As SaaS solutions become more popular, companies need to pay more attention to data protection. Important corporate data stored in the cloud should be protected as reliably as data stored on-site. This article will be useful for developers who are working on their own cloud backup solution.
Importance of a data backup service for SaaS
One of the most significant benefits of cloud storage is that a cloud service vendor is responsible for data management and is in control of your SaaS data security and backups. While this might be true in most cases, however, not all cloud service providers can assist in recovering company’s data if a single change made by one of employees causes data corruption or even loss.
In a report published in February 2017, Gartner predicts that the public cloud market will grow by about $38 billion by the end of 2017 to reach an estimated $246.8 billion, and will hit $287.8 billion in 2018. Gartner suggests that cloud services, including Software as a Service (SaaS), which represents nearly 18.8% of the market (about $46.331 billion), are now in a period of stabilization.
With the growing popularity of SaaS solutions, companies that maintain data in the cloud are getting interested in cloud-to-cloud backup tools for the following reasons:
- Cloud-to-cloud backup solutions are easy to implement. Cloud-based software doesn’t require large initial infrastructure investment and can be easily deployed with just an agent installation.
- Cloud-to-cloud backup solutions have predictable costs. With no big upfront costs, companies can focus on maintaining current operational costs regardless their chosen backup solution.
- Cloud-to-cloud backup solutions are simple to manage. Since a service provider is responsible for data management, the only thing a company has to worry about is backing its servers.
There are a few concerns about cloud-to-cloud backups, like the following:
- Pricing and licensing schemes for cloud-to-cloud backup systems can be quite complex. If a company needs to back up a lot of services, it may find itself paying a premium for licences, since basic offerings only include support for one (e.g. Microsoft Office 365 backup) or a handful of services.
- There isn’t a service level agreement. The absence of a service level agreement can lead to situations when the state of cybersecurity of a cloud provider cannot be reliably verified.
- Slow internet connections. Small companies often use slow internet connections, which makes downloading large amounts of data quite difficult.
Why cloud services need backup
Cloud-to-cloud backup ensures that data stored on distributed cloud-based platforms – such as Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365, and Google Apps – is safe. Cloud-to-cloud backup solutions allow you to easily recover data from any time. Google Apps, for instance, allows data restoration only within 25 days according to an all-or-nothing principle. Therefore, there’s a need on the market for new cloud-to-cloud solutions.
Companies often mistakenly believe that their SaaS provider also has to be their cloud backup provider since they’ve created their data in the cloud, as their vendor presumably creates backups for its own purposes.
Salesforce, for example, provides a special service called Data Recovery that allows organizations to recover their data at any time. But to use Data Recovery, clients need to pay $10,000. Salesforce states that this high cost is based on the large amount of time (20 days or more) of manual work that is necessary to restore this data.
SaaS Development Lifecycle
This is why a company can’t fully entrust critical cloud-based data backups to their cloud service provider. Cloud-to-cloud backup for enterprise ensures that a client will always have a copy of data that’s stored in the cloud in case something goes wrong. Unfortunately, businesses are used to learning lessons the hard way. Companies realize how much data recovery can cost when they partner with an unreliable SaaS provider, deploy a SaaS model they can’t fully control, or face a situation where an employee makes a single unneeded change in Salesforce. Alternatively, they could just have a copy of their own data ready and resolve the situation in minutes. The need for effective cloud-to-cloud backup tools is obvious.
Overview of existing solutions
Cloud-to-cloud backup solutions let you implement scalable, manageable, and dependable cloud-based data backups. When developing a particular SaaS system or striving to improve your SaaS backup strategy, you should follow the same principles you would when managing on-site deployments. When developing your cloud-to-cloud backup and data protection solution, consider the following:
- Performance. Before offering backup software, first test its performance. You might need to develop a backup speed testing tool if it has no one. This tool should be able to perform upload and download speed tests as well as latency tests.
- How saved backups work for actual recovery. Test to make sure that backups will work in an emergency.
- SSAE 16(Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements) compliance. This is a mandatory standard for US service organizations for reporting their system and security controls and is comparable to international standard ISAE 3402.
- Pricing. The costs of a backup for cloud services involves comparing total expenses, not only the starter price. Vendors usually charge for the average amount of stored data per year, though there might be exceptions.
