Azure Backup Overview
Following on from the last post about Azure Site Recovery, this post will be about Azure Backup.
Lets jump straight in, Azure Backup is a Microsoft Azure service that you can use to backup and restore your data to/from Microsoft Azure and can be used to replace or run along side your existing backup solution, dependent on the solution of course. Microsoft Azure is known for its secure and reliable services backed by excellent SLAs to ensure that your data and the service you are consuming is highly available.
12 Apr 2016
What is Azure Backup?
Azure Backup is a Cloud Backup service residing in the Microsoft Cloud, it allows backup and recovery of your data to and from Microsoft Data centres. This allows you to protect your critical assets wherever they are and allows you to manage them from a single portal. Azure Backup is designed to replace your current backup system, generally aimed at removing Tape Infrastructure. Azure storage has always been very cheap, and considering that the lowest tier of Azure Storage replicates your data 3 times doesn’t have that feeling of cheapness. With Azure Backup you can also use Geo-Replication, effectively replicating your data 6 times across 2 data centres and with a 99.9% Service Availability, you can be assured that your data is secure and durable. Azure is also very scalable and works on a consumption based model, where you only pay for what you use.
The below video is a short and sweet intro to Azure Backup
Why use Azure Backup?
The below points are, what I believe, to be the most relevant features that yield the most value and can really sell Azure Backup.
Scalability – As with every Microsoft cloud service, it is scalable to your needs. Azure backup can grow and shrink to your requirements and negates the need of worrying about purchasing infrastructure to continuously support your backup solution.
Storage – Azure Backup uses Azure Storage to store your backups, Azure Storage is very resilient with the most basic Storage Account (Locally redundant) that replicates your storage 3 times within the same Azure Data Center, however you also have the option to have Geo-replicated storage which takes a further copy of your data in another Azure Data Centre and replicates it again within that datacentre 3 times for further redundancy and piece of mind.
Data and Networking – Unlike other Azure Services, with Azure Backup there is no charge for any egress data transfer during a restore. This means you can restore as much as you like, at no extra cost.
Costing – No Capital expenditure is needed for on-premise storage devices, and Azure uses the consumption model which bills you only on what you use. Azure Backup provides a “tape like” solution for long term retention with more features at a lower cost
Integration – Azure Backup can integrate into SCDPM (System Center Data Protection Manager), maximising your existing investments while leveraging the above features for your backup and recovery solution.
What can be Backed Up?
There are various workloads that can be backed up with Windows Azure Backup, the below illustrates what is supported against workload and systems:
The above workloads are protected via the Azure Backup server or DPM deployment, you can also utilise a direct client and the built in Windows Backup feature to provide just file level backup within a protected server and there is also the option to backup at the VM level IaaS VM’s running within Azure to Azure Backup.
Azure Backup Vs. Azure Site Recovery
People often confuse Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery, they are two different, but similar technologies. They both capture, backup and recover data but the core functionality and end result is different.
Azure Backup backs up data from your on-premise systems to Azure, the backups can be file level or machine level, this is a generally backup and long term retention solution. However, Azure Site Recovery orchestrates the machines replication and fail-over either to another Data Center or to Azure.
To sum this up, Azure Backup keeps your data safe in the event of a disaster. Azure Site Recovery keeps your workloads and services available for your users in the event of a disaster.
How to Setup Azure Backup
Azure Backup is part of the Azure stack and is also bundled in the OMS Bundle, the good news is, they both have free trials for you to try and test these great products (I have put the links for the trials in the Summary Section).
The setup of Azure Backup is very similar to Azure Site Recovery, Once you have created your free trial or have access to an Azure Subscription, you will have to provision a Recovery Vault, this is where your backups will be stored, monitored and controlled.
You will then need to identify the servers that you need to protect, and install and configure an agent on these machines, you will then be able to configure what is backed up to Azure. If you have SCDPM installed and configured, then you can hook in Azure Backup as a Backup Target. DPM will still manage the backup, but will use Azure Backup to Store to Backup.
While a how to guide is currently out of scope in the article,there is an article explaining the setup of connecting to DPM.
To summarize, Azure Backup can be used to replace your backup solution and even hook into existing technologies such as System Center Data Protection Manager. The features that you get are something that should definitely be considered for your business, the technical features and capabilities such as the scaling and redundancy are more than a deal breaker let alone the commercial side being flexible and reducing your TCO. Couple this with Azure Site Recovery and you will have a protected estate in no time at all, and bear in mind that this is also a component of the OMS bundle that will give you the insights to your estate as well as the Azure Site Recovery, making this a all round extensive and great value solution for your backup and disaster recovery situation.
Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery and OMS are all free to Trial from Microsoft, I would heavily recommend for you to start your own free trial to try it for yourself, either a Free OMS Trial or if you prefer to use this as a standalone product you can start a free Azure Subscription.
Gennaro Migliaccio | Cloud Management Consultant
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