Microsoft Office 365 is arguably one of the top SaaS solutions businesses are leveraging, especially since the onset of the global pandemic. A task that has come into clear focus for businesses since migrating services and data to the Microsoft Office 365 cloud is proper backups of their data. Cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) backups are vital to ensure business continuity and protect against data loss.
However, backing up your Microsoft Office 365 environment is only half the equation to safeguard your data. You must also recover data contained in backups before it is once again accessible and useable. Many different factors can affect your ability to recover your data. What factors can impact Microsoft Office 365 recovery time? How can businesses ensure when they need to recover data, it is as efficient and quick as possible?
Meeting Restore Time Objectives (RTOs) are important
As mentioned at the outset, backing up your data is only half the battle. Many organizations have backed up their data, either on-premises or in the cloud, and assumed they were protected. However, these same companies had devastating problems attempting to restore their data, either due to issues with the actual backup data itself or the amount of time it took to restore the data.
When it comes down to it, backups are only as good as their ability to be recovered effectively and efficiently to regain access to data and services that may otherwise be offline due to missing data. Outside of backup data issues, the time it takes to restore the data can be a tremendous challenge, especially in cloud environments such as Microsoft Office 365. When developing a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan, organizations generally define what is known as the Restore Time Objective (RTO). The RTO is defined as the amount of time the business determines it can carry on, at least in a limited capacity, without access to part or all business-critical data.
Factors affecting Office 365 recovery time
The RTO directly depends on the organization’s ability to restore data and the expediency with which they can do so. For example, if your organization has determined an RTO value of 2 hours and takes 10 hours to restore data if all is lost, the RTO value defined will not be met. The restore time objective can be affected by many different factors. These may include:
- The amount of data needing restored
- The media the backup data is stored on
- Network bandwidth
- The proximity of backup data to production
- Lack of cybersecurity
Organizations need to consider the factors affecting Office 365 recovery time as every minute you wait for data recovery can be vital for your business. Let’s take a look at each of these areas that can affect restore time objectives, specifically with cloud SaaS like Microsoft Office 365, and how each is important.
The amount of data you need to restore
It stands to reason the amount of data you need to restore will directly affect the restore time objective (RTO). The more data that needs to be recovered will generally take longer to recover based on the data set’s size. Thinking about restoring a single file deleted in OneDrive for Business is a much different scenario than restoring hundreds of gigabytes worth of data in the same OneDrive for Business storage account.
Also, we will get into this a bit more in the following section, Microsoft and other cloud vendors only allow a certain number of API calls to Office 365 from tenants. They do this to help equalize performance across the Microsoft Office 365 infrastructure landscape, backing the SaaS environment so that one customer does not monopolize the performance and cause issues for other customers.
Organizations need to be aware of these limits since it directly relates to recovering data. Microsoft Office 365 data backup solutions rely on API calls to the Microsoft cloud SaaS environment. The more data that needs recovering due to a data loss event, the more likely a customer will run into throttling as prescribed by Microsoft for API calls that exceed certain thresholds.
The media the backup data is stored on
There is a direct relationship between restore time objectives (RTO) and the media on which the backup data is stored. Different media types perform differently and may even require time to prepare the media itself. When you think about archiving data on tape media as an example, someone has to physically go and retrieve the tape media, mount it, and pull data from them. Just the process to retrieve, mount, and pull data can be extensive when using certain media types.
Even when backups are pulled from disk instead of tape media, different disk types and storage technologies can dramatically impact the performance of the data recovery process. It can certainly come into play when older, slower, and less performant storage disks are used to store backup data. While they may provide cheap storage capacity, the storage performance may be lacking and impact the time it takes for data recovery.
When it comes to backing up cloud SaaS environments such as Microsoft Office 365, certain backup vendors may allow customers to perform cloud SaaS data backups directly to on-premises storage. It may provide cost-effective backup storage since customers may be able to use “cheap and deep” storage already provisioned on-premises. However, it can negatively affect quickly storing large amounts of data to cloud SaaS environments.
Flash media (SSDs) are more expensive than traditional hard disk media (HDDs). However, these provide much higher throughput and IOPs when compared to conventional storage media types. Again, the storage technology used is directly related to the performance customers can expect when recovering large amounts of data.
Even if you have ultra-fast storage housing your backup data, if this data is separated in different facilities or environments, you will depend on the network to transfer data from the backup storage location to your production Microsoft Office 365 storage. The network is directly responsible for moving the packets along and often becomes the bottleneck when large amounts of data need transferring quickly.
Additionally, even though incremental backups may help make network transfers more efficient, large data loss leads to full data recovery needed to get the required data back for business-critical activities. It will most likely mean transferring large amounts of data across network connections between backup data locations and production.
Network bandwidth can especially come into play when backing up your cloud SaaS data to on-premises environments. While bandwidth has gotten cheaper in the past few years, on-premises locations may still be relatively limited in the bandwidth available. Additionally, in asynchronous circuits, upload speeds are typically smaller compared to downloads. When restoring data, the data transfer from on-premises will be an upload operation. Keeping these network factors in mind helps shed light on this particular factor affecting Office 365 recovery time.
