O365 Backup Fidelity
Veeam backs up all key O365 applications, including Exchange Online, SharePoint and OneDrive. It accurately retains data from all Exchange mailbox data types, including Notes, Tasks, shared email folders and Skype conversation history. Veaam solution also backs up Shared mailboxes which are shown as separate resources in the domain list of users & Sites, as well as the Classic (legacy) SharePoint Sites that are still used by many organizations.
Veeam provides full support of Teams backup, including Teams Sites, Channels and Chats backup. Due to O365 API limitations however, Teams Channels and Chats backups can only be downloaded, with no option to restore to Office 365 backup data.
The system limitations include the lack of support for OneDrive shared files (the files shared between O365 users are ignored when the recipient users are backed up), and incomplete support of Teams Lists – they are included in backups, but they are restored as binary files that cannot be interpreted by O365).
Veeam has intuitive UI and wide support of O365 data sources, including Teams data sources (Chats, Channels and Teams Sites). It is the only Office 365 backup solution we reviewed, that provides full-text search capabilities for Exchange emails (aside from Afi).
Veeam uses traditional backup schedules approach, where admin needs to configure the time and frequency of each backup schedule and specify which resources should be included in the regular backup. While this approach provides greater control over the backup process, it is no longer used in modern cloud Office 365 backups as it creates management complexity and overhead. A newer SLA-based approach to backup management (used in Afi and some other modern Office 365 backup options) enables to specify the target protection settings like the type of resources and minimal acceptable backup frequency, without the need to manage backup schedules manually.
The backup schedules can differentiate between the types of resources (Exchange mailboxes, OneDrive or Sites), but they cannot be assigned for user groups that many O365 administrators use to implement the organizational structure.
The system lets you configure auto-protection for the entire domain. However, it will only work if you have enough spare licenses inventory purchased in advance.
Access Control & Audit
Veeam has more limited access control setting compared to any cloud Office 365 solution because of the limitations imposed by its deployment model as a Windows software application.
The system has no web-based management interface. In order to manage backup & recovery the administrators should remotely connect to the server where Veeam O365 backup software is installed.
Veeam does not have configurable admin roles or permission settings, and access to the backup management can only be limited at the level of Windows sever (all who have access to the machine will have equal access to backups).
Similarly to admin roles, Veeam has no user self-service capabilities because access management is not implemented at the level of the backup software.
Only a limited set of Veeam system events are logged, with no audit trail recorded for data preview & browsing operations as well as application access. The events that the system does log only identify the account used to sign in Windows, with no authentication implemented at Veeam application level.
Search & Backup Preview
Veeam enables backup data preview for Exchange mailboxes as well as OneDrive and SharePoint sites backups. However, you will need to install and use three additional local software tools (Veeam Explorer for SharePoint, Veeam Explorer for Exchange and Veeam Explorer for Microsoft OneDrive for Business).
The system also provides the option to compare backed up version with the current state of the mailbox (for example, to find deleted or moved items), which accelerates the recovery in many cases.
Unlike virtually all systems (except for Afi), Veeam enables full-text email search in backup data using the Extensible Storage Engine library that needs to be installed locally.
Restore & Data Export
Veeam restore works reliably (93 of 94 mailbox and OneDrive recovery attempts completed without errors). However, when large amounts of data need to be restored back to O365, it may slow down your corporate network and the Internet connection.
Every restore operation requires a password (either O365 admin account or Azure application password depending on the authentication mode, see deployment details), which slows down the restore process.
Because the software is installed locally, it can only export data to the local Windows machine where Veeam is installed. Mailbox export in PST format requires MS Outlook installed on the server.
Reporting & API
There are no web-based protection status dashboards or reports since Veeam only provides local UI, but you can generate detailed protection status and backup job reports in PDF format.
You can also connect Veeam O365 Backup to Veeam Backup and Replication (their flagman product) to get high level summary for backup and protection status, reported along with metrics for the rest of your on-premise infrastructure.
The system has REST API, as well as PowerShell command line interface, which enables scripting & automation (available locally; you need to set up PowerShell Remoting to enable execution of scripts remotely).
Veeam Office 365 backup solution has no email notification capabilities since it cannot connect to an SMTP server. Given that it is an on-premise system that requires monitoring and maintenance we believe that the email notifications are a must. One way to implement the email notifications with Veeam O365 is to install Veeam Backup and Replication (VBR) server separately (licensing cost is approx. $400 per year for Starter edition). You will then be able to connect Veeam O365 agent software with VBR, which in turn can be connected to an SMTP server.
Performance & Reliability
Veeam backup speed and success rates are slightly above the averages. The backups are completed at 2.3 MB / sec, and the backup success rate averaged at 98% (the few errors that happened were due to network connectivity).
Veeam network connectivity error message
Upon the initial set up the discovery of SharePoint Sites took approx. 3 hours, which is an unusually long time for a domain with only 13 users and 5 Sites.
Without the Extensible Storage Engine library the search functionality works very slow even for small accounts (taking 5+ minutes to complete for a 3 GB mailbox).
Deployment & Maintenance
Veeam does not provide a fully managed and the software must be downloaded and installed manually. The typical installation requires a physical machine or a VM with a Windows OS, in addition to a local storage or a connected Cloud Storage. Veeam supports AWS S3, Azure Blob (only Premium, Hot and Cool options, Archive is not supported), IBM Cloud and other S3-compatible storage.
The system can be configured to store backups in multiple backup storage destinations. You will need to create multiple backup schedules and specify different backup storage locations (one backup schedule can only store data in a single storage location).
In order to connect Veeam to O365 you will need to manually configure authentication and access permissions, which requires some technical expertise. In short, you should create a custom Azure application with an access certificate and then assign to the application O365 administrator access roles. Veaam O365 backup will use this Azure application to securely connect to your O365 account. Alternatively, there is a less secure legacy connection option using O365 admin credentials authentication, which is easier to implement.
Licensing & Cost
Veeam licenses can be purchased in bundles of 10 . The price per one license is $18 annually (so the minimal purchase is $180). If you pay for 5 years, the license price is discounted by 15%. The software is free for less than 10 protected users.
One Veaam license is required for every O365 user and Shared mailbox. All users who have access to SharePoint Sites must be licensed to backup the Sites. This effectively means that you need to license all users in the domain in order to backup SharePoint Sites.
At $18 annual cost Veeam is 40% cheaper than most Office 365 cloud backup services (around average $30 annual license cost). However the total cost of the Office 365 backup solution based on Veeam software will also include infrastructure costs and approx. 30% of a full-time employee (FTE) to monitor & maintain.
The total Veeam-based solution cost for a domain with 200 users would include:
- $4.2 annual server cost per user (Azure instance General Purpose-Dv3, 8GB RAM with 2 CPU costs 9.6 cents / hour)
- $2.16 annual backup storage cost per user (cheapest Azure blob Cool storage costs 1 cent per GB monthly, plus 0.8 cents per GB of storage in additional monthly network and retrieval operations costs)
- $90 annual cost of 30% of FTE required to maintain the solution ($60,000 annual salary x 30%)
The total Veeam cost would therefore be approx. $25 per user annually before the headcount costs, or $115 full per user annual cost including the cost of time to manage the infrastructure.
With this economics, Veeam solution makes sense if you already have in-house IT team that is underutilized and the Veeam backup monitoring and management efforts will utilize spare capacity.