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Back up Linux virtual machines running mission-critical workloads

As organizations continue to embrace Linux, we see a growing number of enterprises running business and mission-critical workloads on Linux virtual machines in Azure. Azure Backup service offers application consistent backup of Linux virtual machines in Azure to safeguard against unintended destruction of data in your virtual machines.

As organizations continue to embrace Linux, we see a growing number of enterprises running business and mission-critical workloads on Linux virtual machines in Azure. Azure Backup service offers application consistent backup of Linux virtual machines in Azure to safeguard against unintended destruction of data in your virtual machines. Azure Backup also has a specialized offering for SAP HANA that is workload-aware, offers a 15 minute recovery point objective (RPO), and allows the backup and restore of individual databases. As part of our continued commitment to Linux: 

  • Azure Backup has several improvements to agent-based application consistent backup of Linux virtual machines including application consistent backups for virtual machines running Oracle and OSS databases, backup for a wide number of Linux distributions and large virtual machine configurations that run mission-critical workloads, flexible restore options to meet a variety of RTO requirements, andcCost optimization options for Azure Virtual Machine backup using selective disk backup.
  • For scenarios where agent-based solution is not feasible or suitable, Azure Backup offers Azure Disk Backup, an agent-less crash consistent backup for Azure Managed Disks with the ability to configure multiple backups per day, without impacting production application performance.
  • For mission-critical workloads saving their data to a fully managed database, Azure Backup for Azure Database for PostgreSQL offers long-term retention of backups.
  • Additionally, Azure Backup offers enterprise-grade security and governance capabilities that help enterprises meet their data protection goals.

Agent based backup for Linux virtual machines running mission-critical applications

Customers run database workloads, customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), Big Data workloads, and external facing line of business applications on virtual machines. Such workloads need specific backup capabilities like higher hardware configurations, and faster restores for larger databases in addition to the ability to access across all outages. Azure Backup achieves all the above by providing the following:

  • Backup for Database workloads – In addition to providing backup for SAP HANA database, Azure Backup provides backup of Oracle and OSS Database running on Linux virtual machines in Azure. Customers running database workloads on Linux virtual machines can now get database consistent snapshots. This is achieved through pre and post scripts out-of-the-box for these databases offered by Azure Backup. Customers don’t require to download, install, or write automation scripts but simply need to indicate the database type along with log-on credentials for the database. These scripts are published by Microsoft through GitHub and will be supported by Microsoft for all customers.

Key benefits include:

  • Hassle-free experience in configuring application-consistent backup of database workloads running on Linux virtual machines.
  • Ownership and maintenance of scripts provided by Azure Backup.
  • Instant restore feature of Azure Virtual Machine Backup to quickly restore or create copies of production data to test environments from the backup.

This feature is currently in preview, please reach out to us if you are interested in trying it out. To learn more, refer to the documentation.

  • Backup for large virtual machine configurations – In addition to supporting a wide array of Linux distributions endorsed by Azure, with Azure Backup you can configure backup for virtual machines with up to 32 attached managed disks and a large disk size of up to 32 TB.  You can now backup M series virtual machines containing a write accelerator disk that runs low latency, and high transaction workloads like Oracle, SAP HANA, etc. For more details, please refer the support matrix.
  • Flexible restore options – Customers can restore to replace the source virtual machine or create a new virtual machine from the backup. Apart from these options, customers can choose to restore specific files and folders from the backup instead of restoring the entire virtual machine. For mission-critical workloads that demand high availability of backup data, customer can perform cross region restore in the secondary region in the event of a partial or complete outage. Most times, customers restore from the most recent backup due to an incorrect deployment or corruption of data. In this case, customers can perform an instant restore from the recent backup that offers quick recovery time. You can refer to all of the available restore options in the documentation.
  • Cost optimization – Using the selective disk backup feature, you can back up a subset of the data disks in a virtual machine providing a cost-effective backup solution. While configuring protection of the virtual machine, you can choose to exclude or include certain data disks in the virtual machine from being protected. You will get cost saving on the protected instance fee when you opt for the OS disk only backup option. Backup storage cost is calculated based only on the included disks, so you get to save on the storage cost. To further optimize your backup cost, read the blog post on 5 ways to optimize your backup costs with Azure Backup.

Agent-less backup for Linux workloads

Azure Disk Backup offers a turnkey solution that provides a snapshot lifecycle management for managed disk by automating the periodic creation of snapshots and retaining it for configured duration using the Backup policy. You can easily manage the disk snapshots with zero infrastructure cost and without the need for custom scripting or any management overhead. This is a crash-consistent backup solution that takes point in time backup of a managed disk using incremental snapshots with the ability to configure multiple backups per day. Moreover, it is an agent-less solution and does not impact production application performance. You can backup and restore both OS and data disk (including shared disk), regardless of whether or not they are currently attached to a running Azure Virtual Machine.

