It’s Time to Admit It: Backup is Your Job

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Click to learn more about author W. Curtis Preston.

Salesforce finally made it official: Backup is the customer’s responsibility. To be clear, it always was the customer’s responsibility, but Salesforce used to provide a safety net that some used as an excuse not to back up their Salesforce account. As of July 31, 2020, that safety net is gone.

Captain Obvious

For those that follow the data protection space, the fact that it is your responsibility to back up your Salesforce data seems like something that Captain Obvious would say in a hotels.com commercial. Of course, it is your responsibility to back up your SaaS data; it was always your responsibility to back up your data.

Being in charge of your company’s infrastructure includes many responsibilities, one of which is backup and recovery. Outsourcing your infrastructure to another provider only outsources functionality — not responsibility. No matter who is going to perform various functions, ensuring that those functions continue to happen will always be your company’s responsibility.

I know of no other part of IT that anyone takes for granted when outsourcing functionality to a SaaS vendor. You do not assume that the product works as described; you test it. With Salesforce, you tested how it worked and how it worked with other tools before purchasing it, right? You tested that Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) delivers and receives email. You investigated how secure it was, and you looked into what you need to do to secure it further. You most likely tested every area of functionality that was important to you, and you did not assume that this functionality was provided.

Why then, do people assume that backup services are included in a SaaS offering? A recent survey that I saw in another article showed 70 percent of Salesforce customers thought backup was not their problem. They either thought Salesforce didn’t contain data that needed to be backed up (hard to believe) or that backup was included in the service. As someone who has dedicated my entire career to data protection, I still don’t understand how anyone could assume that backup is included — since they don’t assume anything else is included without testing it.

Goodbye and Good Riddance

The data recovery “service,” if you can call it that, was easily one of the worst offerings I have ever seen in my career. It cost $10,000, took 6 to 8 weeks to provide, after which you only got a zip file of CSV files. Recovery was not guaranteed. Referential integrity was not guaranteed, and once you got all of those files, it was your responsibility to then upload them back to Salesforce.

I can only assume someone at Salesforce finally realized this was not something they should be charging people for. I can’t imagine anyone who used such a service being happy with it after they were done. Your Salesforce environment would be down for 6 to 8 weeks while you awaited the data — and then you would get to pay $10,000.

The service was likely originally developed to be used as an absolute last resort, but in reality, it seems many companies were considering this their viable backup solution. But honestly, goodbye and good riddance. This was never something any company that cares about their Salesforce data should have relied upon.

Mission-Critical Data

There are two types of mission-critical systems: those that are required to deliver the actual product or service that your company delivers and those required to sell and support the product or service. The first type is clearly the most mission-critical; if the services behind your product are down, your entire company is down. But just behind that level of priority are systems necessary for selling and supporting people or businesses.

This means that, for many companies, Salesforce.com is a very mission-critical service. If Salesforce.com went down for some period of time, you might be able to use other systems in the short-term or make up for the lost time by working overtime. But imagine what would happen if someone accidentally or maliciously corrupted your Salesforce database, losing a few weeks’ worth of sales efforts or customer orders! This wouldn’t be a simple matter of downtime; you could be out a significant amount of revenue. In addition, it would be a very public event for potential new customers who now may re-examine your company’s ability to do business and decide to go elsewhere.

Simply consider just how important Salesforce is to your company’s organization and prioritize its data protection needs appropriately. You wouldn’t do some sort of hodgepodge, slapped together backup system for your company’s mission-critical database, so why would you do it for Salesforce?

Stop-Gap and a Full Solution

There are ways to manually backup Salesforce without purchasing third-party tools. And before you do anything else, I would recommend exploring how to backup Salesforce and follow their recommendations to immediately create a zip file that you can download. Then you will have at least one backup of what you already have, but that is really just a stop-gap solution.

The functionally built into Salesforce is very manual and error-prone, and no backup person worth their salt would recommend doing such a thing for anything other than a stop-gap. Just like every other mission-critical system, what you need is automated off-site backup and recovery for Salesforce. So as soon as you get some kind of backup using the built-in functionality, you should immediately investigate a service that will automate this process for you moving forward.

It’s also important to realize that this problem is not unique to Salesforce. Microsoft is not backing up Microsoft 365 for you, Google is not backing up Gmail for you, and no one is backing up the various cloud vendors where you are running your VMs or containers. Backup does not magically happen, which means you should also investigate backup and restore possibilities for all your other cloud services as well.

Please do it now before the worst happens, because no one wants that.

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