- The ability of restore and backup processes to meet recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) for your company’s customers. Meet RTO and RPO requirements for third-party SaaS applications.
- Customer support. The ability of customer support provided by the cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery vendor to meet your corporate requirements.
- Privileged Users. Specify whether backup exceptions is possible to set for particular users.
Let’s consider some examples of SaaS backup solutions.
Backupify supports Salesforce and Google Apps and provides capabilities to protect and restore cloud server files to SaaS developers, application providers, and other companies via its own custom API. Backupify also can back up from Microsoft Office 365 and Box.
Spanning is a SaaS data backup service that creates daily backups of data stored in Google Apps, G-Suite, and Salesforce. With Spanning, however, users cannot change the time for automatic backups and can only manually create a copy of data. Spanning assures that backed up data is accessible as long as an account is active.
Asigra was the first vendor to integrate cloud-to-cloud backup functionality in a multi-functional backup app. Asigra offers its Asigra Cloud Backup software only through their partners.
It was first added to the software platform in 2012. At the time, Asigra was only able to backup Salesforce data. Since then, they have also added the ability to restore data created in both Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps. With Asigra’s Cloud to Cloud Backup, administrators can integrate and manage backup data from cloud services along with client’s servers, virtualized environments and endpoint devices. Companies can store backup data on either on-site or in the cloud of any given partner. Admins can schedule automated backups at regular periods and retain their cloud-based data to comply with company regulations.
OwnBackup is another backup service for SaaS applications. OwnBackup allows administrators to take a snapshot of their database and compare it with another backup created at another point in time. Administrators can then decide which version to recover. The solution is designed to recover only corrupted data instead of all data, which ensures fast recovery of the complete database.
Other cloud-to-cloud backup solutions include Syscloud and CloudAlly. These tools allow users to create copies of data stored on cloud-based apps and transfer that data to another cloud storage provider. These copies usually contain audit logs and metadata that help admins easily find credentials.
Building your own cloud backup solution
When you decide to create your own backup software for SaaS, you should first determine the set of features you need. The following features are in high demand and are part of the most competitive cloud-to-cloud backup solutions currently on the market:
- Data encryption prior to transfer – Encrypting data before transferring prevents access by unauthorized users.
- Deduplication – Data deduplication is a compression technique to avoid data repeating. It allows companies to optimize their storage resources and decrease bandwidth requirements.
- Hybrid cloud backup – Cached backups stored on a company’s premises reduce the time needed to restore data.
- Extracting and saving cloud-based data to physical devices – Storing cloud-based data on a physical disk on-site reduces time for both initial backup and data restoration.
- Ongoing backups (incremental forever) – Perform one initial database backup and then save ongoing backups with active users in the database instead of backing up the whole database every time. This reduces the amount of data coming and going across a company’s network.
- Sub-file-level backups – This feature reduces the volume of data that needs to be copied by only backing up changed parts within individual files and works best with large files.
- Bandwidth options – Zipping data and scheduling backups to avoid impacts on users within a corporate network.
Requirements for cloud backup solutions
In addition to necessary features, your cloud-to-cloud backup solution should meet certain requirements to ensure the efficiency of data backups and restores. Let’s cover these requirements in detail.
Your cloud-to-cloud data backup and recovery solution should ensure compliance with regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Even though your company may not currently work with health service providers, you may in the future. Therefore, you should consider implementing data security measures to ensure compliance.
Data Backup Frequency
Define how often users should back up their data. Should users be able to set a custom schedule or should they use a regular schedule? Or both? Your solution should also let users manually make backups at any time.
It’s hard to remember the name of each file stored in a database. Therefore, your cloud-to-cloud data backup solution should have a convenient search feature that will help your users quickly find files.
Generating backups is necessary to protect data created in SaaS services from corruption or loss. Since there are various SaaS backup services on the market, you should consider the pricing and features of existing services in order to develop a competitive solution. Our team at Apriorit can help you develop a cloud-to-cloud data backup tool that will meet the industry standards while fully reflecting your business requirements. We’ve been successfully delivering high-performance SaaS platforms for many years to technology vendors all over the world, and we have a lot of expertise in cloud computing. Send us your request for proposal and let’s talk.