Anyone reading this blog knows that Salesforce has grown far beyond its roots as a CRM. But while the platform has changed immensely, many of the assumptions technical and business leaders have about the data flowing through their Salesforce orgs have stayed the same.
It’s time for an update on how we think about Salesforce data — and not just because Salesforce has discontinued its data recovery service. As the platform expands to cover more and more business processes, Salesforce data has become indispensable.
The reality is that Salesforce is more complex and challenging than most of us give it credit for. Anyone who wants to drive Salesforce adoption forward should take the time to think through the full implications of protecting Salesforce data and develop a strategy that makes sense for their organization and stakeholders.
Any successful strategy demands a clear-eyed view of what’s happening. So here is the list of the key myths and truths we suggest keeping in mind as you develop your approach to managing Salesforce data.
1. Salesforce Data Is In The Cloud, But Is It Always Protected?
Myth: “My Salesforce data is in the cloud, so it’s always protected.”
Truth: If you haven’t taken deliberate action to back up your Salesforce data, then it’s not protected.
Salesforce, like many other SaaS and cloud platforms, embraces a shared responsibility model for data. That means you can count on Salesforce to ensure the security and integrity of the platform, but you are responsible for securing and managing all the data you generate.
For example, if a disk array fails in a backend database, then Salesforce will fix it. But a data loss resulting from a user error, a faulty integration, or a malicious attack on your organization is your problem to solve. This fact became even more important when Salesforce retired its data recovery services in 2020. Now, if you haven’t put a backup and recovery solution in place, you’re at risk of permanently losing your data.
2. Who Does Salesforce Data Matter To?
Myth: “Salesforce data only matters for the sales team, so it’s not that important.”
Truth: Salesforce data is essential to the entire operations of many companies.
The days when Salesforce was just a CRM are gone. Salesforce is now a leader in countless Forrester Wave reports and Gartner Magic Quadrants from Enterprise Marketing Suites to Multiexperience Development Platforms. Odaseva partners with organizations that rely on Salesforce for mission-critical business functions, like always-on call centers, customer communities, and 360° customer management for digital businesses.
And yet, many companies are only now fully embracing the importance of their Salesforce data. The truth is that Salesforce has grown to become a business-critical system of record for complex organizations, with an impact on nearly every business function. From this point of view, Salesforce data becomes much more than the backbone of a SaaS application. It’s the lifeblood of entire organizations.
3. Salesforce Back-Ups Are Not Easy
Myth: “Fully backing up a Salesforce org is easy to do.”
Truth: Fully backing up Salesforce data requires a careful orchestration of process and technology.
As Salesforce implementations have grown more complex and more deeply intertwined with key business functions, the challenge of backing up data has also gotten more complex.
There is no “select all” command in Salesforce. You can’t punch a few keys and back up your data. Extracting data from Salesforce requires the use of an API every time. And Salesforce APIs have governor limits. For example, you can only make 15,000 bulk API calls per day — and if you use them all, you can’t move data in or out of Salesforce in bulk without waiting 24 hours.
If you have a lot of Salesforce data to back up because your implementation is particularly large and contains multiple orgs, it can take a very long time to complete a backup. And if the person backing up the data doesn’t have complete field-level security access, then the data won’t be fully backed up. That person can only back up the data she can see.
These are only a few of the reasons why backing up Salesforce data is more difficult than it might look, especially if you have a large, complex implementation.
4. Are Weekly Data Exports Good Enough?
Myth: “Weekly data exports are good enough.”
Truth: If you back up weekly, your data is still at high risk.
If you’re backing up weekly, a lot can happen in the period between when you back up your data and when you lose it. At Odaseva, we’ve had customers who have created, updated, or deleted more than 13 million records in a week. If you run a weekly export on Friday, then experience a data loss the following Thursday, you’ve lost six days’ worth of data. A recent study by analyst firm ESG* found that just 2% of IT professionals responsible for data protection technology can tolerate losing more than four hours of Salesforce data.
5. Back Up Salesforce Data For More Than Disaster Recovery
Myth: “The only reason to back up Salesforce data is in case of a disaster.”
Fact: Data losses are an everyday occurrence, and most of them are accidental.
In the past years, numerous research studies have been published showing that SaaS data losses do happen, and that the most common cause is human error, by a wide margin. As a company specializing in backup and restore, we can confirm this.
The simple fact is that typical data losses aren’t caused by a phishing attack or a rogue employee. Most are just mistakes. And the larger your Salesforce implementation is, the more likely mistakes will happen. Every time each user with Modify All permission logs into your Salesforce org – every API call, every connection point with another application, and every interaction with a third-party service provider is an opportunity for someone to make a mistake that corrupts, or destroys your Salesforce data.
6. Is Data Restoring Simple?
Myth: “As long as my Salesforce data is backed up somewhere, it will be easy to restore.”
Fact: Restoring data is a detailed process that must be executed correctly.
As Salesforce has grown more deeply integrated into businesses, the relationships between data have become as important as the data itself. Parent-child relationships can be intricate and many layers deep. To preserve them, data needs to be restored in the right order.
Because Salesforce data must be restored through APIs, the same customizations and automations you’ve made to enforce rules and execute business processes can work against you. A validation rule was created last week to ensure data quality can prevent a record entered last year from successfully restoring. The trigger or flow that sends an email upon record creation will also execute during the restore – both slowing the time to restore and introducing unexpected side effects.
The timing of Salesforce releases can also be a complicating factor. New releases can lead to changes in metadata, which can make restoration more challenging.
There are just a few of the countless complications you might experience when you restore lost data — and all of them are reasons why having a data recovery plan is so important.
7. What Should You Look For In A Backup Provider?
Myth: “All Salesforce data backup solutions are basically the same.”
Fact: Enterprise companies with large, complex Salesforce implementations need solutions that meet much higher requirements.
Now that Salesforce has discontinued disaster recovery services, a growing number of tools and services are stepping up to fill the need for backup and recovery. There are many excellent options available, but it’s crucial to match the level of solution to the level of need.
A solution that works well for a small or mid-sized company is unlikely to meet the needs of a large enterprise. Here are a few key points of difference to think about when you’re evaluating your options:
- Security: Most backup solutions targeted to smaller businesses can’t deliver “no-view” service – that means they can see your data, exposing you to additional risk of a breach. This can be a major issue for organizations with high regulatory requirements or security needs.
- Performance: Handling large data volumes, at speed, without triggering Salesforce’s Governor limits requires specialized infrastructure and the ability to capture every aspect of your data, which incremental backups can’t do. Solutions designed around the needs of smaller businesses may be too limited to handle the amount and granularity of data that enterprise companies need to manage.
- Expertise: Simply having the technology is only part of the equation for effective backup and restore. You also need the right process and training for teams, and in many cases, the ability to outsource backup when internal teams aren’t available. This requires a level of expertise and support that simpler apps may not be designed to provide.
In this article, we’ve busted the most common myths that anyone who values Salesforce data should know.
Interested in learning more about protecting your Salesforce data? Visit odseva.com/resources for more resources like our Complete Guide to Salesforce Backup and Restore, written by our Founder and CEO, Sovan Bin, in collaboration with Salesforce.
*Real-world SLAs and Availability Requirements, The Enterprise Strategy Group, 2020
Co-author: Carl Brundage is a Certified Technical Architect, Salesforce MVP, Tableau CRM Ambassador and Developer Group Leader.