Microsoft Ignite 2018: Implement Cloud Backup & Disaster Recovery At Scale in Azure

Speakers: Trinadh Kotturu, Senthuran Sivananthan, & Rochak Mittal

Site Recovery At Scale

Senthuran Sivananthan

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Real Solutions for Real Problems

Customer example: Finastra.

  1. BCP process: Define RPO/RTO. Document DR failover triggers and approvals.
  2. Access control: Assign clear roles and ownership. Levarage ASR built-in roles for RBAC. Different RS vault for different BU/tenants. They deployed 1 RSV per app to do this.
  3. Plan your DR site: Leveraged region pairs – useful for matching GRS replication of storage. Site connectivity needs to be planned. Pick the primary/secondary regions to align service availability and quota availability – change the quotas now, not later when you invoke the BCP.
  4. Monitor: Monitor replication health. Track configuration changes in environment – might affect recovery plans or require replication changes.
  5. DR drills: Periodically do test failovers.

Journey to Scale

  • Automation: Do things at scale
  • Azure Policy: Ensure protection
  • Reporting: Holistic view and application breakdown
  • Pre- & Post- Scripts: Lower RTO as much as possible and eliminate human error

Demos – ASR

Rochak for demos of recent features. Azure Policies coming soon.

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Will assess if VMs are being replicated or not and display non-compliance.

Expanding the monitoring solution.

Demo – Azure Backup & Azure Policy

Trinadh creates an Azure Policy and assigns it to a subscription. He picks the Azure Backup policy definition. He selects a resource group of the vault, selects the vault, and selects the backup policy from the vault. The result is that any VM within the scope of the policy will automatically be backed up to the selected RSV with the selected policy.

Azure Backup & Security

Supports Azure Disk Encryption. KEK and BEK are backed up automatically.

AES 256 protects the backup blobs.

Compliance

  • HIPAA
  • ISO
  • CSA
  • GDPR
  • PCI-DSS
  • Many more

Built-in Roles

Cumulative:

  • Backup reader – see only
  • Backup Operator: Enable backup & restore
  • Backup contributor: Policy management and Delete-Stop Backup

Protect the Roles

PIM can be used to guard the roles – protect against rogue admins.

  • JIT access
  • MFA
  • Multi-user approval

Data Security

  • PIN protection for critical actions, e.g. delete
  • Alert: Notification on critical actions
  • Recovery: Data kept for 14 days after delete. Working on blob soft delete

Backup Center Demo

Being built at the moment. Starting with VMs now but will include all backup items eventually.

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All RSVs in the tenant (doh!) managed in a central place.

Aimed at the large enterprise.

They also have Log Analytics monitoring if you like that sort of thing. I’m not a fan of LA – I much prefer Azure Monitor.

Reporting using Power BI

Trinadh demos a Power BI reporting solution that unifies backup data from multiple tenants into a single report.

Backup Your Data With Microsoft Azure Backup

Speakers: Saurabh Sensharma & Shivam Garg

Saurabh starts. He shows a real ransomware email. The ransom was 1.7 bitcoins for 1 PC or 29 bitcoins for all PCs. Part of the process to restore was to send files to the attacker to prove decryption works. The two files the customer sent contained customer data! Stuff like this has GDPR implications, brand, etc.

Secure Backup is Your Last Line of Defense

Azure Backup – a built-in service. Lower and predictable TCO. Can be zero-infrastructure. And it offers trust-no-one encryption and secure backups.

Shivam comes up. He’s going to play the role of the customer in this session.

Question: Backup is decades old – what has changed?

Digital transformation. People using the cloud to transform on-prem IT, even if it stays on-prem.

Shivam: Backup should be like a checkbox. Customers want a seamless experience. Backup should not be a distraction.

Azure Backup releases you from the management of a backup infrastructure. Azure Backup is built on:

  • Scalability
  • Availability
  • Resilience

Shivam: What does this “built-in” mean if I have a three-tier .Net app running in the cloud?

We see a demo of restoring a SQL Server database in an Azure VM. We see the point-in-time restore will be an option because there are log backups. Saurabh shows the process to backup SQL Server in Azure VMs. He highlights “auto-protect” – if the instance is being protected then all the databases (even new ones that are created later) are backed up.

