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Microsoft 365 Growth – and Corresponding Number of Backup SaaS Offerings – Continues Unabated

While thousands of software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings exist, many often list Microsoft 365 first when asked to name one. This may stem from the significant growth that Microsoft 365 has experienced in recent years – both in user numbers and new features.

However, this rapid adoption of Microsoft 365 by both individuals and organizations may create a blind spot for them. They still have responsibility for the data they store in Microsoft 365 and protecting it. This has resulted in the corresponding growth of the number of Microsoft 365 backup SaaS offerings and the features available in them.

Microsoft 365’s Growth and Storage Requirements

Adoption and use of Microsoft 365 by both consumers and organizations continues to experience significant growth. Microsoft reported as part of its FY2023 Q2 earnings the following:

  • More than 63 million consumer subscriptions of Microsoft 365 (up 12 % YoY)
  • Nearly 400 million paid seats of Microsoft 365 commercial users (also up 12% YoY)
  • More than 280 million active Teams users
  • More than 500,000 active Teams Rooms devices

As its adoption increases, so does the amount of data that individuals and organizations store in Microsoft 365. By default, Microsoft 365 minimally allocates 50GB of storage to each Exchange Online mailbox. Microsoft also offers another 50GB of storage to each mailbox for archival purposes. Further, some Premium and Enterprise Exchange user accounts receive up to 100GB of storage.

Exchange Online the Tip of the Storage Iceberg

These storage numbers associated with Exchange Online reflect only the tip of the iceberg. They do not account for data that users may store in or generate while using OneDrive, SharePoint, and/or Teams. They also do not account for data stored in Shared or Public folders and Mailboxes.

Further, Microsoft 365 continues to offer new features such as Teams Phone, Teams Premium, and Microsoft Viva. These provide even more options for individuals and organizations to create and store even more data within Microsoft 365.

Taking all these into account, a Microsoft 365 user may easily store dozens of GBs of data in Microsoft 365.  Each user’s real storage number may ultimately go much higher. It depends upon the number of Microsoft 365 services an individual or organization uses and how much they use them.

This data stored in Microsoft 365 does, however, come with two notable caveats.

  • First, the responsibility to protect it ultimately falls to the individual or organization.
  • Second, Microsoft only provides rudimentary tools to protect Microsoft 365 data.

This combination makes it imperative for organizations to select a backup solution to protect all this data.

Traditional Backup Offerings Still an Option

Individuals and organizations may choose between traditional and SaaS backup offerings to protect this data. A traditional backup offering gets installed in an individual’s or organization’s existing cloud or on-premises environment. It then connects to Microsoft 365 and backs up the data to a location the individual or organization designates.

This approach can work well for individuals as well as for organizations with limited amounts of data and/or a small number of users using Microsoft 365. If taking this approach, individuals must install and manage the backup software and its storage.

Organizations must similarly perform those two tasks.  They must also account for new users and the increased usage of Microsoft 365 by all users as part of managing backup.

If individuals or organizations prefer not to manage these tasks, Microsoft 365 SaaS backup offerings provide a viable alternative.

Microsoft 365 Backup SaaS Offerings

Using a backup software-as-a-service (SaaS) specifically configured for Microsoft 365 protection has become a viable option in recent years. Using SaaS offerings, providers host the software in a cloud data center and make the backup service available for individuals or organizations to subscribe to them.Backup as a Service

Once subscribed, they use a “wizard-like” interface that connects them to Microsoft 365. They may then choose the data in the Microsoft 365 components (Exchanges, OneDrive, SharePoint, and/or Teams) they want to backup. The backup then kicks off immediately or shortly thereafter.

These Microsoft 365 SaaS backup services offload many of the headaches typically associated with backup. For instance, they all manage, maintain, and update their Microsoft 365 backup software. Many also include the storage on which backups get stored as part of their service.

More Differences than Similarities

All Microsoft 365 backup SaaS offerings generally share these traits in common. However, the differences between available offerings greatly outnumber their similarities. Individuals and organizations may choose from about 30 different Microsoft 365 backup SaaS offerings. For example, three differences between available offerings include the following:

  • The data center in which backup SaaS offering is hosted in. Providers may host their Microsoft 365 backup SaaS offering with any number of general-purpose cloud providers. The two most common are Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). However, over one-third of them either host their backup SaaS in data centers they own or in leased space from other data centers.
  • How they bill for services. Each provider charges for its service on a per user basis. However, the backup charges may not stop there. Over 40 percent charge extra for the storage on which they store backups. Then an additional 30 percent offer a choice of tiers of storage on which they store backups and then charge accordingly.
  • Trial periods. Delivered their product as a backup SaaS offering makes it easier for providers to offer a trial period. As a result, most of them (80%) offer a trial period. However, here again, each one delivers their trial period differently. Some make all their product’s features available to all users for a limited time. Others make some of their product’s features available to some users for a limited time. Still others make some product’s features available to all users for a limited period.

Only a Sampling of the Differences

These three differences in how Microsoft 365 backup SaaS providers deliver the features in their respective products represent only a sampling of how they differ. However, these differences should come as no surprise.

Microsoft 365’s growth in both its number of subscribers and breadth of features have prompted providers to take different approaches to protect it. The latest backup SaaS offerings: better capitalize on current cloud technologies; protect a broader range of Microsoft 365 features; and incorporate cyber security features into them.

If interested in learning more, DCIG is wrapping up its research into these products. It will soon release one or more TOP 5 reports on the best Microsoft 365 backup SaaS offerings for various use cases.

Contact DCIG

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If already evaluating these products and you need a more detailed, objective report at how specific products compare, contact DCIG by following this link. DCIG analysts can work with your team to understand and identify your requirements, evaluate existing products based on our knowledge of available products, and then produce a recommendation of product(s) that meet your specific needs.


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