E-Handbook: SaaS data backup challenges and best practices Article 4 of 4

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Why do you need backup for Salesforce and other SaaS apps?

Backup for Salesforce is available from several third-party vendors. Why aren't a lot of organizations doing it? Explore some of the many reasons why you need this backup.

Organizations using cloud-based SaaS applications are focused way too much on usage of these platforms and, instead, need to also be thinking about productivity in terms of backups.

Cloud-based application platforms, like Salesforce, Office 365 and Box, are now integral parts of modern-day business operations. With the digital transformation in full swing, customers, partners, vendors and employees expect that operations and data will be available pretty much always.

But, for some odd reason, IT has lost its collective mind. We would never think of putting up an application and not backing it up. But when we move to the cloud and put our organization's most critical data up there -- in Salesforce or otherwise -- many don't give a second thought to backups. But why? If Salesforce was on premises, wouldn't you be backing it up every day? Of course you would.

There are a number of reasons you need backup for Salesforce and other SaaS providers:

  • They aren't responsible. Most SaaS vendors subscribe to a shared responsibility model. In short, they are responsible for the service, but you are responsible for your data. Salesforce, for example, says it outright. The vendor offers the most basic backup for Salesforce.
  • In-application functionality is limited. Some platforms have deleted item retention times, data archiving or legal holds, but these are generally per-record copies. None of these are as effective as good, old-fashioned backups that are in your control. Salesforce offers some manual and on-demand export options, but none of them are of the same caliber as traditional backups.
  • Data is at risk of loss. Microsoft Azure, for example, has suffered multiple outages in recent years. While most outages are merely a loss of service, as more organizations rely on SaaS vendors, the likelihood of it happening to a customer increases by the day. Even Salesforce keeps a copy of your data for disaster recovery (DR) as a "last resort" (its words), acknowledging it is possible for your data to be lost.
  • You need to meet the 3-2-1 backup rule. In some cases, there is only one copy in production. (Replication for service availability doesn't count.) To meet the rule, you need two additional copies, at least one additional medium and one copy that's off-site -- that is, not in the SaaS vendor's hands. At best, Salesforce only maintains two copies -- one in production and one for its admittedly expensive DR services.
  • Avoid vendor lock-in. Should you (gasp!) not want to be use a given cloud vendor or perhaps it goes out of business and you want to move to another platform, you're going to need a copy of your data to do so. Some data protection vendors, such as OwnBackup, Spanning and Odaseva, offer specific products that do backup for Salesforce.
  • It's your data. It's really that simple. Shouldn't you have at least one copy of your data? You may need it for a number of reasons we've already mentioned, as well as for e-discovery purposes or moving the application back on premises.

Backup for Salesforce and other cloud data applications is a serious matter, given the importance of data to your organization. The bottom line is that SaaS applications are just the service -- you're still the backup provider. Lots of third-party vendors offer products to back up just about every major SaaS player. It's time to find one that ensures all of your organization's data -- both on premises and in the cloud -- is protected.

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