OwnBackup: Don't rely on SaaS vendors to do their own backup and recovery

OwnBackup is making a business out of what SaaS vendors should (arguably) do

OwnBackup: Don't rely on SaaS vendors to do their own backup and recovery
Credit: Thinkstock

Back when Salesforce and its ilk invented software as a service (SaaS), there was much wailing and gnashing of the teeth about the security around these new, as-yet-unproven approaches to delivering software. Many people suggested that these vendors were fly-by-nighters—that they would fail and customers’ data would be lost forever.

A decade or so later, and apart from some high-profile cases (who remembers Magnol.ia?), that doomsday scenario hasn’t occurred. SaaS vendors are safely doing their job and keeping customers’ data safe.

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Given this fact, you could be forgiven for assuming that there would be no opportunity for a vendor whose core mission is to help users backup their SaaS data. For one thing, SaaS vendors hardly ever fail and for another, even if short-term outages and small-scale losses occur, SaaS vendors can be relied upon to do their own backup and recovery. Right?

Not so if you listen to OwnBackup, a company that is all about cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery. OwnBackup does a very simple job—at least at a conceptual level. It provides secure and (especially important) automated daily backups of SaaS and platform as a service (PaaS) data, and layers over that data comparison and restoration tools. Essentially the focus of the company is to cover any data loss and corruption caused by human errors, malicious intent, integration errors and rogue applications.

And, I write again, wouldn’t a SaaS company anointing OwnBackup be a pretty stark admission that, at least to some extent, their own internal processes are suboptimal? Well, I would have thought so, but Salesforce certainly doesn't seem to think it's an issue given the fact that it recently invested in OwnBackup’s Series A funding round. It seems that providing higher levels of certainty—even in addition to the very real focus that every SaaS vendor should, and hopefully does, apply to data integrity—is worthwhile. Interesting. Seemingly unaware of the potential sensitivities that a SaaS vendor might have around their existence, OwnBackup is very blunt in the need for their product. OwnBackup CEO Sam Gutmann says: 

“Organizations are embracing cloud-based infrastructure and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications in droves, yet few are properly equipped to protect and restore the data within their SaaS infrastructure. Data is the lifeblood of today’s businesses, so relying on legacy backup tools or assuming SLA agreements with SaaS vendors cover data can be detrimental mistakes. Taking a proactive approach to managing SaaS-application data needs to become a priority. Our goal is to give enterprises an easy way to effectively know not only that there is a potential data loss or corruption event, but also exactly what data is affected and how to fix it.”

What does OwnBackup actually do? The backup thing is easily understood, but there is significant nuance in the restoration of SaaS data. OwnBackup allows bulk data restoration or restore at a more granular level. It also offers a bunch of services related to notifications and the all-important meta data within a SaaS application. Specifically, OwnBackup promises:

  • An easy-to-understand way to visualize how data changes over time: The platform’s new graphing system creates visual data reports that deliver a comprehensive view into data changes, enabling rapid insight and response. Users can also drill down into the charts to isolate specific objects or find out the number of objects added, deleted or modified. This helps administrators and database managers easily spot normal versus abnormal behavior.
  • Rapid meta data restore capabilities: The latest version of the platform takes meta data protection to the next level by protecting and automatically recovering meta data corruptions or deletions within the actual application schema. An industry first, this allows users to fully restore their customized application configurations directly within the OwnBackup platform.
  • A sophisticated executive notification system: OwnBackup now can instantly deliver important alerts when unusual patterns emerge to provide timely C-level visibility (i.e., percentage of records modified/deleted during an application update). Based on customizable thresholds, customers can now deliver enterprise-level, easily understood insights into SaaS application data for business and executive users, as well as technical teams.

My POV

At a conceptual level, there should be no need for a company like OwnBackup. SaaS vendors should, after all, be 100 percent focused on both the reliability of their product and the integrity of the data within it in the event of an outage. But that ignores the very real issues around third-party breaches, user error and the like. And this is where OwnBackup comes in. The ability to roll back changes after a new employee enters data in a wrong way for their first month, for example, is something that is less clearly a vendor requirement.

I would also suggest that 10 years into the SaaS industry, there is more maturity and understanding. Also, people realize there is nuance around security and data integrity and that admitting there is a role for a third-party vendor isn't an admission of weakness.

It is also perhaps a growing signal that organizations are increasingly aware of the importance of meta data, or the data about data, that exists within and around their applications. If OwnBackup can deliver what it promises, across a range of SaaS products, it has a good opportunity in the marketplace.

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