Backup VMware Server Workloads to Azure Backup Server

In my previous article, I explained how to install and configure Azure Backup Server. This article explains how to configure Azure Backup Server to help protect VMware  Server workloads. I am assuming that you already have Azure Backup Server installed. Azure Backup Server can back up, or help protect, VMware vCenter Server version 5.5 and later version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step1: Create a secure connection to the vCenter Server

By default, Azure Backup Server communicates with each vCenter Server via an HTTPS channel. To turn on the secure communication, we recommend that you install the VMware Certificate Authority (CA) certificate on Azure Backup Server.

To fix this issue, and create a secure connection, download the trusted root CA certificates.

  1. In the browser on Azure Backup Server, enter the URL to the vSphere Web Client. The vSphere Web Client login page appears. Example, https://vcenter.domain.com

At the bottom of the information for administrators and developers, locate the Download trusted root CA certificates link.

  1. Click Download trusted root CA certificates.

The vCenter Server downloads a file to your local computer. The file’s name is named download. Depending on your browser, you receive a message that asks whether to open or save the file.

  1. Save the file to a location on Azure Backup Server. When you save the file, add the .zip file name extension. The file is a .zip file that contains the information about the certificates. With the .zip extension, you can use the extraction tools.
  2. Right-click zip, and then select Extract Allto extract the contents. The CRL file has an extension that begins with a sequence like .r0 or .r1. The CRL file is associated with a certificate.
  3. In the certsfolder, right-click the root certificate file, and then click Rename. Change the root certificate’s extension to .crt. When you’re asked if you’re sure you want to change the extension, click Yes or OK.  Right-click the root certificate and from the pop-up menu, select Install Certificate. The Certificate Import Wizard dialog box appears.
  4. In the Certificate Import Wizarddialog box, select Local Machine as the destination for the certificate, and then click Next to continue.

If you’re asked if you want to allow changes to the computer, click Yes or OK, to all the changes.

  1. On the Certificate Storepage, select Place all certificates in the following store, and then click Browse to choose the certificate store.

The Select Certificate Store dialog box appears.

  1. Select Trusted Root Certification Authoritiesas the destination folder for the certificates, and then click OK. The Trusted Root Certification Authorities folder is confirmed as the certificate store. Click Next.
  2. On the Completing the Certificate Import Wizardpage, verify that the certificate is in the desired folder, and then click Finish.
  3. Sign in to the vCenter Server to confirm that your connection is secure.

If you have secure boundaries within your organization, and don’t want to turn on the HTTPS protocol, use the following procedure to disable the secure communications.

Step2: Disable secure communication protocol

If your organization doesn’t require the HTTPS protocol, use the following steps to disable HTTPS. To disable the default behavior, create a registry key that ignores the default behavior.

  1. Copy and paste the following text into a .txt file.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft Data Protection Manager\VMWare]

“IgnoreCertificateValidation”=dword:00000001

  1. Save the file to your Azure Backup Server computer. For the file name, use DisableSecureAuthentication.reg.
  2. Double-click the file to activate the registry entry.

Step3: Create a role and user account on the vCenter Server

To establish the necessary user credentials to back up the vCenter Server workloads, create a role with specific privileges, and then associate the user account with the role.

Azure Backup Server uses a username and password to authenticate with the vCenter Server. Azure Backup Server uses these credentials as authentication for all backup operations.

To add a vCenter Server role and its privileges for a backup administrator:

  1. Sign in to the vCenter Server, and then in the vCenter Server Navigatorpanel, click Administration.
  2. In Administrationselect Roles, and then in the Roles panel click the add role icon (the + symbol). The Create Role dialog box appears.
  3. In the Create Roledialog box, in the Role name box, enter BackupAdminRole. The role name can be whatever you like, but it should be recognizable for the role’s purpose.
  4. Select the privileges for the appropriate version of vCenter, and then click OK. The following table identifies the required privileges for vCenter 6.0 and vCenter 5.5.

When you select the privileges, click the icon next to the parent label to expand the parent and view the child privileges. To select the VirtualMachine privileges, you need to go several levels into the parent child hierarchy. You don’t need to select all child privileges within a parent privilege. After you click OK, the new role appears in the list on the Roles panel.

