Instant Recovery Point and Large Disk Azure Backup support

With everything that happens on Azure, and following what has been announced of the increase of the size of the disk in Azure, from 1TB to 4TB, the only missing part of this was the support of Azure Backup to be able to backup and recovery those volumes.

But what changed? Today the Azure Backup job consist of the Two phases:

  1. Taking a VM snapshot
  2. Transferring the VM snapshot to Azure Backup Vault

So, depending how many recovery points you configure on your policy, it will only be available a recovery point when both phases are complete. With the introduction of Instant Recovery Points feature on Azure Backup, a recovery point is created as soon as the snapshot is finished. That means that you RPO and RTO can be reduced significantly.

You can use the same restore flow on Azure Backup, to restore from this instant recovery point. For this you can identify the recovery point from a snapshot in the Azure Portal, using the Snapshot as a recovery point type. Once the snapshot is on the Azure Backup Vault, the recovery point type will change to Snapshot and Vault.

By default, the snapshots are retained for 7 days. This will allow you to complete restore way faster, from these snapshots and at the same time, reducing the time required to copy the backup from the vault to the storage account where you want to restore.

Instant Recovery Point Features

Please note that all the features are not yet available, this is still on preview

  1. Ability to see snapshot taken as part of backup job to be available for recovery without waiting for data transfer to complete.Note: that this will reduce the wait on snapshot to be copied to vault before triggering restore. Also, this will eliminate the additional storage requirement we have for backing up premium VMs.
  2. As part of above feature, we will also enable some data integrity checks. This will take some additional time as part of backup. We will be relaxing these checks as we move and so it will reduce backup times.
  3. Support for 4TB unmanaged disks
  4. Ability to use original storage accounts (even when VM has disks are distributed across storage accounts). This will make restores faster for a wide variety of VM configurations.Note: this is not same as overriding the original VM.
  5. Ability to do above things for managed disks.

 

Is important to know that when you enable this feature you will notice the following:

Since the snapshot are store on the Azure Backup vault, to reduce the recovery point and reduce the restore time, you will see some increase on the storage cost, corresponding to the snapshots that are store for 7 days (if you go with the defaults).

When you are doing a restore from a snapshot recovery point for a Premium VM, you will might see a temporary storage location being used while the VM is created, as part of the restore.

Once you enable the preview feature, you can’t revert, that means you can go back and all the future backups will use this feature.

If you have the VMs with Managed Disks, this feature is not support yet. Although if you have VMs that are using Managed Disks, is supported, but they will be using the normal backup (the Instant Recovery Point will not be used, in this case). Virtual Machines migrations from unmanaged and managed are not supported.

If you want to try this feature, run the following commands:

  1. Open PowerShell with elevated privilege
  2. Login to your Azure Account
    Login-AzureRmAccount
  3. Select the subscription you want to enable the Instant Recovey Point feature
    Get-AzureRmSubscription –SubscriptionName “<SUBSCRIPTION_NAME>” | Select-AzureRmSubscription
  4. Register for the preview
    Register-AzureRmProviderFeature -FeatureName “InstantBackupandRecovery” –ProviderNamespace Microsoft.RecoveryServices

 

Cheers,

Marcos Nogueira
Azure MVP

azurecentric.com
Twitter: @mdnoga

New version of Azure Backup Server introduces Modern Backup Storage technology

WOW! What a day for me! Microsoft Azure just announces new and improved features on the new version Azure Backup Server. Let’s start!

They announce with Azure Backup Server v2 (MABSv2) you can protect your VMWARE and Windows Server 2016 environment. That is really important feature (in my opinion). Now I don’t need to rely on third party backup software vendors to backup the workloads into Azure, special if the workload is running on ESXi.

Microsoft introduces now thought MABSv2 the Modern Backup Storage technology, based on the features available o Windows Server 2016.

With Windows Server 2016 broth enormous enhancements like ReFS cloning. MABSv2, now leverage these modern technologies, like ReFS cloning and Dynamic VHDX to reduce the overall TCO of backup. MABSv2 also introduces workload infinity technology, that helps to optimize storage utilization.

