Installing Microsoft Azure Backup Server V2 on Windows Server 2016 and SQL Server 2016 #MABS #WS2016 #DPM

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Introduction

In October 2015, Microsoft released the first version of Microsoft Azure Backup Server (a.k.a MABS – project codename is known as Venus).

The user voice was very active in the previous months, and many users including myself were requesting if MABS will be updated to support Windows Server 2016.

Microsoft is listening to us, and today (May 31st, 2017), they released the second version of Microsoft Azure Backup Server (a.k.a Venus 2) which support Windows Server 2016 and SQL Server 2016 SP1.

As mentioned in my previous post, Microsoft Azure Backup server inherits the same functionality of System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) for workloads backup, so if you are familiar with SCDPM, MABS looks very similar. However, MABS does not provide protection on tapes nor can integrate with any System Center component, so if you need System Center integration then you need the full SCDPM license for that. Besides this, MABS v2 comes without a System Center license, and is free to download. Did I say free? Yes, it’s FREE! I believe the vast majority of customers will choose Microsoft Azure Backup Server, and saving on System Center licensing.

With Microsoft Azure Backup Server V1 and V2, you can protect application workloads such as Hyper-V VMs, Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint Server, Microsoft Exchange, and Windows clients to:

  • Disk (D2D), giving high RTOs for tier 1 workloads, short-term protection.
  • Azure (D2D2C) for long-term online protection.

As of this writing, MABS V2 also support VMware VM backups in test environment, Microsoft will soon announce production support for VMware VM backups when VMware announce supporting vddk 6.5 for Windows Server 2016.

With the support of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft Azure Backup Server V2 leverages an important feature introduced in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V called Resilient Change Tracking (RCT). For more information about RCT, please check the following article.

Contents of this article

You can jump to any of the sections covered in this post using the links below:


Downloading Microsoft Azure Backup Server V2

You can download MABS V2 directly from here (4.62GB), or you can download it from the Azure Portal | Recovery Services Vault as shown in the next screenshot:


Microsoft Azure Backup Server Requirements

Microsoft Azure Backup Server can only be used by Azure customers with active subscription, and the setup requires you to provide Azure Backup Vault credentials. Although the Microsoft Azure Backup Server is free, however, you still need a Windows Server license on-premises. If you used Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS) instead of SCDPM to backup data locally only and not to Azure, you still be charged for the Protected Instance backup service fee. But since the data is only being backed up locally, you will not incur any Azure storage charges.

  • Microsoft Azure Backup Server must be installed on Windows Server 2016. You can install MABS V2 on Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2, but you will lose a very important feature introduced in SCDPM 2016 called Modern Backup Storage (a.k.a MBS). Read more about this feature here.
  • Microsoft Azure Backup Server V2 cannot be installed on a machine which has the SCDPM or SCDPM RA agent installed.
  • Microsoft Azure Backup Server V2 can be installed on a machine that has Microsoft Azure Recovery Services (MARS) Agent installed and registered with an Azure Backup Vault. The setup will upgrade the existing MARS agent if needed and then leverage the same Recovery Services Vault.


Microsoft Azure Backup Server Prerequisites

  • Processor: Minimum: 1 GHz, dual-core CPU, Recommended: 2.33 GHz quad-core CPU.
  • RAM: Minimum: 4GB, Recommended: 8GB.
  • Hard Drive Space: Minimum: 3GB Recommended: 3GB.
  • Storage volume for backup: The recommended storage pool volume size is 1.5 times the size of protected data.
  • MABS require space for a scratch location. The scratch location is a folder that have at least 5% free space of the data backed-up to the cloud.
  • The server should have connectivity to the Internet. Microsoft Azure should be accessible by the Azure Backup Server.
  • Microsoft Azure Backup server must be domain joined.
  • Microsoft Azure Backup server must have .Net 3.5 SP1, and .Net 4.6 features installed.
  • Microsoft Azure Backup server should also have the Hyper-V role and Hyper-V PowerShell feature installed.


Installing Microsoft Azure Backup Server

Before you proceed with the installation, make sure you create a new Azure Backup Vault and you download the Backup Vault Credential file.

After you’ve downloaded all MABS 8 files, click MicrosoftAzureBackupInstaller.exe. The Microsoft Azure Backup Setup Wizard will appear. Click Next, and then click Extract to continue with the extraction.

When the extraction is completed, select Execute setup.exe to launch the setup wizard.

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Click Microsoft Azure Backup to launch the setup wizard. Click Next.

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Click Check to determine if your hardware and software prerequisites for Microsoft Azure Backup server are have been met.

