Standard SSD: Azure Backup Failure

imagesI have been undertaking a customer deployment and thought I would share this nugget of information which may save you some time.

Standard SSD

Even though Standard SSD are now GA as per this article.  We are unable to backup VMs with Standard SSD, receiving in total two error messages.

The first error message is the initial job to configure the backup fails with the message ‘Deployment to resource group ‘name’ failed.  Additional details from the underlying API that might be helpful: At least one resource deployment operation failed.  Please list deployment operations for details.  Please see https://aka.ms/arm-debug for usage details.

Azure Backup 01

Digging a bit deeper we receive the Error Code ‘UserErrorGuestAgentStatusUnavailble’ with a recommended action of ‘Ensure the VM has network connectivity and the VM agent is update and running.  For more information, please refer to https://aka.ms/guestagent-status-unavailable’.

A quick reboot of the VM and this resolves the initial ‘configure backup error’ with Standard SSDs.

We then go to protect the VM and undertake the initial backup and this is where the problem occurs.  After two plus hours, you will receive an error notification which states ‘The storage type is not supported by Azure Backup’.

Azure Backup 02

This is a known issue and is documented in the ‘Prepare Resource Manager Deployed VMs‘ article under the section ‘Limitations when backing up and restoring a VM’.

So for now, you can deploy VMs with Standard SSD but you can’t back up the entire VM using Azure IaaS VM Backup!

Update

Azure Backup now supports Standard SSD see blog post here.

 

Application Gateway WAF, does it Load Balance?

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I was recently working on a project in which we where using an Application Gateway with WAF to send traffic to certain destinations based on URL path.

During a conference call with the application developer and a Microsoft Cloud Solution Architect I was asked the question, what are you going to use to load balance the backend pools?

I initially responded the WAF as this is polling the backend pool to determine which VMs to send traffic to, so logically should include a Load Balancer, but hold on a minute I have never seen any settings for Load Balance rules.  In comes that moment of doubt when someone from Microsoft questions you.

After trawling over the documents, I was able to find reference to load balancing on the main product overview along with internal load balance configuration, but what about external connections?

I was able to find this golden nugget of information, written by David Sanchez entitled Azure Application Gateway uses the Load Balancer.  This confirms that it is a built in to the Application Gateway by default using an algorithm to provide load balance services.

So in short, yes the Application Gateway WAF, does include a Load Balancer, it is just inbuilt and therefore shielded from configuration choices.

 

Altaro: First Impressions

In March 2018 Altaro announced v7.6 of their backup product, I thought it was time to give the product a whirl and provide feedback on my first impressions.

Lab

As those who follow my blog know, I switched to Server 2012 R2 running Hyper-V a while ago.  In this configuration I have a HPE DL360 G6 with some local SATA storage as the backup target for my Hyper-V virtual machines.

Installation

Altaro make the claim (see here) that you can be up and running, allowing you to back up your first virtual machine within 15 minutes.

Once I had completed the simple registration form to access the Unlimited Plus Edition for 30 Days, it was time to launch the installer.

A straight forward intuitive installer is completed within a couple of minutes we are ready to launch the management console.

Configuration

As soon as the management console is loaded, we just need to follow the 3 steps outlined below.

Altaro 01

Connecting to the Hvper-V Hosts is a straight forward process, entering the IP Address and credentials you would expect.

Altaro 02

After this I entered in the backup location and selected the VM which required backing up and clicked backup.

So far so good, Altaro have validated that backups can be started within 15 minute of installing the software.

CDP Settings

As we know all workloads are not equal and more critical application services require a lower restore point objective.  With Altaro,  I can set CDP settings as low as 5 minutes.  The part which is quite impressive is that they warn you of the impact on the hypervisor of taking such frequent snapshots.

Altaro 03

Offsite Backup

Another feature I wanted to validate was integration with Azure Storage Backups to undertake an ‘offsite backup copy’.

After entering the Connection String for one of my Azure Storage Accounts, it was simply a case of dragging and dropping the VM I wanted to protect into the ‘Offsite Location’ bucket and finally provide a Master Encryption Key.

I was interested to see the native format of the ‘Offsite Backup’ to see if this could be used to migrate VM’s to Azure.  Using Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer I browsed to the storage account and viewed the VM location.

The Offsite Backup VM isn’t easily identifiable, I’m assuming the VM name is encrypted by the Master Encryption Key and the backup files are held in Altaro format.

Altaro 06

Essentially this means that if you had a DR event on-premises and you needed to restore backups from Offsite, you would need to install and configure an Altaro Backup server which isn’t a big deal in itself but just adds to the overall time needed to restore business operations.

Schedules

When administering backups, an area which time and effort is spent is on backup scheduling.  I was pleased to see that the schedules are different for CDP and regular one off backups.

In this scenario, I wanted to perform an on-premises backup and then follow this up with an offsite copy.  A couple of click and this was ready to go!

