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March 31st, 2024

Georgi Matev
Head of Product

Below is a summary of the great new capabilities and improvements that the Alcion team has introduced in March.

Features

Backups completing with exceptions

Alcion excels when it comes to the reliability and completeness of customer data backups, but on rare occasions backup of items may fail for reason external to Alcion. Some typical examples include, but aren't limited to, transient Microsoft API availability issues, corrupted or inaccessible items in the customer Microsoft 365 tenant, specific access restrictions, etc. The Alcion operations team actively investigates and remediates such failures but until now any error resulted in a failed backup, even if the vast majority of the data was successfully protected.

Alcion now allows backups with a small number of failures to complete with status Completed (with exceptions) and makes the data available for restores. The action details on the Activity page indicate which items were not backed up, and will be retried on subsequent attempts. The Alcion operations team continues to actively investigate and remediate such issues.

Partner delegated permissions managementPartner delegated permissions management

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Partner delegated permissions management

Alcion now offers additional control over the permissions granted when a managed tenant is added to the Alcion portal by a partner that manages the tenant. Additionally, the admins of the managed tenant will have visibility into the permissions that the partner has for delegated management.

Partner delegated permissions managementPartner delegated permissions managementPartner delegated permissions managementPartner delegated permissions management

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Audit of backup policy updates

In addition to providing visibility into data protection operations, the Activity page now also reflects policy configuration changes. This mechanism allows for effective auditing of who changed the protection settings and when the change was made.

Backup policy update activity detailsBackup policy update activity detailsBackup policy update activity detailsBackup policy update activity details

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Improvements

  • Improved efficiency when updating backup policies on a large number of resources
  • Reduced the retry interval for intermittent errors when initial resource discovery runs to improve the the overall user experience in such cases
  • Introduced selecting a default backup data region based on the timezone of the user performing onboarding
  • Added an indicator to show excluded and archived resources for a given resource type on the Alcion home page
  • Marked initial backups with labels to indicate that they may take longer than subsequent backups
  • Introduced indicators showing that there is a current backup in progress on the pages for a specific resource
  • Added a Backup Now option on the pages for a specific resource
  • Removed archived resources from the list of options when restoring to a different resource
  • Allowed filtering Activity actions only to a single resource
  • Disallowed duplicate sign-ups when a partner portal registration already exists. Additional users need to be invited.
  • Adjusted visibility of tenant actions on the Alcion Partner portal based on the permissions granted by each managed tenant
  • Added excluded resource counts to the Alcion Partner portal
  • Upgraded to the latest version of Corso which brings a number of functional, performance, and robustness improvements

Notable fixes

  • Fixed an issue with the layout of the managed tenant breakdown on partner invoices
  • Fixed an issue where backups couldn't complete for resources with multiple folders containing forward slashes
  • Fixed incorrect status notification text when changing policies
  • Fixed cases where successful re-drives initiated by the Alcion operations team weren't reflected on the original action
  • Fixed an issue where a tenant with an existing subscription was incorrectly allowed to register for the Alcion Partner portal
  • Fixed dark mode colors for the Alcion Partner portal
  • Fixed cases where the subscription tier wasn't always properly reflected on partner managed accounts

February 29th, 2024

Georgi Matev
Head of Product

February was an exciting month for us at Alcion. For the last few months, we've been working closely with a select group of Managed Service Provider (MSP) partners who were part of our Private Preview program to build an amazing experience for the rapidly increasing number of MSPs who are using Alcion to protect their customers. On February 13th, we unveiled Alcion for Partners to the world. I will cover some of the key capabilities below, but you can read more about the complete program details here.

Features

Alcion for Partners

The Alcion for Partners program combines MSP-friendly engagement processes and terms as well as new partner-specific functionality (see below) delivered through the Alcion partner portal.

Multi-tenant management

The Alcion partner portal provides MSPs with a single dashboard for a consolidated operational view across all their managed customer accounts.

