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Reviewing Cloud Backup to Microsoft Azure with Altaro VM Backup

One of the leaders to emerge from the cloud backup ecosystem is Altaro, a company with European roots and over a decade of experience in protecting virtualized workloads.  We recently tried Altaro to evaluate how easy it was to backup an on-premises server to the public cloud and restore it to a different site.  Protecting your business from a disaster is usually complex, but Altaro VM Backup streamlined deployment, step-by-step operational guide, and quick recovery made it quick and easy.  All businesses should consider using cloud storage for back up (such as Azure Blob Storage) because it will be cheaper than setting up on-premises storage using legacy hardware.  You do not even need to set up another VM in the cloud and must only pay for the storage capacity which you are consuming.  Since backups are made using differential copies and deduplicated onsite before they are pushed to the cloud, the amount of data that is transmitted through the network (which you also have to pay for) is fairly insignificant.  Azure Blog Storage also has multiple layers of redundancy and resiliency built-in and guaranteed by Microsoft, offloading this management task.  In the event of a disaster, Altaro VM Backup will let you restore your data quickly and easily from Microsoft Azure to your datacenter or even a new disaster recovery site.

Let's take a look at how easy this process was using Altaro VM Backup

Part 1: Install Altaro VM Backup for Hyper-V

The first step is to download and install the software. 

1)      Visit https://www.altaro.com/vm-backup/download.php, complete the form, and download a trial.  If you want to use Microsoft Azure as your cloud backup, you will need the Unlimited Plus Edition.


 

2)      Install the software on a Hyper-V host with access to the VMs which you will be protecting.  The installation was simple and took about a minute.

 

3)      Launch the Altaro VM Backup Management Console.

 

4)      Select the location of the Management Console where you just installed the software and click Connect.  You will be taken to the Altaro VM Backup Dashboard.

 

Part 2: Protect your Hyper-V VMs with Altaro VM Backup

The Dashboard provides a Quick Setup guide, making it easy to get started by adding a host, choosing where to store the backups (such as in Windows Azure), and taking the first backup.

1)      Select Step 1 Add Hyper-V / VMware Host.  Hyper-V VMs will be protected in this scenario, but it is just as easy to backup your VMware infrastructure using Altaro VM Backup.

 

 

2)      Altaro VM Backup will connect to your localhost and automatically inventory the VMs running on it.  As you can see from Hyper-V Manager, I'm going to be protecting a VM running a Windows Server 2016 File Server and a second VM running Debian, a Linux distribution.  All guest operating systems supported by Hyper-V can be protected by Altaro.

3)      Configure your Azure Blog Storage account using these instructions from Altaro.  Blog Storage provides flexible cloud storage, allowing you to place any type of file, including backup files.

 

 

4)      Copy your connection string for your Azure Blog Storage account.  You will need this unique identifier to set up the connection from your Altaro account to Azure.

 

 

5)      From the Altaro VM Backup Dashboard, select Backup Location, then Add Offsite Location from the upper right corner.

 

 

6)      From the Add Backup Location dialog, select Cloud backup to an Azure Storage Account. 

 

 

7)      From the Add Azure Storage Location dialog, paste your connection string from your Azure Storage Account.  Click Test Connection to verify that everything has been configured correctly.

 

 

8)      Click Finish and verify that the Azure Storage Account has been successfully added under your Offsite Locations.

 

 

9)      Before you can save your VMs into Azure, you must also select a local Backup Location.  This is because the VM is actually backed up locally first, then compressed and deduplicated. Any changes are then replicated to Azure, minimizing your cloud resource consumption.  This also provides additional resiliency in the event you lose your network connection to Azure by permitting you to do a local recovery first.  From the Altaro VM Backup Dashboard, select Add Backup Location.

 

10)   Select either the Physical Drive or Network Path for your backup drive, and click Next.  Then select the drive you wish to use for backup.  

 

 

11)   Click Finish and verify that the local storage has been successfully added under your Backup Locations.

 

12)   Select the VMs you wish to protect and drag them into the Backup Locations section.  This will protect them locally.  You will now see them listed in this section.

