Why you definitely need a separate backup strategy for Office 365

Microsoft’s launch of Azure datacentres in Johannesburg and Cape Town heralds a new chapter in South Africa’s and Africa’s ICT infrastructure management, along with a fresh set of factors to consider in leveraging cloud, AI and other influential technologies.

Azure will be made available via these centres and the introduction of this resource opens up questions about how businesses best tap into these resources and maximise advanced cloud tech.

Amid all the opportunities on offer, though, some organisations risk overlooking the importance of a separate backup strategy for Office 365.

That would be a massive mistake, insist Redstor, the company that is disrupting the world of data management with pioneering technology developed in South Africa.

Heidi Weyers, General Manager for Sales at Redstor’s in South Africa points to a common misconception held by some IT professionals that cloud services, like Azure, do not need to have a backup.

She said: “To believe a SaaS vendor like Microsoft has taken care of your backup is a dangerous assumption. There are several distinct reasons why a separate backup strategy is so important.”

To retain full control an organisation needs a tailor-made solution that avoids dependency and provides the capability to set specific retention policies and address compliance issues.

Weyers added: “If organisations do not have control of their data, they will struggle to act immediately once an issue becomes apparent. Even when data is retrievable, the recovery process could end up being long and complicated.”

There are other reasons why Weyers is warning businesses against being wholly dependent on a single cloud vendor.

She stresses that Office 365 has limited backup and retention policies that organisations find hard to keep up with, let alone manage.

Weyers argues that Office 365 is not intended to have an all-encompassing backup solution, so a simple recovery can end up being a massive problem if data has fallen out of the retention period and Office 365 has deleted it forever.

To retain access to data after a user has been removed from Microsoft’s Active Directory, Weyers insists that it’s imperative to have a backup to a third-party backup provider, not least for compliance purposes.

Data is gold

Data is a prized asset for businesses – and Weyers highlights the perils of a user accidentally or intentionally deleting or overwriting files as recycle bins and version histories in Office 365 provide only limited protection.

She said: “If you delete a user, whether you meant to or not, that deletion is replicated across the network. Once an item is purged from the mailbox database, it is unrecoverable. This could have far-reaching effects if a rogue employee decided to delete incriminating emails or files.

“Microsoft’s backup and retention policies can only protect you from data loss up to a certain point, and can’t take the place of third-party data management solutions.”

Another area of concern is adequately protecting an organisation from continued cyber threats, along with app outages and misconfigured workflows.

Weyers added: “The best data management providers stream on-demand access to all data instantly.”

Nowadays companies require a separation of backup and production roles as a security standard and Redstor stresses that this makes an isolated backup strategy vital both for compliance purposes and to avoid any adverse impact on the business.