June 28, 2023

Microsoft is changing the way emails are stored and making room for additional data

In May, Microsoft released new documentation stating that a highly anticipated change will soon occur in the way emails and attachments are stored in Dataverse. Attachments, previously stored in the database and utilizing Database Capacity, will be moved to Azure Blob Storage. This change will provide us with more space for data while significantly reducing costs (approximately 90%).

What will change?

First and foremost, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform users will regain space in their databases. Previously, the content of emails (body) was stored in a relational database within Dataverse. Now, the “Email.Description” column in the “email activity” table will be moved to Azure Blob Storage, a Microsoft cloud service used for storing unstructured data. As a result, heavy attachments will no longer consume expensive space in the database.

As a result of the migration, part of the space will be freed up, and although the capacity in Dataverse is not increased, we will be able to utilize this “additional” space for data or optimize operational performance without incurring additional costs.

The entire process can be easily illustrated using the example of a traditional letter. While the envelope itself is thin, when a letter is inserted into it, especially an official document with numerous annotations, it often becomes tightly packed. If we receive such letters systematically, after a few years, we start running out of space in our drawer. What does Microsoft do? It empties all the old envelopes and moves hundreds of pages of documents (email content and attachments) to another place, leaving us with only empty envelopes in the drawer, taking up a fraction of the previous space, thus gaining free space that we can use as we please.

What do I need to do?

Absolutely nothing. The migration from Dataverse to Azure Blob Storage for all customers began in May of this year and is still ongoing. All processes are happening in the background, so it is very likely that you haven’t even noticed it. According to Microsoft, the process for existing customers can take between 6 to 12 weeks. However, the company notes that this process may take longer if the data size to be transferred is larger than usual. Therefore, if your corporation sends thousands of emails and the migration process takes more than 3 months, there is no cause for concern.

Once the archival messages have been transferred, further migration will occur automatically in continuous mode. This means that any email older than 12 months will be found in Azure Blob Storage without any synchronization required on your part.

Will I notice any differences?

While the actual process occurs in the background and is completely invisible, you will likely notice a reduction in the size of the ActivityPointer table after it is completed. You can easily check this in the Power Platform Admin Center under the “Capacity” report in the “File usage” section. It should be noted that the amount of space occupied by what has been removed from the table may be greater than the space gained due to data compression.

Due to the migration, certain changes in filtering should also be taken into account. It will no longer be possible to search for email description using FetchXML. The same applies to Quick Find and Advanced Find. However, if you add “email body” as a column for the Quick Find option, the message content will appear in the search results.

You can also use the appropriate option in Dataverse search to search through your emails. Microsoft provides instructions on how to do this here.