One of the features that Windows Server 2016 intruded was resilience change checking that improved virtual machine backup resiliency. MABSv2 are now resilient with Resilient Check Technology (RCT) and organizations don’t need to go with painful consistency checks scenarios like virtual machine storage migrations.

MABSv2 can detect and protect VMs that are store on Storage Spaces Direct (S2D), ReFS based cluster seemly without any manual steps. Windows Server 2016 VMs are more secure with shield VM technology and MABSv2 can protect and recovery them securely.

Windows Server 2012 R2 cluster can be upgraded to Windows Server 2016 using rolling cluster upgrade technology without bring down the production environment. MABSv2 will continue to backup the VMs and so there no miss of the SLA while the cluster upgrade is in progress.

You can also auto protect SQL workloads and VMware VMs to cloud using MABSv2. MABSv2, now also comes with the support to protect SQL 2016, SharePoint 2016 and Exchange 2016 workloads as well.

MABSv2 can protect VMware VMs, although the support is in test for MABSv2 running on Windows Server 2016.

MABSv1 deployments can be upgraded to MABSv2 with a few simple steps. MABSv2 will continue to backup data sources without rebooting production servers. So, you don’t need to worry about rebooting production servers or backup interruption with the upgrade to MABSv2.

Cheers,

Marcos Nogueira
azurecentric.com
Twitter: @mdnoga

Azure Backup – Part 4 – System Center and Azure Backup

On the first post (see here), I explained how the Azure backup works. On this post, I’m explaining how to integrate Azure Backup with System Center Data Protection Manager.

If your environment contains a large number of systems that require protection, you might want to consider implementing Microsoft Azure Backup Server. Alternatively, if you have an existing implementation of System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM), you will likely benefit from integrating it with Azure Backup by installing the Azure Site Recovery agent on the DPM server.

These two methods generally yield equivalent results. Microsoft Azure Backup Server provides the same set of features as DPM except for tape backups and integration with other System Center products. Azure Backup Server also offers the same management interface as DPM. Effectively, by implementing Microsoft Azure Backup Server, you gain enterprise-grade protection without requiring System Center licenses.

With both of these products, you can provide recovery for Linux and Windows operating systems that run on-premises or in Azure, as long as an Azure Backup Server or DPM server resides in the same location. DPM and Azure Backup Server support consistent application backups of the most common Windows server workloads, including SQL Server, Office SharePoint Server 2013 or 2016, and Microsoft Exchange Server. They also deliver superior efficiency and disk space savings because of built-in deduplication capabilities.

It is important to remember that unlike the other Azure Site Recovery agent–based methods, neither DPM nor Azure Backup Server can back up data directly to an Azure Recovery Services vault. Instead, they operate as disk-to-disk-to-cloud solutions, using their local disks as the immediate backup target, and afterward, copying data to Azure from the newly created backup.

To integrate System Center DPM with Azure Backup, you must perform the following steps:

  1. If you do not already have an available Recovery Services vault, create a new one.
    Note: You can use the same vault for protecting Azure virtual machines with the Azure Backup VM extension and systems that run an Azure Site Recovery agent, including System Center DPM.
  2. Specify the vault’s storage replication type.
  3. Specify Backup goal settings, including the:
    – Location of the workload: On-premises
    – Workload type: any combination of Hyper-V Virtual Machines, VMware Virtual Machines, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange, System State, or Bare Metal Recovery
  4. On the Prepare infrastructure blade of the Azure Recovery Services vault, select the Already using System Center Data Protection Manager or any other System Center product check box.
  5. Download the vault credentials from the Prepare infrastructure blade. The Azure Site Recovery agent uses vault credentials to register with the vault during the installation process.
  6. Download and install the Azure Site Recovery agent from the Prepare infrastructure blade. Start by clicking the Download link. Once the download completes, run the installation and register the local computer running System Center Data Protection Manager with the vault. As part of the registration, designate a passphrase for encrypting backups.
  7. From the Protection workspace of the DPM Administrator Console, create a new protection group or modify an existing one. Within the protection group settings, enable the Online Protection option.
    Note: You must enable short-term protection by using local disks. While you cannot use tapes for this purpose, you can additionally enable long-term protection to tape. As part of the protection group configuration, specify an online backup schedule, online protection data, online retention policy, and initial online backup methodology. Similar to the Azure Backup consoles, you can choose between performing initial backup over the Internet and using the Azure Import/Export service to copy it offline.

