Azure Site Recovery (ASR) in action to protect Azure IaaS VMs

Kindly note this feature still in preview mode. Being said that I believe this is very important option for some customers. Based on customer feedback Microsoft has identified following points to justify this feature.

  • You need to meet compliance guidelines for specific apps and workloads that require a business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy.
  • You want the ability to protect and recover Azure VMs based on your business decisions, and not only based on inbuilt Azure functionality.
  • You need to test failover and recovery in accordance with your business and compliance needs, with no impact on production.
  • You need to fail over to the recovery region in the event of a disaster and fail back to the original source region seamlessly.

So being said that below are my observations on ASR for Azure IaaS VM’s.

  • Setup and configuration is very much easy (Of course careful planning is required)
  • VM’s with Managed disks are not supported (This option will be coming soon)
  • You Site Recovery Resource Group has to be created on different region and cannot be on the same region where you production VM’s exists.
  • Automated replication. Site Recovery provides automated continuous replication. Failover and failback can be triggered with a single click via GUI.
  • Minimum replication time interval is 5 min (Wish this will be improved soon)
  • Just like protecting and testing on-premise VM’s to Azure, you can run disaster-recovery drills with on-demand test failovers, as and when needed, without affecting your production workloads or ongoing replication.
  • You can use recovery plans to orchestrate failover and failback of the entire application running on multiple VMs. This can be controlled via runbooks (very nice feature)

Ok now let’s get back to action Smile

To make things easier I’ve went ahead and created two RG (Resource Groups) in advance in two regions. I hope name convention is easy to understand it’s purpose.

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Inside the ASR-PROD I already created single Server 2012 R2 VM.

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So now we have a production VM ready to b protected. Next step is to create Recovery Vault on destination RG.

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Select the VMs you want to replicate, and then click OK.

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if you want you can override the default target settings and specify the settings you like by clicking Customize.

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Once given command to execute Azure Recovery service will go ahead and do the job Smile

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Initial replication might take some time. It all depend on how many number of disk you have in your Iaas VM and their size. But I am pretty sure it’s lot faster than uploading your on-premise datacenter VM to Azure scenario. I have experience 3-4 days to upload single VM to Azure Smile

Finally the success results would be as follows,

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Nice GUI work from Azure ASR team visually showing which to which region VM getting replicated to,

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Experience the DR drill. For this under the Site Recovery click the “Test Failover” option. This will create VM on the ASR RG. Once the test is complete you can select the option called “Cleanup test failover” This will delete the VMs that were created during the test failover

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Tips:

During my demo lab creation came-up with below mentioned error. Problem is newly added disk is not be initialized inside the guest OS. Due to that reason ASR unable to replicate that disk to DR site.

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Azure Backup stepping in RaaS (Restore-as-a-Service) model

I do hope this blog post readers are ware Azure offering free data backup solution called “Azure Data Protection Manager (DPM)” Basically it’s same as Data Protection Manager offered via System Center suite with the exception Tape drives are not supported by AzDPM. But again who needs tape drives Smile.  Nevertheless Azure Data Protection Manager offers the solution of protecting on-premise and Azure VM’s data backup. But sad story is when it comes to restore the time and complexity. Thanks to the new RaaS method things will get dramatically change when it comes to data restoration. Some of the key benefits of this method are,

Instant recovery of files – Instantly recover files from the VM’s hosted on Azure or on-premise. Whether it’s a case of accidental file deletion or simply validating the backup, instant restore drastically reduces the time taken to recover your first file.
Open and review files in the recovery volumes before restoring them – You can mount the previous backup as a snapshot and view them and decide which files you need to recover.

Even though this is in the preview level I look forward to see this on GA very soon.

1. In my Azure test VM I’ve created couple of test folders and copied few files in it.

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2. Using Azure backup I’ve already taken backup of this VM

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3. Now let me go ahead and delete the folder1 in the Important data folder. After that I’m showing the current volumes in this VM.

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4. Now let’s get back to Azure portal to recover the data. for this I’m logging into the Azure portal within the Azure VM, this allows me to restore the files to the same VM which I’ve deleted folder in the first place. Keep an eye on the red arrow location. This is the new feature I’m highlighting today Smile. WE can select the snapshot we want to map to the Azure VM. Once that completed we run the PS to mount the snapshot volume to the Azure VM.

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5. As you can see in the last picture we manage to see the deleted data available in the mounted volume. Now we can copy them and restore to the location where we delete them accidently. Once the restore work is completed you need to stop the PS session and unmounts he volume from the Azure portal.

