Just a few years ago, many jobs could be carried out on Swietelsky construction sites without the need for constant connections to the company’s IT. This is no longer the case. “We are currently seeing a huge digitization push in the construction industry,” says Manuel Lehner, Head of IT Infrastructure at Swietelsky. “Applications such as Building Information Modeling or even the use of drones and augmented reality glasses on construction sites require reliable data access at any location.”
The COVID-19 crisis has once again accelerated the digitization of work processes at Swietelsky. To facilitate smooth collaboration during the global pandemic, the construction company introduced Microsoft Teams as a communication platform across the business. Initially, 5,500 Swietelsky employees used the solution primarily for online meetings. Specialists on site were able to quickly and easily exchange information with colleagues working from home or with service providers at other locations. Video chats with clients to coordinate changes at short notice were also now possible.
Employees quickly started to use Microsoft Teams to share documents such as construction plans and photos or to jointly edit contracts online. The platform increasingly became a knowledge repository and a project management tool. “From the very beginning, we thought about how we could reliably protect data from cyber risks and prevent possible data loss,” says Lehner. “It was important for us to retain complete data ownership. We want to decide for ourselves where we save information and how long we keep it.”
This presented a significant technical challenge: Microsoft Teams is not a standalone application, but a service that connects different resources from the Office 365 world. Users’ data and content are stored in Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, among others. “For this reason, it can be very time-consuming to find team content that has been accidentally deleted and make it accessible again,” says Gunter Natschläger, IT manager responsible for backup and virtualization at Swietelsky. “Consequently, we were looking for a solution that would enable comprehensive backup and fast recovery of all information in Microsoft Teams.”
They scoured the market and evaluated Veeam® Backup for Microsoft Office 365, among other solutions. Swietelsky was one of the first companies to gain access to the new Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft Teams. “We quickly realized that this solution met our requirements exactly,” says Natschläger. “Unlike other products, Veeam offers flexible storage options and allows us to back up all data from the cloud to our own data center. The decisive factor was the ability to centrally back up all Microsoft Teams data, systematically search it and restore it granularly.”
Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 gives Swietelsky complete control over the diverse information shared and processed by its 5,500 Microsoft Teams users. The solution not only backs up data stored in SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and OneDrive for Business, it also accesses all relevant metadata via a native Microsoft API. This enables the solution to identify which data points are associated with which Teams channels. Microsoft Teams configurations, permissions, applications and tabs are also automatically backed up by Veeam.
Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Teams simplifies the targeted search for files and content in the backed up Teams data. Entire company channels can be flexibly restored with just a few clicks, right down to the file and message level. “The restore function works incredibly quickly and easily,” says Natschläger. “It doesn’t require any special knowledge; our employees were able to use the tool immediately, without any training.”
After the convincing test results, Swietelsky quickly decided to deploy Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 across the company. “Product experts from Veeam gave us some valuable tips, for example on optimizing performance in conjunction with the Microsoft cloud. They also helped us to perfectly map our individual retention policies,” says Natschläger.
Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 provides managers with detailed daily reports on the backups that have been performed. If an error occurs, the IT team is notified immediately and can take the necessary measures. Once a quarter, a detailed restore test is then performed as part of an internal audit.
“With Veeam, we do not only have the certainty that our team data is secure, but we can also prove this at any time,” says Natschläger. “Thanks to Veeam, we passed the mandatory restore tests for our ISO/IEC 27001 certification with flying colors. More than 40 GB of data could be restored in less than 30 minutes.”
“Our direction is clear: In the future, cloud services such as Microsoft Office 365 will play an increasingly important role in our work,” says Lehner. “The switch from our on-prem Exchange infrastructure to an Exchange Online solution has already begun, for example. The fact that we have already found the right backup solution with Veeam makes this process much easier. We expect to complete the migration faster than planned.”
Swietelsky AG, headquartered in Linz, Austria, is one of the leading construction companies in Central and Eastern Europe. The company has branches and subsidiaries in 19 different countries, with 12,000 employees, and generates an annual construction output of more than three billion euros. With its comprehensive range of expertise, Swietelsky can efficiently realize construction projects of any size, from family homes to projects for large real estate investors.
Smooth virtual collaboration on the construction site, in the office and working from home is a prerequisite for successful construction projects. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Swietelsky has relied on Microsoft Teams to do just this. 5,500 users now rely on the service for digital communication and to exchange information. However, the construction company also needed a solution to reliably back up and quickly restore all content stored in the cloud.