keeps a central store of all messages sent to or from an organisation in a special compliance format. This special format retains things like any BCC recipients, the recipients of any distribution list at the time of sending, etc. that would not necessarily be included on the copy of a message that a user sees. These extra pieces of metadata are very important to your legal department when they do eDiscovery on messages. It allows them to know exactly who received a message if it’s involved in a legal case.

It is likely that your organisation is storing a journal mailbox on-prem or in the cloud for compliance reasons.

The problem of legacy journals and Microsoft 365

Due to per-user, rather than per-server, licensing in Microsoft 365, single-instance journals ceased to be the de facto methodology. Microsoft mandated that each user should retain their own copy of any given message they were involved in. This means that Microsoft 365 does not have a concept of a single instanced journal archive to store a copy of every email sent and received. It does not have an equivalent central journal mailbox and does not natively recognise the compliance format of legacy journal messages. This represents a significant problem when it comes to migrating all relevant data to Microsoft 365.

Email journaling in Office 365

New emails in Microsoft 365 are put in user mailboxes under In-Place Hold / indefinite litigation. It also allows you to indefinitely retain inactive mailboxes, preserve BCCd and distribution list members in message headers and hide this from users, but make it visible to eDiscovery. This provides the required functionality from an eDiscovery point of view, but it does mean that a fundamental disconnect will exist between your new email compliance and your historical email compliance.

But the problem remains, what do you do with organisation’s legacy journal archive? This crucial data, often multiple terabytes in volume, underpins your regulatory compliance stretching back years.

Organisations wanting to move to Microsoft 365 need to make a decision about how to maintain their legacy email journal archives. The traditional options are to either migrate the journal to a third-party cloud service or keep your legacy journals on-premises (costly as you need to retain infrastructure and expertise). This also throws up issues around carrying out eDiscovery across disjointed repositories, spanning multiple data sources and interfaces.

With Compliance TimeMachine (CTM), Transvault enables you to store your emails and legacy journal records in one fully discoverable location. CTM is a feature of Transvault Migrator that eliminates the overheads associated with the two options outlined above as well as making performing eDiscovery significantly easier. By providing this reliable consolidation, Transvault mitigates some of the costs and risks associated with maintaining the accessibility of journal data and managing its lifecycle.

Beyond mere compliance, a properly migrated journal archive can safeguard a business from potential future litigation or governance issues that may arise from not taking legacy email data into account during the migration process.

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