2012
09.10

I blogged about Windows Azure Online Backup in March of this year.  What was announced then was a way to get an offsite backup of files and folders (only) into Windows Azure directly from Windows Server 2012 (including the Essentials edition).

The online backup market is pretty crowded and competitive.  You need to offer something that is different, and preferably, integrated with the customer already has for onsite backups so that the customer does not have to manage 2 backup systems.

Being a cloud service, Windows Azure Online Backup (WAOB) is something that can be tweaked and extended relatively rapidly.  And Microsoft has extended it.  WAOB will support protecting backup data from SysCtr 2012 SP1 DPM to the cloud.

With the System Center 2012 SP1 release, the Data Protection Manager (DPM) component enables cloud-based backup of datacenter server data to Windows Azure storage.  System Center 2012 SP1 administrators use the downloadable Windows Azure Online Backup agent to leverage their existing protection, recovery and monitoring workflows to seamlessly integrate cloud-based backups alongside their disk/tape based backups. DPM’s short term, local backup continues to offer quicker disk–based point recoveries when business demands it, while the Windows Azure backup provides the peace of mind & reduction in TCO that comes with offsite backups. In addition to files and folders, DPM also enables Virtual Machine backups to be stored in the cloud.

What this means is that you can:

  • Continue to reap the rewards of your investment in DPM for on-premises backups to disk and/or tape
  • Extend this functionality to back up to the cloud from the storage pools in DPM

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With WAOB you will be able to:

… transparently recover files, folders and VMs from the cloud

There will be block level incremental backups to reduce the length of backup jobs and reduce the amount of data transfer.  Data is compressed and encrypted before it leaves your network.  And critically important for you to note:

The encryption passphrase is in your control only.  Once the data is encrypted, it stays that way in storage in Microsoft.  They have no way to decrypt your data without your passphrase.  So choose a good one, and document/store is somewhere safe, e.g. with a lawyer or in a deposit box.

There is throttling for bandwidth control.  You can verify data integrity in the cloud without restoring it (but test restores are a good thing).  You can also configure retention policies – you balance regulatory requirements, business needs, and online storage costs.

To go with this, the Windows Azure Online Backup portal has been launched (last week).  You can sign up for a free preview with 300 GB of storage space.

It’s still beta so we don’t know:

  • Pricing
  • RTM date
  • How it will be sold, e.g. via partner channel which is critically important (see Office 365).

2 comments so far

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  1. I wasn’t surprised to see this feature was included in SC 2012 RTM.

    It’s a huge market space that Microsoft have only had available to consumers via SkyDrive and even that wasn’t system level.

    Hopefully Microsoft will get this right as it will fill a big hole in our DPM 2012 installation. Previous offerings of cloud based DPM integration have been inadequate or disappeared very quickly (see IronMountain to Autonomy to HP to ??)

  2. Still a little bit disappointed that backup of AD, Exchange, SQL and SharePoint is not available for online backup. Now you still need multiple backup solutions if you want to backup to a cloud provider. Hope dat MSFT will add support for application data backup in the near future.

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