Altaro VM Backup v7

A couple of weeks ago Altaro has released the new version of Altaro VM Backup v7. Within this version there’re some great new enhancements and features. Here are some of the new features and enhancements:

  • Boot from Backup
  • Support for Windows Server 2016
  • Augmented Inline Deduplication

With all these great new features and enhancements, Altaro VM Backup is a really nice solution for backup and disaster recovery in your virtual environment.

Altaro Offsite Server existed in the previous version, but was improved and has also an upgraded user interface.

Installation process:
The installation process of Altaro VM Backup v7 is really, really easy. In just a few steps, the installation is done. Really easy, really fast and just within a couple of minutes you’re ready to rock! If the Windows Firewall is turned on, all the necessary ports are configured automatically for you. After succesfully completing the installation, you can launch the management console. From this console you can perform all the configuration and management.

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Configuration:
When you start the console the first time, there’s is quick wizard. In three easy steps, you can configure the software and you’re ready to make the first backups!

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Three steps during the quick wizard:

  • Step 1 – Add Host
    Add your hypervisor to the configuration. It could be a standalone server or cluster environment (Hyper-V or VMware). Within the new version there’s also support for Windows Server 2016!
  • Step 2 – Backup Locations
    Add some backup locations to the configuration. You can choose the following options:
    Physical Drive: USB, eSATA, iSCSI, Internal Drive
    Network Path LAN Only: Network Drive, NAS or other Network Location
    Offsite Locations: Mostly used for Disaster Recovery
    Option 1: Altaro Offsite Server over WAN/Internet Connection
    Option 2: Local backups are copied to one or more rotating drivers.

Simply add one or more backup locations and ‘drag and drop’ the VM’s to one of the backup locations.

  •  Step 3 – Take Backup
    When you take the first backup of your VM’s, they will be assigned to the default retention policy of two weeks on both Backups and Office Copies. You can change the retention to assign a different policy or create a new custom policy that meets your business goals. The default retention policies are ‘Never delete’, ’2 weeks’ (default), ’1 month’ or ’6 months’.

By default the VM’s are not assigned to a backup schedule. There are two backup schedules available out of the box.

  1. 20.00 on Sa and Su
  2. 22.00 on Mo, Tu, We, Th and Fr

Off course you can create your own backup schedule or multiples schedules to meet your business goals. Easily drag and drop your virtual machines to the right schedule to assign that particular virtual machine to the schedule.

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Augmented Inline Deduplication
In pre-version 7 there was also a ‘deduplication’ technology called ‘Reverse Delta’. It’s not exactly the same technique as deduplication, but it served the same purpose. On a VM basis only the most recent data is placed in the most recent backup file. So this will save a lot of diskspace on a VM basis.

With the new version there’s a great new technology called ‘Augmented Inline Deduplication’. The backup operations are not only quicker, but far more efficient for storage as well. It will dedupe data across all your backed-up workloads!! All the backups are stored in a central repository and using a hash database to keep track of the deduped blocks. For example, 20 servers with Windows Server 2016 installed, there’re some similar files and data within each server. With the new Augmented Inline Deduplication technology, the similar files and data is only stored once!! And remember, the process occurs inline. This means that the process runs during the backup, not afterwards!!

So you don’t need to send more data to your backup repository then needed and it’s amazing fast! In my example I’ve 6 Windows Server 2016 virtual machines. When you look at the overall deduplication status, I saved about 88% percent on my storage. So this is incredibly efficient and the backup operations are really fast!

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Dashboard

When you start the management console, you’ll see the main dashboard. You can see the most important things in one overview (Backup drive status, Active & upcoming Operations, Deduplication & Compression status, Recent Operations). It’s a really powerful dashboard with all the information in one overview.

Free Up Disk Space
It might be useful to delete some older backups. You can easy start a wizard, so you can delete previous backups within a few steps. Most of the time you use this option if you’re low on diskspace.

Boot from Backup
A great new feature within the new release of Altaro VM Backup is ‘Boot from Backup’. Now it is possible to boot a virtual machine directly from your backup. There are two options available, ‘Verification Mode’ or ‘Recovery Mode’.

The verification mode is very useful just to verify your backup is useful to recover from. The second option is to start a virtual machine directly from the backup, but also performing a full recovery of that virtual machine (Disaster Recovery). As soon as the VM is booted, a full restore operation takes place in the background.

When choosing the ‘Verification Mode’ the virtual machine will be booted directly from the backup location. Also you can enable ‘Disable network card’. So the new machine is fully isolated from your production environment!
From the console, you can connect to the specific virtual machine and login to the VM. After choosing ‘Discard VM’ the virtual machine will be shutdown and removed from your hypervisor (Hyper-V in my example). Very powerful to use without interrupting your production environment.

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Sandbox & Verification
The Sandbox Restore feature allows you to test your virtual machines backups using a ‘Sandbox approach’ to ensure that the live original virtual machine is nog corrupted. This feature gives you two options:

  1. Verify Backup Folders. Verify your backup folders without attaching the virtual machines to the hypervisor. This should be used to verify the integrity of the data stored on the backup drive.
  2. Perform Full Test Restore. Performing a full test restore allows you to verify your backup data for a virtual machine as well as restore it to disk as a clone and attach it to the hypervisor to Ensure that it boots. This will not effect your live virtual machines!!

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You can also schedule some ‘Test Drills’ so the whole sandboxing process is automated for you on a given time. Very powerful to guarantee the integrity of your data and virtual machines.

