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Is Cloud Backup Available for Azure Stack?

Sep 24, 2018, 18:00 PM by Trenton Baker

Backup for Azure Stack

Why yes, yes it is. Let’s talk about how and why.

First off with a little background, in the 2017 Veeam Availability Report they estimated that the average hourly cost of downtime for enterprise respondents was $108,000. If a company has not set up a flexible backup and recovery system, they are easily looking at substantial downtime costs of half a million dollars or more.

With emerging technologies like Microsoft Azure Stack, it’s all too easy to compromise data protection. Microsoft has recently announced components like Azure Backup to back up Azure Stack to you guessed it, Azure. Is this vendor lock-in? Is this an effective use of resources? Is this strategy effective enough for critical workloads?

What is Azure Stack?

Azure Stack is a cloud computing architecture designed to help organizations enable cloud-like computing services from their own data center. The year-old offering from Microsoft allows customers to internally deliver Azure computing services locally and tie IT admins to Azure cloud resources.

Microsoft first shipped Azure Stack to its technology partners in July 2017. In the following months, Dell EMC, HP Enterprise, Lenovo, Cisco, Terra, and Huawei released Azure Stack appliances for ease of setup and integration.

Azure Stack workloads are not unlimited but align with Azure’s most popular capabilities. The initial list included Hyper-V VMs, Blob Storage, IaaS, and PaaS via Azure’s App Service for web, mobile, and API development support. Microsoft has announced plans to add IoT Hub and the Azure Data Service to Azure Stack. In the meantime, customers can run other workloads as services in Azure Stack, like SQL Server as a database-as-a-service.

Customers can choose to run Azure Stack in multiple environments including the cloud, on-premises private cloud data centers, or on the edge. (Not just any edge: some of Carnival’s cruise ships use Azure Stack to help run daily operations.)

Protecting Azure Stack

Native Protection: Microsoft

Microsoft provides a bevy of different components cobbled together to achieve a backup process. Some of these components include; Azure Backup agent, System Center DPM, Azure Backup Server, Azure IaaS VM Backup, and Infrastructure Backup Service. Let’s highlight a couple of these components to gauge the efficiencies of these processes.

Infrastructure Backup Service

The Infrastructure Backup Service is intended to run in Azure Stack to protect system availability. These backups contain information to restore the system from an external share including compute, storage, and network quotas, and user and role-based access rights. Earlier this year, Microsoft added backup scheduling, automatic clean up on external shares for aged data, additional data transfer time into the total reported backup time and displays the correct capacity of the external share.

The Infrastructure Backup Service does not backup PaaS resources and data or IaaS information including network configurations, VMs, or storage. Admins must arrange for backup and rapid recovery for this critical data.

To fill this need, Microsoft also provides another individually licensed Azure Backup Server component as a VM running inside an on-prem Azure Stack. Admins can use this additional VM to locally backup applications and data residing in the same virtual network. They can then add disks to increase the local storage for VM backup data and must proceed to set Azure Backup Server to migrate longer-term backups to Azure cloud storage. This always requires a live Azure account.

shortest distance between two points

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. — Archimedes

Data Protection Ecosystem: Backup-as-a-Service, Veeam, KeepItSafe

There is another path to achieve enterprise-level data protection without the complications and challenges of complex billing scenarios involving egress and backup capacity planning, or deduplication ratios. Veeam was selected as a primary launch partner supporting Microsoft Azure Stack architectures to deliver Hyper-Availability for any application and any data regardless of where the data resides.

Since Azure Stack was conceived to enable businesses to leverage the fast-paced innovation of cloud computing on‑premises, it would also be grand to offer flexible backup and recovery options that can ensure the protection of their data no matter where it resides and keep it safe.

For IT admins seeking to reduce complexities, avoid vendor lock-in, or enjoy predictable billing, there is a more efficient option.

Businesses that may not have the resources stand up an Azure Stack infrastructure AND design a comprehensive data protection strategy may want to look into a solution with an ecosystem of Azure Stack backup experts.

There is a vast network of MSPs who specialize in managed backup services. Find an MSP that has extensive experience BaaS data protection planning, or contact a custom cloud solution provider (CSP) like KeepItSafe for a free assessment and can connect you with the appropriate Veeam for Microsoft Azure Stack experts.

  • BaaS. Managed backup services save customers money, time, aggravation, and risk – but Azure Stack is a new ballgame. You do not necessarily have to hunt for a certified Azure Expert MSP if your primary concern is Azure Stack backup but do look for an MSP with proven expertise in offsite data protection.
  • Veeam. Veeam for Microsoft Azure Stack backup uses VM-level agents to backup exactly what the admin needs. For example, an admin prefers to use Infrastructure Backup Service for Azure Stack settings and user access, and Veeam for secure and compliant application and data backup. Veeam supports file level restores, and Veeam Explorers support granular item-level recovery for Exchange, SQL Server, SharePoint, Active Directory, and Oracle. Veeam can store backups locally, in Azure, or on customized clouds, to institute a multi-cloud strategy.
  • KeepItSafe. Many Azure Stack customers default to storing Azure Stack backup in Azure or store short-term backup on-premises and migrate older backups to Azure. Although Azure Backup (Azure VMs and servers) does not charge restore egress fees (within Azure to Azure Stack only), storing growing backups in Azure storage costs are in-line with the other megaclouds and can add up fast if you use your data. Instead, Veeam customers can use KeepItSafe’s customized cloud for cost-effective, flexible backup and rapid recovery. Admins can simply add KeepItSafe as a service provider in their Veeam interface, and KeepItSafe immediately appears in the console ready to protect your data and applications form a single component. Azure Stack backup data is immediately available for search, policy-driven management, and rapid — and cost-effective — recovery.

KeepItSafe is positioned to construct a comprehensive data protection plan from cloud backup tactics to a complete DRaaS strategy with the long-term goal of reaching IT Resilience. Don’t forget to review your plan annually and ask for a free assessment.

Readers of this blog post are also interested in this webinar:

No Backup Is an Island: The Value of the Cloud in your Backup Strategy

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