Doubling down on Microsoft 365 and Salesforce helped Vision Australia deliver productivity tools to its 2,750 end users and volunteers, but the organisation soon realised that the cloud services didn’t offer enough data protection to meet its governance requirements.
As a registered charity, Vision Australia – which provides blindness and low vision services from 35 Vision Australia centres to more than 25,000 Australians – faces a statutory obligation to keep written financial and operational records for seven years.
Vision Australia’s regular volunteer attrition rates complicated management of more than 4.5TB of data stored in Microsoft 365 and 330GB of Salesforce data.
With workers coming and going, documents, emails, and other content was generated and stored haphazardly, with little centralised organisation and only the platform’s built-in backup capabilities used.
As the charity’s use of Microsoft 365 services expanded to incorporate Microsoft Teams, it became clear that its data growth was only going to continue.
Vision Australia considered how it could better meet its data management obligations and ensure data was backed up and restorable at any point during that seven-year record lifecycle.
“Microsoft 365 is interesting because there are some basic protections, but it’s not enough,” said Vision Australia senior systems administrator Vip Thong. “Data is only kept for a short period of time, and it’s not easy to restore natively [without complex and onerous PowerShell scripting.]”
“Salesforce has even less of a backup function than Microsoft 365,” he added, “and losing that data would be a big problem because customers trust us to keep their information secure and have it when they need it.”
A Higher Standard of Data Management
Vision Australia’s experience reflects the situation in many companies that have increased their use of cloud IT. Their system administrators are faced with the challenge of managing, backing up, and restoring data that they don’t directly control.
“Despite Office 365 becoming the centre of business productivity,” Archana Venkatraman, associate research director for IDC European Datacenter, notes, “a backup and recovery strategy is an afterthought.”
“As the data footprint in Office 365 proliferates, businesses need to realise that regardless of where the data is, it’s the user’s responsibility to protect it.”
But less than a quarter of Office 365 users adopt third-party backup solutions, according to IDC. Venkatraman stated that “enterprises are exposing Office 365 data to risks such as ransomware, data deletion, and compliance exposures – hindering their resiliency and business continuity.”
Vision Australia evaluated the market and chose AvePoint Cloud Backup. AvePoint is the largest Microsoft 365 data management solutions provider, offering a full suite of SaaS solutions to migrate, manage, and protect data. More than 8 million cloud users rely on its solutions to make their organisations more productive, compliant, and secure.
The cloud-based AvePoint Cloud Backup platform was named a Leader in The Forrester New Wave™, SaaS Application Data Protection, Q4 2021 report. It received the highest current offering score of all 10 vendors and was the only vendor to receive a differentiated rating, the highest possible score, in all three criteria of Microsoft 365, Google Workspace and Salesforce. AvePoint also received differentiated ratings in security and privacy, usability, storage options, planned enhancement, and innovation roadmap criteria.
The AvePoint Cloud Backup platform met Vision Australia’s need for backup across various Microsoft 365 tools and Salesforce.
Regular backup was table stakes. Thong said that the system’s real power was its ability to streamline the data restores Vision Australia runs around ten times a year – usually when it needs to find a document stored in the OneDrive or Exchange inbox of an employee or volunteer who left months earlier. AvePoint Cloud Backup allows the organisation to restore a single email or document, eliminating the need to restore entire file folders or mailboxes.
Short-Term Benefits, Long-Term Governance
Easier administration has saved Vision Australia’s IT staff around 15 minutes a day managing backups, which translates to about a day each month. The system has also improved security overall.
The new system “makes us more secure,” Thong said, “and I don’t have to wonder if [backups] are going to exist a few years from now.”
Other users are finding cloud backup platforms beneficial in terms of data sovereignty. This was crucial for Laser Clinics Australia, which chose the AvePoint system for its ability to limit data to specific geographical areas.
Those multi-geo tenancy capabilities allow Laser Clinics Australia, which is a global organisation with a presence in the UK, to maintain customer data in line with its obligations under the European Union’s GDPR laws.
Although cloud-based applications improve accessibility, cost, and scalability, customers often fail to realise that their data protection capabilities are inadequate to meet legal and regulatory requirements.
As analysts have made clear and CIOs are increasingly recognising, backup is just the beginning of building an adequate data protection architecture in the cloud.
Use of cloud platforms has also complicated questions around where companies’ data is stored, who can access it, which security threats it is exposed to, and which record retention and deletion processes are in place.
Organisations must have a comprehensive understanding of their data storage, user permissions, and potential risks, and then implement a governance strategy to ensure data security.
Learn more by reading AvePoint’s “3 Must-Know Rules for Stronger Organisational Security”.