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Microsoft 365 undoubtedly is the mothership of all things SaaS. It commands 200 million monthly active users with 1 in 5 corporate employees on it. While the move from on-premise Office 365 to all-SaaS Microsoft 365 brought with it seamless accessibility and cutting-edge collaboration, some things still hold through. Namely, that you are still responsible for the protection of your data at your end. This means protecting it from commonplace causes of data loss – mistaken fat finger deletion, disgruntled ex-employee Tom deleting important documents, the increasingly looming probability of a ransomware attack, and more. Which brings us to the age-old, admin-honored way of protecting data from loss – backup. But does old-fashioned backup belong to the snazzy high-tech age of cloud-based Microsoft 365? Let’s hear it from the pros – Daniel Glenn and Darrell Webster of the popular 365 Message Center Show chat with CloudAlly’s Director of Partner Accounts, Murray Morceri to get to get to the bottom of the dilemma – Do you really need to backup Microsoft 365?
Do You Need to Backup Microsoft 365?
Murray: CloudAlly has been around for along time now. We were founded in 2011 as one of the world’s first cloud-to-cloud backup companies. And of course when we started, everybody was asking the question, “Why are you guys even doing this?!”. We were backing up Google at that time – it was called G Suite then and Salesforce. There was a gap, and we knew it right away. It was a long haul before the rest of the world caught up to the fact that these backups are needed. We were the first company in the world to launch the first Microsoft 365 cloud-to-cloud backup – Q1 2014. We have a nice history to the company and we’re really proud of it.
Daniel: You said it! It really does beg the question and I get this a lot at presentations I give at conferences – “Why would you backup a cloud service?” It’s a cloud service. It’s there, it’s Microsoft, it’s Salesforce – it’s redundant, it’s got replication and failover. Why do we need to backup Microsoft 365?
But What About the Native Microsoft Data Protection Features?
Darrell: Murray I’m I’m impressed that you you knew the references. You would then be infinitely familiar with what Microsoft does offer in this space. Can you share?
Murray: Well, I’m not going to sell myself as a Microsoft expert, because I’m not. I’m an end user like everybody else. But what Microsoft does offer are excellent data retention features. A Recycle Bin and then a second stage Recycle Bin, but the end user can’t get to it, right? Microsoft has versioning, so you have the ability to rollback different versions. You can rollback documents and SharePoint or OneDrive. Microsoft has Litigation Hold. It’s got everything you need for short-term data retention. But what it’s not got first of all, is that it’s not long-term – it’s limited to 30/90 days- and then it’s gone permanently. Also it cannot give you that point-in-time recovery of a complete entity or a mailbox or a site collection. It’s a version of a document that you can recover, but you can’t recover the site collection library, document library, or a mailbox or the Inbox folder. So that’s what you’re losing with the Microsoft short-term retention features.
Darrell: I’ve even heard some recent changes, I must find the reference, that Microsoft are changing the way versioning works too. They’re looking at introducing something that will look at how frequently you access a file and determine should we keep as many versions or not. So versioning may not even be a reliable way to backup.
Daniel: Apart from the reliability, we’re also talking about Microsoft controlling that number of versions and what they’re keeping, is it now out of your control? How do you get more control of your data? And I think that that seems to be a better way that CloudAlly does help with, right? Having more control over how long you will have access to your content and how you can get it back.
Murray: Yes, exactly. We take daily automated backups of the data. Can you imagine in any of your years of IT backgrounds, not backing up data?! I mean nobody would in their wildest dreams would not back up their data each day in any reasonably sized organization. Well, it’s kind of the same with this. We always had some features that we could use to get data back in short-term even with on-prem solutions; but we still took backups and kept them and aged them out. With the online world, it’s the same thing. You have to backup your data. Like I say, even the providers themselves say you need to do that. Versioning is fine, but it’s not a backup solution. I can’t go back to November 15th 2022 and restore data from a mailbox or a folder that might have been corrupted or lost. That’s really what we’re doing – we’re taking automated daily backups of the data. They’re encrypted and in physically separate S3 buckets. You can go back in time to any point as we have unlimited retention. And there’s the beauty of SaaS backup – we don’t back up everything every day. Nobody does; it would be impossible as there’s too much data and the APIs are too slow. We’re doing delta backups. We reconstruct the backups so that it’s complete if you restore or export data. But the fact is that I can go back to any point-in-time and restore it.
Even in my job, and I’m not working with regulatory documents, but I often have had to go back a few years looking for documents that I knew we created, such as partner agreements. I like keeping my files neat and tidy but there have been times where I’ve gone back thinking, “Geez, I’m sure that was in that folder couple of years ago. Where is it now?” With CloudAlly I can go back to any point in time. I can do a search for the document, locate it and restore it. So it’s a game changer – you no longer have that risk of losing data.
OK. But Why Should I Choose CloudAlly?
Daniel: OK. But what is the differentiator with Cloud Ally and other services? What’s your differentiator? Our viewers would like to know.
