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Fun Facts about Microsoft Azure

Looking for some helpful facts about Microsoft Azure? Wondering whether Azure or AWS is right for your organization? Here is the first in a series about Microsoft Azure solutions offered to date.

Azure Backup, ok… wait, what? I need to do backup in the cloud? No one told me that!

Facts about Microsoft Azure

Yes Virginia, you need to have a backup solution in the cloud. To keep this high level below I attempted to outline what the Azure backup offering really is. There are several protections built into the Azure platform that help customers protect their data as well as options to recover from a failure.

In a normal, on premise scenario, host based hardware and networking failures are protected at the hypervisor level. In Azure you do not see this because control of the hypervisor has been removed. Azure, however, is designed to be highly available meeting and exceeding the posted SLAs associated with the service

Hardware failures of storage are also protected against within Azure. At the lowest end you have Local Redundant storage where they maintain 3 copies of your data within a region. The more common and industry preferred method is Geo-Redundant storage which keeps 3 copies in your region and 3 additional copies in another datacenter, somewhere geographically dispersed based on a complex algorithm. The above protections help to insure survivability of your workloads.

Important to note: The copies in the second datacenter are crash consistent copies so it should not be considered a backup of the data but more of a recovery mechanism for a disaster.

Did I hear you just ask about Recovery Services in Azure? Why yes, we have two to talk about today.

  • Azure Backup
  • Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery – This scenario both orchestrates site recovery as well as provides a destination for virtual machines. Microsoft currently supports Hyper-V to Azure, Hyper-V to Hyper-V or VMware to VMware recovery scenarios with this method.

Azure Backup is a destination for your backups. Microsoft offers traditional agents for Windows Backup and the preferred platform, Microsoft System Center 2012 – Data Protection Manager. Keeping the data in the cloud, Azure holds up to 120 copies of the data and can be restored as needed. At this time the Azure Windows backup version only protects files. It will not do Full System or Bare Metal backups of Azure VMs.

As of this blog post to get a traditional full system backup there is a recommend two-step process where you use Windows Backup which can capture a System State backup and then enable Azure Backup to capture this into your Azure Backup Vault.

There are 2 other methods that exist but currently the jury is out on the validity of these offerings. They are VM Capture and Blob Snapshot.

  • VM capture – which is equivalent to a VM snapshot
  • Blob Snapshot – This is equivalent to a LUN snapshot

As I said these are options but considered by many too immature at this time and respectfully not widely adopted. Hopefully, this provides some clarity around Azure and as with all things Microsoft Cloud related, Microsoft issues new features almost daily now. Check back again for more updates on what Azure can do for your organization!

By David Barter, Practice Manager, Microsoft Technologies