Multi-Geo Capabilities in Exchange Online

Multi-Geo Capabilities in Office 365 enable a single tenant to span multiple geographic locations (Geos). When Multi-Geo is enabled, customers can select the location of Exchange Online mailbox content (data at rest) on a per-user basis.

Your initial tenant location (referred to as your "default" or "central" location) is determined based on your billing address. When Multi-Geo is enabled, you can place mailboxes in additional "satellite" locations by:

  • Creating a new Exchange Online mailbox directly in a satellite.

  • Moving an existing Exchange Online mailbox into a satellite.

  • Onboarding a mailbox from an on-premises Exchange organization directly into a satellite.

The following Geos are available for use in a Multi-Geo configuration:

  • Asia Pacific

  • Australia

  • Canada

  • European Union

  • India (currently only available to customers with billing addresses in India)

  • Japan

  • Korea

  • United Kingdom

  • United States

Prerequisite configuration

Before you can start using Multi-Geo capabilities in Exchange Online, Microsoft needs to configure your Exchange Online tenant for Multi-Geo support. This one-time configuration process is triggered when you order Multi-Geo licenses and should typically take less than 30 days to complete.

You'll receive notifications in the Office 365 message center when your configuration has started and completed. Configuration is automatically triggered when you buy Multi-Geo licenses.

Mailbox placement and moves

After Microsoft completes the prerequisite Multi-Geo configuration steps, Exchange Online will honor the PreferredDataLocation attribute on user objects in Azure AD.

Exchange Online synchronizes the PreferredDataLocation property from Azure AD into the MailboxRegion property in the Exchange Online directory service. The value of MailboxRegion determines the Geo where user mailboxes and any associated archive mailboxes will be placed. It isn't possible to configure a user's primary mailbox and archive mailboxes to reside in different Geos. Only one Geo may be configured per user object.

  • When PreferredDataLocation is configured on a user with an existing mailbox, the mailbox will be automatically moved to the specified Geo.

  • When PreferredDataLocation is configured on a user without an existing mailbox, the mailbox will be provisioned into the specified Geo.

  • If no Geo is specified, the mailbox will be placed in the default Geo.

Note: Multi-Geo capabilities and Skype for Business Online regionally hosted meetings both use the PreferredDataLocation property on user objects to locate services. If you configure PreferredDataLocation values on user objects for regionally hosted meetings, the mailbox for those users will be automatically moved to the specified Geo after Multi-Geo is enabled on the Office 365 tenant.

Feature limitations for Multi-Geo in Exchange Online

  1. Only user mailboxes, resource mailboxes (room and equipment mailboxes), and shared mailboxes support Multi-Geo features. You can only place public folder mailboxes and Office 365 Groups in the customer's home Geo.

  2. Security and compliance features (for example, auditing and eDiscovery) that are available in the Exchange admin center (EAC) aren't available in Multi-Geo organizations. Instead, you need to use the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center to configure security and compliance features.

  3. Outlook for Mac users may experience a temporary loss of access to their Online Archive folder while you move their mailbox to a new Geo. This condition occurs when the user's the primary and archive mailboxes are in different Geos, because cross-Geo mailbox moves may complete at different times.

  4. Users can't share mailbox folders across Geos in Outlook on the web (formerly known as Outlook Web App or OWA). For example, a user in the European Union can't use Outlook on the web to open a shared folder in a mailbox that's located in the United States. However, Outlook on the web users can open other mailboxes in different Geos by using a separate browser window as described in Open another person’s mailbox in a separate browser window in Outlook Web App.

    Note: Cross-Geo mailbox folder sharing is supported in Outlook on Windows.

  5. Currently, cross-Geo calendar delegation isn't supported in Outlook on the web. Cross-Geo calendar delegation is supported in Outlook on Windows.

Administration

Remote PowerShell is required to view and configure Geo-related properties in your Office 365 environment. For information on various PowerShell modules used to administer Office 365, see Managing Office 365 and Exchange Online with Windows PowerShell.

Connect directly to a specific Geo using Exchange Online PowerShell

Typically, Exchange Online PowerShell will connect to the default Geo. But, you can also connect directly to non-default Geos. Because of performance improvements, we recommend connecting directly to the non-default Geo when you only manage users in that Geo.

To connect to a specific Geo, the ConnectionUri parameter is different than the regular connection instructions. The rest of the commands and values are the same. The steps are:

  1. On your local computer, open Windows PowerShell and run the following command:

    $UserCredential = Get-Credential
    

    In the Windows PowerShell Credential Request dialog box, type your work or school account and password, and then click OK.