Saurabh demos creating a new VM. He highlights the option to enable backup during the VM creation – something many didn’t know was possible when this option wasn’t in the VM creation process. VMs are backed up using a snapshot in local storage. 7 of those are kept, and the incremental is sent to the recovery services vault. If you want to restore from a recent backup, you can restore very quickly from the snapshot.

A new restore option is coming soon – Replace Existing (virtual machine). They place the existing disks of the VM into a staging location – this gives them a rollback if something goes wrong. Then the disks of the VM are replaced from backup. So this solves the availability set issue.

Under the Covers – SQL

Anything that has a native backup engine is referred to as enlightened. Azure Backup talks to the SQL Backup Engine using native APIs via Azure Backup plugin for SQL (VM extension). They ask SQL Backup Engine to create the backup APIs. Data is temporarily stored in VM storage. And then there is a HTTPS transfer using incremental backups to the RSV where they are encrypted at rest using SSE.

It’s all built-in. No manual agents, no backup servers, etc.

Non-Enlightened VM Workloads

E.g. MySQL in a VM. Azure Backup can call a pre-script. This can instruct MySQL to freeze transactions to disk. When you recover, there’s no need to do a fixup. A snapshot of the disks is taken, enabling a backup. And then a post-script is called and the database is thawed. Application providers typically share these on GitHub.

VM Backup

An extension is in every Azure VM. The extension associates itself to a backup policy that you select in the RSV. A command is sent to the backup extension. This executes a snapshot (VSS for Windows). It’s an Instant Recovery Snapshot in the VM storage. A HTTPS transfer to SSE storage as incremental blocks.

Azure Disk Encryption

KEK and BEK keys are stored in Azure Keyvault. These are also protected when you backup the VM. This ensures that the files can be unlocked when restored.

Up to 1000 VMs can be protected in a single RSV now.

Azure VM Restore

VM restore options:

  • Files
  • Disks
  • VM
  • Replace Disks

Replace Disks (new):

  1. They snapshot copy the VMs disks to a staging location. This allows roll backup if the process is broken.
  2. They replace the disks by restore.

This (confirmed) is how restoring a VM will allow you to keep availability set membership.

Azure File Sync

The MS sync/tiering solution. Everything is stored in the cloud. So you can move on-prem backup for file servers to the cloud. Demo of deleting a file and restoring it. Saurabh clicks Manage Backups in the Azure File Share and clicks File Recovery and goes through the process.

When the backup API triggers a backup of Files, it pauses sync to create a snapshot. After the snapshot, the sync resumes. Now they have a means to a file consistent backup.

On-Prem Resources

There is no Azure File Sync in this scenario, but they want to use cloud backup without a backup server. This scenario is Azure Backup MARS agent with Windows Admin Center. A demo of enabling Azure Backup protection via the WAC.

Deleting Backup

  1. Malware cannot delete your backups because this task requires you to manually generate a PIN in the Azure Portal (human authentication)
  2. If a human maliciously deletes a backup, Azure Backup retains backups for 14 days. And it will send an email to the registered notification address(es).

Security

  • Security PIN for critical tasks
  • Azure Disk Encryption support
  • SSE encryption with TLS 1.2
  • RBAC for roles
  • Alerts in the portal and via notifications
  • On-server encryption (on-prem) before transport to Azure

Rich Management

Questions:

  • What’s my storage consumption?
  • Are my backups healthy?
  • Can I get insights by looking at trends?

This is the sort of stuff that normally requires a lot of on-prem infrastructure. Azure leverages Azure features, such as a Storage Account. No infrastructure, enterprise-wide, and it uses an open data model (published online on docs.microsoft.com) that anyone can use (Kusto, etc). You can also integrate with Service Manager, ServiceNow, and more (ITSM).

Custom reports.

And ….. cross-tenant support! Yay! This is a big deal for partners. It’s a PowerBI solution. It’s a content pack that you can import. It ingests Azure reporting data from a storage account.

Once you set this up, it takes up to 24 hours to get data moving, and then it’s real-time after that.

Roadmap

Cloud resources:

  • Azure VM abckup – Standard SSD, resource improvements, 16+ disks, cross-region support
  • Azure Files Backup: Premium Files, 5 TB+ shares, ACL, secondary backups.
  • Workloads: SAP Hana, SQL in Azure VM GA.