If all of the prerequisites are have been met successfully, you will see a message as shown in the next screenshot indicating that the computer meets the software and hardware requirements. Click Next.

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Microsoft Azure Backup server requires SQL Server Standard. You can select an existing SQL Server 2014 SP1 or higher, or let the wizard install SQL Server 2016 SP1 which is the recommended version by Microsoft.

In this example, I will select to install a new Instance of SQL Server with this setup.

Click Check and Install to make sure the server has the required SQL prerequisites installed.

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If you don’t have the prerequisites installed, you will encounter the following error messages. Make sure .Net 3.5 SP1 features, and Hyper-V PowerShell module are installed, and then restart the computer and run the application again.

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Once the prerequisites are successfully installed, you will see a message as shown in the next screenshot indicating that the computer meets the software and hardware requirements for MABS and SQL Server. Click Next.

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Provide a location for the installation of Microsoft Azure Backup server Files (Application, Scratch location, Database and Staging Area).

Note: You need to ensure that the Scratch Location is at least set to 5% of the data planned to be backed up to Microsoft Azure. However, the Staging Area is needed when you restore from Microsoft Azure, more on that at the end of this article.

Click Next.

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Provide a strong password for restricted local user accounts to run SQL Server services. This password does not expire.

Click Next.

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Select whether you want to use Microsoft Update to check for updates and then click Next. I strongly recommend to select the update which offers security and important updates for Windows and other products like Microsoft Azure Backup server.

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Review the Summary of settings and then click Install.

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The Microsoft Azure Recovery Services (MARS) Agent Setup Wizard will launch (The wizard will check for direct Internet connectivity). Click Next.

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Click Install. (The wizard checks for prerequisites and installs them if it finds any missing).

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The wizard will install Azure Recovery Services Agent locally on the server. Click Next to register this server with Azure Backup vault.

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Provide your Azure Backup Vault credentials that you downloaded from the Azure Portal in order to register this server and then click Next.

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Provide a passphrase minimum 16-characters used to encrypt the data sent to Azure and provide a location to save this passphrase. You can also generate a passphrase by clicking on Generate Passphrase.

Note: Microsoft Azure Backup Server does not send this passphrase along with your data to Azure. You need to store this passphrase in a secure location and not locally on the server. Please read carefully the text highlighted in the screenshot below.

Click Next.

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The setup proceeds to the installation and configuration of SQL Server 2016 SP1, this will take several minutes to complete.

Have a quick break and then come back!

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Once SQL Server installation is completed, then Microsoft Azure Backup server components are installed. You should see a similar message as below that the installation has completed successfully.

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Congratulations! MABS v2 is installed successfully… Click Close.

Last but not least, run Windows Update and make sure to install all the necessary updates as shown in the screenshot below.

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Adding Volume to the Storage Pool

To back up workloads to disk and Azure, you first need to add a volume to the storage pool on-premises.

The same storage prerequisites for SCDMP 2016 will apply for MABS V2. For more information about adding volumes, please see how Modern Backup Storage work with Azure Backup Server?

Launch Microsoft Azure Backup Server, select “Management“ from the workspace, click on “Disk Storage”, and then click “Add”.

In this example, I will a 300GB volume to the Storage Pool.

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Deploying Microsoft Azure Backup Agent

Launch Microsoft Azure Backup Server, select Management > Production Servers > Add. Select Windows Servers and then click Next. VMware support for production is coming very soon. Stay Tuned!

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Select the Agent Deployment Method, and then click Next.

In this example, I will use the push based agent installation options. You can use the following PowerShell command to create the required exceptions for Windows Firewall on the target machine that you want to protect.

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In this example, I will install the agent on two Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V nodes. Click Next.

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Enter a username and password with enough admin rights to install the agent. Click Next.

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You can safely keep the default setting selected to Yes. In SCDPM 2016 and in MABS V2, the agent does NOT require to restart the Hyper-V host. Click Next.

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Review the summary and click Install to begin. The installation may take several minutes to complete.

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If the agent installation is succeeded. You will receive a similar message as the following screenshot.

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Creating Short-Term Protection, and Online Protection

Launch Microsoft Azure Backup console > Click Protection > New >

Click Next.

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Select Servers and then click Next.

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Select the Virtual Machine(s) you want to protect, and click Next. In this example, I will select VM DC02.

Notice that RCT (Resilient Change Tracking) is noted before the VM Name. For more information about RCT in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V, please check the following article.

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You can select the protection method you would like, either short-term protection (D2D), online for long-term protection (D2D2C) or both.

In this example, I will choose both protection methods, and then click Next.

