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You may be one of the millions of active users of Microsoft's Office 365 software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. Especially with the recent pandemic, many are using the very popular cloud SaaS platform. While Office 365 is an extremely resilient platform, backups are still vital to ensuring business continuity in the cloud.
Veeam is arguably the leader in enterprise backup solutions, including virtualized environments. They recently released Veeam Backup for Office 365 v4 with new features to protect your Office 365 data. Let's take a look at this new backup solution and see how it can help you protect your business-critical data in Office 365.
Why are Office 365 backups necessary? ^
Many have the misconception that it is impossible to lose your data in cloud environments from the major cloud vendors, such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. It is true that cloud service providers like the "big three" do have world-class datacenters with exponentially high uptime ratings that would be unattainable by most.
However, many confuse the uptime and hardware resiliency capabilities of these cloud environments with slim to no chances of data loss. This is just not the case. In fact, there are many cases where the underlying hardware platform may be just fine; however, an organization may experience tremendous data loss. How?
Think about data loss due to ransomware or end user actions. While the underlying hardware of the cloud datacenter is intact, and there may be no issues, ransomware could encrypt data, or an end user could delete massive amounts of business-critical data, either accidentally or intentionally.
This underscores the risk involved of not protecting your data housed in cloud environments like Office 365 as you would any other data that exists in your organization, such as on premises.
Most cloud service providers operate in what they refer to as a shared responsibility model. In general terms, this means they are responsible for the infrastructure, and you are responsible for the data. At the end of the day, you must back up your data—period.
Veeam Backup for Office 365 v4 new features ^
Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 has been around for a few releases now. In general, it offers many great features for organizations looking to protect their Office 365 data. With Veeam Backup for Office 365, you can:
- Protect Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, and Microsoft Teams.
- Store your Office 365 backups either on premises or in the cloud
- Back up your data as often as every five minutes
Veeam Backup for Office 365 v4 brings new features and capabilities to the solution. What are the new features in v4? These include three major new enhancements to the platform:
- Object storage support: Object storage is the most cost-effective storage found in the cloud. It includes the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Microsoft Azure Blob, and IBM Cloud Object Storage (S3-compatible) providers. With Veeam Backup for Office 365 v4, customers can use this very cost-effective storage to provide long-term retention for their business-critical Office 365 data.
- Added security: New with v4 is the optional (AES 256-bit) encryption at rest. You can turn this on in the object storage repositories for enhanced security for your data.
- Faster backup performance: Microsoft's built-in throttling limits can greatly reduce performance for your Office 365 backups. Since the throttling is in place on a per-service-account basis, Veeam Backup for Office 365 v4 allows you to add multiple backup accounts via Office 365 security groups to your Veeam configuration. You will thus have much greater performance for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business backups.
Installing Veeam Backup for Office 365 ^
Installing the Veeam Backup for Office 365 solution couldn't be easier. I was a bit surprised at how minimal the installation is. The installer for the solution is literally a 30 MB .zip file.
Installation took literally a minute on my virtual machine (VM) in the lab. It was extremely easy to install and is simply a "next, next, finish" process to complete. You don't have to have any of the information specific to your Office 365 environment during the installation—only when setting up the "organization" connection once installed.
Connecting to O365 ^
After you have installed the Veeam Backup for Office 365 solution, you will want to add an organization. This is the process to connect Veeam to your Office 365 environment.
In the Add organization dialog box, you need to populate the Application ID, Application secret, username, and app password. Veeam has a detailed knowledge base (KB) on how to gather and configure your Azure Active Directory (AD) environment application to connect Veeam to Office 365.
After you populate the information found in your Azure AD environment and add the permissions for Veeam to connect and interact with your environment, the Add organization wizard will complete successfully.
If you've used Veeam Backup & Replication, the configuration for Office 365 backup will feel very familiar. Under the Backup Infrastructure configuration, you can add repositories and view information about the storage configured for your Office 365 environment. By default, Veeam will create a default repository in C:\VeeamRepository.
Adding an Office 365 backup job ^
Adding an Office 365 backup job is as simple as right-clicking your organization and choosing the option to Add to backup job.
This begins the New Backup Job wizard. First, name the new backup job.
Next, you can select the Back up entire organization or Back up the following objects options. If you choose to pick specific objects, click the Add button to choose users and services.
As you can see below, you have the option to pick Users, Groups, Sites, and Organizations.
Select the objects you want to back up and click Add.
Choose the backup proxy and the backup repository to use for storing the backups.
Choose your scheduling options for the Office 365 backup.
After the job is created, you can choose to Start the job to perform an ad-hoc run.
To restore your backups, you need to make sure you have the Exchange Online Explorer and SharePoint Explorer installed to read the backups created from Office 365. You then run the explorer to mount the backup and recover the items needed.
Veeam follows the typical "per-user" pricing model for protecting Office 365 user data. There are discounts for multiyear subscriptions. These break down as follows:
- 1-year subscription: $1.50/month, $18/year
- 3-year subscription: $1.35/month, $48.60/year (save 10%)
- 5-year subscription: $1.28/month, $76.50/year (save 15%)
Note that Veeam Office 365 Backup is free for up to 10 users.
Final thoughts and impressions ^
Veeam Backup for Office 365 v4 provides a smooth and seamless backup experience for protecting your Office 365 data. Most have grown to know and expect this level of simplicity and refinement from Veeam, a well-known vendor in the backup field. You will find the Office 365 Backup solution to be very similar to Veeam Backup & Replication if you already use this on premises.
I was impressed with the small size of the installer and the simplicity in getting the solution up and running to protect an Office 365 environment. Creating the "application" for interacting with Azure AD is the most tedious step in the process, but Veeam provides good documentation on the permissions needed and how to go about creating them.
All in all, Veeam Backup for Office 365 v4 is a great solution for backing up your Office 365 environment and protecting your business-critical data. Veeam is offering free community edition licensing, even for Office 365 backups. This lets you back up 10 users for free. This is great for labbing and other purposes.
Check out the Veeam Backup for Office 365 download here.