Originally the term “cloud backup” referred to primarily consumer-grade services that backed up PCs and laptops to a cloud-based provider. These services were designed to protect users’ data, mostly digital content like photos and music, but also documents. But business use of cloud backup was somewhat limited, due in part to the fact that most companies needed protection for servers and other data sets, not just users’ computers. While ‘endpoint’ backup solutions have become more common, companies like CloudAlly are offering a new type of data protection service, backup for applications running in the cloud, also known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) backup.
Who does SaaS Backup Protect?
All SaaS providers do protect the data they store, as well as their infrastructures. They typically spend significant design and operational resources making their facilities, compute and storage systems resilient, so they’ll stay up in the face of all kinds of natural and man-made disasters. They also go to great lengths to create environments that minimize single points of failure, including backing up users’ data.
But most of the restores generated by end-user productivity applications are caused by human error; accidental deletion, importing corrupted data, saving the wrong versions, etc. Unfortunately, most SaaS data protection efforts don’t provide for this kind of file recovery. Also, many will delete these backups after a period of time, often 30 days or less.
SaaS Backup for the End User
CloudAlly is a SaaS application backup service that performs regular backups of user data associated with popular on-line productivity or business applications such as Office 365 or Salesforce.com. These backups themselves are encrypted and stored in CloudAlly’s Amazon S3 environments using SSL enabled servers. With three data centers available, users can store backups in the US, EMEA or AUS in compliance with data locality regulations. CloudAlly uses an ‘incremental forever’ process and deduplication to minimize the amount of data actually stored, allowing them to offer unlimited backup data retention.
SaaS Applications Supported
From a single CloudAlly login, users can back up data from Microsoft Office 365, GoogleApps, SalesForce.com and SharePoint/OneDrive accounts. For Office 365, CloudAlly backs up Exchange Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks, and is compatible with all Office 365 Exchange plans. CloudAlly is also compatible with all GoogleApps plans and allows users to manage multiple Google domains from a single account. It backs up GMail, GoogleDrive, Sites, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks and Chats.
For SharePoint Online CloudAlly supports backups from Team Sites, Public Sites, Private Site Collections plus OneDrive for Business Sites. For SalesForce.com, CloudAlly backs up all organization data, metadata and chatter feeds. Compatible with all plans, it also backs up production and sandbox data for multiple SalesForce instances.
Companies can have the CloudAlly system automatically or manually add new users. It also provides manual and automated daily backups, plus an optional daily backup confirmation and summary for all supported applications. When recovering data, users can choose to perform a non-destructive restore to the original application or export the data for local use.
CloudAlly is priced per user, typically $3 per month, with unlimited data storage and SharePoint/OneDrive is priced at $2/month for each 5GB of data stored. Additional discounts are available for Enterprise Licensing, annual subscriptions, academics and non-profits.
SaaS backup is a relatively new category in data protection, but one users should be aware of. Like other forms of “insurance”, one often doesn’t become aware of the shortcomings of their backup solution until they need to recover some data. By then it’s too late. When we think of the cloud we assume tier-1 infrastructures, professional management and a high level of data resiliency. But the issue isn’t one of execution, it’s design.
SaaS providers are spending their money to protect themselves against data loss – catastrophic facility and systems failures – not to protect users against productivity loss. When you need to have a file restored, assuming it’s no longer in the recycle bin, the provider might be able to recover it if it’s in a recent backup. But this can take a while and in the case of Salesforce, cost thousands of dollars for the recovery service. For a few bucks a month per user (typically much less for mid-size to larger companies), IT can be sure that on-line application data is protected at the user level, like it’s always been with traditional backup products.