  2. Replace <emailaddress> with the email address of any mailbox in the target Geo and run the following command. Your permissions on the mailbox and the relationship to your credentials in Step 1 are not a factor; the email address simply tells Exchange Online where to connect.

    $Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell?email=<emailaddress> -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication  Basic -AllowRedirection
    

    For example, if olga@contoso.onmicrosoft.com is the email address of a valid mailbox in the Geo you want to connect, run the following command:

    $Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell?email=olga@contoso.onmicrosoft.com -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication  Basic -AllowRedirection
    
  3. Run the following command:

    Import-PSSession $Session
    

Azure AD Connect version requirements

AAD Connect version 1.1.524.0 or later is the only supported method for setting the PreferredDataLocation property on user objects that are synchronized from on-premises Active Directory. For detailed instructions, see Azure Active Directory Connect sync: Configure preferred data location for Office 365 resources.

Geo Codes

You use three-letter codes to specify the Geo in the PreferredDataLocation property. The following table lists the codes for the available Geos:

Geo Code
Asia/Pacific APC
Australia AUS
Canada CAN
European Union EUR
India IND
Japan JPN
Korea KOR
United Kingdom GBR
United States NAM

Note: The PreferredDataLocation and MailboxRegion properties are strings with no error checking. If you enter an invalid value (for example, NAN) the mailbox will be placed in the default Geo.

View the available Geos that are configured in your Exchange Online organization

To see the list of configured Geos in your Exchange Online organization, run the following command in Exchange Online PowerShell:

Get-OrganizationConfig | Select -ExpandProperty AllowedMailboxRegions | Format-Table Region

The output of the command looks like this:

Region
------
APC
AUS
CAN
EUR
GBR
JPN
KOR
NAM

Find the Geo location of a mailbox

The Get-Mailbox cmdlet in Exchange Online PowerShell displays the following Geo-related properties on mailboxes:

  • Database: The first 3 letters of the database name correspond to the Geo code, which tells you where the mailbox is currently located.

  • MailboxRegion: Specifies the Geo code that was set by the admin (synchronized from PreferredDataLocation in Azure AD).

  • MailboxRegionLastUpdateTime: Indicates when MailboxRegion was last updated (either automatically or manually).

To see these properties for a mailbox, use the following syntax:

Get-Mailbox -Identity <MailboxIdentity> | Format-List Database,MailboxRegion*

For example, to see the Geo information for the mailbox chris@contoso.onmicrosoft.com, run the following command:

Get-Mailbox -Identity chris@contoso.onmicrosoft.com | Format-List Database, MailboxRegion*

The output of the command looks like this:

Database                    : EURPR03DG077-db007 
MailboxRegion               : EUR 
MailboxRegionLastUpdateTime : 2/6/2018 8:21:01 PM 

Note

If the Geo code in the database name doesn't match MailboxRegion value, the mailbox will be automatically moved to the Geo specified by the MailboxRegion value (Exchange Online looks for a mismatch between these property values).

Move an existing cloud mailbox to a specific Geo

Use the Get-MsolUser and Set-MsolUser cmdlets in the Azure AD Module for Windows PowerShell to view or specify the Geo where a user's mailbox will be stored.

To view the PreferredDataLocation value for a user, use this syntax in Azure AD PowerShell:

Get-MsolUser -UserPrincipalName <UserPrincipalName> | Format-List UserPrincipalName,PreferredDataLocation

For example, to see the PreferredDataLocation value for the user michelle@contoso.onmicrosoft.com, run the following command:

Get-MsolUser -UserPrincipalName michelle@contoso.onmicrosoft.com | Format-List

The output of the command looks like this:

UserPrincipalName     : michelle@contoso.onmicrosoft.com
PreferredDataLocation : EUR

To modify the PreferredDataLocation value for a cloud-only user object, use the following syntax in Azure AD PowerShell:

Set-MsolUser -UserPrincipalName <UserPrincipalName> -PreferredDataLocation <GeoCode>

For example, to set the PreferredDataLocation value to the European Union (EUR) for the user michelle@contoso.onmicrosoft.com, run the following command:

Set-MsolUser -UserPrincipalName michelle@contoso.onmicrosoft.com -PreferredDataLocation EUR

Notes:

  • As mentioned previously for synchronized user objects from on-premises Active Directory, you can't use this procedure. You need to change the PreferredDataLocation value using AAD Connect. For more information, see Azure Active Directory Connect sync: Configure preferred data location for Office 365 resources.