Availability Zones:

  • ZRS
  • Recovery from cross-zone backups

And more that I couldn’t grab in time.

Faster & Bigger Azure Backup for Azure VMs

Azure Backup recently rolled out an update to their service for protecting Azure VMs to improve backup speed, restore performance, and to add support for larger disks.

Support for Large Disks

Azure Backup didn’t support disks that were larger than 1 TiB (1 TB is the marketing measure of 1000 GB, and 1 TiB is the computer science measure of 1024 GiB). Those large disks must be popular – I know that people couldn’t get their head around the idea of a volume being spread across disk aggregation (they never heard of RAID, I guess) and wouldn’t touch Azure VMs because of this.

Today, Azure Backup, once upgraded by you, does support the large disks that Azure can offer (over 1 TiB).

Snapshot-Based Backup

People who deploy large VMs have seen that the traditional process of protecting their machines has been slow. Historically Azure Backup would:

  1. Create a snapshot of the virtual machine.
  2. Transfer the backup data from the storage cluster to the recovery services vault (standard tier block blob storage) over a network.

The snapshot was then dispensed with.

The backup was slow (the process of calculating changes, the network transfer and the write to standard storage), and restores were just as slow. It’s one thing for a backup to be slow, but when a restore is a 12 hour job, you’ve got a problem!

Azure made some changes, and now the process of a backup is:

  1. Create a snapshot of the virtual machine and keep 7 snapshots (7 backups).
  2. Use the previous snapshot to speed up the process of identifying changes.
  3. Transfer the backup data from the storage cluster to the recovery services vault (standard tier block blob storage) over a network.

Two things to note:

  • The differencing calculation is faster, speeding up the end-to-end process.
  • But after you upgrade Azure Backup, you can do a restore once the snapshot is complete, and while the backup job (transfer) is still happening!

Capture

7 snapshots are kept, and you can restore a virtual machine from either:

  • A snapshot from the last 7 backups)
  • A recovery point in the recovery services vault from up to the last 99 years, 9999 recovery points, depending on your backup policy.

AzureVMBackupRestoreUsingSnapshot

Restoring from a snapshot should be much quicker, and this will benefit large workloads, such as database servers, where a restore is usually from as recent a backup as possible.

Distributed Disks Restore

The last new feature is that when you restore a virtual machine with un-managed disks (storage account disks) then you can opt to distribute the disks to different storage accounts.

Accessing the Features

A one-time one-way upgrade must be done in each subscription to access the new Azure Backup for IaaS VM features. When you open a (single) recovery services vault, a banner will appear at the top. Click the banner, and then read the blade that opens. When you understand the process, click Upgrade. A quick task will complete and approximately two hours later, your entire subscription will be upgraded and able to take advantage of the features described above.

Was This Post Useful?

If you found this information useful, then imagine what 2 days of training might mean to you. I’m delivering a 2-day course in Amsterdam on April 19-20, teaching newbies and experienced Azure admins about Azure Infrastructure. There’ll be lots of in-depth information, covering the foundations, best practices, troubleshooting, and advanced configurations. You can learn more here.

Windows Server 2019 Announced for H2 2018

Last night, Microsoft announced that Windows Server 2019 would be released, generally available, in the second half of 2018. I suspect that the big bash will be Ignite in Orlando at the end of September, possibly with a release that week, but maybe in October – that’s been the pattern lately.

LTSC

Microsoft is referring to WS2019 as a “long term servicing channel release”. When Microsoft started the semi-annual channel, a Server Core build of Windows Server released every 6 months to Software Assurance customers that opt into the program, they promised that the normal builds would continue every 3 years. These LTSC releases would be approximately the sum of the previous semi-annual channel releases plus whatever new stuff they cooked up before the launch.

First, let’s kill some myths that I know are being spread by “someone I know that’s connected to Microsoft” … it’s always “someone I know” that is “connected to Microsoft” and it’s always BS:

  • The GUI is not dead. The semi-annual channel release is Server Core, but Nano is containers only since last year, and the GUI is an essential element of the LTSC.
  • This is not the last LTSC release. Microsoft views (and recommends) LTSC for non-cloud-optimised application workloads such as SQL Server.
  • No – Windows Server is not dead. Yes, Azure plays a huge role in the future, but Azure Stack and Azure are both powered by Windows, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of companies still are powered by Windows Server.

