Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 Review

Easy to back up company emails to the cloud and offers an easy ability to restore to the cloud


What is our primary use case?

We've been using Veeam Backup for about a year. We get a lot of inquiries, whether it be from our partners or from end-users, who would like to backup their Office 365. They inquire about how to do so and the prerequisites, what exactly is required. Generally speaking, their concern is about how much storage is needed for the backup. Every company has a different backup policy, different RPOs, and different pre-pension policies. We help them determine how much storage they are going to need. That's basically it. That's how we deal with it.

What is most valuable?

A lot of customers have the misconception that when they host their data on the cloud, the cloud providers actually protect the data. Meanwhile, cloud providers are generally responsible for the availability of the service. The data is always the responsibility of whoever owns it. Nobody can ensure the data will always be there. So there are many news cases that happened. Sometimes people lose data on Office 365. For example, some emails get deleted and they seek the attention of Office 365. On average it has been discovered that it takes about 140 days to discover the email was deleted.

Employees can get disgruntled all of a sudden. There have also been hardware attacks on Office 365, even though there is cybersecurity in Microsoft. Nothing is bulletproof in the cybersecurity industry, so it's always good to have a second copy of your data.

A really good feature I saw is backing up company emails for the enterprises. This offers an easy ability to restore to the cloud.

The other really amazing part is that it doesn't just stop at Office 365. For example, some people have a hybrid setup. They have non-private exchange email software and then they have a hybrid with the Office 365. It is useful for that use case because it can back up both of them at the same time.

What needs improvement?

A lot of people when looking for backups usually consider a lot of sites. With the Veeam Backup application, you can have really good compression and deduplication ratios. That means you can save lots of space on your backup storage. With Veeam for Office 365 for companies that require long-term retention, they often complain about the capacity storage it might take. There's no deduplication on that level. Basically, storage capacity can be required to be huge in some cases.

But the good part is that exclusions can be made to save on the storage space. The general feedback I get from the market is that there is no deduplication.

The capacity storage is a challenge everywhere in the backup industry. The general feedback people are coming back to us about is that there is no deduplication based on it. There is compression which uses the native Office 365 compression, but there is no deduplication feature just like in Veeam Backup application.

I'm not sure technically if it's possible to deduplicate Office 365 dockets. However, I'd like to see native page support for Veeam Backup for Office 365 to be able to back up to the tapes. I'm at a company with long retention and I backup disk space storage, so it's going to cost me a fortune. Meanwhile, if I preserve a short term retention plan, like Backup, if I need to have backups for three years for example, then I'll need huge amounts of storage. Now storage can be expensive or it can be cheap. This base storage is useful for short time retention. For example, keep it for one month, and then you can archive it on tape for the rest of the year. So, this is not good in a situation where a company needs to restore from a long time retention, and tape is really inexpensive. 

I'd like to see Veeam Backup for Office 365 backup to tapes, support cloud object storage. Now, the new trend for archiving data is not just on tapes and data deduplication appliances. This is considered really old technology. Deduplication appliances are only fit for the enterprise customers but they can be expensive and save lots of data.

So the only real need for it is in enterprise but some small companies would like to archive their data for a long time. They find financial challenges to do so. Nowadays, they look to this new cloud object storage with cloud providers like Azure Blob Storage, Amazon S3, or IBM. That can really be useful for archival. So, basically supporting archive tier storage for the Veeam Backup for Office 365. Archive tier storage, whether it be the deduplication appliances, cloud object storage, or tapes.

But like I said, it's probably on the way. Veeam distributes new products as well. It's not as old as Office 365 for the market. When you look at Veeam Backup and Replication and how long they have come, it's probably on the way there. And there are programs to do all that I have mentioned if the client is also using Veeam Backup with Replication. You can basically install Veeam Backup for Office 365 with a VM and just back it up using the Veeam Backup with Replication, then you can get use out of the deduplication and archive to the cloud by a virtual machine. There are workarounds too.

Although the Veeam Backup for Office 365 doesn't natively support all the things that I told you about, like archiving to tape, deduplication appliance, or cloud object storage, it can always be installed in a virtual machine and then that virtual machine can be backed up by Veeam Backup with Replication, which supports all of this. It's considered a workaround, not native support.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

To be honest, it's pretty stable. It's the third major release for it. It is showing lots of improvements. Not any issues with the product at all, whether it be with backing-up or the servers. Office 365 itself is pretty new to the regional market, where we are. It's not a new product, but its prevalence is starting to hit Saudi Arabia distribution.

I can't say I've used it that much, but I have used it enough to consider it a stable software.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is the big one about Veeam in general. The good part about Veeam is that they make modular solutions, so you can install Veeam Backup for Office 365 and Veeam Backup and Replication in one single server. You can do an all in one installation, and roll it out.

Some scenarios may require that you scale-out. You can dedicate modular components to specific services. In that case, you need backup for Office 365, that's not like Veeam Backup and Replication.

There are basically three major Veeam components for Office 365: Backup Server, Backup Repository, and Backup Proxy. In short, Backup Server is the granular solution. It's basically responsible for managing the tasks and jobs of all the other components. Backup Proxy is basically the muscle of the solution. So, this is what actually is interacting with Office 365 and doing the actual backup. It is coordinating Veeam Backup Server to do that. Veeam Backup for Office 365 Repository is where you store your backups. Any storage that is presented to the Windows operating system, you can use as a storage for the Veeam backup storage for 365. So long as you have internet connectivity, no firewalls in place (or specifically the required firewall forced to be open would be the Office 365), and you have the administrative privileges for Office 365, it's an easy task.