Privileges for vCenter 6.0 Privileges for vCenter 5.5
Datastore.AllocateSpace Datastore.AllocateSpace
Global.ManageCustomFields Global.ManageCustomerFields
Global.SetCustomFields
Host.Local.CreateVM Network.Assign
Network.Assign
Resource.AssignVMToPool
VirtualMachine.Config.AddNewDisk VirtualMachine.Config.AddNewDisk
VirtualMachine.Config.AdvanceConfig VirtualMachine.Config.AdvancedConfig
VirtualMachine.Config.ChangeTracking VirtualMachine.Config.ChangeTracking
VirtualMachine.Config.HostUSBDevice
VirtualMachine.Config.QueryUnownedFiles
VirtualMachine.Config.SwapPlacement VirtualMachine.Config.SwapPlacement
VirtualMachine.Interact.PowerOff VirtualMachine.Interact.PowerOff
VirtualMachine.Inventory.Create VirtualMachine.Inventory.Create
VirtualMachine.Provisioning.DiskRandomAccess
VirtualMachine.Provisioning.DiskRandomRead VirtualMachine.Provisioning.DiskRandomRead
VirtualMachine.State.CreateSnapshot VirtualMachine.State.CreateSnapshot
VirtualMachine.State.RemoveSnapshot VirtualMachine.State.RemoveSnapshot

Step4: Create a vCenter Server user account and permissions

After the role with privileges is set up, create a user account. The user account has a name and password, which provides the credentials that are used for authentication.

  1. To create a user account, in the vCenter Server Navigatorpanel, click Users and Groups. The vCenter Users and Groups panel appears.
  2. In the vCenter Users and Groupspanel, select the Users tab, and then click the add users icon (the + symbol). The New User dialog box appears.
  3. In the New Userdialog box, add the user’s information and then click OK. In this procedure, the username is BackupAdmin. The new user account appears in the list.
  4. To associate the user account with the role, in the Navigatorpanel, click Global Permissions. In the Global Permissions panel, select the Manage tab, and then click the add icon (the + symbol). The Global Permissions Root – Add Permission dialog box appears.
  5. In the Global Permission Root – Add Permissiondialog box, click Add to choose the user or group.  The Select Users/Groups dialog box appears.
  6. In the Select Users/Groupsdialog box, choose BackupAdmin and then click Add. In Users, the domain\username format is used for the user account. If you want to use a different domain, choose it from the Domain Click OK to add the selected users to the Add Permission dialog box.
  7. Now that you’ve identified the user, assign the user to the role. In Assigned Role, from the drop-down list, select BackupAdminRole, and then click OK. On the Managetab in the Global Permissions panel, the new user account and the associated role appear in the list.

Step6: Establish vCenter Server credentials on Azure Backup Server

  1. To open Azure Backup Server, double-click the icon on the Azure Backup Server desktop.
  2. In the Azure Backup Server console, click Management, click Production Servers, and then on the tool ribbon, click Manage VMware. The Manage Credentialsdialog box appears.
  3. In the Manage Credentialsdialog box, click Add to open the Add Credential dialog box.
  4. In the Add Credentialdialog box, enter a name and a description for the new credential. Then specify the username and password. The name, Contoso Vcenter credential is used to identify the credential in the next procedure. Use the same username and password that is used for the vCenter Server. If the vCenter Server and Azure Backup Server are not in the same domain, in User name, specify the domain.

Click Add to add the new credential to Azure Backup Server. The new credential appears in the list in the Manage Credentials dialog box.

  1. To close the Manage Credentialsdialog box, click the X in the upper-right corner.

Step7: Add the vCenter Server to Azure Backup Server

Production Server Addition Wizard is used to add the vCenter Server to Azure Backup Server. To open Production Server Addition Wizard, complete the following procedure:

  1. In the Azure Backup Server console, click Management, click Production Servers, and then click Add. The Production Server Addition Wizarddialog box appears.
  2. On the Select Production Server typepage, select VMware Servers, and then click Next.
  3. In Server Name/IP Address, specify the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) or IP address of the VMware server. If all the ESXi servers are managed by the same vCenter, you can use the vCenter name.
  4. In SSL Port, enter the port that is used to communicate with the VMware server. Use port 443, which is the default port, unless you know that a different port is required.
  5. In Specify Credential, select the credential that you created earlier.
  6. Click Addto add the VMware server to the list of Added VMware Servers, and then click Next to move to the next page in the wizard.
  7. In the Summarypage, click Add to add the specified VMware server to Azure Backup Server. The VMware server backup is an agentless backup, and the new server is added immediately. The Finishpage shows you the results.

