Microsoft Adds Instant Recovery Option to Azure Cloud Backup

Microsoft's Azure Cloud platform as a service gains new data protection capabilities and an expanded set of new storage management features aimed at large-scale workloads.

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Data at rest encryption on Azure File Storage isn't the only cloud storage-related update Microsoft has issued this week. On Feb. 8, the company announced a new instant file recovery feature for Azure Backup.

As its name implies, Azure Backup is a backup-as-a-service offering from Microsoft that customers can use to offload their data protection workloads to the cloud. Now, the company has added a new Instant Restore feature that enables the service to pull double duty as a restore-as-a-service solution.

"With Instant Restore, you can restore files and folders instantly from cloud based recovery points without provisioning any additional infrastructure, and at no additional cost," announced the company in a Feb. 9 blog post. "Instant Restore provides a writeable snapshot of a recovery point that you can quickly mount as one or more iSCSI based recovery volumes. Once the snapshot is mounted, you can browse through it and recover items by simply copying them from the recovery volumes to a destination of your choice."

According to the company, the feature can be used to unify file and folder recovery operations from cloud or on-premises sources. Azure Backup Instant Recovery works with both Azure virtual machines (VMs) and local data. In addition to quickly bouncing back from accidental file deletions and other mishaps, the feature enables customers to validate backups and preview application files without completely restoring them, asserts Microsoft. Further, customers can use the feature to restore multiple files from various folders to a network share or local server.

Azure Backup Instant Recovery is currently available in preview for customers using the Azure Backup agent and Azure VM backup with Windows VMs. A walk-through is available here.

In another cloud storage related news, Microsoft announced that its Managed Disks service for Azure VMs is now generally available. According to Corey Sanders, director of Compute at Microsoft Azure, the service helps bridge the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) gap for customers.

"With this PaaS-like support, you no longer need to be concerned with the complexity of storage management, nor worry about storage as you scale," wrote Sanders in his Feb. 8 announcement.
Yet, you still have the full power and control you expect and love with Azure VMs—a 'PaaS bridge' on our IaaS VMs."

Microsoft also upgraded Virtual Machine Scale Sets, an Azure cloud-computing resource that provides users with deployment and management services for a set of identical virtual machines. Scale sets don't require pre-provisioning and scale automatically.

"Today’s announcement extends these platform features to include automated disk management, enabling simpler storage management and even larger scale," boasted Sanders. "With Managed Disks, you can now attach data disks to every instance and create a VM scale set of up to 1,000 VMs, a 10X increase."

Finally, version 0.4 of the StorSimple Virtual Array software, a hybrid-cloud storage solution, is now available. It includes back and restore performance tweaks, providing snappier performance during data protection operations that involve a large number of files.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...