With Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS) installation complete, we can begin setting up backup configurations. Remember, the initial backup copy writes to local storage. Therefore, before setting up items for backup, we need to configure local storage for the server. This storage needs to be at least the total amount of a single backup for all items being backed up. If disk space runs out, backup jobs will fail. For that reason, it is recommended to allocated 1.5 times the amount of required space to allow for growth. These disks can be any variety as we will setup Storage Pools to allocate one large virtual disk for MABS.
Configure Storage Pools
To create a storage pool, go to Server Manager, select File and Storage Services > Volumes > Storage Pools. Under Physical Disks, select New Storage Pool. Go through the wizard to add all the physical disks necessary to create the Storage Pool for MABS.
Once the storage pool is created, under Virtual Disks, select Tasks > New Virtual Disk. The New Virtual Disk wizard runs allowing you to specify several options including size, layout, and provisioning. Storage Layout is essentially the RAID level and can be Simple, Mirror, or Parity. Provisioning can be Thin or Fixed. After you create the virtual disk, if you need to expand the capacity, add more physical disks to the storage pool then right-click the virtual disk and choose Extend Virtual Disk.
After the virtual disk is created, you need to create a Volume. Right-click the virtual disk and select New Volume. This launches the New Volume Wizard. Select the appropriate properties for the volume.
*Note* This step is only for MABS v2 running Modern Backup Storage on Windows Server 2016 as it accepts storage volumes. If running MABS v2 on an earlier version of Windows Server, do not create a volume as it cannot use Modern Backup Storage.
Once the storage pool is provisioned we can add it to MABS. To add storage to MABS go to Management tab in the bottom left corner. Select Disk Storage, then Add. In the popup select the volume you just created and select Add, then click OK. You may get a warning prompt that it will format the volume. Click Ok. Once added you now have local storage available to configure backups and recovery operations.
Add Servers to MABS
Now that you have proper local storage attached to MABS, lets begin setting up items to be backed up. If you recall we can backup Application-aware server workloads, such as Exchange, SQL Databases, Bare Metal Recovery, VMWare and Hyper-V VMs, and any on-premises machine. Each of these have a slightly different, but generally the same process. Microsoft has some specific procedures already created for certain tasks:
First, you need to add the servers that you wish to backup. This will install the Microsoft Azure Backup Server DPM agent on each server you add. This may require a reboot of that server. To add servers, go to Management and click Add.
Select Server type. If you select VMWare Servers, you will be prompted to connect to VMWare vCenter using managed credentials stored within MABS to connect to VMWare VMs.
Select an Agent deployment method. If all the servers are within the same network with no firewall you can push the agent directly from this wizard. If you are deploying to servers that cannot be reached by MABS, select Attach agents. You will be required to install the agent manually.
MABS automatically queries all servers that are in the same domain. To find another computer just enter the FQDN of the server. Select the servers you wish to backup and click Add.
MABS needs an administrative account for all servers to perform the installation of each agent. Enter the credentials.
Finally, on the next screen select whether to approve automatic restart of the server if necessary. If a reboot is required, the server cannot be backed up until it is rebooted. View the Summary and then select Install to begin the agent deployment
Configure Protection Groups
Once all the required servers are added you need to create a Protection Group. A protection group allows you to bundle multiple servers together that will have the same backup configuration, including retention, synchronization, and recovery settings. To start, go to the Protection tab and select New
On the Welcome Screen, click Next. On the next page select either Servers or clients, depending on what you wish to back up.
Next, select all the servers you wish to back up. For each server select the type of data to protect. The choices will be different depending on the server. For Exchange servers, you will be able to select mailbox databases. For Hyper-V Hosts, you will be able to select VMs. For this, I will select SQL databases from one server and System State from another. If you also need to backup any files and folders, you must do so with MABS. You cannot use Azure Backup Agent to backup a server being backed up with MABS.
On the Data Protection Method page, provide a name for this Protection Group as well as method. You can choose either Disk (short term), Online (long term), or both. You cannot choose Online without short-term protection via Disk.
Short term goals determine the retention period to keep the data on the disk. You can also specify an Express full backup for Application backup such as SQL and Exchange. This provides quick recoveries of application data for those platforms.
Disk Allocation shows the size of the data you want to back up based on the prior retention settings. If you do not have enough space, you are provided a warning and are unable to proceed. By default, MABS creates a separate volume for each data source type. You can select Co-Locate data in DPM Storage pool to combine similar resource types in a single volume. Automatically grow the volumes allows MABS to increase the disk size automatically as needed by 25 percent.
