Using Microsoft Archive Storage for Static Data

We can all agree that data has become the lifeblood of any organisation; but, like our own blood cells, we require a liver to clean and dispose of the old, retired cells to make space for new and vital cells. So it is with organisational data, historical or static data must be filtered and stored on archival storage to

keep space for new and more vital data

Introduction

In this blog post, I am introducing the new Veeam Archive capability; or to be specific, the integration with the Microsoft Azure Archive Storage feature introduced in Veeam v11.

As a Data Management Solution Architect, one of the many questions many customers ask is how to reduce their storage footprint and its costs. The footprint and its cost of storage are affected by many factors. One of the biggest contributors to large data footprints is historical data. The retention of large data stores to meet legislation and legal requirements incurs an expensive storage cost, and the relationship between size and cost is illustrated in the following graph.

So, how can you reduce the cost of your backup storage? The answer is simple, tier your historical data across to cheaper storage. In this blog post, we are going to focus on Azure Archive Storage.

Veeam Software Azure Archive Storage Integration

Last month, Veeam software released a new version of its flagship product, Veeam Backup and Replication. With this new release, we can find the newly introduced integration with Azure Archive Storage, called Archive Tier, which is designed to help customers automatically and seamlessly tier the organisations static, historical data to cheaper storage.

To use this feature, follow the two steps below:

  • Add Azure Archive to your Backup infrastructure:

First, create an Azure Storage account. Then add to Veeam Backup and Replication by browsing to Backup infrastructure – Repository; and then press “Add Repository“. Next, choose “Object Storage – Microsoft Azure Blob Storage“:

Next, run through the configuration wizard, where you must provide the Azure blob storage account and its ID. Press Finish.

  • After you have added the Azure Archive Storage successfully, you can add it to the Veeam Scale-out Backup Repository under Archive Tier. See the figure below.

 

How it Works

To benefit from the new feature, and after adding the Azure Archive storage by following the previous steps, you can target your backup to the Veeam Scale-out Backup Repository (SOBR), and from the SOBR, Veeam automatically moves the old data to the Archive Tier. This is how the process works:

Note: Only the following backup types are supported in the archiving process:

  • Backup files with GFS flags assigned
  • VeeamZIP backup files
  • Exported backup files

When one of those above backup types is ready to be moved to the Archive Tier, Veeam automatically provisions a Veeam Proxy Appliance on Azure. A conversion of the backup stored on the Capacity Tier is then performed, and moved to the Archive Tier. The configuration of the Veeam proxy appliance can be specified from the Azure Archive blob properties (during and after setup) as follows:

Note: This proxy appliance is created and used only during the data move from Capacity Tier to Archive Tier.

A small thing to be considered when using Veeam Archive feature:

As we discussed at the beginning of this blog post, organisations will welcome this feature to save local storage costs; therefore, the organisation must understand when, and how, to use this feature to save costs. Consider the following:

  • Not all data is a good candidate for Archiving. Static and historical data is a better suited for archive storage. What I mean by that is data that has become static and not used frequently, or at all; but still must be retained for a long period of time, and probably without the need to recover.
  • Option: Only backups with long retention times will be sent to the archive to save you costs. This option can be enabled, or disabled, through the Archive Tier configuration step (Azure: Only Backup with a minimum of 180 days retention will be sent to the Archive storage):

Restore From Archive

As we all know, the Cloud is not a charity and every operation costs the organisation some money; the Archive is no exception. Probably the cost of retrieving data be somehow high; therefore, the recommendation is to archive only static and historical data. The process to recover data from Archive storage is exactly the same as other Veeam Backup recovery processes, simple and straightforward. You must allow for a retrieval time when considering your recovery of data. as this can vary between 5 min to 12 hours.

Summary

After deploying and configuring Veeam version 11, the improvements in this release can be noticeable on the first run of the Veeam console. During the configuration of the Veeam Backup infrastructure, you will notice many new features which I will discuss in future blog posts, such as Veeam’s new CDP, and others. The feature I discussed in this blog post is very simple and useful to any organisation looking to reduce the costs of their backup storage, and can also reduce the costs of operation. With the ease of deployment, configuration and use, the Veeam Archive feature is a great feature, and I encourage any organisation to try it out; it can also be included in a production part of the organisation’s data management strategy.

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