Cloud CRM: How to Backup & Recover

| By:
Sagar Kamat

Cloud technology is rapidly transforming the way companies do business. Organizations that make the switch from older, legacy systems are experiencing the amazing benefits that technology like a cloud CRM can offer them when it comes to their customer data. 

Other businesses, however, are dragging their feet on making the transition to cloud-based platforms. Unfortunately, those will be the companies that get left behind. It’s essential that as an MSP, you keep your clients from falling into that category.

If you’re reading this article, that’s a good thing. It means you’re doing what it takes to stay ahead of the curve. 

Read on with us to learn what cloud CRM technology is, why it’s important, and much more.

What is cloud CRM technology, and how does it work?

To understand cloud CRM technology and how it applies to your clients, we first need to understand the role of a CRM. 

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Manager. This can be a cloud-based software platform or on-premise database that stores boundless caches of information regarding your customer interactions. This data could be anything from customer birthdays, hobbies, and interests, to more administrative information like detailed phone conversation records.

Historically, this information was stored in on-site, legacy data storage hardware. Today, by leveraging cloud computing, organizations can store more data while using less company storage resources to do so.

How cloud-based CRM software works for MSP clients

Cloud CRM platforms are generally offered by third-party SaaS providers. These providers host and maintain the necessary infrastructure, and clients access these platforms via the internet.

Since the third-party provider is responsible for maintaining and protecting a company’s data, cloud CRM solutions often come at a much lower cost than the traditional model. Leveraging the provider’s resources means no investments in IT hardware, extra cybersecurity software, or extra IT staff.

What’s the difference between on-premise and cloud-based CRM?

The most distinct difference between a cloud-based CRM and an on-premise platform is the location of the data. Cloud CRMs, by definition, host customer data in the cloud. Conversely, an on-premises CRM solution would leverage on-site IT resources like servers, networks, etc., to store and manage data on-site.

Another area where the two offerings differ is maintenance. Since a third-party provider is responsible for a client’s cloud-based CRM software, most of the work is taken off their hands. There are fewer concerns about updating or maintaining IT hardware or software. As a result, you and your team will experience less stress and headaches as you can devote more focus to the highest and best use of your time. 

Organizations also experience a much more budget-friendly payment model by modernizing their CRM. Cloud providers offer their CRM platforms on a pay-as-you-go subscription basis. Compared to the on-premises model, which requires equipment and a location for a data center, the upfront costs are significantly lower. This can be key when making the case for it with cost-minded clients.

CRM technology sees rapid growth

Initially, big enterprises were the primary adopters of CRM technology. However, this is changing as cloud-based CRM software enables CRM technology to become more scalable and accessible to SMBs. As a result, more MSPs can implement this tech for their smaller clients.

Below are three ways cloud CRMs helped make CRM technology widely available to SMBs:  

1. Ability to spread out CRM costs

The costs to implement CRMs were traditionally quite high and included the cost of hardware, software, licenses, and additional investment to manage and maintain the applications. Now, many SMBs can spread these costs out over months or years thanks to the subscription model of cloud CRM solutions

2. Less complexity in CRM implementation

CRM implementations used to be so complex that organizations had to deploy the application on several servers, which involved a lot of configuration to get the system working properly. This process can be completed much faster and with fewer interruptions to an MSP’s team with cloud-based CRM models.

3. Easier to maintain CRM environment with cloud hosting

With the advent of cloud CRMs and subscription-based pricing, small businesses can take advantage of a full-fledged CRM implementation with a pay-as-you-use pricing model (per user/per month cost).  

But the widespread adoption of CRM solutions by SMBs comes with the challenge of ensuring data remains available to users. It is important to know that cloud CRM providers are only responsible for the SaaS infrastructure. SMBs are responsible for the data, and the protection of that data.

The cloud-based data recovery myth

When it comes to cloud CRM and SaaS data, many SMBs and MSPs make the mistake of assuming that data is secure when it’s housed in the cloud. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even in the cloud, end users could accidentally delete important client information or unknowingly click on a malicious email that lets a threat actor into your system. 

Placing too much faith in a cloud-based CRM or SaaS vendor to keep data safe is risky. As cyber threats rise amid COVID-19 closures, MSPs must take greater measures to prevent IT service delivery disruptions to their clients.

Why backup and recovery is essential for cloud-based CRMs

Most organizations downplay the risk of not protecting their SaaS data, but one ransomware attack can change that. For this reason, critical customer experience data in Microsoft Dynamics 365 needs to be protected. This should be one of the first areas MSPs prioritize when working with their clients.

Data loss can occur due to various reasons:

1. SaaS platform disruptions

Microsoft and other SaaS vendors strive to keep their services up and running, but these online services occasionally suffer disruptions and outages. What’s more, SaaS vendors state that they’re not liable for any data loss that may result due to these disruptions—you are.

