7 Data Backup Tips for Enterprises Moving to the Cloud

If you’re one of countless enterprises migrating your business applications to cloud services, you know all about the benefits you’ll be enjoying soon; but cloud adoption isn’t without challenges. There are a number of things you should  consider to ensure your transition to the cloud is smooth, efficient, and sustainable.

First, you need a clear strategy for migrating your data and applications – something that shockingly less than one in three organizations moving to the cloud can say they have. You need to consider your reasons for moving to the cloud; perform a thorough cloud impact analysis; get a firm grasp on your costs; identify key security and compliance requirements; and implement end-user training before and after the move. Check out this great article for more hints and tips: 16 Tips for Moving Your Workload to the Cloud.

Once you’ve successfully made the move, you need to consider how you will ensure the protection of your data in its new home. That’s where this article can help you succeed in your transition to the cloud.

SaaS data in applications like Google Workspace, Salesforce, and Office 365 still need to be backed up. Your data may be stored in the cloud – but this doesn’t mean it should be protected any less stringently than it was when you had the applications running and data stored  on premises.

Consider this: when data was managed on-site, if a loss or mistake occurred, you could call your IT department and they could spin up the backup drives, pull the data from the date you requested, and manually reload it into your application.

When you migrate to the cloud, you no longer have the ability to manipulate data in this way. Restoring data is still as important, but without a complete backup and restore solution for your cloud applications, you’re left without the ability to perform these key functions – which can have a dramatic negative effect on productivity.

In order to fully prepare you for managing and protecting data in the cloud, check out our seven backup tips below.

1) Understand what is and isn’t covered by your SaaS providers

Most major cloud providers do an excellent job of protecting your data from errors on their end. They have high levels of redundancy and backup systems to protect you in scenarios such as hardware/software failures, natural disasters or power failure. It’s extremely rare that you’ll lose data due to any of these events.

But when it comes to accidental or malicious data loss on your end, it’s a different story. Unfortunately, many businesses mistakenly believe that their SaaS providers can assist in these circumstances, too – 95% believe that their SaaS vendors will easily restore all their lost data. Unfortunately, they’re wrong; more often than not, this will lead to permanent data loss, and all the associated headaches.

It sounds simple, but the starting point to keeping your data safe is to understand what your SaaS provider does and does not protect. You can use this knowledge to put a solution in place that best meets the needs of your organization.

2) Implement a third-party backup solution – and choose the right one for you.

Choosing a backup provider is a big decision, and it’s important to do your homework. Not only do you need to make sure your chosen solution does exactly what you need it to, you also need to make sure you choose a vendor with commitment to service. You need to have a transparent, trusting relationship with your cloud vendor. Our friends at AMAG Pharmaceuticals, for example, took their time and are extremely happy with the decision they made in choosing Spanning.

For more advice on choosing the right backup solution, check out our free white paper, 9 Essentials for a Complete Cloud-to-Cloud Backup Solution. This paper walks you through potential sources of cloud data loss, and provides you with a checklist that you can use to evaluate any cloud-to-cloud backup provider.

3) Build good habits with training and knowledge transfer

The vast majority of SaaS data loss is actually a result of simple human error, so it’s well worth implementing any steps you can take to minimize these cases with training and clearly documented processes.

Of course, regardless of how much you’ve trained and prepared, accidental data loss can, and does, still happen – so, while this point isn’t a substitute for putting a suitable backup solution in place, it might mean you have to use that solution less frequently. Even better, choosing a solution like Spanning Backup, which enables end users to restore data themselves, empowers users to be masters of their own productivity while allowing IT resources to be directed toward more strategic efforts.

4) Set up data access policies

Of course, one of the benefits of a cloud application is that it allows your team to access data more conveniently than ever before. But this presents certain risks, too. It’s important to make sure you clearly define which users can access which files, so that only the people with the right levels of access can view and edit them. Roles and permissions can be easily applied through most SaaS platforms. Simply put, this means unauthorized users can’t access your data, closing down one potential avenue of data loss.

5) Automate your backup

When it comes to backing up your data, you have two options; manual and automatic. There are two key problems with manual exports – one, they take time, and two, they can be forgotten. Our advice is always to automate your backups to run without any manual intervention – your catchphrase should be “set it and forget it!”

6) Test your restore

This point is important on two levels. Firstly, it allows you to assess how long it might take to recover from data loss if it did happen, allowing you to make appropriate contingency plans. It also allows you to communicate the impact of human error to your people. In other words, you’re able to tell your people that accidental deletion of a crucial folder could take ‘x’ amount of time to recover (if at all). This allows you to build a culture of carefulness which, while it can never eliminate the spectre of data loss altogether, can reduce the frequency of such events and facilitate greater business continuity.

Check out our White Paper, Five Essential Restore Capabilities for Cloud Application Data to find out more about this point.

7) Ensure application admins are involved in your backup procedures

The reality is that cloud data backup goes beyond traditional IT – business application owners need to be involved in the process, too. This has a number of benefits. Clearly, allowing application owners to perform backup and recovery tasks can save time and resource for backup admins, as well as making the whole process more flexible and agile.

But, more to the point, it’s a good idea for IT and the application owners to collaborate and understand who will ultimately be responsible for SaaS data backup. This  facilitates and encourages a business-wide focus on data security and responsibility.

Bonus Tip: Compliance

In all likelihood, you probably already know and understand the compliance standards that apply to your industry. You have a responsibility to comply with these ever-changing standards – and moving to the cloud does not transfer that responsibility to the cloud providers; you still have to take ownership of this.

Accordingly, you should make sure that you ask any potential cloud provider to confirm their services meet your industry requirements and that you also have proper controls in place to meet your responsibilities for data management – this is part of your due diligence.

The keys to cloud confidence are in your hands

Moving your applications and data to the cloud is an exciting opportunity, but you have to remember that your data – while it may have moved offsite – remains your responsibility. It needs to be protected as fiercely as it was when it lived in your server room.

You’ll need to do your homework to ensure you understand what is and isn’t covered by that provider; from there, begin the search for the right third-party backup solution for your organization keeping the above tips in mind for smooth sailing in the cloud.