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Fun Facts about Microsoft Azure

facts about Microsoft AzureLooking for some helpful facts about Microsoft Azure? For those out there that may be confused about the Microsoft Azure solutions offered to date, here is the first in a series of posts about the cool new features of the Microsoft premium cloud offering, Azure.

Azure Backup, ok… wait, what? I need to do backup in the cloud? No one told me that!

Facts about Microsoft Azure

Yes Virginia, you need to have a backup solution in the cloud. To keep this high level below I attempted to outline what the Azure backup offering really is. There are several protections built into the Azure platform that help customers protect their data as well as options to recover from a failure.

In a normal, on premise scenario, host based hardware and networking failures are protected at the hypervisor level. In Azure you do not see this because control of the hypervisor has been removed. Azure, however, is designed to be highly available meeting and exceeding the posted SLAs associated with the service

Hardware failures of storage are also protected against within Azure. At the lowest end you have Local Redundant storage where they maintain 3 copies of your data within a region. The more common and industry preferred method is Geo-Redundant storage which keeps 3 copies in you’re region and 3 additional copies in another datacenter, somewhere geographically dispersed based on a complex algorithm. The above protections help to insure survivability of your workloads.

Important to note: The copies in the second datacenter are crash consistent copies so it should not be considered a backup of the data but more of a recovery mechanism for a disaster.

Did I hear you just ask about Recovery Services in Azure? Why yes, we have two to talk about today.

  • Azure Backup
  • Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery – This scenario both orchestrates site recovery as well as provides a destination for virtual machines. Microsoft currently supports Hyper-V to Azure, Hyper-V to Hyper-V or VMware to VMware recovery scenarios with this method.

Azure Backup is a destination for your backups. Microsoft offers traditional agents for Windows Backup and the preferred platform, Microsoft System Center 2012 - Data Protection Manager. Keeping the data in the cloud, Azure holds up to 120 copies of the data and can be restored as needed. At this time the Azure Windows backup version only protects files. It will not do Full System or Bare Metal backups of Azure VMs.

As of this blog post to get a traditional full system backup there is a recommend two-step process where you use Windows Backup which can capture a System State backup and then enable Azure Backup to capture this into your Azure Backup Vault.

There are 2 other methods that exist but currently the jury is out on the validity of these offerings. They are VM Capture and Blob Snapshot.

  • VM capture – which is equivalent to a VM snapshot
  • Blob Snapshot – This is equivalent to a LUN snapshot

As I said these are options but considered by many too immature at this time and respectfully not widely adopted. Hopefully, this provides some clarity around Azure and as with all things Microsoft Cloud related, Microsoft issues new features almost daily now. Check back again for more updates on what Azure can do for your organization!

 

By David Barter, Practice Manager, Microsoft Technologies

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Back in 2008 I still had a faceplate for my car radio, Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis was crushing the pop charts, and organic bean sprouted bread was something you’d find in the pet food aisle. It’s also the year Microsoft released Windows 2008 and SQL 2008, leaving a lasting impression like a tune you can’t get out of your head. For Windows Server 2008, it was the first Windows edition that allowed you to license for virtualization. If you recall, there used to be an Enterprise Edition of Windows 2008 that allowed for 4 VMs and if you needed 12 VMs you had to purchase 3 licenses. Datacenter provided unlimited VMs, and Standard edition both covered standalone and virtual machines.  At the time Microsoft was really making us work to understand the minutia of their licensing rules. Thank goodness Microsoft’s licensing has gotten a lot easier to understand (insert sarcasm.) Windows 2008 and 2008 R2 and SQL 2008 and 2008 R2 had a good run, and like all good things, including Leona Lewis’s career, it will be coming to an end. SQL 2008 and 2008 R2 End of Support (EOS) is July 9, 2019. Windows 2008 and 2008 R2 EOS is January 14, 2020.  Once Microsoft products go EOS, Microsoft offers ZERO support for the product, meaning they’ll no longer provide updates and patching. With no support, it would leave the product vulnerable to security threats because no fixes will be available to prevent infiltration. Security updates are mission critical. In 2016, 4.2 Billion records were stolen by hackers. Twenty percent of organizations lose customers during an attack and 30% of organizations lose revenue during an attach. Not fun!  It would be like if John Rambo retired and stopped drawing blood, which is a bad analogy because Rambo: Last Blood is being released in September. This begs that question, is this really the Last Blood? Probably not, however you can be certain the Microsoft’s “Last Blood” is actually happening. So what to do when your support goes away? Well you’ll need to think about modernizing and in this case adopting cloud. It’s a good time to seize EOS as an opportunity to transform with Microsoft’s latest technologies. A jump to Azure will allow you to migrate your Windows 2008 and 2008 R2 workloads to Azure VM or Azure SQL Database. Customers who move 2008 and 2008 R2 workloads to Azure Virtual Machines (IaaS) “as-is” will have access to Extended Security Updates for both SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 for three years after the End of Support dates for free. Those that decide to move to Azure SQL Database Managed Instance (PaaS) will have access to continuous security updates, as this is a fully managed solution. Or you could stay with on-premises licensing and upgrade to Windows 2019 or SQL Server 2017 by leveraging your Software Assurance benefits to modernize on-premises or on Azure (i.e. Azure Hybrid Benefit), to help reduce security risks and continue to get regular security updates. Regardless of what investment you decide to make, GreenPages can help right-size you for the future and ensure your data continues to be protected. To have further conversations about Windows 2008 and 2008 R2 and SQL 2008 and 2008 R2, please connect with your Account Executive or reach out to us!