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Microsoft is set to introduce their very own built-in backup and archive tools starting from the latter part of 2023. We know the reasons why safeguarding your critical Microsoft 365 data is imperative and this new launch from Microsoft serves to reinforce the importance of this.
In my previous article, I delved into the rationale behind this, which should now be evident, given the surge in cyber-related incidents and the escalating number of compliance and regulatory obligations imposed on various industries. With a growing shift of workloads onto this platform, it's becoming increasingly impractical to overlook the need for a backup of your Microsoft 365 environment.
This announcement essentially seals the fate for those who may have previously believed that backing up their Microsoft 365 data was unnecessary. Hopefully, this will expedite the adoption of third-party solutions like Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365.
It's worth noting that Microsoft has not newly advocated for data backup on their platform. This requirement is explicitly outlined in their Services Agreement, which we all agree to upon registration.
Under the section on warranties:
"WE DO NOT GUARANTEE THE SERVICES WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED, TIMELY, SECURE OR ERROR-FREE OR THAT CONTENT LOSS WON'T OCCUR, NOR DO WE GUARANTEE ANY CONNECTION TO OR TRANSMISSION FROM COMPUTER NETWORKS."
And under the section regarding service availability:
"In the event of an outage, you may not be able to retrieve Your Content or Data that you’ve stored. We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data that you store on the Services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services."
What exactly are these novel Microsoft native backup and archive products?
While details remain somewhat limited for now, more information is expected to be disclosed prior to their general availability, including pricing. What we do know, however, includes:
This tool is aimed at addressing your daily operations, covering anything currently active within your tenancy.
- Encompasses backup for SharePoint sites, OneDrive accounts, and Exchange mailboxes.
- Allows for precise restoration of content on a large scale, based on specific restore point dates.
- Includes Backup APIs for partners to design comprehensive data protection solutions.
Of these components, the Backup APIs hold the most promise, as elaborated below.
Designed to relieve the strain as you approach capacity limits in your tenancy, this product facilitates archiving for later rehydration.
- Supports archiving or reactivation of entire sites within Microsoft 365.
- Preserves full admin-level search, eDiscovery, access policy, and other security functionalities.
- File-level archiving is projected for the following year.
What implications does this hold for third-party solutions like Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365?
In my view, it's a positive development. With Microsoft publicly reaffirming the necessity, awareness of data protection has been elevated on a global scale.
Prominent vendors like Veeam, who currently protect approximately 15 million users and enjoy substantial market share, can now build upon their considerable lead over Microsoft's in-house offerings.
Consider this: Veeam has been steadily honing its product over several years, currently in its seventh product cycle. It boasts native object storage support, enabling more cost-effective control and storage location management, liberating data from the confines of the Microsoft ecosystem if desired. Additionally, Veeam's advanced search and restore capabilities, along with self-recovery portals, contribute to its superior user experience.
The introduction of these new Backup APIs within Microsoft's launch strategy is a strategic move. Microsoft recognizes that backup management lies outside their core expertise, and thus, they've enlisted launch partners like Veeam to access these APIs initially.
How might Veeam leverage these new APIs to enhance their offerings?
It's essential to note that all providers are subject to the same conditions here, not just Veeam. The capabilities Veeam can offer are directly intertwined with Microsoft's official APIs.
Here are the key enhancements I hope Veeam can incorporate—though these are speculative as no official announcements have been made yet:
Microsoft's product references SLA-backed performance and restore times, suggesting the introduction of new API endpoints or modifications to throttling mechanisms for certain actions.
Microsoft is known for stringent endpoint throttling, which can impede data backup and, more crucially, data restoration, particularly when dealing with substantial data volumes.
This enhancement would be significant, especially concerning Sharepoint data. If the new backup product leverages snapshot-like functionality in Microsoft 365, Veeam might be able to harness these snapshots for backups, potentially avoiding the same level of throttling that backup processes often encounter.
Although Microsoft has mentioned that partners can drive this, the concept of being "within the trust boundary" will ultimately determine the feasibility of swift data retrieval.
Veeam has already proven its prowess in archiving solutions through flagship products like Backup & Replication, extending to cloud backup tools for AWS and Azure. These solutions consistently outperform native tools in terms of cost-efficiency.
With the new archiving APIs, Veeam could potentially create a more superior, cost-effective, and feature-rich archiving experience compared to Microsoft's offerings.
Expanded Restore Functionality
Given Microsoft's product offering, it's likely that new endpoints will be introduced to manage restores and support their own user interface.
Veeam could leverage these endpoints to augment their already comprehensive restoration capabilities, enhancing their native explorers and self-recovery portals.
Integration with Compliance Dashboards
Compliance entails effective reporting and visibility. Microsoft has invested significantly in crafting compliance dashboards for various aspects of their M365 offering. It's conceivable that backup status could become part of these compliance dashboards. It would be a substantial advancement if Veeam Backup for M365 could relay and manage backup status within M365, enabling centralized backup compliance monitoring alongside other key performance indicators.
In conclusion, is Microsoft's launch of native M365 backup tools a positive development?
As discussed, Microsoft has firmly illuminated the urgency of backing up your Microsoft 365 data, conclusively dispelling any notion that the platform inherently safeguards your data in this context.
Consequently, I anticipate that Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 will undergo substantial enhancement and performance optimization. This will further solidify an already market-leading product.
Importantly, this could also enable Veeam to offer a more cost-effective and adaptable solution. This might involve the option to bring your storage, whether it's from an alternative cloud provider or on-premises storage solutions, affording users complete control over storage costs.