Note from the author: In case you haven't seen my LinkedIn message about changes that Microsoft are making in Exchange Web Services, here is your chance. If you're a Microsoft customer who will migrate data into Office 365, or out of it, or even consolidate Office 365 tenants you must take the time to read about these changes and assess the future impact of them.
If you feel strongly about these changes, add your comments to the LinkedIn post and contact your Microsoft Account Representative today!
In the last several years, my company has successfully onboarded hundreds of enterprise organizations to Office 365. Throughout that time, you have always had amazing products along with a strong ecosystem of supporting partners and third-party application developers. For my company and other leading technology partners, this enabled adding value on top of the solid set of functionalities that you provide to our mutual customer base.
As your customers transitioned with you from a product license to a “cloud-first” subscription model, a key component for many was the ability to ingest, but more importantly extract data freely and without restrictions.
This was particularly important with products like SharePoint or Exchange. Customers even could decide to leave your products if they were not happy with them, easily extracting data and importing it in the new system. You were always “the good guys”, with an open, powerful, and accessible platform.
Please, allow me to state that I hope I am 100% wrong with my conclusions below. Nothing would please me more than for the subject matter covered in this letter to be a misinterpretation or misunderstanding.
With that said, a couple of your recent updates revolving around the open movement of data in to and out of Office 365 have me extremely concerned.
Let's start with your blog post on October 5, 2021, titled “Upcoming API Deprecations in Exchange Web Services for Exchange Online”. While arguably not the core focus of the post, “well-hidden” within was the following statement which leaves little room for misinterpretation:
“Today, we are announcing that we are going to remove the ability to create new EWS apps starting September 30, 2022.”
This is a major announcement and has the potential to impact every Microsoft customer from that point onward. Right now, the Exchange Web Services API is the only way to get full-fidelity (preserving all properties) email information into and out of Office 365. Without this capability, 3rd Party applications addressing backup, eDiscovery, and migration (including Tenant-to-Tenant) will simply not be possible!
The guidance in your blog post is to alternatively use the Graph API – while this is certainly feasible, presently that API is missing exactly those methods (MS-OXWSBTRF). Even worse, basic functionality is missing, for example today the Graph API can’t even connect to an Exchange Online archive.
If the Graph API is ultimately the way things go (…and you extend the functionality over time…), your update on October 1, 2021, titled
“Licensing and payment requirements for Microsoft Teams APIs in Microsoft Graph”
adds to my overall concern. This update documents pricing models for extracting data from Microsoft Teams when using the Graph API.
Your customers may start to question where this goes from here. A recent post from Tony Redmond covers this point as well stating that:
“If Microsoft decides to impose the same consumption pricing model on an export/import API for Exchange Online, it could create many headaches for customers and ISVs alike to deal with the costs associated”.
If one were to start linking these independent announcements together it is possible to arrive at the conclusion that some "bigger” strategy shift might be going on here, moving away from an open flat-fee platform to a closed ecosystem with as-you-go pricing and de-facto data lock in.
Imagine the implications of an acquisition or divestiture, where one needs to consolidate tenants and/or on- or offboard legacy data. Cost and Time implications might get enormous, and a lot of restructuring projects will never reach an ROI if suddenly the project costs and timelines multiply.
Once again, let me restate that I hope I am wrong in my assessment, and that you, dear Microsoft will stay an open platform for your (and our) customers sake.