After you add the vCenter Server to Azure Backup Server, the next step is to create a protection group. The protection group specifies the various details for short or long-term retention, and it is where you define and apply the backup policy. The backup policy is the schedule for when backups occur, and what is backed up.

Step8: Configure a protection group

After you check that you have proper storage, use the Create New Protection Group wizard to add VMware virtual machines.

  1. In the Azure Backup Server console, click Protection, and in the tool ribbon, click Newto open the Create New Protection Group wizard.

The Create New Protection Group wizard dialog box appears. Click Next to advance to the Select protection group type page.

  1. On the Select Protection group typepage, select Servers and then click Next. The Select group memberspage appears.
  2. On the Select group memberspage, the available members and the selected members appear. Select the members that you want to protect, and then click Next.

When you select a member, if you select a folder that contains other folders or VMs, those folders and VMs are also selected. The inclusion of the folders and VMs in the parent folder is called folder-level protection. To remove a folder or VM, clear the check box.

  1. On the Select Data Protection Methodpage, enter a name for the protection group. Short-term protection (to disk) and online protection are selected. If you want to use online protection (to Azure), you must use short-term protection to disk. Click Next to proceed to the short-term protection range.
  2. On the Specify Short-Term Goalspage, for Retention Range, specify the number of days that you want to retain recovery points that are stored to disk. If you want to change the time and days when recovery points are taken, click Modify. The short-term recovery points are full backups. They are not incremental backups. When you are satisfied with the short-term goals, click Next.
  3. On the Review Disk Allocationpage, review and if necessary, modify the disk space for the VMs. The recommended disk allocations are based on the retention range that is specified in the Specify Short-Term Goals page, the type of workload, and the size of the protected data (identified in step 3).
    • Data size:Size of the data in the protection group.
    • Disk space:The recommended amount of disk space for the protection group. If you want to modify this setting, you should allocate total space that is slightly larger than the amount that you estimate each data source grows.
    • Colocate data:If you turn on colocation, multiple data sources in the protection can map to a single replica and recovery point volume. Colocation isn’t supported for all workloads.
    • Automatically grow:If you turn on this setting, if data in the protected group outgrows the initial allocation, System Center Data Protection Manager tries to increase the disk size by 25 percent.
    • Storage pool details:Shows the status of the storage pool, including total and remaining disk size.

When you are satisfied with the space allocation, click Next.

  1. On the Choose Replica Creation Methodpage, specify how you want to generate the initial copy, or replica, of the protected data on Azure Backup Server.

The default is Automatically over the network and Now. If you use the default, we recommend that you specify an off-peak time. Choose Later and specify a day and time.  For large amounts of data or less-than-optimal network conditions, consider replicating the data offline by using removable media. After you have made your choices, click Next.

  1. On the Consistency Check Optionspage, select how and when to automate the consistency checks. You can run consistency checks when replica data becomes inconsistent, or on a set schedule. If you don’t want to configure automatic consistency checks, you can run a manual check. In the protection area of the Azure Backup Server console, right-click the protection group and then select Perform Consistency Check. Click Next to move to the next page.
  2. On the Specify Online Protection Datapage, select one or more data sources that you want to protect. You can select the members individually, or click Select All to choose all members. After you choose the members, click Next.
  3. On the Specify Online Backup Schedulepage, specify the schedule to generate recovery points from the disk backup. After the recovery point is generated, it is transferred to the Recovery Services vault in Azure. When you are satisfied with the online backup schedule, click Next.
  4. On the Specify Online Retention Policypage, indicate how long you want to retain the backup data in Azure. After the policy is defined, click Next.
  5. On the Summarypage, review the details for your protection group members and settings, and then click Create Group.

Now you are ready to backup VMware VM using Backup Server v2.