Let’s talk features now …

I’m not sure what’s NDA and what is not, so I’m going to stick with what Microsoft has publicly discussed. Sorry!

Project Honolulu

For those of you who don’t keep up with the tech news (that’s most IT people), then Project Honolulu is a huge effort by MS to replace the Remote Server Administration Toolkit (RSAT) that you might know as “Administrative Tools” on Windows Server or on an admin PC. These ancient tools were built on MMC.EXE, which was deprecated with the release of W2008!

Honolulu is a whole new toolset built on HTML5 for today and the future. It’s not finished – being built with cloud practices, it never will be – but but’s getting there!

Hybrid Scenarios

Don’t share this secret with anyone … Microsoft wants more people to use Azure. Shh!

Some of the features we (at work) see people adopt first in the cloud are the hybrid services, such as Azure Backup (cloud or hybrid cloud backup), Azure Site Recovery (disaster recovery), and soon I think Azure File Sync (seamless tiered storage for file servers) will be a hot item. Microsoft wants it to be easier for customers to use these services, so they will be baked into Project Honolulu. I think that’s a good idea, but I hope it’s not a repeat of what was done with WS2016 Essentials.

ASR needs more than just “replicate me to the cloud” enabled on the server; that’s the easy part of the deployment that I teach in the first couple of hours in a 2-day ASR class. The real magic is building a DR site, knowing what can be replicated and what cannot (see domain controllers & USN rollback, clustered/replicating databases & getting fired), orchestration, automation, and how to access things after a failover.

Backup is pretty easy, especially if it’s just MARS. I’d like MARS to add backup-to-local storage so it could completely replace Windows Server Backup. For companies with Hyper-V, there’s more to be done with Azure Backup Server (MABS) than just download an installer.

Azure File Sync also requires some thought and planning, but if they can come up with some magic, I’m all for it!

Security

In Hyper-V:

  • Linux will be supported with Shielded VMs.
  • VMConnect supported is being added to Shielded VMs for support reasons – it’s hard to fix a VM if you cannot log into it via “console” access.
  • Encrypted Network Segments can be turned on with a “flip of a switch” for secure comms – that could be interesting in Azure!

Windows Defender ATP (Advanced Threat Protection) is a Windows 10 Enterprise feature that’s coming to WS2019 to help stop zero-day threats.

DevOps

The big bet on Containers continues:

  • The Server Core base image will be reduced from 5GB by (they hope) 72% to speed up deployment time of new instances/apps.
  • Kubernetes orchestration will be natively supported – the container orchestrator that orginated in Google appears to be the industry winner versus Docker and Mesos.

In the heterogeneous world, Linux admins will be getting Windows Subsystem on Linux (WSL) for a unified scripting/admin experience.

Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI)

Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) has been improved and more changes will be coming to mature the platform in WS2019. In case you don’t know, S2D is a way to use local (internal) disks in 2+ (preferably 4+) Hyper-V hosts across a high speed network (virtual SAS bus) to create a single cluster with fault tolerance at the storage and server levels. By using internal disks, they can use cheaper SATA disks, as well as new flash formats don’t natively don’t support sharing, such as NVME.

The platform is maturing in WS2019, and Project Honolulu will add a new day-to-day management UI for S2D that is natively lacking in WS2016.

The Pricing

As usual, I will not be answering any licensing/pricing questions. Talk to the people you pay to answer those questions, i.e. the reseller or distributor that you buy from.

OK; let’s get to the messy stuff. Nothing has been announced other than:

It is highly likely we will increase pricing for Windows Server Client Access Licensing (CAL). We will provide more details when available.

So it appears that User CALs will increase in pricing. That is probably good news for anyone licensing Windows Server via processor (don’t confuse this with Core licensing).

When you acquire Windows Server through volume licensing, you pay for every pair of cores in a server (with a minimum of 16, which matched the pricing of WS2012 R2), PLUS you buy User CALs for every user authenticating against the server(s).

When you acquire Windows Server via Azure or through a hosting/leasing (SPLA) program, you pay for Windows Server based only on how many cores that the machine has. For example, when I run an Azure virtual machine with Windows Server, the per-minute cost of the VM includes the cost of Windows Server, and I do not need any Windows Server CALs to use it (RDS is a different matter).

