Data security and integrity is of paramount importance to any business. This is true whether your ERP system is on premise, in the cloud, or a combination of the two. In a previous blog, I talked about our Crestwood Cloud platform and the two complementary backup solutions that we designed to safeguard client data: SQL maintenance plan backups and Azure Recovery Services Vault snapshots. In this blog article, we are going to take a deep dive into Microsoft Azure Recovery Services Vault snapshots.
What is the Recovery Services Vault?
You can think of a Recovery Services Vault as a container which stores multiple backup copies of the data volumes that make up your virtual machines, called “snapshots.” These snapshots are application-aware. This means that applications that group operations into a transaction, like Microsoft SQL Server, are backed up in a consistent state. The analog of a database transaction from a financial perspective is a journal entry. An application-aware backup ensures that all debits and credits of the last journal entry posted are completed and written to the database. Therefore, having an application-aware backup is a critical aspect to a recovery solution.
Snapshots Back Up Data Nightly
The snapshot is taken nightly. This schedule is defined in the Recovery Services Vault policy in the Azure tenant. The backup happens transparently to the operating system. So there is no need for a service shutdown or pausing the virtual machine. Within the Recovery Services Vault container, there will be a snapshot for each volume in the server.
Quick and Painless Data Restoration
What if you need to recover data from the backup? With snapshots, the restore process is very fast and very easy. In fact, restore is not the correct term – the snapshot can attach to a still-running virtual machine, so you’re back up and running almost instantly.
Here’s how. First, access the Azure tenant administration and open the Recovery Services Vault manager. Then, attach a snapshot to the virtual machine. Within the Azure console, you will be provided a small downloadable executable and a password. After launching the executable within the virtual machine and entering the associated password, the volume will be mounted via iSCSI and you will essentially have a point-in-time copy of your disk volumes attached in a new drive letter. From there, you can do granular file restore by simply copying the files over to your primary partition. Or, you can attach the SQL MDF and LDF files as a new database and perform data migration/validation as necessary. After 24 hours, the Recovery Services Vault volumes will automatically detach from your server.
Snapshots are a powerful tool that allows you to get the data you need in minutes, not hours. In our next blog, we will take a look at the complementary backup solution used in the Crestwood Cloud: SQL maintenance plan backups. I will detail a full recovery model, showing you how we can provide point in time recovery capabilities over a short-term window. All of our cloud services leverage both solutions for maximum data security. Stay tuned!
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