Azure Backup Server v2

Azure Backup is used for backups and DR, and it works with managed disks as well as unmanaged disks. You can create a backup job with time-based backups, easy VM restoration, and backup retention policies.

Azure Backup for VMware

The following table is a summary of the solutions available for DR.

Scenario Automatic replication DR solution
Premium SSD disks

Managed disks

Local (locally redundant storage)

Cross region (read-access geo-redundant storage)

Azure Backup

Azure Backup Server

Unmanaged LRS and GRS Local (locally redundant storage)

Cross region (geo-redundant storage)

Azure Backup

Azure Backup Server

This article illustrates on how to use Azure Backup Server v2 to backup on-premises and Azure Workloads. Though Azure Backup Server shares much of the same functionality as DPM. Azure Backup Server does not back up to tape, nor does it integrate with System Center. Azure Backup Server is a dedicated role. Do not run any other application or role with the Azure Backup Server.

 

 

You can deploy Azure Backup Server from the Azure marketplace or on a On-premises server. The requirement to deploy Azure Backup server on a on-prem infrastructure is to have the below OS.

Operating System Platform SKU
Windows Server 2016 and latest SPs 64 bit Standard, Datacenter
Windows Server 2012/R2 and latest SPs 64 bit Standard, Datacenter,

Microsoft recommends you start with a gallery image of Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter or Windows Server 2016 Datacenter to create a Azure Backup Server. Here are the steps, you need to go through to deploy Azure Backup server.

Step1: Install Windows Virtual Machine from the Marketplace

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal at https://portal.azure.com.
  2. Choose Create a resource in the upper left-hand corner of the Azure portal.
  3. In the search box above the list of Azure Marketplace resources, search for and select Windows Server 2016 Datacenter, then choose Create.
  4. Provide a VM name, such as myVM, leave the disk type as SSD, then provide a username, such as azureuser. The password must be at least 12 characters long and meet the defined complexity requirements.
  5. Choose to Create newresource group, then provide a name, such as myResourceGroup. Choose your Location, then select OK.
  6. Select a size for the VM. You can filter by Compute typeor Disk type, for example. A suggested VM size is D2s_v3. Click Select after you have chosen a size.
  7. On the Settingspage, in Network > Network Security Group > Select public inbound ports, select HTTPand RDP (3389) from the drop-down. Leave the rest of the defaults and select OK.
  8. On the summary page, select Createto start the VM deployment.
  9. The VM is pinned to the Azure portal dashboard. Once the deployment has completed, the VM summary automatically opens.

Step2: Create Recovery Vault

  1. Sign in to your subscription in the Azure portal.
  2. In the left-hand menu, select All Services.
  3. In the All services dialog, type Recovery Services. As you begin typing, your input filters the list of resources. Once you see it, select Recovery Services vaults.
  4. On the Recovery Services vaultsmenu, select Add. The Recovery Services vaults menu opens. It prompts you to provide information for NameSubscriptionResource group, and Location.
  5. When you are ready to create the Recovery Services vault, click Create.

Step3: Select Appropriate Storage Type

  1. Select your vault to open the vault dashboard and the Settings menu. If the Settingsmenu doesn’t open, click All settings in the vault dashboard.
  2. On the Settingsmenu, click Backup Infrastructure > Backup Configuration to open the Backup Configuration On the Backup Configuration menu, choose the storage replication option for your vault.
  3. Select LRS or GRS type storage.

Step4: Download Backup Software

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal.
  2. click Browse.In the list of resources, type Recovery Services.
  3. As you begin typing, the list will filter based on your input. When you see Recovery Services vaults,
  4. From the list of Recovery Services vaults, select a vault.
  5. The Settingsblade opens up by default. If it is closed, click on Settings to open the settings blade.
  6. Click Backupto open the Getting Started wizard. In the Getting Started with backup blade that opens, Backup Goals will be auto-selected.
  7. In the Backup Goalblade, from the Where is your workload running menu, select On-premises.
  8. From the What do you want to backup?drop-down menu, select the workloads you want to protect using Azure Backup Server, and then click OK.
  9. In the Prepare infrastructureblade that opens, click the Download links for Install Azure Backup Server and Download vault credentials. You use the vault credentials during registration of Azure Backup Server to the recovery services vault. The links take you to the Download Center where the software package can be downloaded.
  10. Select all the files and click Next. Download all the files coming in from the Microsoft Azure Backup download page, and place all the files in the same folder.

