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Windows Azure Backup Service Released

Eric Russo | | December 19, 2013

Within the recent updates to Microsoft Windows Azure was the release of the Windows Azure Backup Service.

Some pundits claim this is a move by Microsoft to draw in more business for the platform, but enterprise users are certain to applaud the ability to have file and folder backup, recovery, and off-site data-protection services.

Before outlining some of the features of the service, it’s worth observing that it offers enterprise users a service-level agreement and is also supported by Microsoft Support.

Scott Guthrie, a corporate vice president in the Microsoft Server and Tools Business, explains:

Windows Azure Backup is a cloud based backup solution for Windows Server which allows files and folders to be backed up and recovered from the cloud, and provides off-site protection against data loss. The service provides IT administrators and developers with the option to back up and protect critical data in an easily recoverable way from any location with no upfront hardware cost

Most importantly, Guthrie says:

All data is encrypted onsite before it is sent to the cloud, and customers retain and manage the encryption key (meaning the data is stored entirely secured and can’t be decrypted by anyone but yourself).

Data privacy has become a greater issue for database administers, noted eWeek, since revelations surrounding the United States government’s intelligence-gathering sprees. “Allegations that the U.S. government enjoyed privileged access to popular cloud service providers surfaced, putting tech heavyweights, including Apple, Google and Microsoft, on the defensive,” noted the publication. Adding, “There were no such concerns with Windows Azure Backup.”

Guthrie explains that getting started with the Windows Azure Backup Service is simple. Users are walked through the process via a tutorial once they create a new Backup Vault within the Windows Azure Management Portal. A user registers the servers they wish to back up, then configures the backup schedules using one of the management interface tools. Tutorials are offered for these processes, including one that demonstrates the setup of a custom backup schedule using Windows PowerShell.

The primary features of the Windows Azure Backup Service, according to Guthrie, are:

  • Simple configuration and management
  • Block level incremental backups
  • Data compression, encryption and throttling
  • Verification of data integrity in the cloud
  • Configurable retention policies for cloud storage

Rand Morimoto, president of Convergent Computing, a Microsoft partner based in Oakland, Calif., told CRN that cloud storage alleviates the time and expense associated with backing up and keeping track of data. He noted:

Storage is the number one big-ticket spending item right now as data is retained across pretty much every part of an organization. … We’ve had many of our customers move to cloud based storage for longer term archiving.

Microsoft, according to CRN, is charging its backup customers based on the amount of data stored. There are both pay-as-you-go and prepaid options, as well as some initial promotional offers. After Dec. 1, pay-as-you-go customers will be charged 50 cents/GB/month, while those with contracts will pay 34-40 cents/GB/month.

In addition to the new data backup offering, Windows Azure also offers users disaster recovery services and cloud development tools, which database administrators will surely find useful.

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