Understand Your Cloud Services to Understand Your Support Responsibilities

 In Microsoft Azure

There are many features and services available in cloud. Even similar-sounding features can be quite different in terms of the level of support they require from their users. As a result, it’s important to completely understand the cloud technology you’re selecting in order to make sure you’re performing all the necessary maintenance tasks.

One example of this is your database in Azure. You can choose either Azure SQL Database or Azure SQL Server, but the way you’ll back them up is very different.

Database Distinctions

To understand why Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Server require different backup approaches, you need to understand the difference in how these databases are deployed and used.

Azure SQL Database uses the Database as a Service (DBaaS) cloud model. This model alleviates you from any concerns about underlying database administration and allows you to focus on simply using the database. If you use Azure SQL Server, you are deploying SQL Server on Azure virtual machines. This is the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model of cloud, and it means you have responsibility for the software you’ve deployed.

As a result of these different deployment models, the database backup models are different, too.

Azure SQL Database Backup

Because of the DBaaS model, Azure handles most of the backup process for you. Azure automatically creates backups, and retains them for a period you specify. Routine retention can be up to 35 days; for long-term storage, retention periods can be as long as 10 years.

Full backups are created weekly, and differential backups are created every 12 hours. Transaction logs are backed up frequently, as often as every 5 minutes. Backups are stored in two data centers, protecting you from losing access during a local outage.

If you need to do a restore, Azure figures out how to use these backups to restore the desired database state.

Azure SQL Server Backup

When you have SQL Server running on your Azure VM, backups are not included. You need to develop, implement, and support your own backup strategy. There are two ways to backup your SQL Server database:

  1. Backup the virtual machine. Virtual machine images that include the database provide a basic level of protection.
  2. Backup the database. Use Azure Backup to perform a true database backup including log files. There are a number of limitations you need to understand in order to make sure your backup strategy works properly.

Do you feel like you don’t fully understand your cloud options and how you need to support them? Prescient Solutions, a Microsoft Partner, helps organizations in the Chicago and Schaumburg areas design effective cloud configurations. Contact us to discuss your Microsoft Azure infrastructure and make sure you’re supporting it properly.

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