The UK Government’s Cloud First and Digital by Default initiative is transforming the public sector: in 2010, only a third of government organisations reported using cloud-based services. Today, that’s grown to over 78%[i]. Throughout this journey, Microsoft has been committed to making this initiative come to fruition. The forthcoming launch of our UK DC Region later in 2016 further demonstrates our continuing support for the efforts to assist in the digital transformation of the public sector.

In addition to our ongoing commitment to the Government’s G-Cloud Framework initiative , Microsoft is also committed to the principles laid down by the Government Digital Service and the Common Technology Services team including the Technology Code of Practice and Design Principles.

An important principle is portability and flexibility of your data. Microsoft supports this principle and allows customers to migrate their data into and out of Microsoft’s major cloud platforms including Office 365, Azure and Dynamics CRM Online.

We know it’s your data

At Microsoft, our approach to the cloud is that the customer’s data is always their data – you own the data, and retain all rights, title and interest in the data you store in any Microsoft cloud-based offering. This means you are free to do whatever you see fit with your data at any time.  We act as the “Data Processor” on the customer’s behalf, and the Customer remains the “data controller”.  As such, Microsoft will only act upon customer instructions.

This level of control isn’t a given across cloud service providers. It is therefore always important before joining any cloud service to know how you can get your data back should you wish to leave the service. You may wish to bring the data back to an on premises solution, to another cloud solution, or to any number of hosted alternatives.

Maximum portability of your data

We provide a variety of tools to extract your data. Customers can access their own customer data at any time and for any reason without assistance from Microsoft. Customers can extract large data sets quickly and easily. Historically, large data sets would take a very long time to upload or download over a network. But with fast and secure data transfer options to and from Microsoft cloud services, this problem is virtually eliminated.

In addition to being able to download or off-board your data at any time Microsoft also provides limited access for 90 days after subscription termination or expiration to export your data.

If customers are moving data from one Office 365 tenant to another, for example, or from Office 365 to an Exchange instance hosted by the customer or a Microsoft technology partner, then Microsoft can advise on the best approach.  Office 365 is an established platform and is supported by a large and diverse partner eco-system.  There are numerous migration partners available to migrate to and from the different workloads within Office 365.  They can also offer migration between Office 365 tenants.   Please see:

As part of your plan to extract data, and as with any IT solution, it is always important to ensure that you keep bespoking to the minimum. Use standard configurations and features and this will help simplify the job of data transfer. However, for more detail on how to off-board and extract data either to help these migration scenarios or if you want to move to another vendor’s service or technology please read on.

Off-boarding data in Office 365 – Email

Many customers take advantage of transitioning mailbox data to Exchange Online through an Exchange ‘Hybrid’ configuration.  This allows for coexistence between on-premises and cloud Exchange systems.  Exchange Hybrid also allows organizations to simply ‘move mailbox’ from Exchange On-Premises to Exchange Online and back again seamlessly and transparent to the end user.   Off-boarding mailbox data is made simple and can be scripted to deliver bulk moves using the cmdlet’s mentioned below.

Alternatively, for data held in Exchange, PST files are the closest thing to an industry standard and many other email solutions support PST.  PST files can contain contacts, calendar, mail, personal folders, tasks and more.  The PST file format is an open standard that is fully documented.  Cmdlets for PowerShell are provided to bulk create and PST files.

For automated bulk export, PowerShell can be used, specifically the New-MailboxExportRequest and associated functions to manage and execute requests.  These cmdlets can be used as part of a script to identify whole organisations or subsets of an organisation for export.

Individuals can export information into PST files using instructions here.

Furthermore, Office 365 exposes both POP and IMAP interfaces, allowing tools that make use of these interfaces to extract and manipulate data.

For migration to on-premises servers (and cloud, too), a full suite the MigrationBatch cmdlets is provided to automate many common tasks.  It should be noted that these are used when transferring from one Exchange server to another.

See also See

Calendaring, Contacts, Global Address List and Tasks

For bulk migration, calendaring would be migrated using the Mailbox Export cmdlet and the information would be included in the PST file.  There are also options to export calendars as iCal format for end users.

Contacts are exported as part of a mailbox export, and held within a PST file as noted above.

For Global Address List export, a PowerShell cmdlet – Get-GlobalAddressList  – provides export and manipulation possibilities.

Tasks are exported as part of a mailbox export, and held with a PST file as noted above.

Cloud Storage, Sites & more (SharePoint 2016)

A full suite of backup and restore functionality is provided with SharePoint 2016, and a full API for retrieving all content is available.  Whilst there are PowerShell cmdlets to process SharePoint, a full export to another solution would be best served with a toolset using the API. List items can be exported as CSV, Metadata can be exported via API, or exported as CSV.  Third parties have taken advantage of the APIs to build import routines for their service – one example is AODocs who claim to port all custom document properties. See also

Yammer Social Networking

A full API for export of information within Yammer is available. See

Unified Communication

Skype for Business uses contacts from Exchange, which will be included in the PST file.  Global contact search uses the Global Address list, which can be exported as discussed above. Conversation history is included within a mailbox, which is exported with PST export.

Configuration settings

There are many configuration items within Office 365 online services that can be imported and exported via PowerShell, and there is a full set of PowerShell cmdlets that are provided for policy and compliance automation, including import and export.

Information Rights Management Settings

Information Rights Management settings are configured through either the user interface or PowerShell, and PowerShell can return a list of configuration settings.  The Rights management templates themselves are administered through Azure AD:

Data Loss Prevention settings for Mail

Microsoft DLP policies are contained in XML files using a specific DLP policy template schema, the format of which is available online.  These can be exported using the Export-DLPPolicyCollection PowerShell cmdlet, and imported using either PowerShell or the admin interface. The core pattern matching of DLP uses regex which is also used by other technology vendors.

Migration to other Cloud productivity collaboration solutions

Many tools and services exist to assist with migration between different cloud vendor’s services. Microsoft now provide the Fast Track Centre, which provides services to help migrate from on-premises solutions and other cloud solutions to Office 365, and other useful third party cloud migration solutions are available with examples such as Cloudiway, Binary Tree, Cloudsfer, metavis, and more.

Off-boarding data in Azure

As Azure provides IaaS and PaaS compute services the users and their IT admins have full control over the use and location of their data. The customer can de-provision servers, storage, databases and other Azure cloud components and move data back to on-premise or other hosted solutions as required.

Off-boarding data in Dynamics CRM Online

Customers off-boarding from the service are able to extract their data and online guidance details is provided on how to export information into Excel format . Customers can also request a copy of the Microsoft Dynamics Online CRM SQL Database by referring to guidance at

[i] Cloud adoption trends in the UK public sector – 2015