Category Archives : Storage, Backup & Recovery



Announcing backup and restore performance improvements and support for large disk backup

Today, we are excited to announce the support for backup of large disk VMs and set of improvements aimed at reducing the time taken for backup and restore. These set of improvements and large disk support is based on a new VM backup stack and are available for both managed and unmanaged disks. You can seamlessly upgrade to this new stack without any impact to your on-going backup jobs and there is no change to how you setup backup or restore.

This announcement combines multiple feature improvements:

Large disk support – Now you can backup VMs with disk sizes up to 4TB(4095GB), both managed and unmanaged. Instant recovery point – A recovery point is available as soon as the snapshot is done as part of the backup job. This eliminates the need to wait to trigger restore till data transfer phase of the backup is completed. This is particularly useful in scenarios where you want to apply a patch. Now you can go ahead with the patch once the snapshot phase is done and you can use the local snapshot to revert back if the patch goes bad. This is analogous to checkpoint solution offered by Hyper-V or VMware with



Announcing Storage Service Encryption with customer managed keys general availability

Today, we are excited to announce the general availability of Azure Storage Service Encryption with customer managed keys integrated with Azure Key Vault for Azure Blob and File Storage. Azure customers already benefit from Storage Service Encryption for Azure Blob and File Storage using Microsoft managed keys.

Storage Service Encryption with customer managed keys uses Azure Key Vault that provides highly available and scalable secure storage for RSA cryptographic keys backed by FIPS 140-2 Level 2 validated Hardware Security Modules (HSMs). Key Vault streamlines the key management process and enables customers to maintain full control of keys used to encrypt data, manage, and audit their key usage.

This is one of the most requested features by enterprise customers looking to protect sensitive data as part of their regulatory or compliance needs, HIPAA and BAA compliant.

Customers can generate/import their RSA key to Azure Key Vault and use it with Storage Service Encryption. Azure Storage handles the encryption and decryption in a fully transparent fashion using envelope encryption in which data is encrypted using an AES 256 based key, which is in turn protected using the customer managed key stored in Azure Key Vault.

Customers can rotate their key in



Azure SQL Database now offers zone redundant Premium databases and elastic pools

Azure SQL Database Premium tier supports multiple redundant replicas for each database that are automatically provisioned in the same datacenter within a region. This design leverages the SQL Server AlwaysON technology and provides resilience to server failures with 99.99% availability SLA and RPO=0. With the introduction of Azure Availability Zones, we are happy to announce that the SQL Database now offers built-in support of the Availability Zones in its Premium service tier. By placing the individual database replicas to different availability zones, it makes the Premium databases resilient to the much larger set of failures, including catastrophic datacenter outages. The built-in support of Availability Zones further enhances the High Availability (HA) solutions in Azure SQL Database. For more information see High-availability and Azure SQL Database.

To take advantage of this capability, you simply select the zone redundant option during the database or elastic pool creation. You can also enable it for existing databases or pools. If the availability zones are supported in the region where your database or pool is deployed, Azure SQL will automatically reconfigure it without any downtime.

You can use the Azure portal to enable zone redundant database configuration as illustrated on the following diagram.




StorSimple Data Manager now generally available

We are excited to announce the general availability of the StorSimple Data Manager. This feature allows you to transform data from StorSimple format into the native format in Azure blobs or Azure Files. Once your data is transformed, you can use services like Azure Media Services, Azure Machine Learning, HDInsight, Azure Search, and more.

StorSimple devices use the cloud as a tier of storage and sends data to the cloud in a highly efficient and secure manner. Data is stored in the cloud tier in this deduped, compressed, and encrypted format. A side effect of this is that this data is not readily consumable by cloud services that you might want to use. Azure offers a rich bouquet of services and our goal is to let you use the service of your choice on your data to unleash its potential.

Using this service, you can transform data stored in your 8000 series StorSimple devices into Azure blobs or Azure Files. All the file data that you store on-premises on your StorSimple device will show up as individual blobs or files in Azure. You can use the Azure portal, .NET applications, or Azure Automation to trigger these transformations. You can



Introducing backup for Azure file shares

Today, we are excited to announce the public preview of backup for Azure file shares. Azure Files is a cloud-first file share solution with support for industry standard SMB protocol. Through this preview, Azure Backup enables a native backup solution for Azure file shares, a key addition to the feature arsenal to enable enterprise adoption of Azure Files. Using Azure Backup, via Recovery Services vault, to protect your file shares is a straightforward way to secure your files and be assured that you can go back in time instantly.

Key features Discover unprotected file shares: Utilize the Recovery Services vault to discover all unprotected storage accounts and file shares within them. Backup multiple files at a time: You can back up at scale by selecting multiple file shares in a storage account and apply a common policy over them. Schedule and forget: Apply a Backup policy to automatically schedule backups for your file shares. You can schedule backups at a time of your choice and specify the desired retention period. Azure Backup takes care of pruning these backups once they expire. Instant restore: Since Azure Backup utilizes file share snapshots, you can restore just the files you need instantly



OMS Monitoring solution for Azure Backup using Azure Log analytics

We previously announced the preview of Azure Backup reporting and gave customers the ability to generate their own reports and build customizations using Power BI. Today, we are pleased to let you know that you can leverage the same workflow to build your own Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) monitoring solution for Azure Backup in the upgraded OMS workspace. The OMS monitoring solution allows you to monitor key backup parameters such as backup and restore jobs, backup alerts, and cloud storage usage across Recovery Services vaults and subscriptions. You can then utilize OMS log analytics capabilities to raise further alerts for events that you deem important for the business to be notified of. You could even open tickets through webhooks or ITSM integration using the OMS log analytics capabilities.