If CALs are going up in price, then it’s probably good news for SPLA (hosting/leasing) resellers (hosting companies) and Azure where Server CALs are not a factor.

The Bits

So you want to play with WS2019? The first preview build (17623) is available as of last night through the Windows Server Insider Preview program. Anyone can sign up.

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Would You Like To Learn About Azure Infrastructure?

If you found this information useful, then imagine what 2 days of training might mean to you. I’m delivering a 2-day course in Amsterdam on April 19-20, teaching newbies and experienced Azure admins about Azure Infrastructure. There’ll be lots of in-depth information, covering the foundations, best practices, troubleshooting, and advanced configurations. You can learn more here.

Azure Backup MARS Agent System State Support is GA

Microsoft announced last week that they made support for backing up system state using the MARS agent generally available.

System State backup was one of those “I must have this” features that I’ve been hearing about for 3+ years. Today it’s there – update your version of the MARS agent and you’ll have it.

With this added backup, you can protect metadata:

  • Active Directory: Backup your AD so you can do DC recoveries.
  • File Servers: It’s nice being bale to restore files & folders, but what about the shares?
  • IIS Web Servers: Protect that IIS Metabase.

Adding System State to your backup policy is easy; either start a new schedule (new MARS installations) or edit the existing schedule. System State will appear in the Add Items box. Select System State and complete the wizard. It’s easy … the way backup should be!

Was This Post Useful?

If you found this information useful, then imagine what 2 days of training might mean to you. I’m delivering a 2-day course in Amsterdam on April 19-20, teaching newbies and experienced Azure admins about Azure Infrastructure. There’ll be lots of in-depth information, covering the foundations, best practices, troubleshooting, and advanced configurations. You can learn more here.

Protect Your Data With Microsoft Azure Backup

Speakers:

  • Vijay Tandra Sistla, Principal PM Manager
  • Aruna Somendra, Senior Program Manager

Aruna is first to speak. It’s a demo-packed session. There was another session on AB during the week – that’s probably worth watching as well.

All the attendees are from diverse backgrounds, and we have one common denominator: data. We need to protect that data.

Impact of Data Loss

  • The impact can be direct, e.g. WannaCry hammering the UK’s NHS and patients.
  • It can impact a brand
  • It can impact your career

Azure Backup was built to:

  • Make backups simple
  • Keep data safe
  • Reduce costs

Single Solution

Azure Backup covers on-premises and Azure. It is one solution, with 1 pricing system no matter what you protect: instance size + storage consumed.

Protecting Azure Resources

A demo will show this in action, plus new features coming this year. They’ve built a website with some content on Azure Web Apps – images in Azure FIles and data in SQL in an IaaS VM. Vijay refreshes the site and the icons are ransomwared.

Azure Backup can support:

  • Azure IaaS VMs – the entire VM, disks, or file level recovery
  • Azure Files via Storage account snapshots (NEW)
  • SQL in an Azure IaaS VM (NEW)

Discovery of databases is easy. An agent in the guest OS is queried, and all SQL VMs are discovered. Then all databases are shown, and you back them up based on full / incremental / transaction log backups, using typical AB retention.

For Azure File Share, pick the storage account, select the file share, and then choose the backup/retention policy. It keeps up to 120 days in the preview, but longer term retention will be possible at GA.

When you create a new VM, the Enable Backup option is in the Settings blade. So you can enable backup during VM creation instead of trying to remember to do it later – no longer an afterthought.

Conventional Backup Approaches

What happens behind the scenes in AB. Instead of using on-prem SQL, file servers, you’re starting to use Azure Files and SQL in VMs. Instead of hacking backups into Azure storage (doesn’t scale, and messy) you enable Azure Backup which offers centralized management, In Azure, it is infrastructure-free. SQL is backed up using a backup extension, VM’s are backed up using a backup extension.

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Azure File Sync is supported too:

In preview, there is short-term retention using snpashots in the source storage account. After GA they will increase retention and enable backups to be storage in the RSV.

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Linux

When you backup a Linux VM, you can run a pre-script, do the backup, and then run a post-script. This can enable application-consistent backups in Linux VMs in Azure. Aruna logs into a Linux VM via SSH. There are Linux CLI commands in the guest OS, e.g. az backup. There is a JSON file that describes the pre-and post scripts. There’s some scripts by a company by a company called capside for MySQL. The pre-script creates database dumps and stops the databases.

