Cloud Data Backup Best Practices – Azure Backup comprehensively protects your data in Azure with a simple, secure and cost-effective solution that requires no infrastructure. It’s a built-in Azure data protection solution for a wide range of workloads. This helps protect your mission-critical workloads running in the cloud and ensures that your backups are always available and managed at scale across your entire backup estate.
The primary target audience for this article is IT administrators and application administrators, as well as developers in large and medium-sized organizations who want to learn more about the capabilities of Azure’s built-in data protection technology, Azure Backup, and implement solutions to effectively protect their deployments. The article assumes that you are familiar with basic Azure technologies, data protection concepts, and experience with a backup solution. The guidelines described in this article can make it easier to develop an Azure security solution using established patterns and avoid known mistakes.
Cloud Data Backup Best Practices
While it’s easy to start protecting your infrastructure and applications in Azure, by ensuring that your core Azure resources are properly deployed and optimally utilized, you can speed up the time frame. This article provides a brief overview of design considerations and recommendations for the optimal configuration of an Azure Backup deployment. It covers key components (such as Recovery Services Vault, backup policies) and concepts (such as governance) and how to think about them and their capabilities, with links to detailed product documentation.
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In addition to a clear roadmap to navigate your cloud adoption journey, you must plan your cloud deployment subscription design and billing structure according to your ownership, billing, and management capabilities. Because storage is limited by subscription, the design of your subscription will greatly influence the design of your storage. more about different subscription strategies and recommendations for when to use them.
To get started with Azure Backup, plan your backup needs. Below are some questions you should ask yourself when developing the ideal backup strategy.
Azure Backup provides data protection for different workloads (on-premises and in the cloud). It’s a secure and reliable built-in data protection mechanism in Azure. It can seamlessly scale its protection for multiple workloads at no management cost to you. There are several automation channels for this (via PowerShell, CLI, Azure Resource Manager templates, and REST API.)
Azure Backup uses repositories (recovery services and backup repositories) to organize, manage backups, and store backup data. Effective storage design helps organizations create a framework for organizing and managing backup assets in Azure to support your business priorities. Consider the following guidelines when creating a repository.
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To use one or more vaults to organize and manage backups, see the following instructions:
Check the default settings for storage replication type and security settings to meet your requirements before configuring storage backups.
(how long the backup should be kept). You can define policies based on the type of data being backed up, RTO/RPO requirements, operational or regulatory compliance needs, and workload type (eg, virtual machine, database, files). more
To help you protect your backup data and meet the security needs of your business, Azure Backup provides guarantees of confidentiality, integrity and availability against intentional attacks and misuse of your valuable data and systems. Consider the following security recommendations for your Azure Backup solution:
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You may encounter scenarios where you have backups of critical data in your storage that are accidentally or mistakenly deleted. Additionally, an attacker can delete your backup items. Often, restoring these resources is expensive and time-consuming, and can even result in significant data loss. Azure Backup provides protection against accidental and malicious deletion with a Soft-Delete feature that allows you to recover these resources after they have been deleted.
With a soft wipe, when a user deletes a backup (VM, SQL Server database, Azure file share, SAP HANA database), the backup data is retained for an additional 14 days, allowing you to restore that backup without data loss. There is no charge for an additional 14 days of soft erase backup data. more
Any administrator with privileged access to your backup data can cause irreparable damage to the system. A rogue administrator can delete all business-critical data or even disable all security measures that could leave your system vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Azure Backup provides you with a multi-user authorization (MUA) feature that protects you from such admin attacks. Multi-user authorization helps protect against a rogue administrator performing destructive operations (ie, disabling soft wipes) by ensuring that any privileged/destructive operation is performed only after receiving approval from a security administrator.
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You may encounter scenarios where someone tries to hack into your system and maliciously disable security mechanisms, such as disabling software uninstallation, or attempt to perform destructive operations, such as deleting backup resources.
Azure Backup protects against such incidents by sending you important alerts via your chosen notification channel (email, ITSM, Webhook, runbook, and sp pn) by creating action rules on top of the alerts. more
Azure Backup uses the Microsoft Azure Recovery Services (MARS) agent to back up and restore files, folders, and volumes or system state from your on-premises computer to Azure. MARS now provides security features: pre-boot encryption key and post-boot decryption from Azure Backup, deleted backup data is retained for an additional 14 days from the date of deletion, and a critical operation (such as changing a passphrase) can only be performed by users who have valid Azure credentials. more here.
Azure Backup requires data from your workload to be transferred to Recovery Services storage. Azure Backup provides several options for protecting backup data from unintended exposure (such as man-in-the-middle attacks). Consider the following recommendations:
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When protecting important data with Azure Backup, you don’t want your resources to be accessible from the public Internet. In particular, if you are a bank or financial institution, you will have strict compliance and security requirements to protect your High Business Impact (HBI) data. Even in the healthcare industry, there are strict compliance regulations.
To meet all these needs, you use Azure Private Endpoint, a network interface that connects you privately and securely to a service based on Azure Private Link. We recommend that you use private endpoints for secure backup and recovery without having to whitelist IP addresses/FQDNs for Azure Backup or Azure Storage from your virtual networks.
Management in Azure is primarily done through Azure Policy and Azure Cost Management. Azure Policy lets you create, assign, and manage policy definitions to enforce rules for your resources. This feature maintains these resources according to your corporate standards. Azure Cost Management allows you to track cloud usage and costs for your Azure resources and other cloud providers. In addition, the following tools, such as the Azure Price Calculator and Azure Advisor, play an important role in the cost management process.
Azure Backup Service provides the flexibility to effectively manage costs; also meet your BCDR (business continuity and disaster recovery) requirements. Consider the following recommendations:
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As a backup user or administrator, you should be able to monitor all backup solutions and be notified of critical situations. This section details the monitoring and notification capabilities provided by Azure Backup.
In case your backup/restore job failed due to an unknown problem. In order to assign an engineer to debug it, you would want to be notified of the failure as soon as possible. There may also be a scenario where someone maliciously performs a destructive operation, such as deleting backup items or disabling soft erase, and you need a message alerting you to such an incident.
You can configure such important alerts and send them to any desired notification channel (email, ITSM, webhook, collection, etc.). Azure Backup integrates with several Azure services to meet different alerting and notification requirements:
Many errors or failure scenarios are temporary and can be fixed by setting the correct permissions for Azure Role-Based Access Control (Azure RBAC)3 or by restarting the backup/restore job. Because solving such failures is simple, you don’t have to waste time waiting for an engineer to manually start work or give the appropriate permission. So a smarter way to handle this scenario is to automate the retries of failed jobs. This will significantly reduce recovery time after failures. You can achieve this by getting the relevant backup data via the Azure Resource Graph (ARG) and combining it with a PowerShell/CLI remediation procedure.
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Watch the following video on how to restart backups for all failed jobs (per storage, subscription, tenant) using ARG and PowerShell.
While temporary errors can be fixed, some persistent errors may require deep analysis and restarting jobs may not be a viable solution. You may have your own tracking/ticketing mechanisms to ensure that such failures are properly tracked and remedied. To handle such scenarios, you can direct alerts to the desired notification channel (email, ITSM, Webhook, runbook, etc.) by creating an action rule for the alert.
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