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2023-24 Top 5 Microsoft 365 Enterprise SaaS Backup Solutions

Afi.ai, HYCU Protégé, Keepit Backup and Recovery, Metallic, SpinOne

The Data Center Intelligence Group (DCIG, LLC) announces the availability of its second Top 5 report on Microsoft 365 Backup Solutions.

The 2023-24 Top 5 Microsoft 365 Enterprise SaaS Backup Solutions report provides organizations guidance on the best backup solutions for backing up and recovering data hosted in Microsoft 365.

Microsoft 365 adoption continues
This release of this inaugural Top 5 Microsoft 365 (then Office 365) backup solutions report in 2021 coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic. During that outbreak enterprise adoption of Microsoft 365 grew by 15% Y/Y. Further, the use of Microsoft Teams grew by more than 50% in one 6-month time span in 2020 alone.

However, many states had stay-at-home directives in place in 2020 and 2021. This led to some questioning if Microsoft 365’s growth would continue or possibly even regress once these restrictions eased.

Turns out, forecasts for Microsoft 365’s continued growth beyond 2021 proved correct. By March 2023, the number of paid Microsoft 365 seats had increased to as high as 450 million. These 220 million new seats, which include commercial and consumer seats, represent nearly 96% growth in 2 years. 

Microsoft Teams experienced even more growth. By the end of March 2023, it had surpassed 300 million monthly users. This represents an increase of 185 million active users per month, or a 160% increase in that same time. 

Microsoft has not yet shared statistics on adoption of other specific Microsoft 365 components. However, it reported that 80% of its enterprise customers use 5 or more Microsoft 365 applications.

Microsoft 365’s already large footprint may lead to slower growth in the future. To mitigate a slowdown in adoption, Microsoft plans to incorporate AI throughout Microsoft 365 to improve user creativity and productivity. It has also announced TeamsPro, Teams Premium, and Viva as new Microsoft 365 applications.

It specifically refers to its new Microsoft 365 Viva application as a “super app” for sellers. Sellers may use Viva to capture, access, and register data in many Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.

Data contained in Microsoft 365 remains your responsability
Microsoft 365’s continued adoption reflects the value that enterprises derive from their adoption of Microsoft 365. They receive its benefits while alleviating themselves of many back-of-house administration tasks. However, one responsibility remains with enterprises. Data and user identity information that they store in Microsoft 365 remains their responsibility to protect.

Microsoft may use terms such as data availability and protection when discussing Microsoft 365’s features. However, enterprises should view these references primarily in the context of HA and data security. For instance, Microsoft hosts Microsoft 365 in its highly available Azure data centers. It physically secures these data centers and employs antivirus and fire wall software to protect enterprise data from attacks. 

Microsoft 365 even offers some limited data protection capabilities. Its Deleted Items and Recycle Bin utilities retain recently deleted data and permit restores of the deleted emails and files. 

However, enterprises should not equate these 2 utilities with backup software that holistically protects data stored in Microsoft 365. Cloud-based, SaaS backup solutions provide the best data protection option for enterprises to perform Microsoft 365 backup and recovery.

Top 5 Microsoft 365 enterprise SaaS backup applications
Enterprises increasingly adopt SaaS applications in general, and Microsoft 365 specifically. This trend has resulted in the availability of more Microsoft 365 SaaS backup applications from which enterprises may choose. In 2021, there were approximately 15 SaaS backup solutions available to protect Microsoft 365 (then Office 365), Today the number of available Microsoft 365 SaaS backup solutions has climbed to nearly 30.

In preparing this report, DCIG formally evaluated 25 Microsoft 365 SaaS backup solutions based on multiple different features and capabilities. 15 of these solutions met analyst firms’s criteria for a Microsoft 365 enterprise SaaS backup solution.

The general categories under which these features fell included:
• Anti-ransomware/cyber resilience
• Backup
• Billing, configuration, and licensing
• Recovery and restore
• Support

Based on these criteria, DCIG awarded the following Microsoft 365 Enterprise SaaS Backup Solutions a top 5 ranking:
• Afi.ai for Office 365
• HYCU Protégé for Microsoft 365
• Keepit Backup and Recovery for Microsoft 365
• Metallic Office 365 Backup
• SpinOne for Microsoft 365

Common features across Microsoft 365 enterprise SaaS backup solutions
Each of these 15 solutions offers the core features that enterprises should prioritize when selecting a Microsoft 365 SaaS backup solution.
They all start by protecting data stored in the primary Microsoft 365 applications (Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams.) They also each offer their respective SaaS backup at an attractive price, typically starting at $4-6 per user per month.

In reviewing these 15 Microsoft 365 SaaS backup solutions, DCIG identified the following attributes that these solutions had in common:
1 Baseline technical support. All solutions offer a baseline level of technical support that includes same or next business day support.
2 Per-user licensing. Every solution utilizes per-user licensing. In considering this feature, enterprises should verify what options each provider’s per-user license covers. Some include protection of data in all Microsoft 365 applications and cloud storage costs. Others charge extra to add-in protection for some Microsoft 365 applications. If using cloud object storage, that may incur new charges on the monthly bill from a cloud storage provider.
3 Data encryption. Enterprises should view data encryption as an imperative since these solutions may store backup data in one or more cloud storage locations. All solutions now encrypt data at-rest and in-flight using AES 256-bit encryption.
4 Near universal support for protecting Microsoft 365 Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams applications. Each of the 15 SaaS backup solutions evaluated protects, or will shortly protect, data in these Microsoft 365 applications. However, the granularity of protection that each SaaS backup solution provides for each of these applications differs significantly.
5 Perform incremental and full backups. Every SaaS backup solution first performs a full backup and then performs incremental backups. After the first full backup, some only perform incremental backups forever. Others may also create a new full backup on the subscription anniversary date. They will then do incremental backups until the next anniversary date.
6 Index protected Microsoft 365 data. When performing restores, administrators and users may need to search for the data they need to recover. All these solutions index data in the protected Microsoft 365 applications to facilitate search and faster restores.