Tag Archives: Cloud computing

Cloud computing’s 10 false fears (and 1 legitimate concern)

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Unjustified fears about the cloud

By definition, a cloud is hazy, foggy, vague and obscure. And when things are nebulous, our sense of worry heightens. Yet most of the time our fears of the unknown are unjustified, and they limit us more than they help us.

The kinds of fears we hear about the cloud are numerous.  Things like “If I put my data on the cloud, won’t it be open to the public?” to “How is my data safe if it’s in someone else’s possession?” to “Doesn’t Google control all the servers? What if they get struck by a thunderstorm?”.  CloudSuccess wrote a great summary of the unjustified fears commonly held by people considering SaaS applications.  The Top 10 Myths of Cloud Computing they list are:

      1. My data is less secure
      2. I won’t have full ownership of my data
      3. My system won’t perform as well in the cloud
      4. I’ll be caught by vendor ‘lock-in’
      5. My business is too small for the cloud
      6. My business is too big for the cloud
      7. Everything on the internet/web is cloud
      8. Cloud is cheaper than on-premise
      9. Cloud = Virtualization
      10. The cloud has more downtime

Just like each of these 10 myths above, many of the concerns we hear about the cloud are actually inaccurate. Security is not necessarily compromised on the cloud, especially for smaller companies that can’t afford enterprise level firewalls and security systems. Information won’t be open to the public, but ownership of data is not much different than when it is on-premise – your data will in most cases still be owned completely by you. Cloud-based apps have reliable connections and show downtimes lower than that of on-premise solutions.  And you can pretty simply migrate to the cloud or away from SaaS applications if you choose.

On the flipside, there is one major cloud-related concern people have that is quite valid. That is the concern of user error – how users can very easily delete, mislabel, misarchive, or override important information. Not taking proper precautions against this can result in accidental or purposeful deletion of important cloud-based data. In fact, 1 in 3 instances of data loss on the cloud are due to user error. Fortunately, there are easy ways (like backing up your cloud data and optimizing your web browser for your SaaS application) to mitigate the risks that are present in the cloud.

Our job at Backupify is to bring some clarity to the cloud and to allow education to alleviate the invalid fears our customers have. We want to show friends that the cloud is not as dangerous as most people think. And if you take proper precautions to secure your information, Google Apps for Business, Salesforce.com, and other cloud-based apps are excellent ways to streamline operations at your company, maximize productivity, and provide your employees with the convenience of accessing their work information from anywhere.

For information on optimizing your web browser for Google Apps security, check out these white papers:

Ten Steps to Optimize Mozilla Firefox for Google Apps Security
8 Steps to Optimize Microsoft Internet Explorer for Google Apps Security
9 Steps to Optimize Google Chrome for Google Apps Security

Customize Your Google Apps Backup to Match Your Business Needs

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Two lines intersecting at 1 point in the plane...Our customers range from a company making health drinks to a radio station to entire school districts, and just as the business needs of these organizations are different, so are their backup requirements. Backupify allows companies of all sizes and industries to deploy a Google Apps backup solution that meets their unique needs. Here are a few examples of Backupify’s customization:

Pick who to backup on your Google Apps domain:

  • A large university chose to only backup their faculty and administration
  • A large company chose only to backup the knowledge workers in their organization and not the manufacturing and temporary employees
  • Most customers choose to back up all their domains, and all their users, to make sure that everyone is protected and information can be retrieved no matter what occurs

Pick which services you want to backup:

  • A large company was only using Google Apps for Drive; therefore they selected to only backup that service
  • A medium-sized company in a regulated industry using Postini (Vault) for email archiving chose to backup all other services (Drive, Contacts, Calendar and Sites)
  • A K-5 school choose to only backup their student email and chats to help address litigation concerns around cyber-bullying
  • Most customers choose to back up all their services to make sure all data is saved, however the flexibility to turn off services across your domain is a great option for some of our customers

Set your data retention policy:

  • A school district maintains all administrative records for 7-years to comply with regulatory requirements
  • A school backing up all their student email wanted to only retain the information for one year to minimize storage overhead
  • A large company purges their email backups every 3 months

Backupify allows you to tailor your backup to suit your needs. Talk to your sales rep about how Backupify can be customized to match your specific backup and archiving needs.

Evernote Hack Reminds That Cloud Security Is Important As Ever

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Is "The Cloud" Secure?The topic of cloud security is one that is often dismissed until it is too late. For some reason, people think it won’t happen to them, or that their information isn’t what hackers are after. But reality is that your information is valuable, and protecting it as best as you can is completely worthwhile.

The Evernote hack this past weekend forced 50 million users to reset their passwords and consider the broader significance of securing their online lives. For us, it was a great reminder of how Backupify can help. While a secure second copy of your data is always your best defense against data loss, we like to encourage our friends to take any steps they can to secure their information as much as possible.

