The State of Salesforce Backup in 2023

The State of Salesforce Backup in 2023

Eliza Pepper on

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If you depend on Salesforce to hold business-critical data and streamline operations, protecting your data and metadata is more important than ever. Could your business survive mass metadata corruption or a misapplied integration that scrambled a load of production data? If so, how long would it take you and your team to get up and running again?

The State of Salesforce DevOps 2023 report found that most teams are aware of how easily data and metadata can be lost or corrupted, and are taking great steps to safeguard their orgs.

How common is Salesforce metadata and data loss?

Salesforce data and metadata can be lost or corrupted at any time, due to human error, malicious attacks or integration bugs. When using tools like Salesforce’s Data Loader, it’s really easy to mass delete or update records that you didn’t mean to. And a simple mistake in your source file or field mapping could cause disaster for your data.

No team is completely safe from metadata or data loss — even teams that show advanced levels of DevOps maturity experience these kinds of incidents. So it’s not really a question of if but when it’ll happen.

According to the 1,254 respondents who took the survey, 67% had suffered data and metadata loss incidents last year. Alarmingly, a further 6% didn’t know whether they had suffered a data or metadata loss incident, showing that some teams still don’t have the tools or processes in place to monitor their Salesforce orgs. Though the majority of teams are now protecting their business data through backup and disaster recovery planning, there are still some key areas for the ecosystem to improve.

More teams than ever are protecting their Salesforce orgs

86% of teams backup their Salesforce data and metadata, or are planning to introduce backups this year — an increase of six percentage points from last year. Plus, teams reported that metadata is now included as part of their backup process, highlighting that the ecosystem is becoming more aware of the need to backup metadata in order to recover data successfully.

Similarly, 87% of teams report that they have a disaster recovery plan in place, to lay out the steps for restoring data and metadata in case of a loss.

It’s great to see more teams than ever are now protected from the perils of data loss on the Salesforce platform. But this year’s survey did show that teams still have room to improve their backup processes. The survey highlighted three key issues with backup processes:

  • Teams aren’t paying enough attention to their time to recover from a data or metadata loss incident
  • Backup processes are falling short of key compliance and security requirements
  • Though most teams have a disaster recovery plan in place, many aren’t regularly rehearsed

Let’s look at how Salesforce teams can improve in these three areas over the coming year.

Why is time to recover a critical metric?

Your business can be floored when data and metadata is lost or corrupted. Even if you have a comprehensive backup solution, it’s worth considering how long it takes you to recover. Long periods of downtime can have many negative impacts on your wider business, such as:

1. The cost of downtime

Downtime is exactly what it sounds like — the time you’re unable to carry on working while your org is restored back to full health. The longer the period of downtime, the greater the cost to your business. So, you need to focus on improving your time to recover from downtime in order to minimize the costs of data or metadata loss.

2. The security of your data

Whether we’re talking about business-critical data or a customer’s personally identifiable information (PII), any information you hold must be protected. Not having this information backed up leaves you in an extremely vulnerable position. The loss of this data can halt your entire org and leave you scrambling around in a panic.

3. The inability to restore

A backup of your orgs isn’t helpful if you don’t have a tried and tested restore plan in place. It’s one thing being able to track down and contain the metadata or data loss, but being able to then restore from your backup needs patience and great care to avoid digging a deeper hole.

Slipping into a panic and frantically restoring data is easy to do when you’re under pressure. It may also be tempting to ignore best practices — deploying metadata straight into production and bypassing your usual release process, for example. But, restoring the wrong data will leave you worse off than when you started: rather than having to unpick one data corruption incident, you have to unpick two.

How quick are teams to recover?

Unfortunately, there has been little improvement in the time to recover over the last year. The number of teams able to recover from Salesforce data loss in less than a day only rose from 31% to 34%. More alarmingly, there was an increase in the number of teams that reported that it would take them weeks or even months to restore from Salesforce data loss, growing from 9% to 15%.

Bar chart showing reported time taken to restore by Salesforce teams

It’s not all doom and gloom, though — last year’s survey results picked up on the frequency of backup as a point of concern but this year has shown that Salesforce team’s have readily improved the frequencies of their backups. The number of teams backing up their Salesforce orgs multiple times a day has doubled. As industry expert Charlotte Christopherson, Editor in Chief of DevOps Launchpad, concluded “companies are proactively protecting business-critical data and Salesforce teams now see it as one of their top priorities.”

Teams now need to prioritize their time to restore just as much as the frequency of their backups.

Compliance and security concerns

As the world continues to become more aware of personal data protection and the right to be forgotten, it’s clear that teams could stand to gain more from the security offered by backup solutions. Just 31% of teams named ‘enhanced security’ a key benefit of Salesforce DevOps, indicating that the vast majority are overlooking the security benefits that come with a mature backup solution.

As 11% of Salesforce teams are hosting their backups locally, this still raises questions about compliance — where and how is that data being stored? Teams could benefit from a comprehensive and robust backup solution that provides secure storage for their data.

Disaster recovery

Encompassing these security concerns and the speed of recovery from a backup is the strength of disaster recovery planning, which sets out the steps to restore in the case of data loss. The results this year were promising, with only 13% of teams admitting that they don’t have a disaster recovery plan. There’s also clear responsibility for backup. Though last year’s report found that ownership for disaster recovery was unclear, in 2023 only 9% say that this is someone else’s responsibility and 5% admit that they are unsure.

Pie chart showing Salesforce teams reported responsibility for backups

Larger teams, of 20+ Salesforce specialists, are leading the way in their approach to disaster recovery. 76% of larger teams test their disaster recovery plan every quarter, which is 15% higher than the average across teams of all sizes. This shows that enterprises have great security measures in place to safeguard their Salesforce orgs. Smaller teams should aim to follow suit, and look to increase the frequency of their disaster recovery plan testing over the next year.

Pie chart showing the frequency that Salesforce teams test their disaster recovery plans

A significant change is underway in the perception of backups and the process of recovering and restoring — backup is now viewed as a crucial component of the DevOps process, rather than a checkbox exercise. It’s clear that in 2023, organizations that have implemented backup solutions are treating them with a greater sense of importance.

Secure your future

Having the security of backups and the ability to restore your orgs is just one pillar of DevOps. Once you’ve built a reliable and automated release process, the next step is to secure the data and metadata.

To find out about the different approaches teams are taking to backups and other aspects of DevOps, download your copy of The State of Salesforce DevOps 2023.

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