Microsoft Launches Azure Backup for SQL Server

Microsoft's Azure Backup for SQL Server solution, which is used to backup SQL Server when the relational database management system is housed on Azure datacenter virtual machines, became generally available this week.

Azure Backup for SQL Server gives organizations the ability to perform "one-click point-in-time restores." Microsoft also is promising that a 15-minute recovery point objective is supported by the service, as backups can be scheduled every 15 minutes. Other perks include scalability using Microsoft datacenter infrastructure and long-term retention of data if an organization is willing to pay for the storage costs and protected instance costs. The service also has built-in encryption at rest and during backup operations. Users get central management control, role-based access control and "autoprotection" for newly added databases, according to Microsoft's announcement.

Organizations might want to have an Azure "cloud-based" backup on hand to assure against "application or user errors, such as inadvertent data insertions or deletions," according to this Microsoft document.

Microsoft also offers two other Azure-based SQL Server services that get backed up automatically, without any additional service needed. For example, SQL Azure Database and SQL Managed Instance both get automatically backed up by Microsoft, according to an explanation by Swati Sachdeva, program manager II for Azure Backup.

In contrast, the new Azure Backup for SQL Server service, which is a monthly billable service, is intended for organizations that want to move their SQL Server workloads to Azure virtual machines and also have backup and restore capabilities. It also protects "standalone" SQL Server workloads, according to Sachdeva. Here's how she characterized it:

For the first two implementation types [SQL Azure Database and SQL Managed Instance], backups are automatically managed by Azure internally. However, a significant number of customers choose to lift and shift SQL Server from on-premises physical or virtual environments to Azure VM to reduce friction and lower migration costs or risks. Should you choose to do so, you'll still need to own and manage the backups for the SQL Server VM. Although you moved your SQL Server infrastructure from on-premises to Azure, the good news is that you don't have to move your backup infrastructure to cloud, thanks to Azure Backup!

Pricing for Azure Backup for SQL Server is based on paying for both instance costs (the data getting protected) and storage costs each month, according to Microsoft's pricing page. (The page may not be fully up to date as it referred to "preview" in some sections). Instance costs are $30 per month for less than or equal to 500GB. If organizations have instances that are more than 500GB, then there are other $30 monthly charges to pay.

Storage happens via block Blob storage and gets priced per gigabyte per month. Organizations have the option of using locally redundant storage or georedundant storage, which get priced differently by Microsoft. The georedundant storage service costs about twice as much as the locally redundant storage service, according to the pricing page.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.