Alcion partner portalAlcion partner portal

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Delegated administration

Alcion dramatically improves management efficiency and allows MPS admins, with the proper permissions, to switch between the multi-tenant context of the portal and the specific context of a customer tenant without the need to re-authenticate.

Alcion partner manage tenantAlcion partner manage tenant

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Self-service customer tenant onboarding

MSPs can grow their business at their own pace and start managing new Alcion tenants for their customers without any involvement from Alcion’s sales, support, or operations teams.

Alcion partner tenant onboardingAlcion partner tenant onboarding

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Consolidated billing

Finally, the Alcion partner portal allows MSP partners to manage a single subscription that automatically tracks license usage across all customer managed tenants.

Alcion partners billingAlcion partners billingAlcion partners billing breakdownAlcion partners billing breakdown

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Resource and Action Filtering

We also haven't forgotten our non-partner users. One of the most common feature requests in recent weeks has been around additional controls when working with a large number of resources and actions. In response, Alcion now offers the ability to filter resources and actions on key fields such as backup policy, last backup date, activity level, etc.

Alcion resource filteringAlcion resource filteringAlcion resource filteringAlcion resource filtering

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Improvements

  • Introduced a new login page for the Alcion partner portal.
  • Added an option to enable automatic upgrades for annual plans when starting a subscription.
  • Improved the performance of Alcion UI operations such as policy changes or initiating on-demand backups.
  • Added an entry for Settings to the side navigation bar and made some visual style improvements.
  • Enabled MSP admins to get a breakdown of their billable users by customer account on consolidated invoices.
  • Force users to always chose an account when logging into Alcion, even if they're only logged into a single Microsoft 365 account.
  • Enhanced the Alcion UI will indicate as Suspended resources which are temporarily excluded from backups.
  • Upgraded to the latest version of Corso which brings a number of functional, performance, and robustness improvements. For more information on Corso specific changes please see the Corso changelog.

Notable fixes

  • Fixed a problem where resource discovery was reported as complete even when indexing was still incomplete.
  • Fixed a visual issue where the dialog for ongoing resource discovery was preventing access to the user profile and settings controls.
  • Fixed an issue when not all action menu entries were visible for entries close to the bottom of the screen on resource pages.
  • Fixed the title of the Incidents column in the partner portal.
  • Fixed scalability issues when using Set All Backups on a several thousand resources.
  • Fixed an issue allowing an MSPs to incorrectly add the same tenant to multiple portal instances.

January 31th, 2024

Georgi Matev
Head of Product

The Alcion team is off to a great start in 2024, and I'm happy to introduce the following new capabilities.

Features

Manage Administrators

It's not uncommon that more than one user needs access and permissions to administer Alcion. It's now possible for an Alcion user to invite additional administrators or, if needed, revoke access that has been previously granted.

Manage adminsManage admins

Invite new adminsInvite new admins

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Additional Email Notifications

Alcion now offers additional notifications for events that may require your attention. The following new notifications are now available:

  • First successful backup
  • Export failures
  • Export successful completions
  • Backup deletion requests

Backup deletion request notificationBackup deletion request notification

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Contacts and Events PST Export

Following the introduction of PST export for email last month, it's now also possible to export contacts and events as a PST file.

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Improvements

  • Improved performance when loading a large number of actions.
  • Clarified error messages when attempting to start a backup and one is already in progress.
  • Daily activity emails now include the number of days remaining in trial.
  • Improved efficiency of ransomware detection by avoiding repeat analysis of items that haven't changed.
  • Ensured that the full backup following a preview backup isn't subject to scheduling restrictions.
  • Further optimized UI load times and responsiveness of actions.
  • Upgraded to the latest version of Corso which brings a number of functional, performance, and robustness improvements. For more information on Corso specific changes please see the Corso changelog.

