Years ago, when business users initially needed email, many chose Microsoft Exchange. Soon after, they realized the need for word processing, number crunching, and presentation tools, leading them to Microsoft’s Office suite including; Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. These tools generated numerous documents, prompting them to adopt SharePoint, as an excellent collaboration platform and document repository. And along the journey, Microsoft learned how to bundle their products into nice packages like "Office."
Over time, Microsoft adapted to the changing world of users and after a few product launches and acquisitions, began incorporating Business Applications like ERP (accounting) and CRM (sales) under the name "Dynamics." As technology advanced, the focus shifted towards greater integration, user-friendly tools, and AI-generated outputs, but the core of everything remained the data we created with these tools. Without data, the need for tools and the functionality of AI ceases to exist.
Top analysts from Gartner, Forrester, and IDC agree that low-code, no-code (LCNC) platforms, like Microsoft Power Platform, act as the "rainbow bridge" connecting applications and data. This allegory of needing email has become more complex as we delve into LCNC app development, especially concerning quality assurance, safe deployment, user adoption, data quality management, and regulatory compliance. Despite operating in the cloud, backup and recovery play critical roles in these non-functional areas and should not be overlooked.
As recognized leaders in the Microsoft data protection space, Own (formerly OwnBackup) and Cohesity have extensive experience helping Microsoft customers protect data across its various platforms. Below, we share our joint perspective on the different ways that a backup and recovery solution can help Microsoft customers optimize their use of the platform while minimizing risk.
How Microsoft Users Can Use Backup and Recovery To Innovate Confidently
Test, test, test. That wasn't a typo, but we’re glad you’re still reading. Ensuring the quality of an app relies heavily on thorough testing and multiple rounds of checks before releasing it to users. In this process, having a reliable backup and recovery system is extremely important, even if we don't use our production databases for development.
Why is it crucial? During testing, we must be cautious of unintended changes to our data. Suppose we encounter unexpected behavior in the data after running test processes. In that case, it can be a tedious and time-consuming task to identify and resolve issues, taking away precious hours from the testing process. However, with a backup system that can specifically target the tables affected by the test patterns, we can easily reset those tables and related hierarchies after each testing round, saving us from the long delays of finding, preparing, and fixing the affected data.
After successfully testing our iterations and patterns, we must ensure safe deployment of our apps or features. Regardless of how unique an app may be in the enterprise, it will have some connection to other parts of the enterprise ecosystem. Therefore, every app deployment should anticipate the possibility of affecting incoming, outgoing, or bi-directional connections to external data.
To illustrate this, let's consider two apps: one designed to manage driver specifics and the other to handle the different cars the driver uses. If an unsafe deployment leads to data loss or corruption in one app, it immediately cripples the other app. That's why the ability to restore data quickly after deployment is crucial. Even a matter of minutes can trigger a snowball effect of data corruption and loss in both apps!
Alright, enough with the doomsday scenarios. Let's shift our focus to happier times when apps are built and deployed safely and efficiently. We all aim for that, but what comes next? How about providing a safety net for end users as they start using your new apps?
Learning often involves making mistakes, and many apps in the LCNC space might lack the foresight to include an "undo" button. However, having a reliable backup and recovery option can make all the difference. When a solid backup system is in place, any deployed app can be quickly and easily reverted in case of mistakes. This ability to undo errors instills confidence in users, and as they see that mistakes can be effortlessly reversed, their trust and adoption of the apps will naturally improve across the board.
Data Quality Management
Let's continue with the positive outlook and post-deployment discussions by exploring the importance of data quality management. Data quality plays a significant role in building trust, not just in compliance but, most importantly, in the eyes of the end users. When the data within an app is consistent and reliable, it instills confidence in the users, encouraging them to use the app more frequently.
To illustrate this, let's go back to the example of email. If you searched for an email you received yesterday, which either disappeared or showed different information, you would lose trust in the email system's reliability. Eventually, you might start looking for an alternative email tool. This same principle applies to every app, now and in the future, especially in a world where generative AI also generates and manages data.
By implementing a robust backup system to revert unwanted changes or data losses, you can safeguard data quality measures and prevent users from losing trust in the apps you've built. Ensuring data integrity is vital for maintaining the confidence of your app users.
Finally, let's delve into the complex and ever-changing world of regulatory compliance. Various regulations like GDPR, CCPA, PCI DSS, NIST, HIPAA, SOX, and more require apps to adhere to specific data storage and usage rules. When building apps on LCNC platforms, it's essential to consider these regulations during the design process. Equally important is how backups are stored and, even more crucially, how they are restored.
Storage itself poses a challenge, as different regulations may demand varying retention periods. For instance, one regulation might require data to be retained for no more than 28 days, while another might mandate a minimum of 6 years. A flexible backup and recovery solution that maintains its compliance certifications becomes vital in this context. Such a solution enables LCNC apps to move forward confidently while ensuring compliance with the relevant regulations.
Painting a Picture
So after all that, let’s visualize something contextual which is likely the reason you decided to read this article in the first place. Imagine that you have taken the same journey as described in the preamble of this article. You’ve got everything from Exchange to Dynamics 365 CE. You’ve found and deployed the easy first party integrations from Microsoft where your user mailboxes tie into D365, documents saved in your D365 map and write into SharePoint, and AI is summarizing across everything and storing the outputs to your D365 records. This sounds great, but what happens when data gets lost or corrupted along the way?
Finding the affected data becomes increasingly difficult when it is located across many different apps. Restoring it becomes even more difficult than finding it because everything has to relink back together again.
This is where the Own and Cohesity data protection solution really shines. With two of the most battle tested solutions and companies out there in this space, customers can quickly find, restore, and validate data across their entire Microsoft data estate including; Azure, Microsoft 365 (M365) as well as Dataverse and Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE. Our partnership makes up thousands of customers and many years of laser-focused experience in this arena, so organizations that choose our holistic data protection solution find peace of mind in having a consistent, low maintenance, and reliable data protection strategy.
Learn more about how you can benefit from a simple yet powerful backup and recovery solution from Own.