Exchange Hybrid Licensing

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Exchange Hybrid Licensing

I have mentioned previously on this site that hybrid Exchange is the best way to migrate to Office 365.

Hybrid enables rich co-existence between your on-premises Exchange server and Office 365 / Exchange Online in the cloud.


Hybrid is emphatically NOT a “special” version of Exchange Server, nor does it require special licensing. You can enable a hybrid connection using the hybrid wizard on Exchange 2010, 2013 or 2016. After that, the migration process looks a lot more like an on-prem migration (except it’s not).

If you are stuck all the way back on Exchange 2007, no worries! You can install Microsoft Exchange 2013 (mailbox & CAS role) and activate it using a free product key from Microsoft, specifically made for executing hybrid migrations. Very often, we end up installing Exchange 2013 as a “bridge” to Office 365, for example.

Note: if you plan to host some of the mailboxes on-premises yourself, or if decide in the future to change your product key from “hybrid only” to a full Standard or Enterprise version of Exchange in order to work with on-premises mailboxes, then you will need to obtain the proper licensing before doing so. Use the following PowerShell command to set your new product key:

Set-ExchangeServer -Identity <HybridServerName> -ProductKey <ProductKeyHere>

Go here and follow the directions to obtain your free hybrid Exchange product key. Happy migrating!

Update: The hybrid wizard can now find the hybrid server and license it for you automatically.


Comments (5)

  • Chad Reply

    We used the hybrid approach to migrate from our parent company that divested us then we migrated to our own domain and azure subscription/tenant/0365 environment “thinking” we wanted all the tools on premise and managing that like we did way back in the day. We found out that is not a good reason to have this hybrid approach as everything we do is powersehll and a pain to keep the on-prem and azure cloud in sync and just is a admin nightmare. How can we remove that hybrid server and just manage everything in Azure?

    January 14, 2019 at 9:44 am
  • Tim Turner Reply

    I am not running in hybrid mode, at least to my knowledge but I am running with AD-synch so some email settings I can only do when I change the local AD. I have exchange store service off and I am not using any of exchange locally. I had SBS 2008 Would those scripts work in that situation?

    May 27, 2020 at 11:57 am
    • Alex Reply

      No, to be fully supported you need to maintain an active exchange server in hybrid configuration if you are going to keep Azure AD Connect in place. At least for now. Hopefully someday they will have a way for us to remove the last exchange server and keep the sync running. But that day is not today.

      May 27, 2020 at 2:30 pm

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