Step5: Extract Software Package

After you’ve downloaded all the files, click MicrosoftAzureBackupInstaller.exe. This will start the Microsoft Azure Backup Setup Wizard to extract the setup files to a location specified by you. Continue through the wizard and click on the Extract button to begin the extraction process.

Step 6: Install Software Package

  1. Click Microsoft Azure Backupto launch the setup wizard.
  2. On the Welcome screen click the Next This takes you to the Prerequisite Checkssection. On this screen, click Check to determine if the hardware and software prerequisites for Azure Backup Server have been met. If all prerequisites are met successfully, you will see a message indicating that the machine meets the requirements. Click on the Next button.
  3. Microsoft Azure Backup Server requires SQL Server Standard. Further,the Azure Backup Server installation package comes bundled with the appropriate SQL Server binaries needed if you do not wish to use your own SQL. When starting with a new Azure Backup Server installation, you should pick the option Install new Instance of SQL Server with this Setupand click the Check and Install Once the prerequisites are successfully installed, click Next.
  4. Provide a location for the installation of Microsoft Azure Backup server files and click Next.
  5. Provide a strong password for restricted local user accounts and click Next.
  6. Select whether you want to use Microsoft Updateto check for updates and click Next.
  7. Review the Summary of Settingsand click Install.
  8. The installation happens in phases. In the first phase the Microsoft Azure Recovery Services Agent is installed on the server. The wizard also checks for Internet connectivity. If Internet connectivity is available you can proceed with installation, if not, you need to provide proxy details to connect to the Internet.
  9. Once registration of the Microsoft Azure Backup server successfully completes, the overall setup wizard proceeds to the installation and configuration of SQL Server and the Azure Backup Server components. Once the SQL Server component installation completes, the Azure Backup Server components are installed.
  10. When the installation step has completed, the product’s desktop icons will have been created as well. Just double-click the icon to launch the product.

Step7: Add a Data Disk to Azure Backup Server

  1. Log on to Azure Portal. In the menu on the left, click Virtual Machines.
  2. Select the virtual machine from the list.
  3. On the virtual machine page, click Disks.
  4. On the Diskspage, click + Add data disk.
  5. In the drop-down for the new disk, select Create disk.
  6. In the Create managed diskpage, type in a name for the disk and adjust the other settings as necessary. When you are done, click Create.
  7. In the Diskspage, click Save to save the new disk configuration for the VM.
  8. After Azure creates the disk and attaches it to the virtual machine, the new disk is listed in the virtual machine’s disk settings under Data disks.

Step8: Initialise the Disk of the Azure Backup Server

  1. Connect to the VM.
  2. Click the start menu inside the VM and type mscand hit Enter. Disk Management snap-in opens.
  3. Disk Management recognizes that you have a new, un-initialized disk and the Initialize Diskwindow pops up.
  4. Make sure the new disk is selected and click OKto initialize it.

Step9: Create a Storage Pool for Azure Backup Server

  1. Navigating to the Storage Pools page in Server Manager
  2. Launch Server Manager and navigate to the “File and Storage Services” page.
  3. Navigate to the Storage Pools page. Refresh the UI by clicking on the Refresh button.
  4. Logon as a user with admin privileges to your server, launch Server Manager, and then navigate to the “Storage Pools” page within the File and Storage Services Role.
  5. Right-click the “Available Disks” pool for the Storage Spaces subsystem and launch the New Storage Pool Wizard.
  6. Launch the New Storage Pool Wizard from the TASKS list.
  7. In the New Storage Pool Wizard, enter desired pool name and optional description. Make sure that you have selected the Primordial pool for the Storage Spaces subsystem.
  8. Select the number of disks needed for pool creation. If you want to designate a physical disk as a hot spare, then select the “Hot Spare” allocation type.
  9. Confirm the selected settings and initiate pool creation by selecting “Create” on the “Confirm selections” page.

