Can You Count on Your Data Protection Vendor to be Resilient?

Failures happen. Whether it’s a flat tire, a ransomware attack, or a service outage of a SaaS application that you rely on, it isn’t a question of if but when.

To be fully prepared for a SaaS data loss event you need to have a strong recovery plan and you need to test it to ensure you can accomplish your recovery objectives. What will you do when you get hit with a ransomware attack or a disgruntled employee decides to “get even” by deleting a bunch of Google Drive content?

Most experts agree that a SaaS data protection solution (sometimes called cloud-to-cloud backup) is essential to your disaster recovery and business continuity plans. But how do you know which SaaS data protection vendors are most reliable and most trusted? And what do you do when you discover your chosen solution has reliability issues?

No person or organization is perfect all the time, and therefore failures will occur. Part of what sets an organization apart is how well they prevent failures. Equally important is how well they react and respond to failures that do occur. At Spanning, we hold the trust of our customers above all things, and that’s why we take specific steps to ensure that we can meet the highest levels of expectations for backup service reliability and resiliency.

The following is a Q&A with Jeff Erramouspe, CEO of Spanning Cloud Apps, where he describes how Spanning does it and why we are different.

Jeff Erramouspe, CEO of Spanning Cloud Apps

With everything that’s been in the news recently, what’s your advice for organizations worried about ransomware? How does that relate to the importance of reliable recovery?    

Foremost, executives and technologists should definitely be concerned. Ransomware is not going away anytime soon, and organizations should plan for how they will recover from an attack just like they plan to prevent them in the first place.

The first, essential step is ensuring you have reliable backups. But many people overlook the importance of the data recovery process. It’s crucial to be able to find the correct data from just before the ransomware hit in the backups and restore it quickly so they can continue operating their business without disruption.

When data loss occurs —“the moment of truth” —the reliability of your backup and recovery cannot be in question. The process, solution or service you use to recover at this critical moment must be reliable –  period.

More and more people understand that they need to backup their SaaS data applications. What should they look for when choosing a reliable backup provider?

It’s heartening to see the shift in the conversation in the seven years that Spanning has been in business.  We’ve reached a point where organizations acknowledge that data loss is a real possibility and it’s their responsibility to protect the company’s critical SaaS data.

Here’s what you should look for, at minimum, in a third-party backup and recovery solution.

  • First, can the vendor perform fast, accurate point-in-time restores that meet your known recovery objectives and can they do so at scale?
  • Has the vendor successfully completed the SSAE 16 SOC 2 audit certification process, which is a rigorous evaluation of the repeatable operational and technical controls?
  • Does the vendor have a proven, past history of reliability and resiliency?  Have they suffered unplanned downtime or service interruptions?
  • Is their product or service architected for scale, reliability and resiliency?  If your critical recovery plan relies on an unreliable or unproven solution, that puts you at risk.

At the end of the day, you need to trust your provider to deliver when you really need them, so that you can focus on what you do best—running your business.

You mentioned reliability as being vitally important. What is Spanning’s approach to reliability and how do you set yourself apart?

Across the company, we consider scale, reliability and resiliency in everything we do.  Here are a few examples of processes and design patterns we use to ensure reliability and resiliency.

  • With each new feature we specifically consider how it will impact our existing systems, what aspects of scalability and performance could be impacted, and how we will monitor the functionality in production.
  • Our core backup and recovery processes are developed as resumable microservices that can be paused, moved between compute instances, and gracefully restarted if there are any failures in the processes themselves or in the underlying architecture.
  • We leverage Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) robust and reliable infrastructure and take advantage of the ability to scale resources up and down in response to load. We do this not only with compute engines, but other services like databases, load balancing, caching and storage.  This allows us to scale up as our loads increase and then scale back down when they lighten up.
  • We are maniacal about metrics and monitoring. We monitor for scaling issues as well as application issues. Our goal is to find and fix all issues before our customers even know they existed.  When we do encounter an issue, we have a defined escalation process for quick investigation and resolution.

The proof is in our results.  Spanning protects more than 2 billion data objects for our 7,500 valued customers each week and restores tens of millions items for our customers every year.

Spanning runs on AWS, whereas competitive services sometimes run on private clouds. Why?

Why wouldn’t you?  AWS knows more about cloud computing than anybody in the world, and is well-known for their innovative approach to development.

The resources and scale available from AWS cannot be underestimated. They have thousands of highly qualified engineers to ensure their services run as reliably as possible, and the best security experts in the world working to protect their assets. When something goes wrong, and it will, they have all the resources needed to get it back to working as quickly as possible.  I believe it is a true differentiator.

How has this benefited your customers?

Here’s one of many examples. Annika Milton, a Sr. Project Manager with the adidas Group, shared her Spanning Backup for Salesforce story recently in London at a Salesforce Tour. What she said was simple, yet powerful. Having reliable backups of their Salesforce data gives adidas “peace of mind,” freeing them up to focus on innovative products and delivering excellent customer service.

We are almost halfway through 2017. What trends are you seeing now that organizations should be aware of in order to prepare for 2018?

It should come as no surprise that all technology users are going to continue to be under attack from bad actors. I expect that ransomware attacks will increase and that cyber-terrorism will start to become a real threat. Anyone who isn’t taking proactive steps to be prepared to recover for this has their head in the sand.

On a more positive note, the cloud services we get to take advantage of are getting better and better all the time. Public cloud vendors like AWS are so dramatically increasing their rate of innovation that we’re gaining security with every passing day. And the SaaS applications we’re using are also getting better all the time, both with respect to the functionality they deliver as well as the reliability and resilience of their service.

It’s a great time to embrace the cloud, whether you’re using ready-made SaaS applications or building your own apps on AWS.

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