What does Spanning do?
At Spanning Engineering we live and breathe SaaS. We’re experts in working with SaaS vendor APIs and we use that expertise to develop Spanning Backup - data protection for SaaS applications. We know how to build systems at scale in a SaaS environment and know what we need from SaaS application APIs to build secure, robust, and reliable solutions. When we decided that Office 365 was our next app to protect, we formed a relationship with Microsoft to make sure we were in the best position to protect Office 365 data and that we had the API support to do so.
What’s partnering with Microsoft been like?
Surprisingly easy. Our ISV partner champions at Microsoft connected us with the product managers at Microsoft responsible for the Office 365 REST APIs. Microsoft is serious about developing a robust, manageable set of REST APIs for Office 365, and the product managers were eager to understand our use cases. The backup and restore use case is not the typical use case for the REST APIs; we need things like app-level access to the entirety of a tenant, change feeds with reliable bookmarks, and unique identifiers for objects that don’t change. The product managers listened and understood our requirements. This was a win-win for both of us. Microsoft was looking for early real world feedback on their new APIs, and we wanted to work with REST APIs that would be maintained going forward.
Our relationship with Microsoft informed our approach to OneDrive for Business
In the summer of 2015 we knew that the next app we wanted to back up for O365 was OneDrive for Business. We reviewed the available APIs - the Files API, the Sharepoint API, and the new OneDrive for Business API in preview.
The Files API was a non-starter - it didn’t have a changes feed and never would. The Sharepoint API was extensive and covered much more ground than we needed to support backup for OneDrive. While we were certainly capable of going in that direction, we were looking for a better way to get to the OneDrive for Business data that would be specifically targeted at OneDrive and would evolve along with it.
Microsoft was already in the process of developing the OneDrive REST API to expose OneDrive objects in an easily consumable fashion. It would align with their roadmap for OneDrive functionality. We decided the right thing to do would be to hitch our release to the new API. Microsoft shared their roadmap and we shared our use cases, and then we worked together to get the functionality we needed to deliver our product on top of the new OneDrive APIs.
This strategy worked out to the benefit of both of our teams. As soon as the OneDrive API went GA, we started exercising the features we needed and provided feedback to the OneDrive Product Management team regarding feature gaps and defects. The communication and support has been solid. They’ve listened carefully to our requests and have communicated release schedules for bug fixes, been open about what functionality isn’t available - and what functionality will never exist - and have provided workarounds when bug fixes wouldn’t be available in time for our first release.
What’s next for Spanning
The OneDrive for Business product is growing and evolving, as is the API support for it. As new functionality is added we continue to work with the Microsoft team to make sure the API support is there so we can extend our backup and restore service to provide complete protection for OneDrive for Business data. We also have plans to extend Spanning Backup for Office 365 to protect other Office 365 apps.
A strong technical partnership is key to success when developing applications for a rapidly evolving SaaS offering such as Office 365. Microsoft understands that supporting application developers is critical and is adept at building out developer ecosystems that benefit us, Microsoft, and our mutual customers.
About the Author
Andrea Adams is the Director of Engineering at Spanning responsible for the Spanning Backup for Office 365 service.