Microsoft provides two ways to backup and recover data using its Azure cloud platform, Azure Backup Server (ABS) and Azure Site Recovery (ASR). With Microsoft’s well-known penchant for fragmenting their own technologies is this more of the same?
In this case, no. These two services satisfy different requirements and should be employed to achieve separate goals. ABS is Microsoft’s cloud based system for backing up files, directories and entire servers to allow point in time restores. ABS may be deployed to backup either cloud based or on-premise servers. Think of it like the modern equivalent of Backup Exec.
ASR, on the other hand, is designed as a disaster recovery system for your on-premise environment. When a server is down for the count or more specifically when your datacenter is down for the count, ASR can be used to stand up the server or datacenter in Microsoft’s Azure Cloud. Far from being a one trick pony ASR is an excellent methodology to migrate your existing on-premise environment to the Azure cloud. Microsoft, of course, has done everything they can to streamline this process with native support for Hyper-V, VMware, and physical server workloads.
I’ll go over the setup of ABS in a future blog, for now I’d like to review the basic setup and use of ASR.
Things to have available
The first thing you will need is an active Azure subscription (duh). Next, you will need a server (2012 R2 or later) available on-premise to act as the ‘configuration’ server (it manages communication, data replication, and the recovery processes). Finally, you need to have access to several Microsoft websites over ports 80 and 443:
Additionally, you will also need to have port 80 open on the ‘configuration’ server for the download of MySQL.
Set up Recovery Services Vault
Once you have all of that, you can logon to your Azure portal and begin setting up your ‘recovery services vault.’ The recovery services vault is where you ‘store’ your ASR information. Once you’ve signed into Azure click on ‘+ Create a resource’ and type ‘Backup and Site Recovery (OMS)’ in the search box at the top and hit ‘Enter.’ Then click ‘Create’ to begin creating your Recovery Services vault. When prompted, enter your subscription and the Resource Group you are using for Site Recovery resources. Once complete, search for ‘Recovery Services Vaults’ from the dashboard to find your new vault.
Set up the Configuration Server
Now you’re ready to setup the on-premise ‘configuration’ server.
The first step here is to download the software, which you can do from the Azure portal under the Site Recovery vault under GETTING STARTED. Click on Site Recovery > Prepare Infrastructure > 1 – Protection goal. On the Protection goal blade choose ‘On-premises’ for ‘Where are your machines located?’ Select ‘To Azure’ for ‘Where do you want to replicate your machines to?’ For ‘Are your machines virtualized?’ choose the option that matches your configuration. Click ‘OK’. Under ‘2 – Deployment planning’ select ‘Yes, I have done it’ under ‘Have you completed deployment planning?’ Because you have done all your deployment planning haven’t you? Click ‘OK’. This will bring up ‘3 – Source Prepare’. Click the ‘+ Configuration Server’ in the ‘Prepare source’ blade to add a new configuration server. In the ‘Add Server’ blade that opens click ‘Download’ (next to #3 in the list) to download the Azure Site Recovery Unified Setup program. Note, the download is about 1.6 GB in size. You will also need to click the ‘Download’ button under #4 to download the vault registration key. This will be needed when running the unified setup program. Download both files to the on-premise server you will be using as your configuration server.
Unified Setup Program
Once you have downloaded both files from the Azure portal run the unified setup program. The program will take you through the setup. Most of the questions are straight forward. In the Registration step, browse to the vault registration key you downloaded from Azure. Finish the wizard and install the software. Once the installation is complete a passphrase is generated. Save it to a file or password manager. Then the cspsconfigtool.exe should open, which will allow you to add accounts that the Site Recovery server will use to communicate with your on-premise servers.
Once you complete the configuration server install go back to the Azure portal and the ‘Prepare source’ blade. You should now have a drop down where you can select the configuration server you just created. Once selected, click ‘OK’. That should move you to ‘4 – Target Prepare’ and open the ‘Target’ blade. Here you need to select your subscription and the appropriate resource manager for your deployment. Wait for Azure to confirm steps 2 and 3 and then click ‘OK’. This will bring up ‘5 – Replication settings Prepare’ and the ‘Replication policy’ blade. Click ‘+ Create and Associate’ at the top of the blade to create a new replication policy. Specify a name for the policy and set your RPO threshold, Recovery point retention, and App-consistent snapshot frequency to match your needs. Click ‘OK’ to create the policy and associate it with the new configuration server.
Protect a Server/VM
Now we’re ready to protect a server/VM. From the Recovery services vault under Site Recovery select ‘Step1: Replicate Application’. It should be underneath ‘Prepare Infrastructure’ that was just highlighted. This will open the ‘Enable replication’ blade. If not already highlighted, click on ‘1 – Source Configure’ to open up the ‘Source’ blade. Fill out the blade as appropriate for your organization selecting ‘On-premises’ for Source. Click ‘OK’ when done. Then you get to ‘2 – Target Configure’ and the ‘Target’ blade. Fill out this blade with the appropriate values for your deployment and click ‘OK’. On the ‘3 – Physical Machines Select’ ‘Select physical machines’ blade click ‘+ Physical machine’ to add a new server to protect. Enter the name and on-premise IP address of the machine and whether the machine is Windows or Linux. Then click ‘OK’. Azure will begin the ‘Discovering physical machine’ process, which will deploy the mobility services agent to the machine. This agent is required to allow it to talk to the configuration server and to Azure. On the ‘Configure properties’ blade specify an account that has administrative access to the server to be migrated (from the list you setup after you configured the configuration server). Then click ‘OK’. From the ‘Configure replication settings’ blade make sure the replication policy you created earlier is selected, verify that ‘Multi-VM consistency’ is set to ‘No’ and click ‘OK’. This will take you back to the ‘Enable replication’ blade. There you now have the option to click ‘Enable replication’, which will (as the name implies) begin the initial synchronization of the server from on-premise to Azure.
Once the initial synchronization is complete you will have the option to ‘fail’ the server over to Azure or to test failing the server over to Azure. I recommend testing the server at least once to verify that it boots up and runs properly in Azure.
If you have any questions about Azure Site Recovery, our team is happy to assist. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.