Step10: Create a Virtual Disk

  1. Right-click the concrete pool that you just created (the pool where type value is Storage Pool), and then launch the New Virtual Disk Wizard.
  2. In the New Virtual Disk Wizard, make sure that you have selected the appropriate pool. Enter the desired virtual disk name and optional description.
  3. Select the desired storage layout and provisioning scheme as per your storage requirements.
  4. On the “Specify the size of the virtual disk” page, enter the desired size for the new virtual disk or pick the “Maximum size” option.
  • If you pick the “Maximum size” option, the system will try to create the largest size possible for the virtual disk.
  • If you select the check box for “Create the largest virtual disk possible, up to the specified size” while specifying the size then the system will try to create the largest size possible for the virtual disk up to the requested size.
  • It is also important to note that the value showing up as the storage pool free space (in our example 43.8GB) shows the actual free allocation the pool has overall. For cases with a fixed provisioning of a non-simple storage layout such as Mirror or Parity, when defining the size of the virtual disk, you have to take into account the overhead of storage needed to create the extra copies of the virtual disks extents for resiliency. As a basic example, with the 43.8GB free space in the pool, creating a 30GB mirrored virtual disk is not possible since it will take at least 60GB of free space in the pool to create a mirrored virtual disk to hold the two copies of the mirrored data.
  1. Confirm the settings and initiate virtual disk creation by selecting “Create” on the “Confirm selections” page.

Step11: Add Disk to Azure Backup Server

  1. Launch  Azure Backup Server and locate Disk Storage and Add – Select the disk, you want to add
  2. Once Added, this disk will be formatted with REFS file system and the storage will be available for Azure Backup Server.

Now you are ready to use Azure Backup Server. On my next blog, I will explain how to backup VMware VM using Azure Backup Server.

Understand “X as a Service” or get stuck in “Pizza box as a Service”

“X or Anything as a Service” is an acronym used by many cloud provider and offering almost end to end services to a business. The most traditional use of “X” are Software as a Service (XaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). The other use of “X” are Storage as a Service (SaaS), Communications as a Service (CaaS), Backup as a Service (BaaS), Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), Network as a Service (NaaS) and Monitoring as a Service (MaaS).

As a CIO or CTO of an organization have you had a business case of your organisation how your organization is benefited from “Anything as a Service”? How does it translate your business in terms of consumption of information technology if it was on premises comparing off the premises or so called cloud. The most service provider compete with each other getting a piece of pie from these cloud computing era. However to cut cost these provider going below the bench mark and taking the cloud into “Craig list” where everything offered cheap scarifying quality making it “Pizza box as a Service”.

Here are some guidelines for you to measure your workload, services and application before signing up with a cloud provider.

  1. What type of services or application you would like to migrate to cloud?
  2. Are you migrating tier 1 application to cloud?
  3. What is your peak demand of IO or IOPS for all virtual infrastructure, VDI, services and application?
  4. What is peak period latency requirement for an application and a service of your organisation?
  5. What is your peak bandwidth requirements?
  6. What is the up time requirements?
  7. What is SLA and SLR of your business with the service provider?
  8. Do you have penalty clause with the service provider?
  9. What is your RPO and RTO to business when choosing DRaaS?
  10. What is corporate compliance and data retention policy when choosing BaaS?
  11. Do you have good/great user experience matrix in your organisation?

Once you have answered these question, gather data from existing infrastructure and analyse your requirement than it’s time for you to;

  1. Prepare a business case for Anything as a Service
  2. Identify option1, option2, option 3 for cloud services
  3. Knowing cloud provider
  • Learn more about cloud provider hosting platform
  • Learn more about cloud provider engineering and support capabilities
  • Learn more about cloud provider outbound bandwidth and redundancy of network infrastructure
  • Learn more about redundancy of storage infrastructure of cloud provider
  • Who are the hardware and software partners of cloud provider
  • How user friendly is the management portal of cloud provider

4. Compare and select potential cloud provider

If you haven’t identified above criteria and you are aware that you signed up with a cloud provider who simply patch together a 1Gbe network, 1U rack server and Dell Compellent storage with few SATA disk than you signed for a “Pizza box as a service”. You know that your 2WD car is heading towards off road and you are about to get stuck in mud.

When comes decision making time, count every factor into account and make a decision that provide an outcome you want instead of cheap pizza box as a service which neither fulfil your requirement nor fulfil SLA of your business. Remember it’s about your business not the business of cloud provider.