Here’s how you do it…

Configuring Diagnostic settings

You can open the diagnostic setting window from the Azure Recovery services vault, or you can open the diagnostic setting window by logging into Azure portal. First, click “Monitor” service followed by “Diagnostic settings” in settings section. You can then specify the relevant Subscription, Resource Group, and Recovery Services Vault. In the Diagnostic settings window, as shown below, you can select “Send data



Virtual Network Service Endpoints and Firewalls for Azure Storage now generally available

This blog post was co-authored by Anitha Adusumilli, Principal Program Manager, Azure Networking.

Today we are announcing the general availability of Firewalls and Virtual Networks (VNets) for Azure Storage along with Virtual Network Service Endpoints. Azure Storage Firewalls and Virtual Networks uses Virtual Network Service Endpoints to allow administrators to create network rules that allow traffic only from selected VNets and subnets, creating a secure network boundary for their data. These features are now available in all Azure public cloud regions and Azure Government. As part of moving to general availability it is now backed by the standard SLAs. There is no additional billing for virtual network access through service endpoints. The current pricing model for Azure Storage applies as is today.

Customers often prefer multiple layers of security to help protect their data. This includes network-based access control protections as well as authentication and authorization-based protections. As part of the general availability of Firewalls and Virtual Networks for Storage and VNet Service Endpoints we enable network-based access control. These new network focused features allow the customer to define network access-based security ensuring that only requests coming from approved Azure VNets or specified public IP ranges will be allowed to



Customer success stories with Azure Backup: Russell Reynolds

This is the first of a blog series which presents success stories from customers with Azure Backup. Here we discuss how Azure Backup helped Russell Reynolds

Customer background

Russell Reynolds is a global leadership and executive search firm which helps their clients with assessment, executive search, and leadership transitions within boards of directors, chief executive officers, and other key roles within the C-suite. Having moved to Azure to reduce their IT and datacenter costs, the company started to look for an alternative to their tape backups which was proving both cumbersome and expensive. Enter Azure Backup.

How Azure Backup helped

With Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Data Protection Manager they backup their VMWare workloads locally and to Azure cloud where they can be retained up to 99 years eliminating their needs for tapes. They used the Azure Backup Offline Seeding capability to copy their initial 10 TB of data to cloud. Thereafter, Azure Backup transfers only incremental data during daily backups, reducing storage consumption and need for huge bandwidth.

“Even though we used very reputable partners for tape handling, it always made us nervous when our data left our facilities”, says David W.Pfister, Director of Global Distibuted Infrastructure and Client



Azure Storage SDKs for Python, Ruby and PHP now generally available

Today we are excited to announce the general availability of the Azure Storage SDKs for Python, Ruby and PHP! Thanks to everyone who participated in the previews and provided feedback.

This GA release brings forward a few significant changes:

We have split the Storage SDKs into four packages, one each for Blob, Table, Queue, and File. As announced, this was done in order to reduce the footprint of the libraries and allow developers to consume only the packages they are interested in.  Support is now available for newer Azure Storage REST API versions and service features. See below for details on each SDK. Azure Storage SDK for Python

Storage SDK packages for Blob, File, and Queue in Python are available on PyPi with version 1.0. This release supports the April 4, 2017 REST API version, bringing support for archival storage and blob tiering. Table package is released under the name Azure-Cosmosdb-table.

Here is a Hello World sample with the Storage SDK for Python:

from import BlockBlobService import os # Create a blob service client block_blob_service = BlockBlobService(os.environ.get(‘AZURE_STORAGE_ACCOUNT_NAME’), os.environ.get(‘AZURE_STORAGE_ACCOUNT_KEY’)) # upload a blob from text block_blob_service.create_blob_from_text( ‘mycontainer’, ‘myblockblob’, ‘Hello World!’ ) # download a blob into a buffer blob



Launching the Azure Storage Solution showcase

I am pleased to announce a new webcast series showcasing innovative technology partners who have built solutions on top of the Azure Storage infrastructure. Microsoft has always been committed to our partner ecosystem and we are especially proud of the work we have done on the Azure Storage team. Over the last two years we have witnessed an impressive increase in the number of solutions that integrate with, or are built on top of Azure Storage. All of these solutions are capable of helping our customers take advantage of Azure services and achieve tangible benefits for their businesses. It is all about our customers and helping you achieve your goals.

So what will you see and learn about during this series? Learn to use solutions you already have, from the vendors you trust, while extending your data center to Azure and building Cloud native solutions with your data. How to synchronize or migrate data to Azure Storage and leverage it with On-Demand Azure Services like: VMs High Performance Computing App Services Containers Media Services Databases Analytics Machine Learning Cognitive Services Manage explosive data growth in your organization. Worried about GDPR? Meet compliance and legal discovery requirements. End the cycle