Surprise API bill, courtesy of Copilot

eDiscovery platforms with Microsoft 365 collection integrations could create unexpected Microsoft fees for customers. While researching a new resource on the Microsoft eDiscovery API I stumbled over a $15/GB fee for exceeding your ‘seeded capacity’. Purview eDiscovery may meet the requirements of SMB companies with minimal litigation or regulatory profiles. Global corporations and highly regulated companies with complex discovery burdens tend to use external eDiscovery platforms such as Relativity, Reveal, Exterro and others. These platforms generally rely on Microsoft’s Graph eDiscovery API to place holds, run in-place collection searches and export M365 content.

The Seeded Capacity Model: A Double-Edged Sword

Microsoft’s Graph eDiscovery API operates on a seeded capacity model, providing a certain amount of data usage included with specific Microsoft 365 licenses. This model is akin to a pre-paid phone plan, where you’re allotted a certain number of minutes each month. For eDiscovery, this translates to 1 GB/licensed user per month for collections added to a Purview Premium review case prior to export. While you can manually export a collection search without adding it into review (i.e. processing it), I could not find any API functions to accomplish this. The direct export also risks loss of modern attachments, formatting chats and other processing benefits (note that I have not tested this yet…).

Seeded Capacity Example Export Scenario:

TechCorp has 5,000 employees with Microsoft 365 E5 licenses with a total pooled seeded capacity of:

Number of Employees * Seeded Capacity per User = 5,000 * 1 GB = 5,000 GB per monthTotal Seeded Capacity=Number of Employees×Seeded Capacity per User=5,000×1 GB=5,000 GB per month

TechCorp needs to export data for a legal matter involving 20 custodians, each with an average of 100 GB of data, and 5 departmental Teams sites with a total volume of 4,000 GB. The total export volume would be 6,000 GB. Total Export Volume=(Number of Custodians×Average Data per Custodian)+Departmental Teams Data=(20×100 GB)+4,000 GB=6,000 GBSince TechCorp’s total export volume (6,000 GB) exceeds their monthly seeded capacity (5,000 GB), they will incur additional costs for the excess data exported at $15/GB to surprise the IT manager with a $15,000 bump to his $285,000 Microsoft E5 license bill.

The pooled export capacity may seem generous at first glance, but in the high-stakes world of corporate litigation, it’s easy to exceed this limit on a single case if exporting raw custodian and SharePoint/Teams collections.

The Beta Bet: Forecasting Future Expenses

Currently, some of Microsoft’s eDiscovery API endpoints are in beta (meaning they are free). Will there be a new pricing model once these APIs reach general availability? How will this affect the overall cost of using an integrated platform? Only time and Microsoft will answer those questions, but I urge vendors and service providers to prioritize transparency in their pricing structures. It is essential for corporations to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis before committing to a discovery technology approach to tackle your ESI in the cloud. $15/GB is higher than many of my client’s fees for hosted ESI. The key is to understand the potential costs and ask your provider what actions may trigger Microsoft fees. Let me know if you have already gotten a surprise bill or found other not so obvious discovery costs.

Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at Book a free 15 minute ‘Good Karma’ call if he has availability. He solves problems and creates eDiscovery solutions for enterprise and law firm clients.

Greg’s blog perspectives are personal opinions and should not be interpreted as a professional judgment or advice. Greg is no longer an investigative journalist and all perspectives are based on best public information. Blog content is neither approved nor reviewed by any providers prior to being published. Do you want to share your own perspective? Greg is looking for practical, professional informative perspectives free of marketing fluff, hidden agendas or personal/product bias. Outside blogs will clearly indicate the author, company and any relevant affiliations. 

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