Key benefits include:

  • More frequent  and quick backups without interrupting the virtual machine.
  • Doesn't affect the performance of the production application.
  • No security concerns, as it does not require running custom scripts or installing agents.
  • Cost-effective solution to backup specific disk.

You can use agent-less crash consistent Azure Disk Backup in the following Linux workloads scenarios where the agent-based application consistent Azure Virtual Machine backup is not suitable or feasible.

  • Trade-off due to security and performance of the production workload: If your are executing custom pre and post scripts and invoking freeze and thaw on Linux virtual machine to get application-consistent backup, this puts undue overhead on production workload availability. Or your organization or industry regulation restricts installing agents due to security concerns.
  • Linux cluster using Azure shared disk: Azure shared disk is a new feature for Azure managed disk that allows you to attach a disk to multiple virtual machines simultaneously. Workloads deployed onto Linux virtual machines cluster write the data to a shared storage like shared disk. Using Azure Disk Backup, you can configure protection for the shared disk.
  • Backup the persistent volumes of Kubernetes cluster: Containerized applications running on a self-managed Kubernetes cluster or Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) cluster use Azure Managed Disk as persistent storage. Today, you have to back up the managed disk via automation scripts that are hard to manage.
  • Cost efficient backup option for Linux virtual machines: You may have several Linux virtual machines with a single disk (i.e., a virtual machine with just OS disk and no data disk attached) that are state-less machines say, hosts Webserver or, serves as the staging environment with application configuration settings. You can use Azure Disk Backup as a cost-efficient backup solution to protect the OS disk. You can trigger a quick on-demand backup before upgrading or patching the virtual machine or restore from backup to reset the staging environment after a test-run.
  • Unsupported Linux virtual machines configuration: Linux virtual machines that is unsupported by an Azure Virtual Machine backup, because it uses unendorsed Linux distribution, 32-bit operating system, Linux firewall appliance, bring-your-own Linux virtual machine images in which Azure Virtual Machine agent for Linux is not installed or Python is not installed. In this case, you can use Azure Disk Backup as alternate solution.

If you require an application-consistent backup of a virtual machine including the data disk(s), or the option to restore the entire virtual machine from backup, then use the Azure Virtual Machine backup solution. Azure Backup offers side-by-side support for backup of managed disks using Azure Disk Backup as well as Azure Virtual Machine backup solutions. This is useful where you need a once-a-day application consistent backup of a virtual machine and additionally, more frequent backups of OS disk or a specific data disk that are crash consistent and does not impact the production application performance.

Learn more about Azure Disk Backup.

Long-term backup of Azure Database for PostgreSQL

Customers running Linux workloads on Azure use fully managed OSS database like Azure Database for PostgreSQL, Azure Database for MySQL, etc. as it offers almost no administrative overhead, and allows you to focus on rapid application development and accelerating time to market. Azure Database for PostgreSQL natively offers retention up to 35 days. Azure Backup offers retention beyond 35 days for those workloads saving application state and data on Azure Database for PostgreSQL that needs long term retention of backup to meet the compliance or regulatory requirements. For more information refer the documentation.

Enterprise grade safety to protect backups

Mission-critical applications handle sensitive data that often needs to be guarded to protect against various data loss scenarios and malicious attacks, as well as to stay compliant with regulatory and IT policies.

  • Backup encrypted virtual machines – Azure Backup supports the backup of virtual machines that have disks encrypted at rest using platform managed keys (PMK) as well as those encrypted using customer managed keys (CMK) and virtual machines encrypted using guest-based Azure Disk Encryption (ADE).
  • Encrypting backup data – In addition to encrypting the source virtual machine, customers can choose to encrypt their backup data using customer-managed keys stored in the Azure Key Vault. By default, Azure Backup encrypts all the backup data using platform-managed keys.
  • Secure backup data during transport – Azure Backup uses transport layer security to protect the privacy of backup data being transferred. Transport layer security (TLS) is an encryption protocol that keeps data secure when being transferred over a network.
  • Soft delete – Azure backup provides soft delete for virtual machines to protect their backups from unintended deletion. Even after the backups are deleted, they're preserved in a soft-delete state for 14 additional days giving the additional level of safety and resiliency free of cost.

All communication and data transfer happens only on the Azure backbone network and internet connectivity is not required to backup an Azure Virtual Machine. Learn more about security features in Azure Backup.  

Azure Backup service provides simple, secure, and cost-effective solutions to back up your data and recover it from Microsoft Azure. If you have feedback or backup requirements to protect your Linux workloads on Azure, please reach out to us.