Step 1: Creating Secure Passwords

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told that my passwords should be long, made up of unique characters, need to be changed every month, should be different for every single account I have, and that I shouldn’t write them down anywhere. Honestly, how many people can remember all of this? It seems way too complicated and a much bigger hassle than most people are willing to deal with.

But despite these apparent complexities, there are realistic ways to create effective passwords while maintaining the ability to remember them. Many people are using password keepers, such as KeePassX, 1Password, and LastPass to help them organize and store all their passwords, usernames, URL’s, etc. These apps can be very helpful. The best thing that ever happened to my “password portfolio” is the idea of the Acronym Password, where you take a phrase or sentence that is meaningful to you and then make a unique acronym out of it. Think of it as a fun way to combine different languages you know, make up your own language, or remind yourself everyday of the fun songs you learned as a kid.

For instance:

“Patty-cake patty-cake baker’s man, bake me a cake as fast as you can” and “One for the Money, Two for the Show, Three to get Ready, and Four to Go!” can become pretty secure passwords:

PcPcBM*BMaCaFaYC and 14tM24tS32gRa42G

And keep in mind that on most systems, the space key itself is a perfectly acceptable character, so your password could actually be tHat !s cRa3y. With this methodology of creating distinct “passphrases,” you can easily remember long, unique threads of characters, and if you use a different line of a song for each account, you can easily have completely unique passwords for each place you live online.

Step 2: Best Security Practices to Protect Your Cloud-Based Accounts

Aside from passwords, there are many others ways to protect your data on SaaS applications and while connected to public Wi-Fi. We’ve outlined a few of them in the following blog posts and whitepaper.

  1. 3rd party apps to Enhance your Salesforce passwords
  2. Securing your Gmail account
  3. Tips to Secure Google Drive
  4. Secure your Google Apps account
  5. Five Steps to Surf Safely on Public Wi-Fi

Step 3: Backupify’s Contribution

While all these steps towards security can minimize the chance of something untoward happening, hackers might still get through to your information. And if they do, there’s no way of knowing how they might use it or what they might to do it. While we can’t stop them from using your information, we can help you with the consequences of what they might do to it. In the case that an unwelcomed visitor deletes or corrupts your data, our cloud-based backup service will make sure you always have a second copy of all of your information.

With this in mind, we suggest a balanced, risk-based approach to security – taking all measures possible to defend your information from hackers, but also realizing the risks should be addressed to a level that is appropriate for your business. If something does happen to your data, you don’t want to lose crucial information, but you want the peace of mind knowing you still have it somewhere so your business can continue without major hiccups.

Security is good. Security plus Backupify is better.

Or, more simply: Trust, but Backupify.

The Two (Bad) Reasons Why Users Don’t Back Up Their SaaS Data

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Don't Stop Production. Don't look for Excuses....So here’s a strange behavioral paradox: Almost everyone understands the need to backup the data on their computers, but almost no one seems to think they should backup their data in the cloud. There are two very common reasons why backup best practices aren’t observed with SaaS applications — and both of them are dangerously wrong.

1) “Doesn’t the cloud backup my data?”
Users and organizations typically move from on-premises applications to software-as-a-service apps to get out of the hardware and software management business — including the management of backup systems. In the old on-premise days, the leading cause of data loss was hardware failure. A good, old-fashion hard drive crash was once an IT pro’s greatest fear — accounting for 44 percent of all data losses. Moving to the cloud absolutely ameliorates this concern, as every major cloud provider has multiple redundant hardware systems that make hardware failure almost irrelevant. To lose data, every device replicating your data (and there are many, in many places) would need to fail.

That’s great, but what about the other 56 percent of the data loss equation? User error, a rogue employee (yours or the SaaS provider’s), a skilled hacker, a software glitch or even a natural disaster could still wipe out your SaaS data. Cloud providers are naturally reticent to talk about this possibility. User error accounted for a mere 32 percent of data losses in on-premises systems, but accounts for 63 percent of data loss in Google Apps. As these systems become easier to access, it becomes easier for users to screw them up, too.

Cloud providers can’t protect you from self-inflicted data loss; SaaS applications can’t distinguish between intentional and mistaken commands, or between benevolent and malicious users. Backing up your cloud data is the only way to ensure that your information is safe from both hardware failure and human error.

2) “It’s more trouble than it’s worth!”
Many IT professionals know that independent data backup is a good idea, even in the cloud — they just don’t have the time or the patience to perform backups on a regular basis. As mentioned above, the common misconception that “cloud” means “you don’t need backup” leads even seasoned IT admins to de-prioritize making backup a central feature of their SaaS applications.

Salesforce, for example, offers weekly or monthly exports, but they are more than a little cumbersome. Google has a number of export options through Google Takeout, but none of these one-off, manual solutions matches the purpose-built efficiency of on-premise backup systems. They either require explicit oversight and initiation from the administrator, or they simply aren’t frequent enough to mitigate serious business risk.