 

 

13)   Select the VMs you wish to protect in the cloud and drag them into the Azure Storage Account section.  You will now see them listed here.

 

 

14)   Click Save Changes.  You will be promoted to Set Encryption Key.  Enter the key, reenter it, then click Save.  This provides an extra layer of security provide by Altaro.

  

Part 3: Create a Local Hyper-V VM Backup with Altaro VM Backup

Creating a backup is easy through the Altaro VM Backup Dashboard.

1)      Navigate to the Backup tab and you will see your host(s) and protected VM(s).

 

2)      Select your VMs and click Take Backup.  You will notice the process of the backup as a percentage.  This will take several minutes to complete as it is the initial backup, but future incremental backups will be much faster.

 

 

3)      Verify that the local backup was completed successfully.  Now you can backup offsite to the Microsoft Azure cloud.

 

 

You should also set up a schedule and retention policies to regularly create backups and delete ones that are no longer needed. 

Part 4: Create an Offsite Hyper-V VM Backup in Microsoft Azure

Now that you have created a local backup, you can replicate a backup to Azure by creating an Offsite Copy through the Altaro VM Backup Dashboard.

1)      Navigate to the Offsite Copies tab, and you will see your host(s) and protected VM(s).

 

 

2)      Select the VM(s) you wish to protect and click Take Offsite Copy.  This will take several minutes to complete as it is pushing the initial copy of the backup files to Azure.  Future copies will be faster as usually only changes are replicated.

 

 

3)      Verify that the offsite copy was completed successfully.  Your backup is now stored is Microsoft Azure.

 

You should also set up a schedule and retention policies to regularly create backups and delete ones that are no longer needed. 

Part 5: Recover a Backup from an Offsite Copy with Altaro VM Backup

Let's say that a disaster strikes and you need to restore a backup to your datacenter.  One of the primary advantages of using offsite storage in Microsoft Azure is that the backup is recoverable, even if your original virtual machine, disk, or host has been destroyed. Backing up to the cloud with Altaro VM Backup also provides you with an affordable disaster recovery solution.  The following example will show the restoration process on a Hyper-V host.

1)      Install Altaro VM Backup and connect it to your Hyper-V host as described earlier in Part 1: Install Altaro VM Backup for Hyper-V.

2)      From the Altaro VM Backup Manage Console, select the Restore > Restore VM as Clone tab.

 

3)      Since we are restoring from Microsoft Azure, for the location, select Azure Storage Account and click Next.

 

4)      Select the VM(s) which are stored in Azure, which you wish to restore to your datacenter, then click Next.

 

5)      Provide required information about where to restore the backup.  This includes the backup version, the VM name it will use, the host, and the file location.  You can optionally disable the network card to avoid network name conflicts when a cloned VM is brought online.  Click Restore.

 

 

6)      This recovery process will take several minutes to complete.  If you visit the Altaro VM Backup Dashboard, you can see the progress.  The Dashboard will also show you other interesting information about the backups, such as compression and deduplication values.

 

 

7)      You can verify that the backup has been restored by opening Hyper-V Manager.  The recovered VM will be in an offline state and needs to be started.

 

 

As you can see, using Altaro to back up your Hyper-V VMs to offsite storage in Microsoft Azure is straightforward.  It is easy to deploy, configure, protect and recover your VMs to the same site or a different location.  The version demoed in this article was Altaro VM Backup Unlimited Plus trial edition.  The Standard Edition costs $595 per host, but it is recommended only for smaller environments as it has a limit of 5 VMs per host.  For $695 per host you can buy the Unlimited Edition, which lets you back up an unlimited number of VMs per host, plus gives you Exchange item-level restore, deduplication, boot from backup, and support for Windows Server Failover Cluster and VMware vCenter.  The Unlimited Plus Edition cost $875 per host and comes with a Cloud Management Console (CMC), WAN-optimized replication, continuous data protection (CDP), and the all-important Cloud Backup to Azure, which you just saw in the review. 

Check out the Altaro website for more information about the different editions and pricing of Altaro VM Backup. You can also get a 30-day free trial here.

Published Monday, October 14, 2019 7:15 AM by David Marshall
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