Notable fixes

  • Fixed improper handling of unlicensed teams.
  • Fixed license discovery for users who have been removed in Microsoft 365.
  • Fixed automatic inactive session logout on inactive browser tabs.
  • Fixed an issue where excess licenses for annual subscriptions could be negative.
  • Fixed the backup calendar selector which incorrectly allowed range selection.
  • Fixed an issue where the full backup that follows preview backup might be subject to scheduling restrictions.
  • Fixed incorrect reporting of malware and ransomware incidents in historical stats.

December 31th, 2023

Georgi Matev
Head of Product

As 2023 draws to a close, the Alcion team is sending off the year in style with a great set of new capabilities and improvements.

Features

Email PST Export

One of our most requested features is finally here! It's now possible to export one or more emails and email folders as a PST file which can then be accessed through Outlook or another PST-compatible mail client.

PST exportPST export

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Preview Backup

Alcion is optimized for high-throughput when performing backups, but the first backup for a resource with a significant amount of data can take upwards of 30 minutes. This is normal and usually fine for a steady state deployment but can be really inconvenient when looking to quickly evaluate the full range of functional capabilities of any backup solution. To speed up their testing, we've seen users setup test environments or test resources with a limited amount of data. Such approaches work well, but do require a level of preliminary planning and extra work.

At Alcion, we greatly value the time of our users, which is why we introduced Preview Backups. During the first 5 days of a new trial, when the first backup for each resource type is requested, Alcion will create a partial, yet representative, backup of the resource. A Preview Backup typically completes in under 2 minutes, and a subsequent full backup automatically follows. Users don't have to wait and can use the Preview Backup like any other backup to evaluate the browse, search, restore, and export workflows.

Preview backup detailsPreview backup details

Preview backup browsingPreview backup browsing

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Backup Calendar Selector

For any resource enabled for backups, Alcion allows you to select and browse all previously created backups. As the number of backups for a resource grows, it becomes more challenging to navigate to the desired backup. To address this issue, we introduced a calendar-based backup browsing control.

Backup calendar browserBackup calendar browser

Improvements

  • Improved the ability to trace when a previously failed backup has been followed by a subsequent successful operator initiated retry.
  • Sped up loading of all key user interface pages.
  • Introduced statistics in export action details.
  • Added activity score for teams and groups resources.
  • Enabled the ability to restore OneDrive files from shared mailbox backups that were created before the resource was converted to a shared mailbox.
  • Disabled in-place and different location restore options which aren't applicable for archived resources.
  • Upgraded to the latest version of Corso which brings a number of functional, performance, and robustness improvements. For more information on Corso specific changes please see the Corso changelog.

Notable fixes

  • Fixed incorrect protected user count when the number is below the minimum licenses required for a tenant.
  • Fixed cases of incorrect negative compliance score.
  • Fixed inconsistencies with how In Progress backup actions are counted in the recent and full activity panels.
  • Fixed cases where paging controls were shown even when no additional pages are available.
  • Fixed missing sign out button on mobile devices.
  • Fixed an issue where the trial expiration notification wasn't always visible.

November 30th, 2023

Georgi Matev
Head of Product

The Alcion team continues to make improvements to our platform, and November was another productive month. Below is a summary of some of the new capabilities and improvements that our team introduced.

Features

Partner Portal Private Preview

At Alcion, we're already working closely with Manager Service Providers and Partners who use Alcion to protect the Microsoft 365 data for their own clients. While Alcion makes managing each account a breeze, we've started adding capabilities that allow partners to monitor and manage multiple accounts at scale through the Alcion Partner Portal.

This offering is still in Private Preview and is only available to a handful of partners who are already providing great feedback to our team. If you are interested in joining the Private Preview program, please send us a request at info@alcion.ai.

Alcion for partnersAlcion for partners

Resource classification alignment

Based on feedback, we've adjusted some of the classification rules that Alcion uses to determine the types of different resources. The changes are favorable when it comes to Alcion licensing and will generally result in fewer resources classified as billable users. Some of the key changes are:

  • Resources designated in Exchange as Shared Mailbox are no longer classified as Users if they have an active OneDrive.
  • Users without any assigned licenses will no longer be discovered by Alcion or if already discovered will be converted to Archived resources.