There are a lot of companies that use Veeam backup for Office 365, and those companies range from 15 users to 5,000 users. There are a few use cases. Some companies have compliance standards that force them to have a specific backup policy and a specific retention policy. That is kind of hard to do manually. Some people just prefer to have a solution that also meets that and makes it easy. Some people just want to take control of their own details. Some people are actually upset about protecting their data.

Most of the users we deal with are shared. They are behind the entire IT environment. The main pitch from our end is based on the fact that this edition is really easy to use, and we think you should try it and see that. There are a lot of challenges in the market. Our companies don't usually have dedicated IT personnel for everything. They usually share one IT person or all the IT folks for all the workflows of the IT department. 

So, it's basically a decision criterion for them, whether they want to have a solution that's really easy to use and manage. It doesn't require more than one person, but from a backup perspective, the best practice is always to have some redundancy on it. You can have two, but you don't really need two people. It's just for the case that if someone doesn't show up to work or something goes wrong with backups and that guy is not available, someone else should be there. But purely speaking, it's a one man job, and he can also share with the other IT workload.

How are customer service and technical support?

Veeam is good in general, from a technical support perspective. I've really enjoyed the fact that they have a really high response rate. You can just open a support ticket and call them on the phone so you know that they got it. You refer to the ticket number and you just have a remote engineer also engage in technical support. They are very supportive in general, I love the support there.

I enjoy it because it helps me a lot when I am with a client and an issue presents itself that I'm not able to resolve. I open a support ticket, call the toll free number, and have an engineer engage with me within five minutes, which is amazing for my establishment. They will start working on the problem and resolve it.

How was the initial setup?

It's as easy as downloading the file, installing it, and then simply entering the administrative accounts for Office 365. You also need internet access. It's really an easy task to do with Veeam Backup Office 365. Literally just clicking next, next, next.

So from an ease of use perspective, it's really easy. It's just that when enterprise companies come to deploy it, they might face a bit of a challenge in this region specifically when it comes to internet bandwidth, because sometimes in Saudi Arabia bandwidth is a huge restriction for organizations that have, for example, 5,000 users or huge mailboxes. It's really expensive to have corporate internet in Saudi Arabia. So it can be a challenge backing up these environments under restricted bandwidths. It's not a restriction from the solution. It's just a regional restriction. Other markets can enjoy the privilege of backing up without any issues related to bandwidth.

It's also deployable on the cloud. That's an option. But in our region, some government entities don't allow that.

I did a proof of concept a week ago. We were backing up a physical server using the other product. That took us about half an hour. During that half an hour, I downloaded Veeam Backup for Office 365 from the website. I joined the client's Office 365 account. I downloaded and installed Veeam Backup for Office 365. Then I asked for the client to enter his credentials for the Office 365, and boom. We were seeing all the mailboxes and we just started to back up from there.

Backup does take some time, of course, because the mailbox was pretty huge. Generally, ease of use and configuration is pretty simple. It's easy to use, straightforward, actually.

What about the implementation team?

Part of my job is that I install this software for proof of concepts. Some clients come to us with concerns like, "How do I backup my Office 365?" We'll provide the proof concept for them. I do that as well.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There are other options, because Veeam backup for Office 365 is the software, which you can put on your own platform by backing up from the internet, or you can install it on any Windows VM on the cloud as well. There are other options like NetApp, which has software in the server, in which you don't have to really worry about installing the software onto anything. Or you can install the software, but they'll back up the data for you and keep it. Some clients may not be keen towards that with the privacy component. Also, some clients want to have a copy of the data with themselves.

However, it is also heedless when it comes to infrastructure resources. You don't have to worry about having servers put in place, dedicated for Veeam backup for Office 365 and the storage that you need, and then worry about the bandwidth that you need. These kinds of operational costs are considerations as well. I've heard about NetApp having Office 365 backup solutions, but I've never even thought deep into it. Also, some clients kind of do the backup manually as well. It's kind of a tedious job, though. Maybe when it's a small environment, it can be manageable, but for a big environment, it can be a nightmare.

What other advice do I have?

Honestly speaking, lots of people just look at it from a business point of view. They say, "I just have a business need. I just want to backup my Office 365 data." But they don't take much concern into what that also requires. Generally speaking, from a backup point of view, the biggest concern is what percentage of data you'd like to backup and the capacity of this data.

Also consider what the recovery point objectives are, meaning how frequently do you want to do backups. What kind of retention policy are you trying to achieve? The shorter the retention policy, the smaller the storage capacity you need, and the lower the cost of the solution. At the same time, some people are tied by their clients and by specific retention policies. So, tell people they need to archive their backups into deduplication appliances to save on the cost of long-term archival. However, that's not natively possible with Veeam backup for Office 365 yet. I believe it can be done manually, though.

That's what clients need to be careful of and the really important part is to make sure they have enough storage for what they are trying to achieve as they prepare their backup plan. The internet bandwidth for this also needs to be considered. It is best to have a dedicated channel for this. Think about the use of backups and make sure it is properly sized. Then they should be good to go. They should be worrying about the details, the sizing, and design of the solution to fit their needs. Other than that, so long as that process goes well, it should be pretty seamless after that.

This product is a really decent product so it would be unfair for me to rate it because I'm not familiar with other products that compete with it. Generally speaking from my experience, this solution is very good, but it also has some room for improvement. On the other hand, it's tough because the product is really amazing. It's just really new. I'm pretty sure the improvements will come along the way. I'll give it a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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