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New Salesforce native backup may not be enterprise ready

Salesforce unveiled a new way to natively back up and recover data within the platform, but it doesn't compare to the enterprise-grade features backup vendors offer.

After shuttering its Data Recovery Service last year, Salesforce is taking another crack at native backup.

At the CRM platform vendor's annual Dreamforce event this week, Salesforce revealed its upcoming Backup and Restore service. The new service enables customers to natively create backup copies of Salesforce data, set retention policies for those copies, restore the data back into Salesforce organizations and audit who is using these functions. All backup data is encrypted at rest and in transit.

Backup and Restore automatically creates daily backup copies of Salesforce data that are regionally co-located with the primary copies. Aimed at Salesforce administrators rather than an organization's IT departments, its interface is designed to allow all its functions to be carried out through clicks and automation.

Salesforce Backup and Restore is expected to be available in October 2021, according to the vendor. At a Dreamforce virtual session, a Salesforce spokesperson stated in the chat that the target general availability date is October 19, 2021.

Salesforce had a native data restoration service called Data Recovery Service, which it retired July 31, 2020. Recovery via this service took six to eight weeks, cost a flat fee of $10,000, and did not guarantee that all data would be restored. The vendor said it shut the service down because it did not meet its quality standards. Salesforce restored the service in March and hinted it would be releasing a new native backup and restore service later.

Since then, Salesforce has been advocating the use of third-party backup vendors for customers looking to protect their Salesforce data. However, the number of customers requesting a native backup feature for Salesforce has grown recently, said Marla Hay, vice president of product management at Salesforce. Salesforce worked with these customers to co-design Backup and Restore to ensure it met customer needs better than Data Recovery Service did.

Screenshot of Salesforce Backup and Recovery interface
The Salesforce Backup and Restore's interface is designed to be simple to use.

"Over the past year, we heard directly from our customers that what they wanted was a native backup and restore solution," Hay said.

A good starting point

Salesforce Backup and Restore is simple and rudimentary as a data protection product, said Christophe Bertrand, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, a division of TechTarget. Describing it as "half a checkmark," the service at its debut will be good enough for organizations that aren't heavily reliant on Salesforce, but it's not ready for the scale and demands of enterprises, he said.

Salesforce Backup and Restore has limitations that make it unsuitable for enterprise customers, Bertrand said. It can't perform analytics on the backup data, it stores the backups in the same place as the primary, customers can't download a backup copy or otherwise move it out of the Salesforce environment and, most importantly, the backups are only taken daily. Most enterprises want backups of mission-critical data to be no older than 15 minutes, he explained.

If you use Salesforce as a mission-critical app, this won't cut it.
Christophe BertrandSenior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

"Essentially, it's baseline recovery," Bertrand said. "It's a start, but if you use Salesforce as a mission-critical app, this won't cut it."

However, not being enterprise-ready is not a condemnation of the product, he said.

Salesforce did not indicate that it partnered with a third-party data protection vendor to develop Backup and Restore, so it's impressive it developed a release-ready product only a year after shutting down its previous attempt at native backup and recovery, Bertrand said.

Backup and Restore is also a far jump above Data Recovery Service, he added.

This product could either be the beginning of a more robust set of native data protection capabilities, or simply placating customer demand for a native backup option -- and it's too early to see what Salesforce will do with it, Bertrand said.

"If it's the beginning of something bigger, that's great," he said. "But if it's intended to just be a checkmark, then it's not sufficient for enterprises."

Update: Following publication, a Salesforce spokesperson contacted SearchDataBackup with clarification on what Salesforce Backup and Restore can do when it becomes generally available. Customers will be able to run analytics on the backup data in the feature's interface itself and via Salesforce's native analytics tools. Salesforce also clarified that backup copies are stored in a separate data center from the primary system. They are, however, regionally co-located, so an outage in that region will disable both the backup and primary.

Backups no older than 15 minutes are also possible, as the frequency of backups is "limited only by the amount of time a backup takes to complete," Salesforce claimed. The spokesperson did not specify how constant backups might impact cost or performance. Backup and Restore will also be able to perform incremental backups and enable customers to download backup copies, but these two features aren't guaranteed to be available at launch, the spokesperson said.

Johnny Yu covers enterprise data protection news for TechTarget's Storage sites SearchDataBackup and SearchDisasterRecovery. Before joining TechTarget in June 2018, he wrote for USA Today's consumer product review site Reviewed.com.

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