Azure Backup is a service offered within the platform that allows you to backup and restore your IaaS data both from within Azure and on-premises. The integration out-of-the-box within Azure, and the attractive cost point make it a great option for many deployments. Simplicity is also key, for example, you can enable backup right from within the VM blade, or, for several VMs within your environment from the recovery services vault itself.
Another benefit is the speed and efficiency with which you can test and confirm your required restore processes. This has been recently improved on again by the introduction of Instant Restore. This introduces the ability to use snapshots taken as part of a backup job, which are then available for recovery without waiting for any data transfer to the vault. This greatly reduces the wait time to trigger a restore.
While Instant Restore is the quickest option, it does incur additional cost for the storage required to hold the snapshots. Also, it currently is only available in four regions, West Central US, India South, Australia East, and North Europe.
There are other alternatives included in the cost prices of Azure Backup. They are as follows:
- Create a new VM
- This quickly creates a basic VM from a chosen restore point. Configuration options are limited.
- Restore disk
- This creates new disks from a restore point. These disks can then be attached manually or via script. You pay for the disks while they are active but this option offers great flexibility.
- Replace existing
- This is more automated. Azure Backup takes a snapshot of the currently active VM, powers it off, then detaches current disks. While this is happening, it creates new disks from a restore point. Once restore is complete, it attaches them to the VM and powers it back on. There are some limitations here due to the automation used, it’s not supported for unmanaged disks, generalized VMs, or for VMs created using custom images.
There is also a fourth option that combines some automation for file level recovery. This is well detailed here – Azure Backup File Recovery.
Based on the previous options available, I think the new Instant Restore capability is a welcome addition. It brings Azure Backup more in line with traditional snapshot-as-a-quick-backup solutions people regularly leverage on-premises. If you are running significant IaaS workloads in Azure that require regular changes, I would strongly consider upgrading your Recovery Services Vault to support Instant Restore.