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Microsoft 365 Records Management Compliance Service Now Available

Microsoft last week announced the "general availability" commercial release of the Microsoft 365 Records Management service.

The service, which lets organizations apply "labels" to documents, as well as machine learning to automatically apply those labels, is designed to address legal compliance tracking issues for organizations. Microsoft claims it'll help "demonstrate compliance with regulations through defensible audit trails and proof of destruction."

The Records Management service is currently available through the Microsoft 365 Compliance Center for IT pros with access. Organizations need to have Microsoft 365 E5/A5 or Microsoft 365 Insider Risk Management licenses to use the service, which gives them the rights to automatically apply "retention or record labels based on trainable classifiers," according to this Microsoft document description.

Microsoft has other compliance solutions besides this Records Management service. It has an Information Governance service and some SharePoint solutions, namely SharePoint In-Place Records Management and SharePoint Records Center. The announcement included a Q&A describing the product differences.

Information Governance was described as being a "simple way to keep the data you want and delete what you don't," but it apparently lacks access to the advanced capabilities of the Records Management service. Information Governance can just "create and publish non-record labels for manual application," Microsoft explained in the comments section of its announcement.

SharePoint's Records Center and In-Place Records Management solutions were described as having "legacy functionality," meaning it uses old technology. Microsoft recommended that users of these SharePoint records solutions should switch to using Microsoft 365 Records Management service:

This new solution [Microsoft 365 Records Management] is where our future investments in records management will be made and we recommend any SharePoint Online customers using SharePoint's in-place records management, content organizer, or the SharePoint records center to evaluate migrating to this new way of managing your records.

When a reader of Microsoft's announcement asked if SharePoint's Record Center was going to be "deprecated" (that is, not further developed), Microsoft denied it.

"As for Records Center, we've not officially deprecated them but you probably have seen it's pretty hard to deploy them now since they are not modern sites," Microsoft indicated.

Records Management is built into the Microsoft 365 "stack," including "SharePoint and Outlook," according to a Thursday announcement by Alym Rayani, senior director of Microsoft 365. The service uses machine learning and trainable classifiers that allow organizations to "train the classification engine to recognize data that is unique to your organization." It'll recognize documents that appear to be associated with contracts and automatically classify them as records, he explained.

While the Microsoft 365 Records Management service is now commercially available for business users, it's not yet being offered to government organizations.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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