Altaro 05

A bit of feedback for Altaro is it would be good to be able to name your backup schedules as I could see identifying the right schedule could become cumbersome.

Advanced Settings

Enables you to control features such as De-duplication, Encryption, Exclude ISO’s/Drives and use Change Block Tracking.

Linked back to the Offsite Backups, it would be great if you had the option to backup to Azure as a native VHD (without de-duplication) as you could then spin up your VMs in Azure and use this as a migration tool or for DR scenarios.

Restore

For me, on-premises restores are a given.  I’m more interested in restoring archive data from Azure (using Altaro Retention Policy to control this).

Selecting the Restore Icon, I can select Azure Storage Account, again with a decent prompt which states you will be charged for egress data.

Altaro 07.PNG It’s a case now of dragging the backup down your internet pipe to be re-hydrated by Altaro VM Backup on your selected Hyper-V Host.

One of the things I would like to see is a File Level Restore from an Azure Storage Account to avoid restoring an entire VM .

Final Thought

It’s clear that Altaro have invested heavily in a slick user experience to provide simplified backup operations with a clear and concise dashboard that is intuitive.

I’m sure that we will see further enhancements especially around the integration with public cloud.

If you’d like to try the software for your Hyper-V and/or VMware environments, you can download Altaro VM Backup to back up unlimited VMs for 30 days, then enjoy forever free backup for 2 VMs. Download Altaro VM Backup for free here.

Azure Announcements August 2018

azure

As you would expect quite a few changes within the world of Microsoft Azure since my last update in March 2018.

So without further delay, below is my take on the heavy hitters which have been announced.

Azure Database for MySQL and PostgreSQL

Generally availability was a announced in April 2018, which essentially means that for customers using either database service are no longer running at risk and are now protected by an SLA of 99.99%

Read more here.

Integration of Azure Backup into VM Create Experience

OK, this is quite a small thing but when you have deployed oodles of VMs and you have to make sure you undertake backup configuration separately, can lead to a bit of frustrating.

Quite pleased Microsoft have introduced this as it makes for an overall better VM creation workflow.

Azure Service Health

Put simply being able to see the affect of any Azure outages on your resources rather than a generic status update is a great step forward.

Read more here.

Azure Virtual Machine Serial Console

Wondering why your VM won’t power on, or is hung without knowing the status.  Well we finally have an answer thanks to Serial Console access.

Makes the diagnosis of issues far easier and transparent.  Read more here.

Application Security Groups

This makes managing Network Security Groups at scale far easier, no longer are we reliant on IP Addresses, we can group network interfaces into Application Security Groups to govern traffic flow.

Read more here.

Security Centre Overhaul

I have to admit it, Security Centre wasn’t the most pleasant place to be.  Microsoft have taken this on-board and given the UI an overhaul.  Now it’s easier to understand, find and remediate issues within your Azure environment.

Azure Firewall

When I read into Azure Firewall, it wasn’t the big news as I was expecting, more so a v0.1 release from Microsoft.

In a nutshell, it monitors interesting outbound traffic.  So a step in the right direction, but more to come soon hopefully.

Read more here.

Azure Management Groups

For those of us that work across customers with multiple subscriptions this makes life so much easier!

Quite a simple thing, but again a great time sizer.  Read more here.

Encrypted ExpressRoute Microsoft Peering

This was announced under the radar so to speak.  We now have the ability to natively encrypt ExpressRoute Microsoft Peering traffic to access PaaS services within Azure.

So if you are a department with a requirement to use Azure PaaS securely, this will likely be the solution you are looking for.

3 x New Azure Exams with 80% Off

azureMicrosoft have launched three new Azure exams with 80% off, aimed at Azure Administrators, focused on depth rather than breadth.

  • Taking the AZ-100 and AZ-101 will lead to the certification Microsoft Azure Administrator.
  • If you have the 70-533 already, you can take the AZ-102 to achieve the certification Microsoft Azure Administrator.

AZ-100: Microsoft Infrastructure & Deployment

Measures knowledge and experience of:

  • Azure Subscriptions and Resources
  • Implementing and Managing Storage
  • Deploy and Manage Virtual Machines
  • Configure and Manage Virtual Networks
  • Manage Identities

More information can be found here and the 80% discount code is AZ100TRAVELING

AZ-101: Microsoft Azure Integration & Security

Measures knowledge and experience of:

  • Evaluate and Perform Server Migration to Azure
  • Implement and Manage Application Services
  • Implement Advanced Virtual Networking
  • Secure Identities

More information can be found here and the 80% discount code is AZ101HIKING

AZ-102: Microsoft Azure Administrator Certification Transition

Measures knowledge and experience of:

  • Evaluate and Perform Server Migration to Azure
  • Implement and Manage Application Services
  • Implement Advanced Virtual Networking
  • Manage Identities
  • Evaluate and Perform Server Migration to Azure
  • Implement and Manage Application Services
  • Implement Advanced Virtual Networking
  • Secure Identities

More information can be found here and the 80% discount code is AZ102PLANS