The proximity of backup data to production
Despite the tremendous advancements in technology over the past decade, the laws of physics still apply. Moving packets around and the quickness by which this is possible generally depends on the distance the data has to travel. When thinking about this fact, recovery time is affected by the sheer distance the backup data has to travel to provide recovery to production environments. The proximity of backup data to production will directly affect the recovery time.
While following the 3-2-1 backup rule’s best practice recommendations, companies want to store backup data outside of the production environment. However, this also needs to be tempered with data proximity when it comes to data recovery. Designing backup infrastructure with the proximity between backup storage and production in mind while still satisfying backup best practices is ideal.
Lack of cybersecurity
It may come as a surprise to some who may wonder how a lack of cybersecurity can affect the recovery of backup data to a production environment. Cybersecurity generally does not affect the recovery speed, but it is directly related to the amount of data that may need recovering. Today, backups and cybersecurity should be closely tied together in engineering solutions to backup and protect business-critical data.
As mentioned earlier in the section, The amount of data you need to restore, you want to minimize the “blast radius” of any data loss event. Data that needs recovering should be as minimal as possible. Businesses who are lax in their cybersecurity standards and implementing cybersecurity safeguards will find themselves in the position of restoring vast amounts of data in a data loss event due to a ransomware attack.
Cybercriminals are setting their sights on cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environments such as Microsoft Office 365 as they realize companies are moving large portions of their infrastructure and data to the cloud. Especially since the onset of the global pandemic, businesses are leveraging cloud SaaS for productivity and collaboration for remote employees.
Proactive cybersecurity is needed in the day and age of ransomware to minimize data recovery. The traditional stance with ransomware has been reactive. Businesses recognize attackers have breached their perimeter with ransomware which can be days or weeks later. They then implement steps to contain its spread as well as begin restoring data. It can be far too little and too late to prevent restoring vast quantities of data.
Vast amounts of data restored to Microsoft Office 365 will undoubtedly hit the API throttling limits configured for Microsoft Office 365 APIs. In the KB entitled Microsoft Graph throttling guidance, Microsoft mentions the following:
“When a throttling threshold is exceeded, Microsoft Graph limits any further requests from that client for a period of time. When throttling occurs, Microsoft Graph returns HTTP status code 429 (Too many requests), and the requests fail. A suggested wait time is returned in the response header of the failed request. Throttling behavior can depend on the type and number of requests. For example, if you have a high volume of requests, all requests types are throttled. Threshold limits vary based on the request type. Therefore, you could encounter a scenario where writes are throttled but reads are still permitted.”
When your business needs to recover large data sets, the ability to perform writes in the environment is essential. Writes are the aspect of interacting with Microsoft Office 365 that are throttled heavily by Microsoft. This throttling behavior can lead to even longer recovery times than expected.
Microsoft recommends the following best practices for handling throttling:
- Reduce the number of operations per request.
- Reduce the frequency of calls.
- Avoid immediate retries, because all requests accrue against your usage limits.
However, to avoid the scenario mentioned above or minimize its impact, preventing the need for extensive data restores is the best approach. Bolstering backups of your business-critical data with strong proactive cybersecurity defenses such as ransomware protection will help prevent this detrimental factor from affecting Office 365 recovery time.
Minimize Office 365 recovery time with SpinOne
Minimizing Office 365 recovery time is often directly related to the data protection solution you use to protect your Office 365 environment. SpinOne is a robust, enterprise-ready solution for protecting your business-critical data and allows meeting Office 365 backup best practices. It offers a powerful solution featuring cybersecurity and backup capabilities that minimize Office 365 recovery time and ensure that data is restored effectively and efficiently. What features of SpinOne help reduce recovery time for Microsoft office 365 backups?
- Automatic cloud-to-cloud backups – Backups are stored in cloud environments with robust network connections and underlying storage environments. SpinOne takes backups of the Office 365 environment 1-3x daily.
- 100% guaranteed recovery of data – SpinOne guarantees 100% recovery of your data
- Ability to choose which cloud and region backups are stored – Leveraging a wide selection of different clouds and regions, SpinOne allows organizations to select which cloud and region backup data is stored. This feature helps businesses align with the 3-2-1 backup rule and ensure the proximity of their backup data to production.
- Ransomware protection – SpinOne proactively monitors your Microsoft Office 365 environment the signs of a ransomware infection. It immediately blocks the ransomware process and begins scanning the environment for affected files. After the affected files are determined, SpinOne automatically restores the files with the latest copy found in its automatic backups of the Office 365 environment.
SpinOne provides robust backup and cybersecurity protection
If you are wondering how to backup Office 365 in a way that allows efficient and quick recovery to meet your organization’s established RTO values, SpinOne provides the capabilities and tools that help to minimize the amount of data restored and data recovery efficiency.
Learn more about SpinOne, as well as sign up for a free, fully-featured trial here.