Windows Azure Backup was recently released as a preview feature in Windows Azure’s already comprehensive suite. This is a great feature, even in its current preview state. However, due to its recent release, it can be difficult to find helpful descriptions of features already available. In this blog, we will highlight five great features of the Windows Azure Backup Preview and a short description of each one.
1. Scheduled Backup
In the world of backup and recovery, scheduled backups are not necessarily a new feature. New or old, it is definitely a convenient and required backup feature, especially for those who value data integrity.
Windows Azure does a great job of providing users with a simple interface that can be configured on the Windows Azure Backup Agent snap in for Windows Server 2012. The snap in (see Figure 1) allows users to easily customize a specific backup schedule, frequency, and granularity for that specific server. After it is configured, the specified data for backup is locally compressed, encrypted, and sent to Azure for storage.
Figure 1: Windows Azure Scheduling Backup Wizard
2. Granular Recovery
While scheduled and convenient backups are helpful, they don’t mean anything unless an equally granular and robust recovery solution is in place. Windows Azure Backup has provided users with just that. The Windows Azure Backup Storage can be recovered from your local server or from the Azure Management Console. The user can decide what folder or file they would like to recover and specify exactly which backup version they wish to recover.
In the event of a server failure, it is even possible to stand up a new instance of that server and recover your data from Windows Azure Recovery Services. Whether you’re missing a file, folder, or entire server, Windows Azure Recovery Services can meet all your needs.
3. Compressed and Encrypted Traffic
If you are already familiar with Windows Azure, you are likely aware that any traffic sent to the Azure Cloud is compressed and encrypted on your local machine before being uploaded. This is not any different for Windows Azure Recovery Services. The reason it has been included as a great feature relates to how it affects your monthly bill. Windows Azure will only bill on your compressed backups. Since Azure charges by GB/month, this can save you a significant amount of money.
4. Competitive Pricing
Windows Azure Backup is a Cloud service; therefore, it is a monthly subscription service just like the rest of Azure’s features. It is priced by the average GB/month. For example, if your compressed storage is 20 GB for the first half of the month and 40 GB for the second half of the month, you will pay the average or 30 GB. The current price is $0.50 per GB/month, but while the service is in preview, Microsoft is offering a 50% discount across the board. This proves to be an attractive and cost-effective option for customers who are considering moving their backup solution to the Cloud. Considering the initial capital saved by choosing a Cloud backup service, this can be extremely beneficial in many scenarios.
Figure 2: Windows Azure Backup Pricing
5. Backups Live in Cloud
In my opinion, the final and most important feature is a simple one. All the backed up content lives in Microsoft’s Cloud. That means two things: (1) no paying for on-premise storage solutions and (2) no data loss during power outages or server failures. It is a simple feature, but if you consider the implications of loosing backed up data, it’s a very important one.
In conclusion, Windows Azure Backup is a highly convenient and robust solution for anyone considering Cloud backup and recovery solutions. The five features described above are only a few of the features included in this fine-tuned machine that is called Windows Azure Backup.