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As you can see this is very easy and useful feature. According to Microsoft Azure Backup team this feature can be used to restore up-to 10GB of files. If you want to restore more than that it’s recommend to restore the entire VM from a snapshot. By the time I’m writing this post Azure Backup team has announced the supportability of restoring files from Linux VM’s as well. You can get more information about that from here.

PS: Same steps applies when you try to restore files for on-premise VM protected by Azure Backup service. Make sure you Azure Backup agent version is 2.0.9063.0

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Event ID 19050 on HYPER-V 2016 cluster

Recently one of my customer’s HYPER-V environment recovered from power failure. Despite having secondary power to maintain the servers up and running switches redundancy power has not been overlooked Winking smile. Nevertheless after the power restore some of the VM’s in the cluster has been started acting funny inside the HYPER-V manager console.

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When I overlook at the cluster MMC VM’s status is in good mode without any errors. In the particular node event viewer throwing the event id 19050. Further searching on the search engine gave me this result, not much help though. Based on the scenario we knew VM is functioning properly and this has to be intermittent problem. Our final resolution has been restart the VM and let the VM move to correct host based on the priority order.

Migrating DPM data from one data storage to another data storage

Recently I’ve been involved in a project to help a customer to setup DPM 2012 R2 to backup VMware environment. Yes you heard it correct DPM 2012 R2 with UR11 support VMware backup. You can read more about it here. In our initial pilot stage we used DAS storage on the DPM server itself for test backup.  Once we verify local backup and Azure backup (replicating local backup copy to Azure) successful we wanted bring a SAN storage for the DPM server. My only challenge has been how to move the existing pilot backup to new storage introduced in the DPM server since we’ve been backing up production workload and I didn’t want to re-do that job again. Prior to that let’s find out my current protection group setup for a while,

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As you can see it’s simple PG (Protection Group) protecting two SAP VM’s. Now let’s jump into the disk group structure from Disk management perspective. There are two DAS disks being utilized for the data backup, same time you can see I have introduced 3 disks connected via SAN for the DPM server.

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Another view from the DPM point go view,

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Challenge is to migrate the data from Disk1 and Disk2 to Disk3 without modifying the Protection group settings. For this you can use the DPM PS MigrateDatasourceDataFromDPM.ps. But first let’s try to identify the disk structure from PS console,

Get-DPMDisk -DPMServerName <DPM Server Name>) to display the disks.

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As you can see in the above picture Disk1 and Disk2 is occupied for holding the Data. The trick is to identify the correct disk number and not to get deviated by NtDiskId. Once identified you can use following command with parameters to transfer the data,

./MigrateDatasourceDataFromDPM.ps1 -DPMServerName <DPM Server Name> -Source $disk[n] -Destination $disk[n]

Disk [n] has to be replaced by exact disk number. Once you define and executed the command DPM will start migrating data from existing disk the targeted disk. This may take some time based on the amount of disk storage.

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Now you’ll notice in Disk Management the DPM replica and recovery point volume information which is location on Disk 1 and Disk 2 has been migrated to Disk 3. Any new recovery points for the respective data source will now be located on the new volumes on the new disk, the original volume data on Disk 1 and Disk 2 will still need to be maintained until the recovery point on them expire. Once all recovery points expire on the old disk(s), they will appear as all unallocated free space in disk management. After that we can safely remove them from the DPM storage pool.

Note: Once this task completed you may get replica inconsistent error messages. This is normal and is expected as there has been changes made to the volume and will need to be re-synchronized by running a synchronization job with consistency.

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In the next article let me explain how can we use Azure import/ export Azure backup workload.

PS: If you don’t want to play around with PS that much and comfortable with GUI method then you’re in luck. Refer to this link where one MVP have written a PS script to do this job in GUI level.

Virtual machine load balancing in server 2016 cluster

If you’re virtualization expert (on Microsoft world Smile) you’re well aware above feature is possible when we implement System Center Virtualization Manager (SCVMM) to manage the HYPER-V cluster. Not every customer can afford to have System Center Datacenter SKU purchase right?

Virtual machine load balancing comes in exact time to help you do that without SCVMM. In a nutshell we can monitor the CPU and memory usage on the host an based on the pre-defined rules and allow VMs to move across the HYPER-V nodes in the cluster.

