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Getting Started with Windows Azure Recovery Services

  • February 26, 2014
  • By Vipul Patel
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Introduction

With the increasing amounts of data organizations need to manage, there is an unprecedented demand to have reliable solutions for data recovery. Classically, organizations have dedicated staff and infrastructure to handle data recovery in-house.

With the move to the cloud, there is an increasing push to have cloud-based recovery solutions. Cloud-based recovery solutions are appealing because they reduce the cap-ex (capital expenditure) costs required for the hardware, and staff needed to manage the operations to manage the data. Instead, cloud solutions typically end up being accounted as variable (which is variable operating expenses), which are directly proportional to the level of consumption of the services.

The Recovery Services offering from Windows Azure include Hyper-V Recovery Manager, which provides the following benefits:

  • Protection of private cloud including recovery – Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager supports orchestration of replication and recovery of System Center 2012 cloud instances at remote locations.
  • Automated protection – Virtual Machines can be automatically replicated asynchronously at the remote location which is facilitated by Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager.
  • Ongoing monitoring – Hyper-V Recovery Manager can monitor the cloud instances continuously to verify that the cloud instances are healthy and running.
  • Coordinated Recovery – Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager can help speedy recovery of cloud instances in an orchestrated fashion to restore service quickly.

Pricing of Hyper-V Recovery Manager

Hyper-V Recovery Manager launched very recently (on Jan 16, 2014). At the time of publishing this article, the regular pricing was $16 per month per virtual machine protected. Early birds can get it at a 50% discount if they sign up before Feb 28, 2014.

Availability

Hyper-V Recovery Manager is currently available in 6 locations:

  • US West
  • US East
  • Europe West
  • Europe North
  • Asia Pacific East
  • Asia Pacific Southeast

Hands On – Backing up Windows Server to Windows Azure

Let’s have a hands on tutorial that demonstrates how to configure backup of Windows Server.

One of the prerequisites for this is to ensure you have Windows Azure Backup feature enabled on your Windows Azure account.

One of the first tasks to enable backup is to create a backup vault in the location where the data backup is going to be stored.

Note that to register the server with backup vault, an X.509 V3 certificate,  which should have a key length of atleast 2048 bits is needed and needs to reside in the Personal certificates store of your computer.

We need to install this certificate (and it should contain its private key).

You would need the Windows SDK installed to have the makecert.exe tool, which is used to create local certificates.

Run makecert.exe with administrative privileges and pass it the following arguments:

C:\temp> "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.1A\Bin\x64\makecert.exe"  -r -pe -n CN=CertificateName -ss my -sr localmachine -eku 1.3.6.1.5.5.7.3.2  -len 2048 -e 01/01/2016 myCertificate.cer
Succeeded

The above command will create a certificate locally called myCertificate.cer

Next, we need to create the vault. We need to go to https://manage.windowsazure.com

Once logged in, Click Recovery Services, and then click New -> Backup.

Recover Services > New Backup
Recover Services > New Backup

Recovery Services > Backup Vault
Recovery Services > Backup Vault

Recovery Services > Backup Vault > Quick Create
Recovery Services > Backup Vault > Quick Create

Give it a friendly name and click “Create vault”

Create Vault
Create Vault

It will take a few minutes to complete the creation of the vault. Once it is completed, click on the name of the vault.

Creation of the Vault
Creation of the Vault

Next, click “Manage Certificate” link at the bottom of the frame.

Manage Certificate
Manage Certificate

Select the certificate file you just created, and upload it.

Upload Certificate
Upload Certificate

Next, we need to download the agent for the server. The link to download the agent is shown below (in selected text). You have a choice to download from one of two agents.

Link to the Download Agent
Link to the Download Agent

The next step involves installing the agent software. Once the agent is installed, we can use the appropriate interface to configure server backup (choice between Windows Server Essentials Dashboard or MMC console plugin called System Center Data Protection Manager).

You can see what items are you protecting by navigating to the Management Portal’s Protected item tab (shown below).

Protected Items
Protected Items

You can also see your registered servers by navigating to the “Servers” tab.

Servers Tab
Servers Tab

You need to use the agent to establish the data you want to protect one time and then you can use the management portal to see how the Recovery Services are protecting your data.

Summary

In this article, we learned the basics of Windows Azure Recovery Services. I hope you have found this information useful.

About the Author

Vipul Patel is a Program Manager currently working at Amazon Corporation. He has formerly worked at Microsoft in the Lync team and in the .NET team (in the Base Class libraries and the Debugging and Profiling team). He can be reached at vipul.patel@hotmail.com


Tags: Cloud, Microsoft, Windows Azure, backup and recovery system




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