Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS) previously known as “Project Venus”, which was released by Microsoft on October 7th 2015 is a disk-to-disk-to-cloud backup (D2D2C) product, which uses an Azure Backup vault for long-term offsite retention. Basically it’s a lightweight customized version of System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 R2 (SCDPM) which offers centralized management and monitoring for your Azure Backup setup(s) and agents in a single console. Just like SCDPM, it can protect business applications workloads such as Exchange, SQL Server, Active Directory, IIS, Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs), VMware VMs, physical servers and Windows clients which can be running on premise or in the Azure cloud. MABS also comes with support for backup of large data sources, long-term retention up to 99 years and the capability to recover data in your Azure Backup vault using an alternate server. As part of the Operations Management Suite (OMS), one of the primary use cases for MABS will be for hybrid cloud backup scenarios.
Before we start whit the installation also a list of some things to keep in mind:
- MABS is included as a free download with Azure Backup (link on your Azure Backup vault page) or you can download it directly via following link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49170
- MABS can be installed as an on premise standalone physical server or VM, but also as an Azure IaaS VM (size A2 or higher).
- When you run MABS on an Azure VM you can only protect workloads also running on Azure VMs.
- MABS will run on following supported Operating Systems: W2K8 R2 SP1, W2K12 or W2K12 R2 (is recommended).
- MABS must be domain joined. Be sure to add the server to the domain before the MABS installation, because adding this server to the domain after the MABS installation is not supported.
- MABS must have .Net 3.5, .Net 4.0 and .Net 3.5 SP1 features installed as a prerequisite.
- The processor minimum requirements for a MABS server are 1GHz dual-core CPU, recommended 2.33 GHz quad-core CPU.
- The minimum RAM needed by a MABS server is 4GB, recommended is 8 GB.
- A free SQL Server 2014 license, which can only be used with MABS is included.
- MABS will not work with a remote SQL Server instance. The instance being used needs to be local.
- MABS cannot be installed on a server already running SCDPM or a SCDPM agent. It also cannot be installed on a server running any Microsoft Azure backup agent version.
- A valid Windows Server license is needed for the MABS server.
- You need to add local backup storage to use MABS, because in the current architecture of MABS, the Azure Backup vault holds the second copy of the data while the local storage holds the first (and mandatory) backup copy.
- An Azure Subscription and an Azure Backup vault needs to be in place before setting up the MABS server.
- The MABS sever needs to have access to the Internet because Microsoft Azure should be accessible.
- In contrast to SCDPM there is no support for tape drives
- Some scratch space is needed to temporarily store the largest restore from the Azure cloud when needed. So keep approximately 5 % of the total amount of data that needs to be backed-up to the cloud free on the C: drive.
- MABS doesn’t integrate with products of the System Center suite.
- A separate data disk for the backup storage pool is needed. Like every other backup product the recommendation for the size of this disk is 1.5 times the size of the data you’re going to protect.
- The default storage replication setting (storage redundancy option) when you create an Azure Backup vault is Geo Redundant Storage (GRS), be aware that for most customers Locally Redundant Storage (LRS) is more than enough.
- There will be no charges for restores, outbound bandwidth and storage transactions when you use MABS.
- If the MABS server fails with errors during the setup or while taking a backup or restoring data, refer to following link to find more information: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3041338
- You can find Azure Backup pricing details via following link: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/pricing/details/backup/
- In my example I’m installing MABS on a W2K12 R2 Hyper-V VM. Before starting I first added the .NET Framework 3.5 Features via the Add Roles and Features Wizard.
So after this brief introduction and things to keep in mind, it’s time to setup the MABS sever. To do so follow the steps described below:
1) First we need to setup an Azure Backup vault. So logon to your Azure Subscription via the classic portal (https://manage.windowsazure.com/). When your logged go to the bottom of the screen and click New, select Data Services, select Recovery Services and select Backup Vault
2) Next select Quick Create and fill in a Name and the proper Region (in my case the region is West Europe).
3) When the Azure Backup vault is created you can change the storage replication setting if preferred. In my example I will switch it to LRS. To switch select Recovery Services, select your Azure Backup vault, select Configure, select Locally Redundant and click Save at the bottom of the screen
4) Download the vault credential and when downloaded, place it the C:\Temp folder on the MABS server. To do so click on DASHBOARD and click Vault credentials. When you’re asked to open or save the vault credentials, click Save. After the download move it to the correct folder
5) When the Azure Backup vault is created we need to download the necessary files to install MABS. In my example I will download all necessary software packages from the separate link. When you go to this link select all files and click Next. Be aware that because of the size of all files together (approximately 3 GB), this download could take a while
6) I’ve stored all the files under my C:Temp folder on the MABS server
7) Run MicrosoftAzureBackupInstaller.exe from the download folder (C:\Temp) as an administrator
8) Click Next
9) Leave the default location and click Next
10) Click on Extract to begin extracting the setup files
11) Select Execute setup.exe (if not already selected) and click Finish
12) Click Microsoft Azure Backup to launch the setup wizard
13) The Microsoft Visual VC++ 2010 Redistributable Package (x64) will be installed in the foreground
14) On the Welcome screen click the Next
15) This opens up the Prerequisite Check section. On this screen, click on the Check button to determine if the hardware and software prerequisites for Azure Backup Server have been met. If all of is OK, you will see a message indicating that the machine meets the requirements. Click Next
16) On the SQL Settings page select Install new Instance of SQL Server with this Setup, to install SQL 2014 Standard. Click Check and Install. You could encounter some error messages. If so follow the instructions and most likely you should reboot the server and start the MABS installation all over again
17) If the computer meet the software and hardware requirements click Next
18) Provide a location for the installation of all the files and click Next. In my example I changed all locations to my E: drive
19) Provide a strong password for restricted local user accounts (this password will not expire) and click Next
20) It’s strongly recommended to use Microsoft update when you check for updates because this will offer all security and important updates for MABS. Select whether to use Microsoft Update or not and click Next
21) Review all settings and if all are OK click Install
22) Click Next to start the Microsoft Azure Recovery Service Agent installation
23) Click Install
24) When the agent installation is completed, click Next
25) Provide your vault credentials to register the machine to the Azure backup vault. Click Next
26) Provide a passphrase to encrypt/decrypt the data sent between Azure and your premises. You can automatically generate a passphrase or provide your own minimum 16-character passphrase. Also enter a location to save the passphrase. If all is done click Next
27) Once registration is done, the wizard proceeds with the installation and configuration of SQL Server 2012. This could take some time
28) When the installation is completed with success, click Close
29) Go to your desktop, were you will see two new icons. Double click the Microsoft Azure Backup server icon to launch MABS
Now you’re ready to start backing up with MABS. Have fun and till next time!
Wim Matthyssen (@wmatthyssen)