Resource typesResource types

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Automatic annual plan upgrade

Given the popularity of our annual plans, Alcion administrators now have the option to automatically upgrade their subscriptions when the number of billable users exceeds the number of annual protected users they have purchased. This allows administrators to always take advantage of our lower annual rates.

If the option is enabled, each month, Alcion will add the required annual users to your subscription and will charge you a pro-rated amount for the remainder of the annual billing period.

Alcion for partnersAlcion for partners

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Improvements

  • Added the ability to upgrade the type plan for annual subscriptions.
  • Implemented blocking of multiple sign-ups from the same M365 domain to prevent accidental account duplication.
  • Added a link to navigate to the restore destination for OneDrive and SharePoint restore actions.
  • Enhanced the Quickstart option to start up to 4 of the scheduled backups it enables immediately.
  • Upgraded to the latest version of Corso which brings a number of functional, performance, and robustness improvements. For more information on Corso specific changes please see the Corso changelog.

Notable fixes

  • Fixed an issue where backups couldn't be found when navigating to a specific backup from the activity page.
  • Fixed an issue allowing an unsupported restore of multiple document libraries.
  • Fixed cases where notification emails are accidentally sent multiple times.

October 31st, 2023

Georgi Matev
Head of Product

As our team wraps up a great October, I wanted to summarize the new capabilities and improvements that we introduced in Alcion over the last month.

Features

Microsoft teams

Support for Microsoft teams is here! Alcion discovers all your Teams and Groups.

In terms of supported data types, Alcion can backup messages in any standard, private, or shared Teams channel as well as files in the document libraries of the related SharePoint sites.

Microsoft Teams and GroupsMicrosoft Teams and Groups

SharePoint sites are still discovered and protected as separate resources, but the system also tracks the relationships between a Team or a Group and any associated sites. For convenience, the UI exposes the ability to navigate between these related resources.

Teams sites linkTeams sites linkSites filtered by teamSites filtered by team

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Monthly annual subscription usage report

To make it easier for Alcion administrators to track the current number of protected users against their annual subscription, Alcion proactively sends a billing report before each intermediate monthly billing period. Administrators can use the information to modify their subscription or usage based on their business continuity, compliance, and budget goals.

Microsoft Teams and GroupsMicrosoft Teams and Groups

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Improvements

  • Provisioning a new Alcion account now takes a minute or less. No more waiting to get started!
  • Single file exports are no longer a ZIP file and retain the original item name by default.
  • Notifications include the domain associated with a given Alcion account.
  • Notification preferences can be controlled from a link in each notification email.
  • Self-service upgrade for annual subscriptions. No more need to contact support when you want to increase the number of your annual licenses.
  • Clear indication of the current protected users against your annual subscription, including estimated charges for on-demand excess protected users on the subscription page.
  • Upgraded to the latest version of Corso which brings a number of functional, performance, and robustness improvements. For more information on Corso specific changes please see the Corso changelog.

Notable fixes

  • Fixed an incorrect resource type displayed when setting up default policy for newly discovered resources.
  • Fixed cases where the resource discovery dialog is incorrectly dismissed before completing discovery.
  • Fixed Activity Insights that weren't properly reported when a Microsoft 365 tenant has turned off anonymized data for usage reports.
  • Fixed the ability to restore Shared Mailbox items to another resource, including a user.

September 30th, 2023

Georgi Matev
Head of Product

Features

Welcome to another installment of our monthly changelog! On behalf of the Alcion team, I'm happy to share with you the new capabilities and improvements that we've made generally available over the month of September.

File export from backups

One of the most common feature requests since our Public Preview launch has been the ability to export data from backups locally as opposed to restoring it back to the original Microsoft 365 environment. Alcion now offers this capability for OneDrive and SharePoint files.

Export - initiateExport - initiateExport - downloadExport - download

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Ransomware and malware detection insights

Alcion now provides administrators with additional transparency into ransomware detection functionality, resulting in additional peace of mind that their data is protected against cyber attacks.

