Introduction to SaaS Data Recovery

Anyone navigating today’s business landscape understands the incredible flexibility and savings afforded by Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. Business applications in the cloud expand an organization's capabilities and free up the workforce to focus on mission-critical priorities. 

But new benefits introduce new liabilities. New cloud functionality introduces new data vulnerabilities. And even though one of the perceived benefits of SaaS is that the solution providers themselves have their own backup mechanisms, leaving SaaS data recovery solely in their hands can land you in a morass of complexity and risk. What’s needed, first and foremost, is a mental shift to a shared responsibility model for all your data, across on-premises, cloud, and SaaS. 

Five Reasons Why You Need SaaS Data Backup

The fact of the matter is that you're always responsible for your data, whether it's on-premises or in the cloud. And while SaaS providers do a great job providing storage durability and data integrity, with so many end users accessing your data people are bound to make mistakes. And bad actors are going to plan intentional sabotage. A lack of unified protection across dispersed data environments means limited control over SaaS data and disjointed backup and recovery processes, putting that data at risk. 

Here are five reasons why you need to add SaaS data backup to your IT portfolio:

  • To prevent accidental data deletions

  • To withstand malicious cyberattacks

  • To recover from data corruption incidents

  • To protect against downtime and business continuity risks

  • To reduce cost to IT and the brand

Prevent accidental data deletions 

Human error is real, and enterprises need to ensure data is safe and accessible to avoid the productivity loss and business disruption that can result from inadvertent modification or deletion.

Withstand malicious cyberattacks

With hackers exploiting gaps in security, SaaS data is a prime target for cyberattacks. According to Rubrik Zero Labs research, more than 60% of all cyberattacks affect an enterprise’s SaaS data—making a SaaS data backup and restore solution specifically designed for SaaS data volume and complexity a business imperative.

While SaaS providers may offer some backup and recovery features, cyber threats are generally not a focus of their offerings. And those features will not be as robust or comprehensive as the protection delivered by a data security company entirely focused on securing, monitoring, and recovering your data day in, day out. 

Recover from data corruption incidents

Files can become corrupted due to software errors, virus attacks, or other malfunctions, with 22% of organizations pointing to data corruption as the top cause of SaaS data loss, according to Enterprise Strategy Group research.

Protect against downtime and business continuity risks

Lost data means downtime, directly impacting both productivity and your bottom line. And business continuity is especially at risk when data is not available and recovery is slow or impossible. A focus on business continuity is a core part of an effective cyber resilience strategy, which Gartner cites as a preferable approach to the more traditional, defense-focused cybersecurity model.

Reduce cost to IT and the brand

When data is lost, IT teams cannot collaborate and work efficiently—putting everything from product launches to management of strategic projects and daily engineering tasks on pause. That’s bad for IT, and the negative impact will quickly reverberate across the brand as a whole. 

Please note: with SaaS collaboration tools like Jira Cloud and Microsoft 365, there are many different plugins and modules that users can incorporate—and with so many different points of entry, those plugins can go rogue if a user clicks the wrong thing or sets up the wrong sort of automation. For example, in the case of Jira in particular, Atlassian recently ended support for the Jira server, the on-premises deployment of Jira, driving many users to Jira Cloud. As these users migrate, they need to be able to protect their Jira Cloud data. And cyber criminals have recognized that they can go after this data to bring critical engineering development lifecycles and day-to-day business operations to a halt.

Components of a Comprehensive SaaS Backup Solution

When seeking a SaaS backup solution, there are certain capabilities you must consider if you want to effectively protect your cloud application data. These include:

  • Air-gapped protection

  • Automated backup scheduling

  • Data encryption during transit and at rest

  • Multi-region redundancy

  • Version history and rollback capability  

Air-gapped protection: Businesses of all sizes can benefit from air-gapped backups, which protect data from being destroyed, accessed, or manipulated in the event of a network intrusion or system failure. Air-gapped backups are typically stored in a secure location off-site from the business, such as in a secure server facility, and air gaps keep backups separate from production data. 

Automated backup scheduling: With policy-driven backup automation, the user specifies when and how often to back up data by setting up SLA policies to signal the times when production systems have the least load. This automated backup scheduling makes creating a backup faster than a time-consuming manual process and helps to ensure compliance with security policies and regulations.

Data encryption during transit and at rest. Every piece of data should be encrypted, whether in transit between devices or stored at rest in your servers.

Multi-region redundancy. To protect against region-specific failures, you want a SaaS backup solution that increases the availability, durability, and resilience of data by replicating and storing it across multiple geographical regions. 

Version history and rollback capability. You’ll want to be able to reach back into the version history to reinstate a deployment and/or roll back your system to recover data from before a breach occurred. 

