The service can be used to transfer Outlook data files ahead of moving to Office 365's Exchange Online or to transfer files for use with SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business.
Government IT managers who need to migrate large numbers of files and documents to Office 365 might want to try Microsoft’s new import service.
Now in preview, the Office 365 Import Service leverages Microsoft's existing Azure Import/Export service. It shows up now as an option for global administrators to use in the Office 365 admin center portal. They can either transfer files over an Internet connection to Microsoft's data centers or they can prepare a portable drive for mail shipment to Microsoft.
The service can be used to transfer .PST files (Outlook data files) to Microsoft in preparation for moving to Office 365's Exchange Online email service. Alternatively, the Import Service can be used to transfer files for use with Microsoft's SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business services, which may include large collections of files.
The choice of either uploading files or shipping them to Microsoft on a disk depends on the amount of data that an organization has to move. Shipping a disk is the faster method if an organization has more than 10TB of data to move, according to a Microsoft TechNet article. Microsoft accepts drives of up to 4TB in size using 3.5-inch SATA II/III media.
The drive contents are encrypted using Microsoft's BitLocker solution. Clients needing additional security for now can use the O365Protect command line tool to encrypt PST files before loading them into the hard drive by using the drive preparation tool or uploading them over the network directly to Azure. Microsoft said it is working to make the encryption process easier.
The Office 365 Import Service preview is available for customers in the government cloud who can use public Azure as a staging ground (if necessary, in conjunction with bring-your-own-key encryption that keeps the data encrypted at rest in Azure), Microsoft said. The service is not yet available for Office 365 Dedicated or Office 365 Government Community Cloud customers.
At the current preview stage, the Office 365 Import Service is free to use. Pricing hasn't been announced yet for the final product, nor is it clear when Microsoft will roll it out.