System management including backup is an important area to look into when starting to plan for Azure. System Center can be used to manage Azure resources or in some scenarios we can do it with Azure services. Backup is an interesting topic to discuss when starting to deploy virtual machines in Azure. There are a couple of reasons to use Azure Backup, instead of backup Azure virtual machines with a backup solution on premise

  • Outgoing data (data leaving the Azure datacenter) cost, backup can cause a lot of outgoing data
  • There might not be bandwidth enough to finish the backup within the backup window
  • It might take too long time to upload the data during a restore operation
  • Buying backup as a service is usually easier to administrate and cheaper to own than an on-premises solution

Azure Backup is a solution for protecting data on premise and in the cloud. Azure Backup is a scalable solution with zero capital investment and minimal operational expense. Either you can run Azure Backup with System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) or deploy agents direct from Azure Backup. More info about Azure Backup here. In this blog post we will look at how Azure Backup can be used to do snapshot backup of virtual machines in Azure.

Figur 1 Azure Backup Dashboard

The first thing you need to do is to create a backup vault in the Azure portal. You can create multiple backup vaults, for example if you have virtual machines in different regions in the world. Once you have created a backup vault it is time to discover Azure virtual machines. The discover process gets a list of all virtual machines in the same region that are not already protected by Azure Backup. After you have registered virtual machines you can select to register them. During registration the backup extension is installed into the selected virtual machines. The virtual machine must be online for the registration to work.

Next step is to protect the virtual machine. Selected a registered virtual machine that is not already protected, and click protect. To configure protection we use policies. We can either add the virtual machine to an existing policy or create a new policy. The policy will control backup frequency and retention range. You can create multiple backup policies in your vault, but a virtual machine can only be member of one backup policy.

Figur 2 Select machine to protect

Figur 3 Configure backup policy

If needed you can edit the backup policy, on the policies page.

Figur 4 Edit existing backup policy

 

The backup policy will protect the virtual machine. If we for any reason need to do a backup directly we can select it on the protected items tab and click backup now.

Figur 5 Overview of protected items

 

The first backup is a full backup and future backups will only backup changes (incremental) from the previous backup. In the next figure show that the first backup took at bit extra time

Figur 6 Backup jobs

On the protected items page (figure 5) we can also select a virtual machine and click restore. We can restore the virtual machine as either another virtual machine (restore with new virtual machine name) in the original cloud service or with the original virtual machine name in another cloud service. If we try to restore the virtual machine and overwrite the original virtual machine the restore job will fail and this error will be in the logs

Figur 7 Trying to overwrite existing VM

The virtual machine snapshot feature do full snapshots of all disks without the temporary disk. If you need to backup more granular you can also deploy an Azure Backup agent to the guest OS.

Summary: With Azure Backup we can make snap shot backups of complete virtual machines running in Azure. We can restore the backup as original virtual machine or to an alternative virtual machine.

 

Note that this is provided “AS-IS” with no warranties at all. This is not a production ready management pack or solution for your production environment, just an idea and an example.