Christian Church Homes Reduces Data Protection Costs with Microsoft Office 365 and AvePoint Online Services
- Improve backup and recovery beyond native capabilities
- Reduce data protection costs
- Gain more control over user permissions
With Exchange Online and AvePoint Online Services, I no longer have to maintain a disaster recovery site and am saving about $6,000 a year because of that.
As an organization dedicated to managing affordable housing for seniors, CCH used SharePoint 2007 and Microsoft Exchange to centralize important leasing and expense documents and make them available for its users located throughout the United States. When managing on-premises servers for Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange started to become burdensome and expensive, CCH migrated 400 gigabytes (GB) of critical business data to Office 365. While the cloud greatly benefited CCH as a cost-effective solution that eliminated the need for in-house server maintenance, enabled document collaboration for remote users, and centralized resources, CCH IT administrators still identified some areas for improvement.
One such area was within Exchange Online. Native data protection capabilities do not support recovery at the item level, which made data restoration time-consuming for administrators. “If someone left the company, we needed a way to extract individual mailboxes and keep backups on file for human resources purposes,” said Leland Foster, Director of IT at CCH. “Out of the box, we couldn’t do that, and we couldn’t modify our data retention policy to include the best options for our needs.”
Another problem area was simplifying SharePoint Online permissions management for 350 end users accessing hundreds of thousands of important documents and forms. “Managing permissions through SharePoint Online out of the box was not user-friendly at all,” Foster said. “We were looking for something to help us create a permissions structure that gets the people what they need with the right level of access.”
As a not-for-profit organization, CCH sought a cost-effective third-party solution to manage and protect its Office 365 content.
To optimize Office 365 data protection and administration, CCH implemented AvePoint Online Services (AOS), a Microsoft Azure-hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution for Office 365 management.
During a demonstration with AvePoint, CCH saw that the backup and restore functionalities within AOS would allow them to create a data protection strategy that best fit its business needs. “The biggest challenge we saw with SharePoint Online native functionality was that it had no granular recovery capabilities,” Foster said. “With AOS, I can easily restore email content at the item level instead of at the mailbox level, which takes much less of my time. Plus, it’s easy to do.”
With AvePoint Online Services, CCH also has more options available for its backup needs. With Microsoft’s native backup capabilities, Foster felt that he did not have much control over the function of retention and backup. “I like that with AvePoint, we have a wide variety of backup destinations,” Foster said. “We currently back up our data to Azure storage. I can also now choose how much data I want to retain and how long to keep it. Instead of Microsoft’s 30-day retention policy, I’ve set up an eight-week retention policy for SharePoint Online and a one-week policy for Exchange Online.”
AvePoint Online Services also allows Foster to schedule backups automatically. “We run weekly full backups and incremental backups on a daily basis,” Foster said. “We were able to quickly implement a backup schedule, and it makes my life so much easier, and I can set up notifications to alert me in case of any exceptions.”
By migrating to Office 365 and implementing AOS, CCH is able to save on costs associated with maintaining servers and disaster recovery sites. Working in the cloud eliminates the need for an Exchange server and other costs associated with disaster recovery sites (including hardware and utilities to power the data center). The solutions provided by Microsoft and AvePoint offer peace of mind for CCH IT administrators. “Once, an earthquake disconnected power to our server, which disrupted access to our disaster recovery sites,” Foster said. “Now, with Exchange Online and AvePoint Online Services, I no longer have to maintain a disaster recovery site and am saving about $6,000 a year because of that. I feel good knowing we have an extra level of backup.”
CCH has also realized simplified SharePoint administration with the ability to easily manage permissions within the same platform it uses to manage data protection. “With AOS, we can get more granular with permissions structure than we could with SharePoint Online’s native capabilities,” Foster said. “Now, we can classify documents by core function and use AOS to set up a structure that allows certain groups read-only permissions, and editing permissions for others. The interface puts all of this in one place so we can easily see where everything is.”
By implementing AvePoint Online Services, CCH is able to exercise more control over its data protection strategy than it could before with Microsoft’s native capabilities. The SaaS solution’s backup and recovery capabilities are time-savers for CCH’s IT administrators, allowing them to automate backups and quickly restore content granularly and with full-fidelity. It also empowers IT with increased control over SharePoint Online user permissions. “With AOS, managing Office 365 is seamless, and the platform is user-friendly,” Foster said. “I enjoy the level of confidence I have knowing that data is available when I need it.”
Christian Church Homes (CCH) builds and manages affordable housing where seniors live and thrive in the comfort of their own homes. CCH currently manages, owns, and/or co-owns 59 communities in six states.