Since most users aren’t asking for automated export or backup, these SaaS providers have no reason to concentrate on improving these features. That puts the onus on SaaS administrators to muddle through manual, barebones data backup — which is exactly the sort of work moving to the cloud was supposed to eliminate.

These two reasons are why Backupify exists. We offer independent, automatic, daily backup for Google Apps, Salesforce and virtually any other mature SaaS application. Backupify covers the use cases the cloud’s hardware redundancy doesn’t, and makes backup as simple as you always hoped SaaS could be. Give it a try today.

Covering Your SaaS: Announcing The Backupify Developer Program and API

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OPENFor four years now, Backupify has lead the cloud backup space forward with one simple belief: that as the world moves to the cloud, every piece of the on-premise technology stack must move with it. We are in the midst of a massive transition where your hardware moves from your own server to Google, Amazon, or Rackspace; your operating system is the Web itself, not Microsoft Windows or OS X; your file system moves from a local drive to Box or Dropbox or Google Drive; and your applications are no longer packaged software downloads but instead are SaaS.

As participants in and observers of this massive transition, the question we have tried to continually answer is: In a post-transition world where every piece of the technology stack has moved to the cloud, what does backup look like? We believe it looks like Backupify.

It wasn’t obvious to everyone when we started, but by now you may realize that what we are building is not just cloud backup but the data control layer for this new technology stack. Our mission is to let you own and control your data because data is a critical business asset. If you lose that data it imposes incredibly negative consequences on your business. Backing up your data is the first use case in any competent business continuity plan, even in the cloud. Backup is also a great way to get a secure second copy of your data out of your SaaS provider and under your control.

The challenge we have faced is that inventing this cloud data control stack using the available technology has been hard, so adding new services has been slow. Over the past three years we’ve had dozens of independent software vendors reach out to us and ask if Backupify will support their application, and every time we have had to say “no” because we didn’t have the engineering bandwidth to support so many apps. But today that all changes.

Today we take a huge major step towards delivering that data control layer for the cloud, by announcing that the Backupify API and Developer Program is now in private beta.

– Details of the Program –
Over the past three years we have spent a lot of time thinking about how to build an API that works for all the different types of applications, data structures and use cases that are required to make cross-platform centralized SaaS backup work. In 2012 we finally stopped talking about it and started building some different prototypes, talking with many of our friends in the SaaS world, and surveying our customers to understand their needs and how they view the future of SaaS data protection. The result is today’s private beta launch of our technology and developer program.

As part of this launch, we are excited to announce our first five partners: Apptivo, Mavenlink, Nimble, Freshdesk, and Pipeline Deals. These innovative and forward-thinking ISVs were incredibly helpful as we finalized the requirements of a good API and a developer program that worked for their needs. Our joint customers will be testing the first integrations of these applications in coming months, and we believe that together we are pushing the SaaS ecosystem forward in a way that benefits our collective customer base.

– For Business Customers –
What does this mean for the businesses who are current and future Backupify customers? What does this mean for companies adopting SaaS applications? It means you won’t have to buy Salesforce backup from one vendor, Google Apps backup from another vendor, and Box backup from a third vendor, etc. It means that every SaaS application that you use will be backed up and managed in a central location so that administration policies, data retention policies, and other functionality can be applied across your SaaS portfolio.

If you use a SaaS application that you would like to backup, and you want them to integrate with Backupify, let us know at backupmyapps@backupify.com and we can reach out to them on your behalf to have a discussion about the technical feasibility given their current data architecture.

– For ISVs –
For ISVs who provide cloud applications, this means you can now provide your customers with granular backup and restore capabilities through a very easy integration with Backupify. Data backup is important, and it isn’t the business you are in, but it is the business we are in. Partnering with Backupify provides a way to easily give your customers the peace of mind that their data is backed up in a secure second location that is under their direct control. It also gives them the ability to easily restore data on their own, should they lose something accidentally. We have heard time and time again that one of the sales blockers for SaaS companies is the issue of data ownership and control. By integrating with us, you can get around that issue and offer your customers the peace of mind a that only second copy of their important data can bring.

If you are interested in participating in the program, feel free to contact Daniel Stevenson, our VP of Partnerships, (daniel@backupify.com) for a discussion.

In conclusion, this is an exciting day for us as it is the culmination of many years of work and a big step towards our broader vision of a data protection layer for the cloud. In the coming days and weeks we will have more blog posts detailing various components of our technology and developer program associated with this launch. For now, I encourage you to do three things.

  1. Sign up at http://developer.backupify.com to get in the queue for a developer key.
  2. Email us at backupmyapps@backupify.com and tell us which SaaS services you would like to see support Backupify
  3. Visit our partners Pipeline Deals, Mavenlink, Apptivo, FreshDesk and Nimble and give their products a try. As forward thinking SaaS companies who care deeply about your freedom to own and control your own data, they are great choices as partners for your business needs.

And finally, if you have any questions, ideas, comments, or feedback of any kind, please let us know. We love to hear from you.