Jul 28, 2023
4 min read

Alcion: Powered by Corso, a Free, Open-Source, and Secure Tool for Microsoft 365 Backup

Alcion: Powered by Corso, a Free, Open-Source, and Secure Tool for Microsoft 365 Backup

We have discussed many times in this blog the critical importance of backing up Microsoft 365 data, particularly in today's landscape where data is increasingly vulnerable to threats like ransomware and accidental loss. Given the sheer volume of data generated and stored on Office 365, having a robust backup solution is not just an option but a necessity for businesses.

In this context, Alcion is powered by Corso, the leading and widely used open-source tool used to protect Microsoft 365 data. Read on to see why we have two separate efforts in the Microsoft 365 backup ecosystem, the differences between the two, and which option might be the best for you.

But first some more context on open source backup solutions for Microsoft 365.

Open Source Backup Solutions for Office 365

Open source software is defined by its license, which allows users to access, modify, and share the source code. These tools are developed collaboratively, offering a transparent solution for those who wish to see and understand exactly how their backup processes are managed. The benefits of open source backup solutions for Office 365 include:

  • Cost-efficiency: Often free to use, eliminating upfront software costs.
  • Flexibility: Ability to tailor the tool to your organization's specific backup needs.
  • Security: Transparency in code allows for thorough security audits.
  • Community Support: Access to a community of developers and users for troubleshooting and improvements.

Open Source vs. Commercial Backup Solutions for Microsoft 365

When compared to commercial backup solutions, open-source software stands out for their customization potential and cost-effectiveness. However, it is crucial to consider factors such as the level of support, ease of use, and long-term maintenance costs. Commercial options may offer dedicated customer service and guarantees for update patches and compatibility with the new Microsoft 365 features.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Source Tools

Open-source backup tools come with the advantage of cost-effectiveness, often being available at no initial cost. Their customizable nature allows for flexibility in deployment and integration with existing systems. However, they may require more technical expertise to configure and maintain. Additionally, the reliance on community support rather than dedicated customer service can pose challenges for prompt issue resolution.

Considerations for Choosing Open Source Alternatives

Selecting an open source backup solution for Office 365 involves evaluating factors such as the size of your organization, the complexity of your data, and the availability of in-house technical expertise. It is also crucial to assess the frequency of updates and community activeness, which are pivotal for ongoing security and feature enhancements.

Community and Support for Open Source Office 365 Backup Solutions

For users of open source office 365 backup solutions, the community is the first line of support. A vibrant and active community can significantly enhance the user experience by providing insights, solutions to common problems, and tips for optimization. This peer-driven assistance is invaluable, especially when adapting open source tools to fit unique backup needs.

Platforms such as GitHub, Reddit, and Stack Overflow (Corso has its own Discord community as well) are rich with discussions, advice, and troubleshooting tips that can help users navigate the complexities of backup software.

Free Microsoft 365 Backup Solutions

While several providers in the market offer paid, feature-rich solutions, there's an interest in free or open-source alternatives that can provide essential backup capabilities without the associated costs. This is where Alcion and Corso fit as well as they stand out in this category.

While Alcion champions an open-source model with Corso, other key players in the market primarily focus on proprietary solutions. Veeam offers a community edition - limited-feature version of their commercial product - which is not an open-source solution.

Corso Open-Source Backup for Microsoft 365: The Power of Community and Flexibility

Corso, available under the Apache v2 license, has grown from a fledgling project into an impressive community-driven solution. Corso was designed from the ground up to securely and efficiently backup all your business-critical data to object storage. It protects against ransomware using encryption and immutable object storage while simultaneously reducing costs using advanced deduplication and compression techniques.

We’ve also spent time on making Corso both robust and easy-to-use! As a purpose-built solution for Microsoft 365 protection, we focused on providing straightforward and intuitive backup and restore workflows that reduce backup time, improve time-to-recovery, and reduce admin overhead. For best-in-class performance, we also have a high-performance data engine (powered by Kopia) and a custom high-speed Microsoft 365 Graph API data mover.

Given some of these capabilities, it is not surprising that Corso is being used in production by many Microsoft 365 administrators and completes thousands of backups a day. In fact, several Managed Service Providers have adopted Corso as the foundation for their client backup solutions.

