Brief of the concept – The name of the feature says it all. Multi-Geo capability of Microsoft Office 365 allows you to have multiple geographical locations (based on Microsoft Data centers) for your Office 365 data other than having everything in one place for everyone in the company.
With this latest capability, your organization will now be able to expand the Office 365 presence to various countries/geographical locations using the existing tenant/subscription and as a result, you can give your users the ability to store their OneDrive, SharePoint and Outlook data in their preferred location.
Technically, this means, your Office 365 tenant consists of main central location and multiple other satellite locations across the globe. This is centrally managed via Azure active directory because your tenant information such as geographical locations, groups, user information are mastered in Azure active Directory (AAD).
So, Why you should/shouldn’t go Multi-Geo?
You don’t have to enable it just because its a buzzword or others are using. Multi-geo is not designed to meet performance optimization requirements but to comply with industry compliance requirements (such as GDPR), primarily. Therefore, you have to set/understand the business objective clearly before you start doing it. You may really need it or you may not.
Doubtlessly, any Office 365 customer who operates across multiple countries/regions would like to have this functionality due to compliance (such as GDPR). However, currently there is an arbitrary limit for this feature where small organizations with less than 2500 seats can’t use it. So, yes ! you need more than 2500 licenses in office 365 to have this enabled.
It surely doesn’t make sense to decide the enablement based on the number of users. What matters is, whether you have the need or not. Small organizations even though they are small in number, they can be multi-national. This is a serious point where Microsoft need to act promptly. Small companies with global presence should not be limited on GDPR compliance (e.g. European multinational companies). Community is already raising the voice requesting Microsoft to bring this up for all and here’s the user voice item if you would like to vote. When there is strong amount of votes, Microsoft is well-known to take it to considerations so go ahead and vote/comment if you are in need of this function.
This is the list of all locations available as of now for you to add as a satellite location when you configure Multi-Geo.
Important: Not all locations are supported to add as an Multi-geo location (e.g. South America). And not all Office 365 workloads are supported to set a multi-geo in user level.
Key terms of Multi-Geo
Tenant – or Subscription in business terms, is the top level. A tenant represents an organization uniquely within Office 365 umbrella usually attached to one or more domain name/s (e.g. mantoso.com)
Geo Locations – Geographical locations (Microsoft Data center locations) available to host an Office 365 tenant’s data.
Satellite Locations – Other locations (e.g. North America, Australia) that you have added to the tenant apart from the Initial (Central) location (India)
Central Location – Where your tenant was originally provisioned
PDL (Preferred Data Location) – Location where a user prefers to store his data. Admins can set this to any location within the configured geos. Important: if you change the PDL for a user who utilizes OneDrive, his OneDrive content will not be automatically moved to the new Preferred Location (PDL). Yes it means you have to manually move them using this method. Exchange mailbox of the same user however, will be automatically moved to the new PDL.
Geo Admin – An administrator who can manage more than one defined geo locations in your tenant
Geo Code – a 3 letter code identifies a particular geo location (e.g. AUS, CAN)
Initial Steps (Fundamental) to get started
There are a few things need to be in place before you get started with Multi Geo. First and foremost, this is an organizational level major change. Therefore you can only go ahead if your senior level have advised to carry out the change so ensure if it comes from the correct authorities.
- You need to work with the accounts team to add Office 365 Multi Geo in to your service plan. This is something you have to do offline as only the account team can guide you when it comes to licenses and commercials. So meet the right person who handles your Microsoft contract internally.
Then, discuss and finalize the Satellite locations with the respective authorities of your organization and add them to your tenant.
Set preferred Data Location (PDL) for every user in the organization. When a OneDrive or Exchange mailbox is created, it resides in their PDL.
Migrate OneDrive content of the users you have moved to the new PDL manually using these steps. Nothing to worry on Exchange mailboxes here as they will be moved automatically.
Detailed technical steps are demonstrated in the part 02 of this series
DISCLAIMER NOTE: This is an enthusiast post and is not sponsored by Microsoft or any other vendor. Please do not copy/duplicate the content of the post unless you are authorized by me to do so.