2. Human errors

By far, the biggest reason for data loss in cloud CRM solutions is human error. No matter how careful your clients or their employees are, SaaS data is easy to misplace, write over, or lose.

3. Programmatic errors

Data loss can result from third-party application integrations or large data migrations that you run within the Microsoft Dynamics 365 application.

4. Cyberattacks

Digital transformation and remote work environments due to COVID-19 have opened up many loopholes and vulnerabilities for hackers and malicious programs to exploit. MSPs are an even bigger target for cyberattacks due to the sheer amount of businesses that rely on them for IT and security.

5. Reliance on Microsoft’s native backup

SaaS vendors like Microsoft often provide tools and mechanisms to back up your SaaS data. But can you rely on those backups to recover your users’ SaaS data? Not completely. 

SaaS vendors aren’t responsible for recovering data accidentally deleted by a user or lost due to a production interruption.  Microsoft’s service agreement recommends using third-party backup applications to regularly backup cloud CRM content and data.

6. Backups at the instance level

Microsoft’s native backup allows you to back up SaaS data and recover it at an instance level (production and sandbox instances). It doesn’t allow you to perform backups at the fields/object level.

7. Retention of the backups

Your clients can retain backups of your production instance with one or more Microsoft Dynamics 365 applications for up to 28 days. System backups of your sandbox instances are retained for up to seven days, and you can’t extend this timeframe.

8. Limited data restore options

Microsoft doesn’t allow you to perform an in-place restore of your production instance. To perform in-place restore, you need first to switch it to a sandbox environment, and changing an environment type to sandbox will immediately reduce backup retention to seven days. 

9. Ransomware protection

Microsoft Dynamics 365 does not protect against ransomware, malware, or any defense against malicious users.

10. No integrated backups

Suppose your customer has both Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365®, a norm for SMBs. In that case, you will need to implement two different data-recovery solutions, which is a risk over time due to the integration between the two applications.

A recovery solution designed for Microsoft Dynamic 365

What’s clear is that cloud-based CRM software like Microsoft Dynamics 365 should be accompanied by a more comprehensive recovery solution to ensure important  MSP customer information can always be restored. Fortunately, there’s a tool for this. 

It’s called ConnectWise SaaS Backup™ (formerly Recover SaaS), and it offers extensive backup and recovery protection for Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM data.  

Here are eight ways ConnectWise SaaS Backup makes Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM data more recoverable: 

1. Comprehensive data protection

ConnectWise SaaS Backup keeps track of all changed fields in the Microsoft Cloud Dynamics CRM applications and can easily roll needed data back in place. It backs up entities/objects (and their related metadata), including their relationship(s), and recovers them without any service disruptions.

2. Keep data as long as you’d like

Match your retention period for backup as per your business needs. You have the flexibility to define retention in days, months, and years.

3. Fast to deploy

No installation is needed. Just create a SaaS backup account, configure a Microsoft Dynamics 365 connector with a secure connection to your Dynamics instance, and you are up and running within minutes. There’s no Capex involved.

4. Easy to use

A simple, intuitive, and easy-to-use web interface eliminates complexities to configuring Microsoft Dynamics 365 backups, performing granular restores, or reviewing job statuses through a job monitor or SaaS Dashboard.

5. Automated backups

Daily automated backups that run at least twice daily provide peace of mind.

6. Expand as needed

There’s no need to deploy multiple SaaS backup solutions to protect Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365. Use one single platform with an easy-to-use interface to add connectors for Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, G Suite, and Salesforce—then back them all up in one place.  

7. Ransomware protection

ConnectWise SaaS Backup comprehensive backup and recovery capabilities allow our customers to roll back to any point in time and recover the exact data that was compromised or lost. 

8. Rich search and restore

When it comes to restoring entities and records from Microsoft Dynamics 365, it has to be fast and effortless. ConnectWise SaaS Backup provides smart search capabilities across all snapshots, allowing you to quickly identify and restore data at the granular object level. With a preview and restore capability, you can be sure the data you are restoring is the correct record prior to restoration.

Come down from the clouds

Cloud CRMs can be the perfect solution for SMBs looking to improve their customer service and engagement. As an MSP, though, you need to make it clear that your clients can’t “fall asleep at the wheel” just because your data is in the hands of a third-party cloud-based CRM provider.

Critical customer data can be just as easily corrupted in the cloud as on your own on-premises server. This is precisely why finding a robust backup solution is imperative to managing your clients’ CRM cloud data. 

To learn more about how ConnectWise SaaS Backup can provide extensive backup capabilities for several different cloud CRMs, review this datasheet. If you’re ready for a more in-depth look, watch the ConnectWise SaaS Backup demo