Using LOGICnow’s Max Backup service with Azure for offsite disaster recovery
We’ve been using LOGICnow’s Max Backup service for a while now to provide cloud backup and business continuity to our clients. Recently we’ve been playing with Azure to provide a DR solution that can be turned on within a few minutes without the expense of having hardware laying around doing nothing. This can be done using windows backup and the Azure backup services but if you need offsite hot standby servers and a bit more flexibility this solution works really well especially when you have a mix of physical and virtual hosts on the network.
I’ve documented the process for anyone struggling to get it working so lets dive in and take a look.
Our on-premises network consists of a Windows 2008 server and a phone system running on windows 7 both of which are physical servers.
Our goal is to backup both of these machines and have a local and offsite copy ready to boot up within a moments notice.
First thing we need to do is create a new VM which will run the recovery console and pull down the latest backups and save the data into VHD’s. This does mean you are required to have at least one VM running at all times to manage the system.
Go to Virtual Machines and press Add.
Select a windows server then Windows Server 2012R2 Datacenter.
Choose Resource Manager as the deployment model and select Create.
Give your VM a name, here we choose ‘MaxBacukpMgmtVM’, enter a username, password, resource group and location. Remember to keep all of your VM’s in the same location then press Ok.
Now select the size of the VM but it really doesn’t need to be anything special if you are restoring only a few VM’s. Here I select a basic DS1 and press Select.
Now we fill in a few advanced settings but the only important one here is the Storage account so give it something meaningful. All VM’s that get created must be in the same storage group so we must select this group later when we configure each VM we want to configure for recovery.
Everything looks good so OK to finish.
Wait a few minutes for the deployment to complete.
Once the deployment has completed login to your new management VM and browse to: http://downloads.maxfocus.com and select ‘Additional Tools’.
Download the Recovery console, here I used the 64bit version.
Download and run the installer.
Ok so we have the Recovery console running on our VM lets add a server we wish to configure for constant recovery. Enter a meaning full name for the server but I would suggest using the hostname of the VM you are setting up. Enter the Password and encryption key for the VM. If you are not sure what the password is you can get them from the Cloud Management Console.
Next select ‘Virtual disaster recovery.
Select the Restore target to be ‘Azure cloud’ and you will then be prompted to install the Azure PowerShell SDK. Take a slight tangent and go download it by clicking the link.
The installer runs so lets Select ‘Microsoft Azure PowerShell’ and press ‘Add’ then ‘Next.
Once the install finishes exit the installer and go back to configuring the VM in the recovery console.
Now we change the Restore target back to ‘Azure cloud’ which gives us lots of options to play with.
Click the ‘Download credentials file’ now because we need a special file from Azure which the Recovery console will use to connect.
Clicking the download link will open up your web browser and prompt you to log into the Azure account you are using to host the DR network. Once you log in save the credentials file and put it somewhere safe where it wont get moved or deleted.
Now we have the file we can click Browse and select the credentials file we just downloaded.
After that you need to specify a name for the new virtual machine and service it will use. These two options need to be unique but relate to the same virtual machine. Just for info the service is a name we use to connect to the virtual machine remotely later.
Ensure the tick boxes are ticked as shown then press ‘Create network’ to setup the network used in Azure.
In this lab we only have one subnet 192.168.19.0/24 so we configure it as shown. These network settings must match your on-premises network exactly. So if your internal LAN is setup with 192.168.0.0/24 or 192.168.1.0/24 then enter your details as required. Remember the virtual machines hosted in Azure will mirror your on-premises setup which includes the network address and individual server IP addresses.
Now we’ve created the network we set this server to have a static IP address. Again this is the same IP address that the on-premises server is using. Here we set the static IP address for our server as 192.168.19.20 and press OK.
Now the magic starts to happen, you will notice the status change after a few minutes and will eventually turn to ‘Monitoring’. This means its waiting for changes to occur in the backup set. When it detects changes it will automatically start downloading the data and create the virtual machines, network and VHD files.
Now you run through the same process for each server you want to setup. Here I configure with the same options as before except I change the machine and service name and set the static IP to match the real server on site in our office.
Once done we can see both devices in the list and when your ready tick all servers to enable ‘Continuous restore’.
Once the Recovery console has finished downloading the data and had time to configure Azure you will find the virtual machines sitting there ready to be turned on!
If you need to test them simply select one of the servers and start it up.
Once its started you can them press connect and login to verify everything is working as expected. Just remember to stop the machine so its becomes de-allocated in Azure. If you don’t you could still be charged for the VM because its technically still alive. Just ensure all machines say ‘Stopped (deallocated)’ and if they do you will only be charged for the storage space. Should you ever need to activate this network you then get charged for the storage space and for the running of the virtual machines.
So we have configured an offsite hot standby DR network in Azure but we can also do something similar onsite too. This gives you the ability to have a hot standby virtual machine should anything happen to a single server. Within a few minutes you can activate the local copy but that’s another blog post for another time.
The last thing to think about is how would users connect to this network if they ever needed it? Its actually pretty easy to configure a VPN but I may do a post on how to do it soon.
If you found this post useful or something isn’t clear enough then please comment below!