Computer backup tapes for data recoveryWhen we think about cloud and backup, many of us usually have “backing up data to the cloud” in mind. But what happens to the data that we generate on the cloud? (like, for example, on Office365 or Google Apps).
I’ve just recently realized that there is another aspect about cloud and backup which, I must admit, I’ve always underestimated. In fact, for some end users, it is much more important backing up data from the cloud than to the cloud… It just depends on where (and how) data is produced.

Your beloved SaaS application

SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) is becoming very popular with any type of organization from the smallest to the largest. Services like Mail-as-a-Service, Office-suite-as-a-Service or business applications like CRM-as-a-Service are quite common now. Most end users I talk to now have already migrated or plan to do so soon.

From the CIO point of view SaaS is one of the best options ever, it’s a dream! OPEX has moved to CAPEX, everything is always updated, user mobility and applications are granted, device independence and so on… until it becomes a nightmare!

Data loss, your worst nightmare

iStock_000016833562MediumSaaS is great, but what happens to the data that we generate into the cloud? is it properly backed up? Of course, the answer is… yes, it is! hmm….. maybe NOT.

SaaS vendors manage their infrastructure and service… they don’t manage data, data for them is just part of the infrastructure. Let me me explain: Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, you name it, have their backup systems and they are very good at backing up their infrastructures. But this is also the problem “they are *very* good at backing up their infrastructure”, but not your data!
When a few years ago Gmail went through a major service disruption resulting in the deletion of many mailboxes, Google was able to restore everything from multiple copies of data which they make (and tapes!). It was a clear demonstration that Google has a very efficient backup infrastructure but, as always, the devil lurks in the details. Google restored its services and data as-is.

If you come up with a problem like: “two months ago I lost an important email, can we recover it?”, the answer is simply NO!
I’m not talking only about data accidentally deleted (which is not always that easy for the dumb user), sometimes data is voluntarily deleted (think about someone who leaves a company in anger and deletes all his/her work just before going). In other words, when data is deleted it is lost forever!

The dimension of the problem

Screenshot 2014-12-12 12.34.23Spanning, the company that I met last week which has recently been acquired by EMC, reported some interesting data.
The most interesting number to me comes from the fact that 1 in 3 companies using SaaS apps have reported losing data (64% due to user errors, 20% due to malicious intent and 7% due to sync errors)… which clearly means they are losing control of their data.
Some SaaS providers offer a backup service but it is usually very costly and limited while retention policies don’t often comply to laws and regulations.
The more we move towards the (SaaS) cloud the bigger the problem becomes.

About Spanning

Spanning, founded in 2010 with HQ in Austin (Texas) and now part of the EMC federation, already has more than 4000 customers worldwide for its Backup-as-a-Service for SaaS applications (I know, SasS backup of SaaS apps sounds a little bit redundant but there is no other way to explain what they do 🙂 ).

Screenshot 2014-12-12 12.30.03I also attended a demo and the product (now supporting GApps, Office365 and Salesforce) is very intuitive and easy to use with/in web browsers and mobile devices. Searching for lost files or emails is very easy and restores happen in minutes (if not seconds). It can be done by the sysadmin or be delegated to the end user. And subscription is based on a per user/year basis. A free 14-day trial for GApps is available.

Closing the circle

According to the latest news, cloud-to-cloud backup is hot. Backupify (a Spanning competitor) was acquired two days ago and traditional backup vendors (like Asigra for example) are looking at it too!

EMC did very well by acquiring Spanning and I’m sure that with their sales power Spanning will grow very quickly and soon. Even though I’m not convinced of backing up cloud data to an on-premises infrastructure (does it make any sense?), I’m curious to find out if they have plans to somehow integrate Spanning with other traditional backup offerings already in place. I know, integration is not the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about EMC, but who knows? A single backup management system which has control of all your data (whatever they are) is not a bad idea after all.

Disclaimer: I was invited to this meeting by Condor Consulting Group and they paid for travel and accommodation, I have not been compensated for my time and am not obliged to blog. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any other person than the Juku team.