Friday, July 10, 2015

Is your 'free' Exchange hybrid key really free?

And I'm not talking about Willy or Nelson Mandela, I mean free as in at 'at no additional cost'. There are numerous sources on the internet stating customers can obtain a free key for their hybrid server. What most articles forget to mention is that the license restrictions make this license free for just a very small subset of all customers.
And it's not just blog posts of independent writers, I heard Microsoft employees state the same while visiting customers and in presentations on tech conferences as MEC and TechEd. And even their new Exchange Hybrid Product Key Distribution wizard ( does not mention all requirements.
In fact there are three major requirements to obtain the license key for free:
  • You have an existing, non-trial, Office 365 Enterprise subscription
  • You will not host any on-premises mailboxes on the Exchange 2013 or Exchange 2010 SP3 server on which you apply the Hybrid Edition product key.
And the one I want to emphasize:
  • You currently do not have a licensed Exchange 2013 or Exchange 2010 SP3 server in your on-premises organization
So if you're running licensed servers with Exchange 2010 in your environment, that Exchange 2013 server you want to deploy for hybrid is not free! In other words, the hybrid server license key is free if you're running Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2003 and have licenses for just those versions of Exchange.
In all other situations you will need to license your hybrid servers properly.
These license limitations can be found in the following KB article: How to obtain an Exchange Hybrid Edition product key for your on-premises Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2003 organization.

1 comment:

Justin Robbins said...

Quite a bit of customers are moving to Exchange Online but leaving a server on premises for management and maintenance.
For example, with Azure AD connect (or DirSync) - the objects from AD are replicated to Azure AD (the AD used for Office 365) - changes are made on premises, and synced to the Cloud.

The license only applies to a long term scenario for license restriction. If you will be on boarding all mailboxes to Exchange Online, then you can leave the Hybrid 2013/2016 in place for Application Relay, and for Enabling-Remote Mailboxes and Archive from an on premises configuration. If you wish to continue to have a server on premises for Journaling, or hosting application or user mailboxes (say, for a local vs. cloud secure scenario) - The Hybrid license does not cover this. You'll need an EA and have a full server license to support this configuration. You can leave the Hybrid in place for Routing purposes, but most likely this won't be needed as you can run the HCW from your licensed server.