Using Microsoft Office 365™ or snapshots from your archive storage solution for complete protection and recovery?

You could be making a risky bet. Unfortunately, many Office 365™ customers might be unaware of its data recovery gaps and assume they are covered for all types of data loss or corruption.  At the same time, relying solely on your data protection solution can be cumbersome and equally dicey.  The default coverage falls short for malicious attacks and other item level deletion or corruption events. According to Gartner, “Infrastructure and operations leaders using or evaluating Office 365 should consider investing in third-party tools for faster, more-flexible recovery options, as well as reputation damage control after a malicious attack.” Leveraging a third-party archiving tool can automate and simplify the process of recovering your email and other Exchange data.

So, where do cloud email platforms and on-premises backup solutions fall short?

1)      Limited End-User Capabilities. While both provide adequate infrastructure recovery for the entire email system, it doesn’t offer the same capabilities at the user level and limited in providing true point in time recovery. End users expect easy-to-use, self-service recovery and search of email, contacts, and calendars without having to involve IT or complete complex training. To achieve advanced protection and recovery, an integrated end-user solution that is intuitive and in sync with cloud email mailbox changes is required to reduce risk and boost productivity.

2)      No Point-in-Time Recovery. Office 365 and Exchange replication provide adequate coverage for disasters, however, database backups are insufficient to support true point in time recoveries. When corruption or a malicious attack occurs, it’s also replicated. With no additional separate copy from the primary email replication, recovery options for items or mailboxes are limited when these events occur.  Point in time recovery can also enable remediation and analysis by restoring email before and after security tasks have taken place. Complete recovery and protection from attacks and accidental deletion requires advanced features not found in Office 365. Make sure that you are protected, can recover and provide remediation or analysis when events occur.

3)      Compliance Risk. Malicious attacks through email continue to be the primary entry point and challenge for organizations and the effect can greatly impact the integrity of cloud email platforms. When malicious attacks occur, or built-in policy expirations are not enough to provide adequate end-user recovery, customers need an additional layer of protection for resilience. Limitations with deleted items, recoverable items, and legal holds make it cumbersome to manage and unreliable in e-discovery or compliance scenarios. Additionally, platform customers are required to configure multiple policies and settings that may conflict with corporate retention policies, further impacting compliance. Backup solutions utilizing snapshots create an administrative burden from restoring and mounting multiple snapshots and provide limited search and discovery options.

As with many cloud applications, customers are accustomed to built-in replication and trust the provider blindly, without completing a complete recovery analysis.  The comfort level with Office 365 and its ability to provide complete protection has increased as more and more businesses move to the cloud. Customers are not as apt to question or complete an evaluation of the protection and recovery capabilities as they compare to the business expectations and use cases required. The same can be applied to on-premises Exchange replication and backup providers that leverage database level backups for item-level protection. When data loss or corruption occurs, customers are left to find a solution that provides adequate coverage and they default to an archive or backup solution. However, not all solutions are equal and gaps can still remain if the right one is not selected.

What now?

You may be considering leveraging a third-party archiving tool to supplement the limitations within Office 365.  A simple, streamlined way to quickly recover deleted or corrupted email, calendar, and contacts by leveraging archive data while eradicating the need for an independent backup product. Educating cross-functional stakeholders regarding the potential data loss risks without a third-party solution may be required.  Start a dialogue on your organization’s risk profile as well as how you can come together to help users get more value from their email system. Enabling end-user search and recovery will likely top the list, in hopes to remove the administrative burden from IT while making users more productive.   Integrated archiving and recovery can mean less risk and stronger resilience across the organization. 

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