Azure SQL Backup Made Easy

Are you using a Microsoft Azure SQL Database and wondering how you can easily backup your databases? Perhaps you are running a mix of Azure managed and unmanaged SQL servers and wish to standardise your backup strategy? We will go through some of your backup options in this blog.

Last week, Veeam software released Veeam Backup for Azure v3, a product that brings some very important features, such as:

  • Azure Managed and unmanaged SQL server support
  • Azure¬† Archive storage support
  • Multiple Azure accounts support
  • Role-Based Access Control
  • and Azure Key Vault support

Also, you will immediately notice the new UI design, starting with the login screen and including full-page wizards, and more. But in this blog post, I will focus on the Azure SQL database backup; this topic is coming up in many meetings with future prospects and existing customers.

Microsoft Azure SQL Database Engines Offering

Microsoft offers several Azure SQL database engines on the Azure cloud:

  • Azure SQL Database: Support modern cloud applications on an intelligent, managed database service, that includes serverless compute.
  • Azure SQL Managed Instance: Modernise your existing SQL Server applications at scale with an intelligent, fully managed, instance as a service with almost 100% feature parity with the SQL Server database engine. Best for most migrations to the cloud.
  • SQL Server on Azure VMs: Lift-and-shift your SQL Server workloads with ease and maintain 100% SQL Server compatibility and operating system-level access.

Depending on your requirements, you can choose to deploy one, or a mix, of the above SQL database engine offerings. After that is done, I’m sure you will be shopping for an easy way to backup your databases; here is where I introduce the new Veeam VBA backup feature.

Veeam Azure SQL Server Backup

Let’s first learn how Veeam VBA performs the Azure SQL backup. As you have probably already guessed, things start at creating a backup policy. After your backup policy has been created and ready to run, Veeam will perform the following steps:

  • Managed SQL Server:¬†
    • Veeam VBA creates a copy of the source database on the staging server using point-in-time restore (PITR) from the point made 10 minutes ago.
  • Unmanaged SQL Server:
    • Creates a copy of the source database on the staging server using the Azure REST API
  • Launches a worker instance in an Azure region where the staging server or source database is located
  • Exports the database schema, indexes and constraints to a BACPAC file
  • Reads data from the BACPAC file on the worker instance, then transfers the data to a backup repository and stores it in the native Veeam format
  • Unmanaged SQL Server:
    • Removes the copy of the source database from the staging server

Configure VBA Policy

To speed up my policy creation, configuration and run time, I will start by creating an SQL Server account; the account means the SQL server user name and password. To create the account, let’s start with:

  • Browse to Configuration, Accounts and then select the Account tab:

  • Then click on Add and follow the wizard to add your SQL server credentials.
  • After you have created the credentials and saved them, exit Accounts configuration and select Policies. Select the Azure SQL Tab:

  • Create a new policy by pressing “Add”; now follow the wizard, starting with the policy name and then specify the AD and the region:

  • Next, select the resources to protect. You will have noticed that you can choose Database or SQL server. After you select your resource, press protect to select and confirm:

  • After your Database has been selected, on the next screen you will choose how Veeam VBA will process the Database. In the case shown here, I will choose the PRODUCTION server, as highlighted on the following screenshot:

  • Next, let’s choose the backup policy:

  • Finally, review your backup cost estimation and finalise the policy creation. You can wait for the policy schedule to start or hit the start button to start the backup immediately.

Restore

Veeam Azure SQL restore offers two modes:

  • Restore to the original location
  • Restore to a new location

Summary

The new Veeam VBA version introduced many great features as I highlighted at the beginning of this blog post. If you wish to read more about these new features on the Veeam website, you can use the following link to the release note for more information.

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