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The Two Categories of Office 365 Backup Software

Organizations looking to protect data stored in Microsoft Office 365 should follow new rules to select the best solution. In so doing, organizations should also recognize two broad categories of Office 365 backup software exist from which to choose. One category consists of subscription, cloud-based SaaS offerings. The other category encompasses enterprise backup software solutions that offer Office 365 backup as an add-on option.

Office 365 Data Your Responsibility

During 2020 the number of organizations adopting Office 365 grew substantially. Microsoft’s Q1 2021 earnings call held in late October revealed that Office 365 commercial revenue grew by about . Not surprisingly, Office 365 subscriptions were up 27 percent year over year.
Office365CloudYet as organizations adopt Office 365, they should remember it remains their responsibility to protect data they store there. Microsoft certainly provides some mechanisms to protect data stored in Office 365. These include archiving functions, highly available, secure data centers, and recovery of data less than 30 days old. However, should data be permanently deleted or encrypted by something like ransomware, it falls on organizations to recover it.
To do so, they need software that backs up and recovers this data. The new set of rules that organizations should follow to select this software I covered in a separate blog entry. As they apply these rules, they should also determine which category of Office 365 backup software they want:

  1. Subscription, cloud-based SaaS backup software
  2. Enterprise backup software which offers Office 365 as an add-on

Category #1: Subscription, Cloud-based SaaS Backup Software

Organizations obtain this category of backup software by simply subscribing to it. Approximately 20 backup solutions exist that offer subscription, cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) backup software for Microsoft Office 365. Subscribing to one of them may require as little as:

  1. Creating a user account with the backup software provider
  2. A credit card
  3. An existing corporate Office 365 account
  4. Administrative access to the corporate Office 365 account

SaaSOnce you provide this and perhaps other base line information, one may start backing up Office 365. These solutions provide the core features that organizations need to back up data in one or more Office 365 components.  Most offerings minimally back up Exchange and SharePoint Online.  They may also back up OneDrive, Teams, and other Office 365 features though breadth of support varies by backup solution.
These solutions also often include unlimited or nearly unlimited cloud storage as part of the cost of the software subscription. They may store data in a cloud hosted by the backup provider. More likely, they store it in a public cloud, such as the AWS or Microsoft Azure cloud.
These solutions also differ significantly in terms of the other features they offer. These options include anti-ransomware capabilities, backup frequency, data loss prevention, and choice of storage cloud provider, among others. DCIG plans to publish a report that evaluates and recommends the TOP 5 solutions either late in 2020 or in early 2021.

Category #2: Enterprise Backup Software

Organizations that already own enterprise backup may discover it offers an add-on option to back up Office 365. DCIG has identified about ten enterprise backup software solutions that already back up Office 365. Further, a few other providers have shared with DCIG they plan to back up Office 365 very shortly.
While multiple differences exist between these two categories of software, the biggest one may be how each one gets deployed. Almost all current providers of enterprise backup software that protect Office 365 require organizations to first deploy and host their software. They may choose to host this software on-premises, in the cloud, or take a hybrid approach.
In other words, there is no quick and easy setup process such as subscription, cloud-based SaaS software offers. Conversely, organizations that use enterprise backup software with Office 365 backup capabilities centralize their management of Office 365 backups.
Due to these different deployment and hosting methods, to compare these two categories of solutions in the same TOP 5 report would be a bit like comparing apples and oranges. Organizations will likely have a preferred method to deploy Office 365 backup software and then choose a solution based upon that preference. Therefore, DCIG will evaluate enterprise backup software with Office 365 backup capabilities in a separate TOP 5 report.


This Friday, November 13, 2020, I will appear as a guest in Spin Studio’s weekly webinar. During the webinar, I will touch on topics such as: categories of Office 365 backup software; new rules for Office 365 backup software; and, the revealing of the first edition of DCIG’s Pillars of Data Protection. You may register for this webinar by clicking on this link.

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