2014-05-December-Copies.jpg"What if?" This question plagues companies who have made the move to the cloud. In spite of reassurances of data security and efforts by providers to back data up, the worst case scenario is never far from mind. Spanning, just over a month after its acquisition by EMC, is offering Office 365 users a solution to help manage that "what if" scenario.

The new cloud-to-cloud backup solution is designed from the ground up to work with desktops, tablets and mobile devices and offers access to all enterprise data wherever employees are working and through their preferred device.

Microsoft’s Cloud Data

For anyone using Office 365 who thinks this is overkill, keep one word in mind: outage. While they don’t happen often, once is enough to feel the effects, as Microsoft users recently found out.

The Azure cloud platform went down in late November across multiple regions creating problems for close to 11 hours, affecting customers using virtual machines, causing problems with Office 365 and ultimately leading to many third-party sites going offline. 

And while major outages are rare, what happens more frequently is that files get lost, or are accidentally destroyed, or are subject to breach, or any number of other things that can go wrong with content.

This is particularly true as more and more workers access information on the road, increasing the risks of data loss and non-compliance because of hackers, system and sync malfunction, or human error.

Spanning Data Protection

This is where Spanning comes in, and is the reason EMC bought it. Spanning already provided its data backup and recovery service for Salesforce and Google Apps when EMC bought it at the end of October.

At the time, Guy Churchward, president, EMC Core Technologies Division, said that Spanning was a tight fit into its data protection strategy and that EMC sees this a core business area as cloud use spreads.

With the addition of Spanning into our portfolio we are reaffirming that commitment. Born-in-the cloud applications are increasingly populating the landscape at enterprises and mid-market organizations and the data they generate needs to be protected. Spanning and EMC partnered productively long before this acquisition, so we’re excited to formally welcome Spanning and its employees into the EMC fold."

The fact that Spanning already had a substantial number of client organizations, with a total of 1.8 million people using Spanning products probably helped the decision too, but EMC has a history of working in this area so it was a logical fit.

Spanning technology is designed to provide customers with constant monitoring of data backups, allowing administrators to correct problems before they become issues.

Spanning And Office 365

The new offering will bring its application-centric focus, backup and restore expertise to Office 365. It will be available initially as a closed beta program and then generally in the first half of 2015.

Some of its functionality includes:

  • Automated daily and on-demand backups of Mail, Calendar and Contacts by keeping a copy of the application data and files in a private, secure cloud
  • Point-in-time backups let administrators and end users search, view and directly restore any previous version of the data
  • Cross-user data restore makes it easier to restore data from one Office 365 account to another
  • One price for unlimited storage protects all data for a single rate, per user, per year, no matter how much data is stored.

None of this functionality is groundbreaking, but it is difficult to apply to Office 365 given the amount of data that is, or will be stored in it in the future.

One key thing to note is that this is cloud-based data protection, and not data that is stored in a data center with the related back up and security that comes with these centers.

Data Center Problems

At the moment, many Software-as-a-Service don’t offer data protection, back-up and certainly not recovery. Most offer immediate accessibility -- albeit device-neutral accessibility -- and that’s about it.

Protecting cloud-based data is increasingly important, and will only grow in importance as developers build more applications in the cloud. Born-in-the cloud applications populate the landscape at enterprises and mid-market organizations and the data they generate is crucial to the development of enterprise business strategies.

Spanning's services can be seen as a complement to the protection Microsoft offers Office 365 in its numerous data centers in numerous geographies. Spanning offers enterprises the same security as data centers, but in the cloud. If you want to join the beta program you can sign on here.