MABS does provide the ability to modify the default sizes it will allocate. To do this click the Modify button to review the volumes to be created for this protection group.
Replica creation method determines how you want to generate the initial copy of the backup on MABS. By default, automatically over the network and Now is selected. That will begin the replication of data immediately after the creation of the protection group. We recommend you schedule this during off-peak hours. If the initial replica is extremely large to replicate over your network, you can also select a manual copy. This requires the use of some form of removable or external media to copy the data to MABS.
Consistency Checks are run to check the integrity of the backup point. Keep Run a consistency check if a replica becomes inconsistent checked. You can also setup automatic checks on a schedule. However, these checks can become resource intensive and should be done on off-peak hours. You can also perform a manual check at any time after the protection group is created.
Online Data Protection allows you to choose which data source that your want to provide protection online within Azure. Select one or more of the data sources.
Online Backup Schedule creates the schedule that generates the recovery points on the disk backup. Once created it is transferred to the Azure Recovery Services vault. Again, we would recommend off-peak hours for backups to run.
Online Retention Policy configures how long you wish to retain backup data in Azure. You can select Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly backups along with the length of retention for each.
Online Replication determines the way to create the initial online backup copy. The default option is over your network. The Offline Backup option creates on offline copy that can be sent to Microsoft using their Import/Export services. This is for very large amounts of data. For more information regarding Offline Backup see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/backup/backup-azure-backup-import-export.
On the Summary page, verify the configuration options selected for the protection group are correct and click Create Group. You can monitor the status of the group creation on the Status page. Once complete with Success, click close.
To view the status and configuration of the protection group, select the Protection tab. From here you can modify or delete groups, run consistency checks, pause or resume backups, and other operations related to the backup configurations.
To view the status of the ongoing backup schedule, select the Monitoring tab. From here you can see all alerts, view any scheduled, failed, running, and completed job, or cancel/modify a backup. You can also setup SMTP notifications to send alerts.
If you ever need to restore data that you have backed up to an Azure Recovery Services Vault, you can do so using MABS. The process is integrated into MABS. If you wish to use the local server, you can simply use the Local DPM data and are not required to add an External DPM.
To recover data from an alternate MABS, first we need valid vault credentials. You can quickly download a valid copy from the Azure portal by going to your Recovery Services Vault > Properties > Backup Credentials.
Only Azure Backup Servers associated with the same registration vault can recover each other’s data.
Copy the downloaded credentials to MABS and launch MABS management console. Go to the Recovery tab and select Add External DPM.
Select your vault credentials, DPM server where the data is to be recovered, and the encryption passphrase associated with the server whose data is being recovered. This passphrase was created during the initial registration of MABS. If you do not have it, you cannot use this server and will need to re-register to obtain a new passphrase.
Once the External DPM is added, or if using Local DPM data, you can browse the list of data sources and servers that are being backed up. Select the appropriate data source to recover. Then select the specific date to recover from. A list of recoverable items is shown in the bottom pane. Right click the item to recover and click Recover.
Review the Recover Selection. Verify the data and time of the backup copy being recovered, as well as the source from which the backup copy was created. If the selection is incorrect, click Cancel to navigate back to recovery tab to select appropriate recovery point. If the selection is correct, click Next.
Select Recovery Type. These options change depending on the recovery scenario. In some instances, you can recover to the original location or copy to a network folder. In most cases it makes sense to recover to another location.
Choose the option related to recovery operation including security, throttling, and notifications. Security settings can be set to apply what was applicable at the time of backup or the destination computer settings.
Review the summary screen to confirm all settings. Once you click recover, the recovery job starts. It can be monitoring in the Monitoring tab of MABS management console. Once complete, you can browse to the location you specified to retrieve the files to complete the restore process based on the data that was restored.
The whole concept of Business Continuity is to ensure that a business can continue operations in the event of a serious incident or disaster. In an ideal world, backup solutions would not be necessary. However, things happen. We hope we never have the need to use backups, but always must plan for the worst. Having a good backup solution combined with a solid backup strategy can provide the peace of mind any business needs as well as the assurances of Business Continuity.
Enabling Technologies can help you properly prepare for moving to Azure Backup based on Microsoft Best Practices. You can check out more in the Azure section of our website.