Deploying Microsoft Azure Backup Server requires that you perform the following steps:

  1. If you do not already have an existing, available Recovery Services vault, create a new one.
    Note: You can use the same vault for protecting Azure virtual machines with the Azure Backup VM extension and systems that run an Azure Site Recovery agent, including System Center DPM.
  2. Specify the vault’s storage replication type.
  3. Specify Backup goal settings, including the:
    – Location of the workload: On-premises
    – Workload type: any combination of Hyper-V Virtual Machines, VMware Virtual Machines, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange, System State, or Bare Metal Recovery
  4. On the Prepare infrastructure blade of the Azure Recovery Services vault, make sure that the Already using System Center Data Protection Manager or any other System Center product check box is cleared.
  5. Use the Download link on the Prepare infrastructure blade to download the Microsoft Azure Backup Server installation media, which are over 3 GB in size.
  6. Download the vault credentials from the Prepare infrastructure blade. The Microsoft Azure Backup Server setup uses vault credentials to register with the vault during the installation process.
  7. Once the download of the Microsoft Azure Backup Server installation media completes, extract the download package content by running MicrosoftAzureBackupInstaller.exe, and then start the setup process.
    Note: The product requires a local instance of SQL Server 2014 Standard. You have the option of using the SQL Server installation media in the package or deploying an instance prior to running the setup.
  8. When prompted, provide the path to the vault credentials that you downloaded earlier. When registering the Microsoft Azure Backup Server with the vault, you can designate a passphrase for encrypting backups.
  9. Because Microsoft Azure Backup Server has the same administrative interface as the System Center DPM, after the setup completes, the remainder of the configuration is equivalent to the one referencing a System Center DPM, with the exception of tape backup–related settings.

Cheers,

Marcos Nogueira
azurecentric.com
Twitter: @mdnoga

Azure Backup – Part 3 – Backup Virtual Machines

On the first post (see here), I explained how the Azure backup works. On this post, I’m explaining how to backup Virtual Machines with Azure Backup.

If the systems that you want to protect are running the Windows or Linux operating systems on Azure virtual machines, then in addition to running Azure Site Recovery agent–based backups (as explained on the previous posts), you also have the option to perform a VM-level backup.

This process uses the Azure Backup VM extension and offers some additional benefits, including application consistency for Windows virtual machines, support for Linux, and a higher limit for the number of protected systems per vault, which is 200 Azure VMs versus 50 protected systems with the Azure Site Recovery agent. On the other hand, the backup frequency in this case is limited to once per day.

You should also keep in mind that the restore process creates a new virtual machine. As a result, an Azure VM–level backup does not provide a convenient option for restoring individual files or folders from a backup. In addition, the restore does not take into account such VM-level settings as network configuration, which means that you must recreate them after the restore. However, you can automate the restore process, by using Azure PowerShell or Azure CLI, for example. You must use scripting when recovering Azure virtual machines that host Active Directory domain controllers or that have complicated network configuration, including such characteristics as load balancing, multiple reserved IP addresses, or multiple network adapters.