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az backup recoverypoint list and some flags can be used to list the recovery points for the currently logged in VM. The results show if they are app or file consistent.

az backup restore files and some parameters can be used to mount the recovery point – you then copy files from the recovery point, and unmount the recovery point when done.

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Restore as a Service

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On-Premises

2/3 of customers keeping on-premises data.

Two solutions in AB for hybrid backup:

  • Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS) / DPM: Backup Hyper-V, VMware, SQL, SharePoint, Exchange, File Server & System State to local storage (short-term retention)  and to the cloud (long term retention)
  • MARS Agent: Files & Folders, and System State backed up directly to the cloud.

System State

Protects Active Directory, IIS metadata, file server metadata. registry, COM+ Cert Services, Cluster services info, AD, IIS metabase.

Went live in MARS agent last month.

In a demo, Vijay deletes users from AD. He restores system state files using MARS. Then you reboot the DC in AD restore mode. And then use the wbadmin tool to restore the system state. wbadmin start systemstaterecovery. You reboot again, and the users are restored.

Vijay shows MARS deployment, and shows the Project Honolulu implementation.

Next he talks about the ability to do an offline backup instead of an online full backup. This leverages the Azure storage import service, which can leverage the new Azure Data Box – a tamper proof storage solution of up to 100 TB.

Security

Using cloud isolates backup data from the production data. AB includes free multi-approval process to protect destructive operations to hybrid backups. All backup data is encrypted. RBAC offers governance and control over Azure Backup.

There are email alerts (if enabled) for destructive operations.

If data is deleted, it is retained for 14 days so you can still restore your data, just in case.

Hybrid Backup Encryption

Data is encrypted before it leaves the customer site.

Customers want:

  • To be able to change keys
  • Keep the key secret from MS

A passphrase is used to create they key. This is a key encryption key process. And MS never has your KEK.

Azure VM Disk Encryption

You still need to be able to backup your VMs. If a disk is encrypted using a KEK/BEK combination in the Key Vault, then Azure Backup includes the keys in the backup so you can restore from any point in time in your retention policy.

Isolation and Access Control

Two levels of authorization:

  • You can control access/roles to individual vaults for users.
  • There are permissions or roles within a vault that you can assign to users.

Monitoring & Reporting

Typical questions:

  • How much storage am I using?
  • Are my backups healthy?
  • Can I see the trends in my system?

Vijay does a tour of information in the RSV. Next he shows the new integration with OMS Log Analytics. This shows information from many RSVs in a single tenant. You can create alerts from events in Log Analytics – emails, webhooks, runbooks, or trigger an ITSM action. The OMS data model, for queries, is shared on docs.microsoft.com.

For longer term reporting, you can export your tenant’s data to an AB Content Pack in PowerBI – note that this is 1 tenant per content pack import, so a CSP reseller will need 100 imports of the content pack for 100 customers. Vijay shows a custom graphical report showing the trends of data sources over 3 months – it shows growth for all sources, except one which has gone down.

Power BI is free up to 1 GB of data, and then it’s a per-user monthly fee after that.

Roadmap

  • Backup of SQL in IaaS – preview
  • Backup of Azure file – preview
  • Azure CLI
  • Backup of encrypted VMs without KEK
  • Backup of VMs with storage ACLs
  • Backup of large disk VMs
  • Upgrade of classic Backup Vault to ARM RSV
  • Resource move across RG and subscription
  • Removal of vault limits
  • System State Backup

Restore An Azure VM to an Availability Set From Azure Backup in the Azure Portal

Microsoft has shared how to restore an Azure VM to an availability set using PowerShell from Azure Backup. It’s nasty-hard looking PowerShell, and my problem with examples of VM creation using PowerShell is that they’re never feature complete.

While writing some Azure VM training recently, I stumbled across a cool option in the Azure Portal that I tried out … and it worked … and it means that I never have to figure that nasty PowerShell out Smile

The key to all this is to start using Managed Disks. Even if your existing VMs are using un-managed (storage account) disks, that’s not a problem because you can still use this restore method. The other thing you should remember is that the metadata of the VM is irrelevant – everything of value is in the disks.