In a world where data integrity and safety are paramount, Corso offers businesses a cost-effective yet dependable solution. It doesn’t matter if your organization is a startup or a multinational company, Corso scales according to your needs. We highly recommend checking it out as an open source Veeam alternative to backing up your Microsoft 365 data.

Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 Community Edition

Veeam's offering is a free version of Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365, a commercial backup solution for Microsoft 365. The Community Edition is limited to backing up to 10 users and 1TB of SharePoint data, but it is a good option for small organizations that need a free backup solution for their Microsoft 365 data. Though Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 Community Edition is not an open source solution like its open source alternative Corso.

Alcion: Redefining Ease and Security and Building on Corso’s Foundation

Alcion UI showing users and demonstrating simplicity, intuitiveness, and design.

Corso is indeed a great tool, and we are extremely proud of creating and maintaining the project. We do not intend to provide a commercial offering mirroring its features and causing conflict with its (amazing!) community. If anything, we plan to accelerate the project's development.

Built on Corso's robust foundation, Alcion is a commercial Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) solution for backing up Microsoft 365 data, that tackles some of the additional challenges our customers have asked us to take on.

They include running large backups at scale and the operational concerns around ensuring the backup system meets RPO and RTO objectives, removing the overhead of patching and security backup servers, and the introduction of additional AI-driven security features to protect data from cyber threats and accidental data loss.

Further, while Corso is a command-line tool best suited for folks comfortable with PowerShell or a terminal, Alcion provides a beautiful frontend (and an equally impressive API backing it!) that turns what used to be complex data protection workflows into extremely straightforward and easy to perform actions.  

Alcion also works hard to amplify the security of your Microsoft 365 data by introducing an array of cutting-edge features. Its malware elimination functionality scrubs your backup data clean of any potentially harmful code.

Similarly, Alcion's built-in ransomware detection capability provides an additional layer of security, alerting you to any suspicious activity. The same features are used to mark “safe” backups for quick recovery in case there is ever a successful attack on your infrastructure. Delayed backup deletion and undeletes offer a defense against ransomware attackers targeting the backup system, which happens over 95% of the time!

Moreover, Alcion has integrated XDR (Extended Detection and Response) such as Microsoft Defender into its system. This advanced security feature allows Alcion to add more threat signals into its threat-detection engine and monitor not just Microsoft 365 but also endpoints and cloud apps by integrating against Microsoft Defender for End point and Cloud Apps respectively. After all, if there is a ransomware attack on your endpoints, we know Microsoft 365 will be next. It behooves us to run additional backups to stop attackers in their tracks.

Alcion offers other AI-powered features, one of which is the intelligent backup functionality. Alcion's smart algorithms analyze user work patterns, determining the optimal time and frequency for backups, ensuring your backups are more likely to run when data is actively being modified. Alcion backups emails and data from Exchange Online, files from OneDrive, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams communication as the core M365 services.

To sum it up in the feedback heard from our customers, the work Alcion has done at the intersection of AI, security, and useability is what they have fallen in love with!

Give Corso or Alcion a try!

In summary, while Corso provides an open-source, scalable, and flexible solution for Microsoft 365 backups, Alcion takes it a step further. It transforms the Corso framework into a powerful, secure, and hassle-free SaaS service, tackling both management challenges and security concerns head-on. Whether you're a small business, a large enterprise, or an MSP, Alcion and Corso offer distinct advantages that can accommodate your unique backup needs and keep your Microsoft 365 data safe and secure.

If you’re a Microsoft 365 admin, check Alcion or Corso out for yourself. In fact, you can try Alcion for free with a 14-day trial! No credit card is required. Once you sign up, you should be taking backups for your entire organization in 10 minutes or less (video). If not, please complain loudly to me! You can find me on Discord.

Niraj Tolia
Niraj Tolia
CEO and Co-Founder, Alcion

Niraj Tolia is the co-founder and CEO at Alcion. Previously, he was the co-founder and CEO at Kasten, the leading and award-winning Kubernetes backup company that was acquired by Veeam in 2020. Post-acquisition, he continued, as General Manager and President of the Kasten by Veeam business unit, to accelerate the growth of Veeam’s cloud-native business. With a strong technical background in distributed systems, storage, and data management, he previously held leadership roles, including Senior Director of Engineering at Dell EMC and VP of Engineering and Chief Architect at Maginatics (acquired by EMC). Dr. Tolia received his PhD, MS, and BS in Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.