News/Trends

Salesforce policy changes drive the need for cloud backup

June 5, 2020 W. Curtis Preston, Technical Evangelist

Some of your company’s most critical data will soon be hosted on a platform that leaves all data protection responsibilities up to you. In a recent announcement, Salesforce.com announced that they are retiring their “Data Recovery” service on July 31, 2020, putting the onus on the customer to back up their Salesforce data.

It’s not just Salesforce

While Salesforce is the first major SaaS vendor to publicly state that data protection is entirely your responsibility, the reality is that very few SaaS vendors offer anything in terms of data protection against major attacks. At best, most of these products offer protection against basic user errors, such as accidentally deleting a file, email, or record. For example, Salesforce, Office 365, and G Suite all offer a recycle bin of some sort that will store deleted objects for some period of time, which allows for quick recovery from accidental deletion. Office 365 and G Suite also offer versioning for documents, which allows a user that accidentally changed a document to go back to a previous version of said document.

However, there are limitations to all of these tools. For example, Salesforce offers no protection against accidentally or maliciously-modified records. In addition, none of these tools offer protection against a major attack that could wipe out your account and its recycle bin along with it.

Salesforce gets credit here for publicly stating what should be obvious: if a service (e.g. backup and recovery) is not mentioned in your service agreement, the vendor is under no obligation to provide such a service. Neither Microsoft nor Google have anything in their service agreement about backup and recovery. (Interestingly enough, the consumer version of Office 365 mentions that you should back up its data, but the word “backup” is completely missing from the commercial version of the product.)

Salesforce didn’t want to offer a subpar service

Salesforce has historically offered what they called “Data Recovery,” which costs $10,000 and took 6 to 8 weeks to give you a download link for a zip file that would contain CSVs of each of your Salesforce objects. Once downloaded, it would be your responsibility to upload these CSV files in a particular order so that you could reestablish referential integrity between the various objects. Meanwhile, you could have a Salesforce instance that was completely nonfunctional.  In their announcement, Salesforce mentioned that this was not in keeping with the level of quality customers expect from Salesforce – so they discontinued it.

Probably the central reason for this service costing so much and taking so long is that it was apparently a very labor-intensive process for Salesforce to perform the service. This is also probably why they did not recommend using the service when they accidentally corrupted thousands of customers’ data last year. They instead mentioned that users hopefully had a sandbox copy that was slightly out of date, but not too out of date.

The native free tools lack functionality

Performing a Salesforce backup using the built-in free tools requires you to initiate the backup manually, wait for it to complete, and then download it. Three manual steps that most people are not going to remember to do very often. Or perhaps they might remember to do the first step but forget to do the second and third steps. Backups are not at the forefront of most people’s minds, so any backup method that requires multiple manual steps on a regular basis is not going to be an optimal method.

In addition, the native tool only provides CSV files that must be manually uploaded in case of disaster. You will need to upload with them in a particular order in order to maintain referential integrity. This is an error-prone process that should also be avoided.

The choice seems obvious

Salesforce is finally confirming that you must backup your own data. (Microsoft and Google should hopefully be just as forthcoming someday.) You have two choices: a manual, error-prone process that you will most likely forget or make mistakes with, or an automated backup and recovery system provided by a third party. Now is the time to examine your options, before Salesforce leaves you with none.

Learn how Druva offers Salesforce backup on-demand for your entire organization.