Why should we backup SaaS application data?

Backup for Software as a Service applications – it’s worth it. SaaS (Software as a Service) is growing in popularity among business clients. Unfortunately, firms that use the service often forget about one very important principle which, if data is lost, can affect the very survival of the company – data is your property and you are responsible for securing it. So what does this mean in practice?

Whose data is in the cloud?

Entrepreneurs often swing from one extreme to another. Let’s take, for example, their attitude towards the public cloud. Concern about data security is the most significant factor blocking the migration of digital resources to the cloud environment. Research entitled ‘The public cloud in Poland’, conducted by Deloitte, Google Cloud and the ICAN Institute, 43% of entrepreneurs claimed that moving into the public cloud would decrease system and data security. But when firms begin using AWS Amazon, Microsoft 365 or Salesforce, their attitude changes by 180 degrees and they have complete faith in their service providers. However, this belief can sometimes lead you astray. While the largest providers may pronounce loudly and clearly that there is no safer place for storing digital resources than their data centers, in practice not everything looks so rosy. Their numerous slip-ups provide enough material for a separate article. It is important to realize that data stored in the cloud belongs to the user of the service, and they are responsible for its security.

It is true that Salesforce and AWS offer certain features regarding creating backup copies, but these do not usually fulfill the requirements of business clients. Service providers are not responsible for users deleting data or for data encryption by ransomware. Interestingly, the Salesforce website states that the firm recommends using solutions for external service supplier backup. Unfortunately, clients rarely decide to follow this advice. A study conducted among Salesforce users found that only 12% commission backup and DR from an external form specializing in this type of solution. Meanwhile, 52% admit that they do not make backup copies at all, 21% use the Salesforce backup once a week, and 15% do it by themselves through integration with a local database.

When SaaS users are losing data

As part of the Office 365 suite, Microsoft provides a range of advanced services, but this does not include comprehensive data backup. According to a study conducted among 1000 IT specialists, as many as 81% of them have encountered data loss from the Office 365 suite. It is interesting to note that 60% of confidential data stored in the cloud is in the form of Office 365 suite documents, while 75% is not backed up.

Somewhat less dramatic results came from a study conducted by OwnBackup among Salesforce clients, although there was not much to cheer about here either. Every third respondent admits that they have experienced loss or corruption of data. In practically 50% of cases, this was caused by human error.

How does it come to this? Everyday life throws up a whole variety of situations, e.g. the person responsible for contact with the provider asks them to remove a certain batch of information. The provider dutifully carries out the task, after which it turns out that the resources that have been deleted are necessary after all. Sometimes employees deliberately remove valuable information to get revenge on a hated employer. It is not surprising then that no service provider will shoulder the responsibility for mistakes made by its client’s employees.

SaaS application and disasters

In fairness, it must be added that it is not only human behavior that leads to the loss of digital resources stored in the public cloud. Other causes often cited by participants in the OwnBackup study were mistakes caused during system integration (8%), data migration (7%), and those due to incorrect code (7%).

What happens when data vanishes? It all depends on the service provider’s policy. In general, Google does not retrieve data, while Salesforce will take on the task, but the client must pay 10,000 USD. However, it’s not only the high fee that may be a problem. The service provider commits to recovering the lost data in CSV files, but this takes between 6 and 8 weeks. If the data is crucial for running the business, the firm may not last until the end of the process and may vanish from the market altogether.

Different SaaS providers, different methods

According to Gartner, last year’s income from the sale of SaaS was as much as 105 billion dollars, making it the most popular cloud service at present. Firms who choose this form of using the software usually do so for two reasons – it is both highly flexible and there are no costs related to purchasing or implementing the solution. Nevertheless, service clients who are thinking seriously of running a business should add one more option to their SaaS provider subscription fee – data backup services.

Although it is true that it is possible to develop tools for making backup copies yourself, in most organizations this is unrealistic due to the lack of specialists who could take on such a task. The remaining option is to select a firm that specializes in creating this type of solution. Among SaaS backup providers there is the interesting phenomenon of narrow specialization. For example, OwnBackup and CopyStorm create backup only for Salesforce clients, while others such as Storware and Veeam only provide services for Office 365 users.

The specifics of individual applications on offer in the service model mean that for now nobody has been able to develop a universal backup system. Creating products for SaaS protection is no easy task, and their authors must deal with at least three challenges. Everyone tries to respond to these in their own way, which is why certain differences appear. So where are the main dividing lines?

  • The backup copy method. For now, there is no standard that ensures access to data in order to make backup copies. Cloud service providers have their own API interfaces for providing access to data. However, backup tool authors sometimes choose different paths for creating data backup copies, such as delegated access, migration API interfaces or backup API interfaces. Before choosing the most appropriate tool, it is worth finding out exactly how backup copies are made, as well as comparing their speed, efficiency and data completeness.
  • Data content. Not every dataset from a given cloud application is included in backup copies. For example, some SaaS backup copy providers for Office 365 only support email and OneDrive.
  • Backup copy storage. It is important where the backup copies are stored. This is done by service providers using a variety of platforms. Some have their own repositories, some cooperate with partners in private clouds, while others use the AWS, Microsoft and Google clouds. In all three cases, the price of services will differ. It is also important to check the fees for accessing and exiting in order to get a full picture of the costs of using the service.

Storware Backup and Recovery for Microsoft 365

For making data backup copies for the Microsoft Office 365 cloud service, our firm offers the Storware KODO for Cloud platform, which works on the basis of the GNU/Linux system. This makes it possible to create backup copies of resources from Onedrive for Business, Exchange Mailbox, Exchange Contacts, Exchange Calendars and SharePoint Online.

Backup and recovery solution for Microsoft Office 365

Storware KODO for Cloud ensures protection against accidental removal, overwriting and end of subscription, as well as against threats such as ransomware. This protection can be provided automatically for every new user account that is created.

Storware KODO for Cloud makes both full and incremental backup copies. This allows you to specify the number of previous versions held, as well as the data retention time in days, months or even years. Data can be stored locally in an on-premise environment, or as part of other cloud service resources.

The system enables restoring of data to the cloud and to local on-premise environments, as well as data migration between cloud service user accounts. If you would like to find out more about our solution, we can provide you with a free version (up to 25 workstations) or a 60-day trial version. For more details, go to our website website or follow our company blog

text written by:

Pawel Maczka, CTO at Storware