Do we have option to configure this parameter? Why not we can configure the aggressiveness of the this feature by using parameter ‘AutoBalancerLevel’. To control the aggressiveness run the following in PowerShell:

(Get-Cluster).AutoBalancerLevel = <value>

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VM auto balancing can be configured via GUI and PowerShell both.

In the cluster properties right-click on your cluster name and select the “Properties” option
Graphic of selecting property for cluster through Failover Cluster Manager
  1. Select the “Balancer” pane
    Graphic of selecting the balancer option through Failover Cluster Manager

From the PowerShell command point of view,

(Get-Cluster).AutoBalancerMode = <value>

Parameter values are,

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PS: VM autobalancing is enable by default in server 2016. If you use SCVMM 2016 to manage the cluster then this feature will be disabled.

Are you ready for the next big offer from Microsoft?

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Don’t we all love some hush hush news come in advance to our attention? Well Microsoft just did it again Smile If you’re a VMware customer then it’s time for you to pause your renewal and give attention to Microsoft direction and offering. Microsoft is ready to give away big surprise!!!

Ok let me make it short and come to the core story Smile 

If you switch from VMware to Hyper-V from during September 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, you can get free Windows Server Datacenter licenses when buying Windows Server Datacenter + Software Assurance. That ultimately means you only pay for Software Assurance.

All the latest information about this offer and how to calculate the TCO can be found in here. If you’re wondering what kind of enhancement HYPER-V 2016 can provide then you’ll be surprised too. Detail information can be found here.

So for my VMWare customers all I can say is don’t delay this opportunity, contact your Microsoft Account Manager and start engaging on this process.

When it comes to deployment or if you need support from the beginning stage then feel free to get in touch with Infront team

Hybrid data backup solution with Azure Backup Server #MSOMS

When you run your workloads in different locations (on-prem & cloud) it would be tough situation how to manage data backup. Either you’ll end up using multiple backup software or else your backup vendor will assure you can manage both worlds from their tools Smile. Luckily Microsoft step-up with their hybrid data backup solution under the name tag “Azure Backup Server” In their own words “With Azure Backup Server, you can protect application workloads such as Hyper-V VMs, Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint Server, Microsoft Exchange and Windows clients from a single console.”

Today I’ll take you through the journey of Azure Backup Server. Microsoft initially ran project with code name “Venus”. Now this is part of the OMS Suite (Operations Management Suite). For people who out there familiar with System Center Data Protection Manager think this is as DPM minus Tape drive support (and it’s free too Smile).

Most of the time I also really don’t entertain the idea of using Tape drives and I’m glad Microsoft team also carries same opinion as mine Smile. Some of the great features of Azure Backup Server service are,

Feature

Benefit

Automatic storage management

No capital expenditure is needed for on-premises storage devices. Azure Backup automatically allocates and manages backup storage, and it uses a pay-as-you-use consumption model.

Unlimited scaling

Take advantage of high availability guarantees without the overhead of maintenance and monitoring. Azure Backup uses the underlying power and scale of the Azure cloud, with its nonintrusive autoscaling capabilities.

Multiple storage options

Choose your backup storage based on need:

· A locally redundant storage block blob is ideal for price-conscious customers, and it still helps protect data against local hardware failures.

· A geo-replication storage block blob provides three more copies in a paired datacenter. These extra copies help ensure that your backup data is highly available even if an Azure site-level disaster occurs.

Unlimited data transfer

There is no charge for any egress (outbound) data transfer during a restore operation from the Backup vault. Data inbound to Azure is also free. Works with the import service where it is available.

Data encryption

Data encryption allows for secure transmission and storage of customer data in the public cloud. The encryption passphrase is stored at the source, and it is never transmitted or stored in Azure. The encryption key is required to restore any of the data, and only the customer has full access to the data in the service.

Application-consistent backup

Application-consistent backups on Windows help ensure that fixes are not needed at the time of restore, which reduces the recovery time objective. This allows customers to return to a running state more quickly.

Long-term retention

Rather than pay for off-site tape backup solutions, customers can back up to Azure, which provides a compelling tape-like solution at a low cost.

 

Even if you’re running your VM’s in VMware environment till you can leverage this backup solution. I guess high level picture will provide you’ll more sense by now Smile

azure-backup-overview

Of course in this solution we’re leveraging Azure Backup vault to retain the data. With the introduction of “Cool Storage” you can further reduce your storage cost for long term archival storage. (refer to my previous article to get more information about Cool storage”

Sounds cool and you want to get your hands dirty by trying this out? Step by step article will arrive soon. So stay tuned and hungry Smile