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Ten years ago, if someone would have told you that much of your business would be outsourced to a vendor hosting an application in the cloud, you’d probably have laughed. The security, usability, and manageability alone seemed to make most services out of reach.  But then Microsoft offered Office 365 and slowly but surely, organizations began to adopt this cost-effective model where IT realized they don’t need all the control and visibility into a service that can be commoditized. 

Today, Office 365’s user base is in excess of 200 million users daily – with more joining daily given the current pandemic climate. And, whether you jumped on the Office 365 bandwagon a few years back or just last week, it proves that your business is changing. 

With this somewhat material change in the way you operate, IT needs to consider both how to protect those parts of Office 365 that clearly belong to the organization (i.e., your data), and how that protection needs to adjust based on the future changes the organization may go through. The first step is putting backups of Office 365 in place – just like you had when all those services were hosted on-premises, the data needs to be protected in case of loss, corruption, cyberattack, etc.  

The next step is to realize the organization is going to continue to change its strategies over time, and your use of Office 365 may be impacted in a few ways:

  1. Your data may need to be moved – whether as part of a merger or acquisition deal, a consolidation of tenants, or moving between clouds.
  2. Your data may need to be replicated – All it takes is one lawsuit, and eDiscovery may need to be performed on all your data within Office 365. Being able to take a backup and restore it on-prem could prove useful to allow those performing eDiscovery with controlled access to your data.
  3. Your service may need to be replaced – We all thought Exchange on-prem was “it,” and we’d never move away from it. But here we are today using Exchange in the cloud, Google mail, and other email services. Having a backup may be necessary to facilitate changing providers – even if it’s just one service – in the distant future. 

There are likely some other changes in organizational strategy that could impact your implementation of Office 365 that aren’t listed here. The point is that all of this is unknown and can be unexpected, just like 2020 has been, and the very same reason you keep backups: just in case. When we all achieve advanced hindsight, nothing unexpected will happen because we’ve already prevented it…until then, your present day data protection strategy for Office 365 may be nonexistent. If so, that’s the first change you need to make – get one. Do so, and you’ll find you’re ready for any other business change in the future where Office 365 data is concerned, and if we’ve learned one thing from 2020, it’s to expect the unexpected.