Murray: When we started there were two other companies and I think even by 2015-16 almost five years into our journey there were maybe five companies. It took a while to really catch on, but it did. Right before the pandemic we started getting more inquiries from big storage companies who wanted to OEM us right away. And today there are probably fifty separate Microsoft 365 backup service providers. Now, I work mostly in the channel side of cloud demos and I’m doing hundreds of demos with partners and sometimes doing demos for the partners’ customers and also our enterprise customers. And they are typically working with some of our competitors as these are big names in the industry that provide a lot of other services. But, what I get consistently for feedback is this – that CloudAlly is first of all really easy to use. It’s not just convenient, nice and simple. It’s more of the fact that MSPs, in particular, are telling me that they don’t have the resources anymore to deal with complex solutions. They want simple SaaS-based browser-based services. They don’t want a 30-page installation guide, you know. They don’t want to have to hire the rocket scientist to install this. So really the simplicity is key. MSPs are telling us, “I kind of live or die by that stuff – I’ve got to have it simple. I can’t have complex anymore. I don’t have the staff or the margins or the overhead to be able to hire a lot of staff to manage tools.” So I think that’s number one. A lot of our competitors that have repurposed on-prem backup solutions are very complex. There’s a lot of complexity that’s not needed in modern-day SaaS backup. With CloudAlly, you kind of set-it and forget it.
The other thing is granularity. The way we built it 12 years ago allows you to just start at the top of a mailbox and drill down into the different layers. The deleted folders of the archive, the archive mailbox, the litigation hold, the regular mailbox, public folders – it’s all backed up. You can restore at any hierarchical level. You can restore a folder inside of a folder or you can drill down to the message level, you can go to a site collection, get to a folder or a document within the folder. And apparently a lot of our competitors have levels that you can restore out, but you can’t restore any level; maybe top level, bottom level, but nothing in-between. So, yes, our customers like the granularity. I can export Litigation Holds, I can export deleted items for litigation purposes. So we have some features that give a little more control over the recovery process than I think a lot of our competitors do not have.
Darryl: What would attract me to it is self-service for one and and as you said simplicity. Like, I can’t remember the structure of my mailbox folders back from 2014 or 15. I want to just go and search for something, get some results and go, “Yep, that’s what I want to restore!” So is that how it works?
Murray: Well, it is. Most admins probably drill down and look for things because a lot of times you’re going back to a specific date. And with CloudAlly you can search for the document by name. It’s a really nice feature. I can just type in the keywords – we have advanced search functions. I can type in the search words and get any items over the course of my entire backup from today back until 2013/2014, when I started my backup. And it takes seconds – it’s just lightning fast. The index is amazingly efficient. There’s no spinning wheels. We index metadata, contents and attachment names in the case of Exchange. That’s a really big index, it’s about 30% of the total storage, and that costs a lot of money when you have petabytes of data. A lot of our competitors, I’m not gonna name names, but you know, big-name industry competitors, they only index metadata. And I’ve done demos to partners, where when they see this, they’re like, “Oh my! I’m sold. Where do I sign?!” Because they’re using these other tools where they can’t find what they’re looking for because the contents aren’t indexed. Coz if you can’t find it, you can’t restore it!
Cool! But How Do I Get Started With CloudAlly?
Daniel: But if you haven’t tested it, then you don’t have a backup, right? You don’t have a plan because if you’re relying on something you haven’t tested right. So that kind of leads me to my final question – how do I get started with CloudAlly? Is there a way to play around it for a little bit and see what it can do?
Murray: Yes, we have probably the easiest trial that there is. There’s no credit card required. You’re not committed to anything. You don’t even have to talk to a salesperson. Go to our website www.cloudally.com and click the “Free Trial” button or go to “cloudally.com/freetrial“. Put in your name and email address for the account. Select the data center – we have eight data centers to choose from in the US, Canada, Europe (France, Germany, and Ireland), the UK, and Asia Pacific (Australia and Japan). We also offer BYOS with integration with your AWS S3, AWS S3 Compatible, Google Cloud Platform, and Azure Blob storage. That’s it activate your backup and you’re set. A free, fully functional 14-day free trial. And then at the end of the free trial, if you want to keep it, you can pay-as-you-go, like Netflix. It really is that simple. You can also book a demo and someone from our team will walk you through a demo. But you know what I would say, probably 30-40 percent of our business is seriously organic self-service customers who sign up for a trial and then subscribe to it. We’ve got some big customers who just signed up, backed up their data, liked it and subscribed to CloudAlly.
And also I wanted to mention that we are wholly owned by OpenText Corporation, and there are a lot of other services that we can offer. We’ve been talking cloud-to-cloud backup. It’s a very hot market. We’re a very, very small but a very important part of the OpenText business these days because cloud-to-cloud backup, especially for M365 os something that everybody is looking for right now. But we also have other services Carbonite, Webroot, Mailstore that our Sales team can bring to a customer if they want a full cybersecurity bundle as well.
Daniel: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Murray for letting us know more about Microsoft 365 backup and CloudAlly.
So you heard it, everyone. If you wanna check it out, go to www.cloudally.com and just sign up for that free trial because simplicity is key. Give it a go.
Murray: Right. Also I wanted to add that we haven’t talked about the other services, but Salesforce,Google,Workspace, Box, Dropbox,and a lot of other services that we backup as well. So they’re free to set up and activate backups for any of the services. So you get one solution to backup all your SaaS platforms.