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Specify Short-Term Goals for on-premises recovery option.

I will specify 5 days as retention range. Click Next.

Install-MABS-Venus2-WS2016-33Review the default Disk Storage Allocation. I strongly recommend to select the “Target Storage” according to the “Allowed Datasource Types”. For more information about Datasource Types in SCDPM 2016, please check this post. Click Next.

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Choose when and how you want to create the replica.

In this example, I will select now… Click Next.

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Select Run a consistency check if a replica becomes inconsistent. Click Next.

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The remaining wizard options are dedicated to Azure Backup online protection.

Select the members (VMs) that you want to protect online (long-term protection). Click Next.

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Define the schedule when you want to create a backup copy.

I will select one time daily @ 10.00 PM (maximum allowed is two times a day).

Click Next.

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Here is the interesting online retention policy and the power of Azure.

You can specify the retention policy based on your business needs (Daily / Weekly / Monthly / Yearly). Click Next.

Install-MABS-Venus2-WS2016-39Choose the Online or Offline Replication, if you have a lot of data to be protected and your bandwidth is limited, then you can create an offline backup by filling the workflow below and then ship the disk to Azure Datacenter. For more information about Offline Backup, please check here.

Click Next.

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Here you can review the complete summary for Short-term and online backup protection.

Click Create Group.

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Review the status, and click Close.

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Sit back and relax while your data is being backed up to Azure.


Consistency Check Optimization Changes in MABS v2

In System Center Data Protection Manager 2016 Update Rollup 2, and in Microsoft Azure Backup Server V2, Microsoft enhanced Consistency Check (CC) by minimizing the amount of data transferred over the wire. Let’s say you have created a Hyper V VM of 16GB in size, and then you created an Initial Replica first. Notice the amount of data transferred, it should be somewhere in the range of 16 GB as shown in the next screenshot.

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Now, trigger a consistency check.

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Notice the amount of data transferred now (it should be a small percentage of the overall original size of the VM.)  In this example, 1GB was only transferred.

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This is the efficiency of Consistency Check (CC) in this release where earlier CC used to transfer large amounts of data, but now they only transfer whatever was changed from the last state – hence the optimization of consistency checks.


Recovering from Microsoft Azure

Launch Microsoft Azure Backup console > Click Recovery > Local DPM Data > Expand protected data.

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Right Click on the Recoverable Item and select Show all recovery points, and then select Yes.

Select the desired Online recovery point and click Recover. (You can also recover from Disk as well which is stored on-premises).

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The Recovery Wizard will open… Review the recovery selection and click Next.

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Select the Recovery Type…

You can recover to the original Hyper-V host which will overwrite the current files. You can recover the virtual machine to any Hyper-V host or copy the VM to a network folder.

In this example, I will copy the VM to a network folder.

Click Next.

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Select Destination path where you want to recover the virtual machine.Click OK. Review the destination path and space available. Click Next.

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You can specify the recovery options such as (Restore security permissions, Network bandwidth usage throttling, SAN Recovery or send email Notification when the restore is completed). The Network bandwidth usage throttling is very helpful, you can specify the amount of bandwidth you want to allow during work-hours and non-work hours.

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Review the summary of the recovery settings and click Recover.

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Sit back and relax while the virtual machine is recovering from Microsoft Azure.

In my example here, the VM recovery took around 1.20hrs.

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Please note that you need to have a Staging area folder with sufficient space to hold the recoverable items in parallel. The Staging area folder was specified during MABS installation as described at the beginning of this post.

As an example: if you want to recover 10 Virtual Machines from online protection in parallel and the size of each VM backed up is 100GB, then you need to make sure the selected folder can hold 10 X 100GB = 1TB of data.

The Staging area folder location can be changed at any time after installing MABS. Launch Microsoft Azure Backup Server, go to Management | Online | Configure.

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I hope this lengthy article gave you a solid foundation to start protecting your workloads on-premises and to Azure!

From Venus with Love… enjoy your week…

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,
-Ch@rbel-

About Charbel Nemnom 314 Articles
Charbel Nemnom is a Microsoft Cloud Consultant and Technical Evangelist, totally fan of the latest's IT platform solutions, accomplished hands-on technical professional with over 15 years of broad IT Infrastructure experience serving on and guiding technical teams to optimize performance of mission-critical enterprise systems. Excellent communicator adept at identifying business needs and bridging the gap between functional groups and technology to foster targeted and innovative IT project development. Well respected by peers through demonstrating passion for technology and performance improvement. Extensive practical knowledge of complex systems builds, network design and virtualization.

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