Posey's Tips & Tricks

Why You Should Pay Attention to Microsoft 365 Backup

When it comes to backing up your data, there are a ton of choices out there. Here's why Microsoft's new service stands out among the rest.

At this year's Inspire conference, Microsoft announced a new service called Microsoft 365 Backup. As its name suggests, Microsoft 365 Backup is an add-on service for Microsoft 365 that will allow admins to centrally back up all of their organization's Microsoft 365 data.

When I first heard that Microsoft was entering the backup space, my first question was why. After all, nearly all of the well known backup vendors offer Microsoft 365 backup capabilities. At best, it seemed that Microsoft was late to the party. At worst, it seemed that the company would be competing with its own partners. Thankfully however, all is not as it at first seemed.

Organizations who use Microsoft 365 will continue to have the option of backing up their data in the same way that they always have, whether that means using a third-party product, backing their data up manually, using a script or just not backing it up at all. Using Microsoft 365 backup is simply another backup option. It isn't something that you have to use.

This, of course, raises the question of what Microsoft 365 Backup brings to the table. Why would anyone use Microsoft 365 Backup as opposed to using a more traditional backup solution?

As it turns out, there are actually four compelling reasons for using Microsoft 365 Backup. The first of these reasons, and the one that you are most likely to hear about from Microsoft's marketing department, is that Microsoft 365 Backup is fast.

One of the big problems that has long plagued cloud backup is the simple fact that it can take quite a bit of time to transfer data between clouds. If you decided to use a third-party backup application to back up your Microsoft 365 data to Amazon S3 storage, it could take some time to complete the backup process because the data is being transferred between clouds. Conversely, Microsoft 365 Backup backs up data to the Azure datacenter, which is presumably the same place where your Microsoft 365 data already resides. That means that you can back up (and more importantly, restore) data far more quickly than might otherwise be possible.

A second reason why it may be beneficial to use Microsoft 365 Backup is because not only might it speed up the recovery process, it may also bring down the cost of restoring data. Most cloud providers impose data egress fees on data transferred out of the cloud. For those who are not familiar with data egress fees, they are essentially punitive fees designed to discourage customers from moving their data elsewhere. The problem with these fees is that restoring data to a competing cloud usually results in data egress fees being charged. Hence, if you back up your Microsoft 365 data to a competing cloud and then have to perform a large-scale restoration, there may be a significant cost associated with that recovery operation. Because Microsoft 365 Backup stores backups in Microsoft's own datacenter, it means that you can presumably restore your data without having to worry about data egress fees.

A third reason why Microsoft 365 Backup may be beneficial is because it is built into the Microsoft 365 administrative console and is easy to use. While these factors might not really matter all that much to larger organizations, there are plenty of small organizations that do not backup their Microsoft 365 data at all. Having a backup option that is available directly through the administrative console might encourage such organizations to start backing up their data.

The fourth reason why Microsoft 365 Backup matters is because you may be able to use it without having to give up the backup solution that you are currently using. Microsoft is going to make it so that third-party backup vendors can leverage Microsoft 365 Backup on the backend. What this means is that it may eventually be possible for an organization to take advantage of the benefits associated with using Microsoft 365 Backup without having to abandon their current backup vendor.

My guess is that most organizations that choose to use Microsoft 365 Backup will probably do so through third-party backup solutions. The reason why I say this is because in spite of its benefits, backing up Microsoft 365 data to the Microsoft data center is risky. If the data center were somehow compromised then both the primary data copy and the backup could both be lost.

A good third-party backup product may give you the option of backing up your data to the Microsoft 365 data center so that you can take advantage of rapid restorations and avoid data egress fees. At the same time however, such a product will likely give you the option of replicating your backup to a competing cloud so that a copy of your data is stored safely outside of Microsoft data center.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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