The mission of RIC is simple but important: Provide long-term financial support through concessional loans to farmers and farm-related businesses so Australian agriculture can thrive. By helping applicants obtain loans for drought assistance, recovery after natural disaster, restocking, improved cash flow and other farm-related business needs, the program is essential for a prosperous regional Australia. As an Australian Government regional investment provider, RIC is focused on understanding the long-term needs of farmers and supporting the Federal government with data insights to better support public policy outcomes.
Doing this work demands quick, comprehensive access to key information.
“It’s a general best practice that our core business data is available all of the time,” said Andrew Chambers, executive manager of information and technology for RIC, who added that the organization’s core infrastructure sits within Microsoft 365 — with most content housed in SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams.
“While we enjoy high availability that the platform provides, it’s prudent to have an additional layer of backup to protect against things like ransomware,” Chambers said. “There’s a fairly strong misconception that you don’t need backup in the cloud, but there are limitations and instances where existing protections might not be sufficient.”
Backup and restore capabilities outside the scope of M365 retention limits were particularly critical for RIC — which, like other agencies, must adhere to data-protection standards enforced by the Australian government.
The RIC was established during one of the most severe, long-term droughts faced by Australian agriculture so there was significant demand for concessional loans from the onset. Because RIC was a new organisation, starting up with new people, processes and systems required, there was an added challenge of needing to move quickly. Among the legislation to address was the Archives Act 1983. It regulates Commonwealth records retention and prohibits destruction without permission from National Archives of Australia, a government agency.
“We needed to establish an environment that was compliant with government guidelines,” Chambers said. “Beyond having the right controls in place, we wanted the opportunity to go above and beyond.”
Meanwhile, RIC faced a growth in M365 data that required a strong backup solution. “We’d been gradually moving toward Microsoft Teams,” Chambers said. “Our usage started quite low, but it has become the centerpiece of organizational collaboration.”
Most RIC business units, he added, have a Team where they maintain documents via SharePoint, and they typically embed Microsoft Planner within the Team to manage workflows. “That means backing up Microsoft Project and Planner, as well as Teams and Groups,” Chambers said. (Cloud Backup is the only solution on the market today that can back up Planner data.)