By Ryan Sinnwell
Since joining The Weitz Company’s IT department straight out of college 17 years ago, I have seen many changes in how the world (and our construction company) views and uses technology. One of the most significant changes has been the growing recognition that, with increasing application, infrastructure, and data complexity, organizations need powerful, comprehensive solutions that can simplify data management, protection and activation. Our firm’s recognition of this need for “Powerful Simplicity” (as described by Commvault CEO Bob Hammer at Commvault GO 2017 below) was earlier than many other companies, and led to our selection of Commvault in 2006. This decision has been validated by the growth of mobile devices, proliferation of applications, and other developments that have further increased IT environment complexity since then.
The rise of SaaS
Another major change in the IT industry since I joined Weitz in 2001 has been the rise of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, such as Salesforce. These new applications offer many benefits compared to traditional software; patches and updates are quickly made by the SaaS provider, hardware and administrative costs are lower since the application runs in the cloud, they are easy to scale and their flexible pricing models allow you to easily add or cut users as needed.
Yet, just like software applications in the past, you need to make sure that you have the power to manage the data in these SaaS applications. Not just in order to protect it, but also for other purposes, such as integrating it with other applications. This point was brought into sharp clarity for us when we moved from GroupWise to Outlook in 2016. When we had previously integrated GroupWise and Salesforce we had some problems, and wanted to make sure that we avoided any integration issues this time. So in looking at the Salesforce/Outlook integration, we wanted to learn how we could secure a full backup of our Salesforce data.
SaaS data protection: not as simple as you might think
However, in researching Salesforce’s backup options, we soon learned that Salesforce’s data recovery features were very expensive, would take six to eight weeks to complete and would only allow us to recover data from 90 days back. Needless to say, not only did this not meet our needs for the Outlook integration project, it raised concerns regarding the protection and management of our Salesforce data in general. What if there was some sort of Salesforce disaster, if we needed to migrate our data to a new CRM solution, or some other unforeseen event in the future where we would quickly need a comprehensive copy of our Salesforce data – data upon which our business depends?
Protecting and activating Salesforce data with Commvault
So we asked our partner, EAGLE Technologies, if Commvault – which we were currently using to protect and manage other data – might have a solution for Salesforce data management and protection. They said Commvault had a beta version of a feature that did this, so we set up a Salesforce “sandbox” to test this feature. Then we had a call with admins from Salesforce, Commvault and SQL to discuss how we would use Commvault with the Salesforce sandbox. After that call, it took only an hour before we had used the feature to complete our first backup of the Salesforce sandbox, deleted the data in the sandbox and then restored this data to Salesforce. The feature not only allowed us to quickly back up and recover our Salesforce data, but also helped us identify some inconsistent data. This allowed us to clean up some of our Salesforce data, which did not match up with the field in which this data was stored.
Once this beta feature was finalized by Commvault, we started using it to manage and protect our Salesforce production data. We now use Commvault to do hourly backups and a daily full backup of our Salesforce data. This helps me rest easier at night, knowing that not only is our Salesforce data protected, but that we have the power to activate this data for future integrations, cleanup or other strategic initiatives. In addition, Salesforce is not the only SaaS tool we use. We are currently working with Commvault to learn how it might also help us manage, protect and activate our Office 365, Box, Procore and other SaaS data.
You need a plan for SaaS data management
As our own experience shows, companies need a plan for managing data in complex environments that include on-premises, cloud, endpoint, mobile, SaaS applications, managed services and a wide variety of other applications and infrastructures. Commvault CEO Bob Hammer was right on the money when he said at Commvault GO in November that a holistic approach that considers how you manage, protect and activate all the data found in this complex environment is required in today’s digital economy.
Fortunately, Commvault is delivering us the “Powerful Simplicity” we need to manage our data for any purpose (backup, recovery, security, governance, analytics), across our on-premises, SaaS and other environments. As a result, at Weitz we can better use this data to build stunning student housing at Texas A&M University, a collaborative headquarters expansion for Arrow Electronics with great amenities for its employees, and a leadership center for girls and women at Camp South Mountain in Phoenix. And, as Bob said, achieve other remarkable things.
To learn more about my experience with Commvault and how organizations can address and solve common data management challenges in Cloud SaaS through a holistic data management platform, check out my joint webinar with Commvault.
Ryan Sinnwell is the Infrastructure Manager at The Weitz Company.