Selection Criteria for a SaaS Backup Solution

The growing number of SaaS solutions in use at most organizations today underscores the need for centralized protection for dispersed data environments in the form of a centralized platform. You need a “single pane of glass” SaaS data recovery solution, affording enterprise multi-cloud SaaS data recovery for control and visibility beyond just SaaS in a single platform. 

With different interfaces managed by different people, there's bound to be data blindspots, a profound lack of consistency, and increased risk. To instead have all that reined in within one unified interface empowers your business to preserve data integrity and keep data readily accessible. The following criteria are also key: 

Reliable and available: These two factors must be top of mind in ensuring your organization’s operational continuity, data integrity, and overall resilience against data loss or system failures. 

Secure and compliant: Sensitive data monitoring and protection of sensitive data against breaches is not only a business imperative; it’s necessary to meet legal and regulatory requirements.

Easy recovery from cyberattacks and human error: Your SaaS data recovery solution must minimize downtime and operational disruptions, thereby safeguarding business continuity and data integrity.

Cost-effective and scalable: With an efficient solution, businesses can affordably protect growing volumes of data while adapting to their changing needs—without compromising on security or performance.

The Restoration Process Demystified

The SaaS data restoration process can seem mysterious due to the complex, proprietary technologies used by providers and the lack of visibility and control users have over the remote data storage and recovery mechanisms. Let’s break it down and clear up the mystery. 

Steps to a Successful Data Restore

  • Identify the data loss incident: It’s important to recognize and understand the nature, cause, and extent of the data loss to determine the most effective SaaS data backup and recovery strategy.

  • Select the appropriate backup version: Choosing the most relevant and recent snapshot of data that was saved before the loss or corruption occurred ensures accurate and complete recovery.

  • Initiate the restoration process: Start the procedure to recover and reinstate lost or corrupted data from the selected backup to the live environment.

  • Verify data integrity post-restoration: Make sure all recovered data is complete, accurate, and uncorrupted, aligning with its state prior to loss.

Required Capabilities for Modern Restoration 

A SaaS data restoration solution requires capabilities such as secure and scalable data backup, rapid and reliable restoration, compliance with industry standards, and the ability to verify data integrity post-restoration.

Regular testing of restoration processes is critical to ensure the effectiveness and readiness of the SaaS data backup and recovery strategy. Testing backups and being able to restore them to a staging environment is another crucial capability. That way, your IT team can run different automations on the test data before they do so in production.

Paying close attention to permissions and user access controls during restoration is another must-do—because the last thing you want is to restore data and let people get access to it who shouldn't. To that end, make sure your backup solution can assign proper permissions during recovery. 

The Value of 3rd-Party Backup

The value of a third-party SaaS data recovery solution became starkly evident recently, when UC Irvine Health and its 13,000-user Microsoft 365 environment was put to the test through an accidental deletion incident. A tenured professor contacted IT in a panic over the loss of 10 years’ worth of emails and contacts. 

Thankfully, even though UCI Health had only just started using Rubrik SaaS data protection solutions a few months prior, enough time had elapsed so that all Microsoft 365 data had synchronized. During the restoration process, the professor could actually see the emails returning to his inbox—to his great relief—and his lost correspondence was fully restored within about four hours. Tech leaders at UCI Health now understand that these accidental deletions occur near daily, and they understand that the retention policies and practices of the SaaS providers themselves are not enough to enable fast, reliable recovery of that data. 

An even more dramatic incident occurred at architecture firm Payette, when what seemed like a routine systems outage was quickly discovered to be a widespread cyberattack. The PC LAN and network services had been exploited—but because the IT team had already been using Rubrik Security Cloud, all data was protected and mirrored. Throughout the course of the cyberattack, Payette’s IT team knew they wouldn’t have to pay the coming ransom thanks to their Rubrik solution. All systems were back online within 24 hours, and within a week, they were at 100% recovery with zero data loss. 

Without Rubrik, Payette would have had to resort to a full wipe-and-replace. Multi-million dollar projects and designs three-plus years in the making, as well as payroll and financial data, would have disappeared. After the breach, Payette added Ransomware Investigation to its tool belt, grew the capacity of its cluster, and expanded its footprint to include Microsoft Azure. 

Since Microsoft security tools provide no guaranteed recovery SLA, the fact that Rubrik seamlessly integrates with Microsoft to protect Microsoft 365 data, arming it with immutability and resiliency against cyber threats, was critical to Payette surviving this incident with all data intact. This underscores the lesson that you need to treat your data as your data, no matter where it is or what application it's in—and that you must arm yourself with the right tools for centralized protection to enable rapid recovery and maximum restoration.