  • How long it takes to move a mailbox depends on several factors:

    • The size and type of mailbox.

    • The number of mailboxes being moved.

    • The availability of move resources.

Move disabled mailboxes that are on Litigation Hold

Disabled mailboxes on Litigation Hold that are preserved for eDiscovery purposes can't be moved by changing their PreferredDataLocation value in their disabled state. To move a disabled mailbox on litigation hold:

  1. Temporarily assign a license to the mailbox.

  2. Change the PreferredDataLocation.

  3. Remove the license from the mailbox after it has been moved to the selected Geo to put it back into the disabled state.

Create new cloud mailboxes in a specific Geo

To create a new mailbox in a specific Geo, you need to do either of these steps:

  • Configure the PreferredDataLocation value as described in the previous section before the mailbox is created in Exchange Online (for example, by configuring the PreferredDataLocation value on a user before assigning a license).

  • Assign a license at the same time you set the PreferredDataLocation value.

To create a new cloud-only licensed user (not AAD Connect synchronized) in a specific Geo, use the following syntax in Azure AD PowerShell:

New-MsolUser -UserPrincipalName <UserPrincipalName> -DisplayName "<Display Name>" [-FirstName <FirstName>] [-LastName <LastName>] [-Password <Password>] [-LicenseAssignment <AccountSkuId>] -PreferredDataLocation <GeoCode> 

This example create a new user account for Elizabeth Brunner with the following values:

  • User principal name: ebrunner@contoso.onmicrosoft.com

  • First name: Elizabeth

  • Last name: Brunner

  • Display name Elizabeth Brunner

  • Password: randomly-generated and shown in the results of the command (because we're not using the Password parameter)

  • License: contoso:ENTERPRISEPREMIUM (E5)

3- Location: Australia (AUS)

New-MsolUser -UserPrincipalName ebrunner@contoso.onmicrosoft.com -DisplayName "Elizabeth Brunner" -FirstName Elizabeth -LastName Brunner -LicenseAssignment contoso:ENTERPRISEPREMIUM -PreferredDataLocation AUS

For more information about creating new user accounts and finding LicenseAssignment values in Azure AD PowerShell, see Create user accounts with Office 365 PowerShell and View licenses and services with Office 365 PowerShell.

Note

If you are using Exchange PowerShell to enable a mailbox and need the mailbox to be created directly in the Geo that's specified in PreferredDataLocation, you need to use an Exchange Online cmdlet such as Enable-Mailbox or New-Mailbox directly against the cloud service. If you use the Enable-RemoteMailbox on-premises Exchange cmdlet, the mailbox will be created in the default Geo.

Onboard existing on-premises mailboxes in a specific Geo

You can use the standard onboarding tools and processes to migrate a mailbox from an on-premises Exchange organization to Exchange Online, including the Migration dashboard in the EAC, and the New-MigrationBatch cmdlet in Exchange Online PowerShell.

The first step is to verify a user object exists for each mailbox to be onboarded, and verify the correct PreferredDataLocation value is configured in Azure AD. The onboarding tools will respect the PreferredDataLocation value and will migrate the mailboxes directly to the specified Geo.

Or, you can use the following steps to onboard mailboxes directly in a specific Geo using the New-MoveRequest cmdlet in Exchange Online PowerShell.

  1. Verify the user object exists for each mailbox to be onboarded and that PreferredDataLocation is set to the desired value in Azure AD. The value of PreferredDataLocation will be synchronized to the MailboxRegion attribute of the corresponding mail user object in Exchange Online.

  2. Connect directly to the specific satellite Geo using the connection instructions from earlier in this topic.

  3. In Exchange Online PowerShell, store the on-premises administrator credentials that's used to perform a mailbox migration in a variable by running the following command:

    $RC = Get-Credential
    
  4. In Exchange Online PowerShell, create a new New-MoveRequest similar to the following example:

    New-MoveRequest -Remote -RemoteHostName mail.contoso.com -RemoteCredential $RC -Identity user@contoso.com -TargetDeliveryDomain <YourAppropriateDomain>
    
  5. Repeat step #4 for every mailbox you need to migrate from on-premises Exchange to the satellite Geo you are currently connected to.

  6. If you need to migrate additional mailboxes to a different satellite Geo, repeat steps 2 through 4 for each specific satellite Geo.

Multi-Geo Reporting

Multi-Geo Usage Reports in the Office 365 admin center displays the user count by Geo. The report displays user distribution for the current month and provides historical data for the past 6 months.