VBO365 Self-Service Portal – In2Networks

SSgraphicVeeam Backup for Office 365 v1 and v2 are very advanced backup products for backing up the Office 365 services; yet, it still lacks the self-service portal features necessary for end users to self-service their emails backup and restores.

What are your options when it comes to delegating VBO365 tasks to end users, or Tenants?

Last week Veeam Software released version two of Veeam Backup for Office 365. You can read about the new features and enhancements by browsing this blog post.

Some of the features I think are missing from this advanced product is a built-in self-service portal to help with these tasks:

  • End user to self-service their email Restoration
  • Administrator delegation of emails recovery to end-user
  • Service Provider O365 tenants self-service backup and restore

Although this self-service portal is not available, Veeam R&D included a comprehensive RESTful API that any organisation with DevOps can use to build their own self-service portal or integrate with an existing one. To Learn more, and get started with VBO365 RESTful API, you can read the following Quick VBO365 RESTful API made Simple Guide.

The Disappointing Story:

Working with many service providers and large customer organisations, I sometimes come out of meetings with mixed feelings. Veeam offers great products, but SPs and Enterprises want a “fast to market solution”, and developing a self-service portal is a time consuming and an expensive exercise. Veeam System Engineers around the world developed and shared some great self-service portals, but these portals are still not widely adopted, as might have been expected, given their easy accessibility and functionality.

The Universal Portal Idea:

To help Veeam customers and service providers to quickly adopt the VBO365 product, I spent many hours in my lab learning about RESTful API, and developing a guide to help SPs and customers, in fact, anyone, get started with VBO365 RESTful API development. But I am bothered by this question: How can I develop a universal VBO365 portal where all that is required from the customer or service provider is a connection to on-premises VBO365 infrastructure from the portal, and they can start offering VBO365 self-services?

Thinking through the requirements for my as yet imaginary portal, I ended up with this design:

VBO365_Self_Flow.png
VBO365 Self-Service Portal Design

But to develop the self-service multi-tenanted portal needed a lot of time and experience, some of which I don’t have. So I started out by seeking assistance from a Veeam Partner Community, and end up meeting with Hayder Ali, a friend of mine who runs a company called In2Networks, based in Sydney.

In addition being a Veeam partner, the In2Networks company is also a Microsoft Gold Partner, specialising in Dynamics Development, the part I was interested in. Developing a portal concept such as that I had in mind should be something familiar and reasonably straightforward.

The Development:

Six Months ago, Hayder and I met and discussed the design in detail; and since Hayder and In2Netoworks is still actively working on the development of the portal, I am describing a project in progress. The self-service portal is a very accommodating and advanced design, making the administration of the VBO365 backup and restore very simple. It is not necessary to be skilled in RESTful API or to have to write a single line of code. All that is required as a VBO365 user is a connection to your on-premises VBO365 deployment from the online portal, hosted on Microsoft Azure.

The Delivery:

After six months, and many development hours, the results of that meeting are nearly in. In2Networks has delivered the self-service portal vision, in addition to their many other ideas to the project, all based on their experience with multi-tenancy customers, resellers and service providers.

I have included here some screenshots from In2Networks of what to expect from the Self-Service portal:

Create a Company Profile:

To start working with the portal, customers and SPs create their profile. The profile includes:

  • Company info
  • Login
  • Customer URL to be used by the company customers
  • Company Logo
  • Notification setting
  • Browser cert and more

Connect On-Premises VBO35 Infrastructure:

After creating a company or a service provider online account, the next step is to connect the online account to the on-premises VBO365 infrastructure using the “Infrastructure” configuration tab. On the establishment of a connection, the VBO365 Proxies and Repositories will be retrieved and be ready to start the configuration and use of the self-service portal.

Note: From a security point of view, you need only to open a NAT with a specific port to the VBO365 server on your company firewall.

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 1.03.52 pm
VBO365 Self-Service Portal Infrastructure

Organizations:

Before you can configure a backup job, you must register an Office 365 account with your/tenant account credentials (Manage services). As a Service provider, you can now browse all the tenants’ accounts from where you can manage the backup and restore operations of the tenant in Microsoft Office 365.

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 9.25.05 am
VBO365 Self-Service Portal Manage Organizations – Options includes: Backup and Restore of the Organization Mailboxes

Manage Plans and Billings:

As a service provider, you can create multiple Repositories, and then price each repository with a different price. You can now attach your pricing to a plan, then your customers have different pricing options when they configure their backup policies

Recovery:

To recover a Mailbox or a Mailbox Item, you nominate the backup retention time and then choose the Mailbox to be restored or to be browsed. Your recovery options are; exporting the mailbox to a PST file, or recovery an individual mailbox item.

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 9.42.19 am
VBO365 Self-Service Portal Manage Organizations – Plans & Costs

Dashboard:

The last thing we want to discuss on this blog is the dashboard. It is the first screen you see when you log in to your self-service portal account; it presents you with the status of your backup jobs. The screenshot below illustrates what you will see:

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 9.46.42 am
VBO365 Self-Service Portal – Dashboard 

Conclusion:

After six months of active development and endless discussions, In2Networks designed a comprehensive and easy to use a self-service portal. The initial feedback from several service providers, customers to whom In2Networks demonstrated the portal,  is very promising. Everyone, so far, acknowledges that this portal will make their VBO365 adoption easier and faster. Of course, there is some additional work needed to make this portal a perfect fit for Enterprise Customers, resellers, service providers and more. Currently, the portal is supporting VBO365 version 1. Version 2, currently in development, will introduce more features, such as the new backup and restore support for MS SharePoint, OneDrive, and more.