File Level Restore
If you want to restore only some files or data to your virtual machine, but not the whole VM and configuration, you can use ‘File Level Restore’. From the wizard you can select the specific virtual machine, the back-up to restore from and the data you want to restore. Next you’ve to choose a local folder or a network folder where to extract the files.

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Altaro Offsite Server (Master Encryption Key):
When you’re creating a backup of your virtual machines, the data is on one single location. For disaster recovery it could be very useful to replicate the data also to another external location. In case of a disaster, you can boot directly from the ‘offsite server’ and your workloads are up and running again.

You need to configure an offsite location. This could be a physical disk, USB disk, LAN location or even a external location connected through the WAN (the Internet). In my environment I’ve attached some physical disks. Configure the new location and simply drag and drop the virtual machines to the new location. In my environment I only need two server: the domain controller (HV2016-DC01) and my webserver (HV2016-WEB01). All the other servers are included in the normal backup window.

One very important feature is ‘Master Encryption Key’. The Master Encryption Key is used for Offsite copies of all virtual machines & backups of any virtual machines which have been configured to use Encryption. Note: Encryption is disabled by default.

From the management console you can select the specific servers you want to copy to the offsite location and start the copy operations. Also very fast, very easy and powerful! Within a couple of minutes the virtual machines are copied to the offsite location(s). The speed depends on the bandwidth to the offsite location. Also in the offsite copies data deduplication is used.

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Conclusion:
Altaro VM Backup v7 is easy to install and configure. Within 15 minutes the first backup can be made. With some great new features and enhancements like ‘Windows Server 2016 support’, ‘Boot from backup’, ‘Offsite Server’, ‘File Level Restore’, ‘Sandbox & Verification’ and personally the greatest new feature Augmented Inline Deduplication, this version is a really nice solution to protect for virtual environment including disaster recovery.

Looking to the future, there could be ‘more’ cloud support, for example Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS). Currently you can set up Altaro Offsite Server on Microsoft Azure. When you can backup virtual machines directly from Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS), this software should even more powerful and you have all the things you need to meet your business goals!

If you have any questions or you want to use Altaro VM Backup in your own environment, you can download the software and use it free for 30 days or completely free for 2 VM’s!!

How big is the Microsoft Azure Cloud?

The Microsoft Azure Cloud is huge….very huge!! We could also say H-y-uuuuuuu-ge!!! This blogpost by Microsoft explains the current size and it’s still growing very fast!!

Here are some facts about Microsoft’s Cloud Infrastructure that powers Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Xbox Live, and many other services:

  • The Microsoft Cloud is made up of more than 100 datacenters worldwide.
  • The Microsoft Cloud serves over 140 countries.
  • The Microsoft Cloud is comprised of MILLIONS of servers, and growing!
  • The Microsoft Cloud is built with the latest hardware innovations to maximize efficiency.
  • The Microsoft Cloud is connected by enough fiber to stretch to the Moon and back 3 times!
  • Microsoft processes Millions of network requests per second backed by high availability infrastructure.
  • Everything is monitored 24x7x365
  • The Microsoft global infrastructure is 100% carbon neutral.
  • Microsoft has built one of the most connected networks in the world so you don’t have to.
  • Microsoft Azure is used by 85% of Fortune 500 companies.

Microsoft is also aiming to increase that figure to 50 by 2018!!

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Free eBook: Enterprise Cloud Strategy

Together Microsoft Press and Microsoft Virtual Academy have a number of Free eBooks available for download. The latest released eBook is “Enterprise Cloud Strategy” written by Barry Briggs and Eduardo Kassner.

Enterprise Cloud Strategy outlines the benefits Enterprises can realize from adoption Microsoft Azure and the Cloud. Based on the authors real world experience they describe the details necessary to answer the most common questions Enterprises have on moving to the cloud.

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The different download formats for the book are available on the Free eBooks from Microsoft Press page, along with the full catalog of other Free eBooks that have been published. For convenience, I’ve included the file download links below:

PDF for desktop & tablet (8.75 MB)

PDF for mobile (4.70 MB)

EPUB (6.41 MB)

Mobi for Kindle (15.7 MB)

This eBook is also available Free for Amazon Kindle as well!

Happy New Year!!

With a few days to go, 2017 is there!! 2016 was a really great year. The number of visitors on my blog is growing every day, so hopefully this will continue in 2017.

I want to thank all the sponsors for the support on my blog!! Also special thanks to all the visitors on my blog!

I wish all of you a happy new year and a great 2017!!!

Happy-New-Year-2017

Demo movie: Storage Spaces Direct in Windows Server 2016

The following movie shows the power of Storage Spaces Direct in Windows Server 2016. From the local disks, to storage pools and cluster, all the layers are explained!! Very useful when you want to know exactly how Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) works.

Software Defined will be the feature! So prepare yourself….. :)

Microsoft Ignite 2016 Slidedeck and Video downloader

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Have you missed the Microsoft Ignite 2016 event…..no problem!! MVP Michel de Rooij has created a script to download all the content (videos and slidedecks). So you can watch all the content again.

This script will download all the Ignite 2016 slidedecks and videos that are available from Techcommunity via the OneDrive URL on the session page. Video downloads will leverage a utility which can be downloaded from https://yt-dl.org/latest/youtube-dl.exe, and put it in the same folder as the script. The script itself will try to download the utility when the utility is not present.

Special credits goes to:
Original scraper for slidedecks by Mattias Fors, http://deploywindows.info.
Adjusted for video downloading by Michel de Rooij, http://eightwone.com
Enhancements by Scott Ladewig http://ladewig.com

Download the script here.

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