At a resource level, Alcion exposes the training progression for a given resource and the level of confidence that the anomaly model can achieve. The model can provide reliable predictions after 30 days of backup observations and reaches full strength after 90 days.

Additionally, administrators have access to account-level historical stats about the number of ransomware and malware threats detected.

Ransomware - initial trainingRansomware - initial trainingRansomware - reliable strengthRansomware - reliable strengthRansomware - maximum strengthRansomware - maximum strength

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Self-service annual billing

Building on our previous release of self-service month-to-month billing, Alcion customers no longer need to work with our support team when they want to take advantage of our discounted rates on annual subscriptions. Alcion now allows you to start an annual subscription completely independently.

Self-service annual paymentSelf-service annual payment

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Improvements

  • Simplified self-service billing with filtering applicable VAT/GST ID based on the customer billing address.
  • Ransomware detection model improvements for cases where the activity involves unrecognized file types.
  • Allow restores to succeed with a warning in cases where file permissions can't be restored because the user account no longer exists.
  • Improved the reliability and efficiency of the Alcion backup scheduling.
  • Upgraded to the latest version of Corso which brings a number of functional, performance, and robustness improvements. For more information on Corso specific changes please see the Corso changelog.

Notable fixes

  • Removed Microsoft Bookings pages which were incorrectly discovered as users.
  • Fixed incorrect reporting of SharePoint site name when excluding sites from backups.
  • Made account settings menu accessible on smaller width devices.
  • Fixed attempts to retrieve subscription information before the Alcion account is properly initialized.
  • Fixed errors when bulk applying policy changes to too many resources causes the request payload to become too large.

August 31st, 2023

Georgi Matev
Head of Product

Our team has had a productive August, and we're happy to announce a number of improvements to our platform that are now generally available for use.

Features

Enhanced ransomware detection

Protection in the event of cyber attacks remains a top priority for us, and we continuously improve Alcion's ability to recognize threats. Our ransomware detection model now considers an even broader set of access metrics, item metadata, and item contents when monitoring for anomalies over an even longer time horizon (now past 90 days).

Alcion now uses a family of unsupervised anomaly detection models that improve accuracy and can recognize not only fast moving mass encryption events but also more sophisticated attacks that employ partial encryption over longer periods.

Ransomware detected alertRansomware detected alert

Stay tuned for much more on this topic that our amazing engineers will share in the future.

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Ransomware & malware email alerts

Alcion now offers additional email notifications to keep you informed about cyber related incidents that require your immediate attention. The newly supported notification types are:

  • Potential ransomware activity detected
  • Malware found and eliminated

Ransomware notificationRansomware notification

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Shared mailboxes

Alcion now supports protecting shared mailboxes. In the past, shared mailboxes may have been discovered as regular users, but they're now a first class citizen in the Alcion user experience. Separating users and shared mailboxes as a different resource type also brings more clarity for license management since shared mailboxes don't require a separate license1.

Shared mailbox tilesShared mailbox tiles

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Resource activity insights

In addition to the visibility it can provide into backup data, Alcion also helps you understand the high-level dynamics of data activity for the underlying Microsoft 365 resources even when these resources are not protected by Alcion.

This makes it much easier to identify resources where the underlying data is changing at a rapid pace. Such resources are at higher risk of data loss and will be great candidates to protect with a recurring or intelligent backup policy.

Data activity indicatorData activity indicator

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Compliance score

To provide a clear way to understand the current level of protection, Alcion calculates a compliance score for each supported resource type. The score indicates that a protection policy is assigned to resources and that there has been at least 1 successful backup in the last 24 hours.

Compliance scoreCompliance score

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Self-service billing and licensing

Up until this point, Alcion customers had to work with our support team to procure their subscription. We recognize that this deprives prospects of the ability to make this important decision at their own pace. To improve this experience, Alcion now allows you to select your desired plan and pay for it in a self-service manner.

To ensure the utmost security (Alcion never stores payment information) and flexibility of available payment methods, the payment experience is powered by Stripe.

