BackupLABS began in 2004, when CEO Rob Stevenson founded another company, BackupVault, to provide protection for desktops and servers in the small-to medium
enterprise (SME) market.
Through BackupVault, Rob witnessed a shift in how companies were using new online services, and saw a gap in the market open up for comprehensive backup of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications – so BackupLABS starting forming in his mind.
A gap in the market
From around 2010, the shift from traditional on-premises software to cloud services started to gather pace, with tools like Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox gaining popularity.
In 2017, Microsoft launched its Office 365 cloud subscription service (now called Microsoft 365) and existing BackupVault customers who had been using Microsoft Exchange servers made the move to the cloud service. But they needed backup of their mailboxes, SharePoint and OneDrive data, and asked Rob to help. His years of data security and backup experience served him well, and he researched the market to find solutions.
But there were limited options out there, and the only way he could deliver the backup his clients were asking for was by using third-party software. In the back of his mind, he knew it was possible to build something better. He considered creating his own backup solution – but with BackupVault growing fast, time soon flew by and the opportunity went with it.
Time to act
SaaS growth between 2017 and 2021 was explosive, with the average number of SaaS apps used by businesses worldwide leaping from 16 to 110 in that time. The COVID-19 pandemic played a huge role in this acceleration of SaaS usage, as remote working became the norm and employees had to recreate their office environments at home. Collaboration services such as Trello, Asana, Notion, GitHub, Monday.com, GitLab, and Jira have become immensely popular, and all run on a Shared Responsibility Model (SRM), which dictates that the user is responsible for backing up their own data – not the provider. Once again, Rob’s BackupVault customers began asking if he could offer backups for these cloud applications, so he researched the options and discovered two things:
- There were very few backup solutions for cloud and SaaS apps
- Many users who weren’t aware of the SRM and so hadn’t even realised they needed to back up their SaaS app data.
The few SaaS backup options that did exist focused on the biggest platforms: Microsoft 365, Google Workspace and Salesforce. The newer, smaller apps were going unprotected; anyone choosing these over more mainstream services was leaving their data exposed and vulnerable. Having learnt the hard way with Microsoft 365, Rob wasn’t going to miss this opportunity to fill another significant gap in the market – he knew he could solve this problem himself.
BackupLABS was born
So he began to put his backup expertise into founding BackupLABS. He started with a wish list, which he made by looking at other backup software applications and nothing did what it should. He knew his own solution would have to solve the immediate problem of safeguarding business-critical data, and any software he developed would have to be always-on, fully secure, and scalable to allow businesses to grow. He was also aware of the need to help SaaS users comply with data protection legislation and fulfill requirements set out by cyber insurance providers.
As Rob explored the existing SaaS backup landscape, he noticed that tools built by software developers were complicated to use and took a long time to set up. This became a key driver in the development of BackupLABS: the end product had to be user-focused.
“I know only too well that when you’re running your own business, your to-do list never ends. You don’t have spare time to spend on finding and installing secure backups,” says Rob.
“A backup solution that was quick to set up and easy to use didn’t exist, and I believed it should – so we built it ourselves, with the guiding principle that users should be able to visit the BackupLABS site and have their SaaS app data protected in minutes.”
After looking at the three main cloud platform providers (Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure), the BackupLABS team found that Amazon Web Services (AWS) provided the features they would need to create a fully secure, safe and scalable backup service, while also prioritising sustainability and energy efficiency. Much of their research and testing came from BackupVault – they contacted customers who’d previously requested backups for apps like Trello and asked if they’d help by beta-testing. BackupLABS itself was born in May 2021 but it took a full year to launch because the product had to be absolutely right. There was no room for error, as data stored on SaaS apps is business-critical and therefore needs protecting at the highest level of security.
BackupLABS now offers protection for 2 types of SaaS app:
- Productivity tools (such as Trello, Asana, Notion, Jira and Monday.com etc)
- Software development apps (such as GitHub and GitLab)
What’s next for BackupLABS?
With their ambition to be the main provider of SaaS app protection worldwide, first on the to-do list for BackupLABS is adding to the roster of apps they can back up.
“As we start 2023, we’re still in the relatively early days of SaaS app usage – similar to where Office 365 was in 2017,” explains Rob. “But the adoption and use of SaaS apps is only going to keep growing – which means more and more data is being added to SaaS services all the time.”
The certification process for ISO 27001 (Information Security Management Systems) and ISO 9001 (Quality Management System) is also underway for BackupLABS and on track to be completed by March 2023.
Another key goal is to make BackupLABS as environmentally friendly as it can be, with the ultimate aim of becoming a carbon-neutral business. Currently, the team monitors the AWS platform’s energy usage through the Carbon Footprint Tool. Following BackupLABS’ emergence from stealth mode in January 2023, they will be partnering with Ecologi to plant trees and offset their carbon usage. Future plans also involve sponsoring local environmental initiatives in Rob’s home county of Dorset.