Restore the Disks of the VM

Using these steps you can restore the disks of your VM, managed or un-managed, to a storage location, referred to as the staging account.. Each disk is restored as a blob VHD file, and a JSON file describes the disks so that you can identify which one is the “osDisk”.

Create Managed Disks from the Restored VHDs

In this process, you create a managed disk from each restored VHD or blob file in the staging location. You have the option to restore the disks as Standard (HDD) or Premium (SSD) disks, which offers you some flexibility in your restore (you can switch storage types!). Make sure you ID the osDisk from the JSON file and mark it as either a Windows or Linux OS disk, depending on the contents.

Create a VM From the OS Managed Disk

The third set of steps bring your VM back online. You use the previously restored/identified osDisk and create a new virtual machine using that managed disk. Make sure you select the availability set that you want to restore the VM to.

Clean Up

The last step is the clean up. If you had any data disks in the original machine then you need to re-attach them to the new virtual machine. You’ll also need to configure the network settings of the Azure NIC resource. For example, if the new VM is replacing the old one, you should enter the IP settings of the old VM into the new NIC Azure resource, change any NAT/load balancing rules, NSGs, PIPs, etc.

And that’s it! There’s no PowerShell, and it’s all pretty simple clicking in the Azure Portal that won’t take that long to do after the disks are restored from the recovery services vault.

Create a New VM From An Existing Managed Disk

In previous posts I have shown how to restore the disks of a VM to a storage account and how to create managed disks from those VHD blobs. In this post, I will show how to create a new VM from a managed disk. When these 3 steps are done together, this is an easy way to restore an Azure virtual machine from backup to an availability set.

I previously created a managed disk from a restored VHD blob, and stored it in a resource group called demorestore. I deliberately named the new managed disk after the VM that I am going to create.

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You can only create a new VM from a managed disk that contains an operating system. In the below screenshot, you can see that this disk contains Windows. If this is an OS disk, then you can click the magic button called + Create VM.

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What you are doing by clicking the button is shorting the usual Create Virtual Machine blade/wizard. A blade you probably know appears, but some of the features are greyed out because they’re already selected by choosing to create a VM from an existing managed disk.

Enter the name of the new VM, and select the resource group.

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In the Size blade, choose the size of the new VM. In settings, choose the availability set (key to restoring a VM to an availability set) and then all the other stuff like network, subnet, extensions, etc.

When you complete the wizard, a VM (which is just metadata) is created using your pre-existing OS managed disk. If you have any data disks to re-use, open Disks in the settings of the VM and add those managed disks with the required host caching mode. And that’s all there is to it!

Create an Azure Managed Disk from a VHD Blob

This post will show you how to create a managed disk from a VHD blob file, such as one you’ve uploaded or restored from a virtual machine backup. In my example, I have restored the virtual hard disks of an Azure VM to a storage account called aidanfinnrestore. I am going to create a new managed disk from the VHD blob, and (in another post) create a new VM from the managed disk that I am creating in this post.

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Open the Azure Portal, and go to Disks in the navigation bar on the left – this is where all managed disks are listed. Click + Add. A Create Manage Disk blade appears. Enter the following information:

  • Name: Give the new managed disk a name. My naming standard names the disk after the VM with a suffix to denote a role. In my example, it’s an OS disk.
  • Subscription: Select the subscription in your tenant. Note that you must create the managed disk in the same subscription as the storage account that contains the blob – you can always move the disk to a different subscription later.
  • Resource Group: Restore the disk to a new or existing resource group – typically this is where the virtual machine will be.
  • Location: Pick the region of the desired VM, which must also match the storage account.
  • Account Type: What kind of managed disk do you want – Standard (HDD) or Premium (SSD). You can change this later, one of the nice features of managed disks.
  • Source Type: I have selected Storage Blob – this is how the restored (or uploaded) VHD is stored.
  • Source Blob: Click browse, and navigate to & select the VHD blob that was restored/uploaded.
  • OS Type: If this is a data disk then select either Windows or Linux, depending on the guest OS in the VHD.
  • Size: To make like easy, select the size of the existing blob. I restored a managed disk to a blob, so I went with the original size of 128 GiB.

Once you’re happy with all the settings, click Create. In my case, with a 128 GiB VHD, the creation just around 30 seconds:

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Now you can either create a VM from the disk or attach it as a data disk to an existing VM in the Azure Portal – life is easy with managed disks!