Self-service paymentsSelf-service payments

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Improvements

  • Upgraded the version of Corso used by Alcion.
  • Improved ordering for triggering pre-emptive backups when a ransomware attack is detected to maximize protection.
  • More intuitive set of backup policies to control enabling or disabling of backups.

Notable fixes

  • Fixes consistent formatting for all stats using proper locale formatting.
  • Fixes error where backups would not automatically start when bulk setting policy on multiple resources.
  • Fix some spacing issues for modal dialogues.
  • Fix how the correct automatic policy is selected when changing between Alcion subscription tiers.

Footnotes

  1. Shared mailboxes that have an active OneDrive associated with the account will be considered a User.

July 31st, 2023

Georgi Matev
Head of Product

The Alcion team continues to make improvements to our platform. Below are highlights for some of the work that has been baking for a little while and is now generally available for use.

Features

Additional restore options

One of the most requested improvements to Alcion has been the ability to control how data is restored. This has now been addressed! In addition to the default non-destructive restore to a new location, Alcion now supports restoring to the original backup location (including conflict resolution) and restoring to a different user or site.

Restore optionsRestore optionsAction options - duplicatesAction options - duplicates

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Email notifications

Alcion already offers great visibility into the operational health of your data protection and security through our home dashboard and activity pages when you are in the product. Email notification are now available in Alcion to keep you informed of key events that require attention. The initially supported notifications are:

  • Backup failures
  • Daily backup activity summary
  • Restore failures
  • Restore successful completions
  • Suspected ransomware activity

Action detailsAction details

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

New Asia Pacific data region

Alcion customers can now store their backups in Asia Pacific (Australia) in addition to the existing United States and Europe regions.

For more details, see the relevant documentation.

Improvements

  • Upgraded the version of Corso used by Alcion.
  • Improved Alcion login page.
  • Action details now include a record of the restore options used.
  • Backups other than the latest are highlighted with an inline call-out for better user visibility.
  • Improved how automated action re-drives in response to failures are displayed in the Activity view.
  • Recent statistics for the last 24 hours are now properly aligned with the Alcion account timezone.

Notable fixes

  • Hardened resource discovery when there are gaps in the permissions granted to Alcion for the Microsoft 365 tenant.
  • Resource discovery no longer requires at least one user with a valid OneDrive license.
  • Addressed some possible inconsistencies between action stats and summary stats.

June 30th, 2023

Georgi Matev
Head of Product

The Alcion team has been busy over the last month! We've shipped a large number of improvements, big and small, in this time! Some of the highlights are below.

Features

Simplified Protection Workflows

Quick startQuick start

This feature makes it easier for new Alcion users and, in particular, new trial users, to get started. You can now protect all your resources, existing and future, with a single click when you onboard your tenant. We hope it will make it extremely straightforward for you to test Alcion backing up all your resources at zero cost during the trial period.

Action Details

Action detailsAction details

We're constantly working to incorporate your feedback, and this is one of those items. Users wanted more visibility around completed backup and restore actions, and the capability is now available. As the above screenshot shows, Alcion displays a lot more information including times, durations, data statistics, and more!

Improvements

The last month also included many smaller but important improvements to our platform:

  • The version of Corso used by Alcion was upgraded. This brought in large performance improvements for backup and restore speeds and fixed bugs when handling large attachments.

  • Backup scheduling was improved to further isolate "noisy" tenants from the rest of the system and improve your quality of service.

  • For tenants with large number of users or sites, we also improved resource discovery. Alcion no longer blocks on full discovery but will instead iteratively display discovered resources.

Notable fixes

We also had a few minor, but notable fixes, that went in:

  • The restore API now includes complete statistics.
  • UI improvements to increase the robustness of multi-resource selection.
  • Fixed UI button sizing inconsistency as things being just slightly off bugs us as much it bugs you.
  • Cleaned up failure semantics when backups fail (for example, when Microsoft has an outage in the middle of an ongoing backups).