Setting up an Azure IaaS VM-level backup by using the Azure portal involves the following steps:

  1. If you do not already have an available Recovery Services vault, create a new one.
    Note that the vault must reside in the same Azure region as the Azure IaaS virtual machines.
  2. Specify the vault’s storage replication type.
  3. Specify Backup goal settings, including the:
    – Location of the workload: Azure
    – Workload type: Virtual machine
  4. Choose the backup policy. The policy determines backup frequency and retention range. The default, predefined policy triggers the backup daily at 7:00 PM and has the 30-day retention period. You can create a custom policy to modify these values, by scheduling backup to take place on specific days and setting the retention period on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
  5. Specify the virtual machines to back up. The Azure portal will automatically detect the Azure virtual machines which satisfy Azure VM–level backup requirements. When you click Items to backup on the Getting started with backup blade, the Azure portal will display these virtual machines on the Select virtual machines blade. This will automatically deploy the Azure VM backup extension to the virtual machines you that select and register them with the vault.
  6. At this point, you can identify the Azure virtual machines that are backed up to the vault by viewing the content of the Backup Items blade.

Cheers,

Marcos Nogueira
azurecentric.com
Twitter: @mdnoga

 

Store, Backup, Recover your data – Part 2

This is a continuation of the previous blog post http://azurecentric.com/2017/02/13/store-backup-recover-your-data-part-1/

Azure Blob supports REST APIs so you can use it directly and build tools to integrate, but there are several ways you can use Azure storage to integrate with your on-premises datacenter environment:

StorSimple Cloud-integrated Storage – StorSimple systems combine the data management functions of primary storage, backup, archive and disaster recovery with seamless Azure integration – enabling a hybrid cloud storage solution through a single system and Azure.

StorSimple systems use Azure as an automated storage tier, offloading capacity management burdens and ongoing capital costs, while providing enterprise-grade local performance for active data sets. Using local and cloud snapshots, application-consistent backups complete in a fraction of the time needed by traditional backup systems while reducing the amount of data transferred and stored in the cloud.

Cloud-based and location-independent disaster recovery (DR) allows organizations to recover their data from virtually any location with an Internet connection, and test their DR plans without impacting production systems and applications. Thin restore from data in the cloud enables users to resume operations after a disaster much faster than possible with physical tape, or cloud-based tape methods used with other cloud providers.

Organizations will benefit from significantly reducing their storage infrastructure sprawl, lowering total storage costs (TCO) by 60-80%, and simplifying data protection while rapidly accelerating data recovery times.

Back Up and Restore of SQL Server Databases

The combination of Azure Storage and Virtual Machines provides a great cost effective solution for backing up and restoring your on-premises SQL Server images. On-premises SQL Server images can be backed up asynchronously to Azure Storage and in the case of an on-premises failure, the azure virtual machine can be quickly utilized to restore the image to reduce end user downtime.

While StorSimple solution I mention earlier is more of an on-premises SAN solution that is integrated with Azure, you can also use Azure directly for backups with Windows Server and System Center DPM.

Azure Backup service extends Windows Server Backup, Essentials, or DPM with offsite backup to Azure. You can backup server data to be backed up and recovered from the cloud in order to help protect against loss and corruption. Both Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 support this service. Here’s how you can use Windows Server and System Center with Azure Online Backup:

Windows Server – Cloud-based backup from Windows Server is enabled by a downloadable agent that installs right alongside the familiar Windows Server backup interface. From this interface backup and recovery of files and folders is managed as usual but instead of utilizing local disk storage, the agent communicates with an Azure service which creates the backups in Azure storage.

System Center 2016

With the System Center 2016 release, the Data Protection Manager (DPM) component enables cloud-based backup of datacenter server data to Azure storage.  System Center administrators use the downloadable Azure Online Backup agent to leverage their existing protection, recovery and monitoring workflows to seamlessly integrate cloud-based backups alongside their disk/tape based backups. DPM’s short term, local backup continues to offer quicker disk–based point recoveries when business demands it, while the Azure backup provides the peace of mind & reduction in TCO that comes with offsite backups. In addition to files and folders, DPM also enables Virtual Machine backups to be stored in the cloud.

Benefits:

  • Reliable offsite data protection
    • Convenient offsite protection
    • Safe, geo-replicated data
    • Encrypted backups
  • A simple, integrated solution
    • Familiar interface
    • Protection for older servers
    • Azure integration
  • Efficient backup & recovery
    • Efficient use of bandwidth and storage
    • Flexible recovery
    • Flexible configuration