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Safe Assumptions One Can Make About Microsoft 365 SaaS Backup Solutions

Anyone who thinks all Microsoft 365 software-as-service (SaaS) backup products offer all the same features need to think again. Each one protects different components of Microsoft 365 (M365) and no two products protect M365 in the same way. If anything, organizations can only make a few assumptions when choosing any of the available M365 SaaS backup solutions.

DCIG’s M365 SaaS Backup Research

DCIG recently completed its in-depth research into 25 different Microsoft 365 backup solutions. In conducting this research, it examined over 200 data points on each product across the following five categories:

      • Anti-ransomware/cyber resilience
      • Backup capabilities
      • Billing, configurations, and licensing
      • Recovery and restore
      • Support

    There is truth in that all these products support a core set of features. However, the core functionality they all support represents a small subset considering the number of features evaluated.

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    The research indicated that all these solutions only share support for about five (5) percent of all the features evaluated. In the rest of the features evaluated (over 190,) there were differences between how the SaaS backup solutions implemented them.

    Here are three safe assumptions organizations can make about feature commonality across all these products.

    Safe Assumption #1: Per User Licensing

    Every M365 SaaS backup solution offers per user licensing in charging for its solution. Every time an organization adds a new M365 user, their backup solution’s charges go up when protecting that user.

    While this per user licensing may sound straightforward, organizations still need to be on their guard. Per user licensing may not account for all the backup costs each user incurs.

    For instance, some providers include as part of their per user licensing fees all backup storage costs. Others store backups in cloud storage repositories such as on AWS S3, Microsoft Blob, or a cloud storage provider of their choice. These storage costs may be above and beyond the per user licensing cost.

    Safe Assumption #2: Backing Up and Restoring Exchange Online Mailboxes

    Of all the components of Microsoft 365, Exchange Online represents the one best protected by all the providers. In fact, one may safely assume any M365 backup solution can back up and recover email messages, mailbox folders, and entire mailboxes.

    But, again, caveats exist in the options each one offers to back up and recover these components. For instance, more M365 SaaS backup products attempt to simplify the backup administrative experience by using wizard-like interfaces. To back up all the Exchange components it protects, one checks a box that protects “Exchange”, clicks “Next”, and away you go.

    While that’s great, some administrators may want the flexibility to select specific user mailboxes to backup. If that’s the case, they have limited or no flexibility in what Exchange features they can or cannot back up. On the bright side, everyone may now assume that any M365 SaaS backup software product they select backs up and recovers Exchange email messages, folders, and mailboxes.

     Safe Assumption #3: Next Day, Same Day, and Phone Support

    It seems without exception all providers love to talk about how they offer great support. That’s wonderful and, is frankly, an absolute necessity in today’s world. Providers need to offer this level of support. In that respect, all providers evaluated offer next and same day responses to support requests and the option to contact their support by phone.

    Every provider checked these three support boxes but is that sufficient? Odds are, probably not. Many if not all organizations expect a much richer support experience. They often look for response times in under four hours and perhaps under an hour.  They want options to search online knowledge bases or interact with support via Webchat while they wait for resolution to a problem.

    Granted, most M365 SaaS backup providers offer robust levels of support. However, organizations should still verify any provider being evaluated offers the support types they specifically need.

    Only Safe Assumption: M365 SaaS Backup Solutions Differ Greatly

    Due to email still being the primary way ransomware enters organizations, protecting Microsoft 365 data has taken on a higher priority. Further, more organizations have become aware of the Shared Responsibility model associated with storing data in SaaS offerings such as M365. They may now better grasp they have the responsibility to protect the data they store in Microsoft 365.

    This need to protect M365 data may lead them to hastily implementing a M365 SaaS backup solution. Unfortunately, they may assume any M365 SaaS backup solution will meet their needs.

    This assumption is simply not true. They are far better assuming that the differences between each one greatly exceeds their similarities. As a result, by spending some time examining each one, they will find one that protects and recovers their M365 data in a manner they expect and need.


    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 SaaS backup offerings for various use cases.

    To be notified of new DCIG articles, reports, and webinars, sign up for DCIG’s free weekly Newsletter.

    To learn about DCIG’s forthcoming research and publications, see the DCIG Editorial Calendar.

    Technology providers interested in licensing DCIG TOP 5 reports or having DCIG produce custom reports, please contact DCIG for more information.


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