Azure Backup cuddles up real close to Windows Server

Cloudy backup, now with data de-dupe, Windows System State restore and free egress

Microsoft keeps getting closer and closer to being a decent backup vendor.

Last week the company switched on a test of a feature allowing Windows Server Backup to send Windows Server System State data to Azure, then allow restoration of Windows Server from the Redmondian cloud.

Windows Server System State data describes the OS at a particular moment in its life. Windows Server Backup has been around for ages and uses that data to enable restoration of the OS to previous states, a handy trick under many circumstances. Melding that function with Azure Backup means Windows Server users can now use Microsoft's cloud as the target for their System State data, possibly taking on-premises or managed backup infrastructure out of the equation.

Microsoft's also promising simple restores of Windows Server to desired states using System State data resident in Azure.

The service costs US$5 a month per set of System State files, plus storage costs, and is granular enough to record things like an IIS server's “Metabase” configuration descriptions. For that price you can therefore build an off-premises library of Windows Server states to splash down anywhere. And because Azure Backup and Windows Server's native backup tools integrate, you get a service that looks to require rather less tinkering than setting up third-party backup software.

Azure Backup Server's also recently hit version 2.0, adding data de-duplication and new features to back up the 2016 editions of SQL Server, SharePoint and Exchange. Hyper-V VMs also now benefit from Hyper-V's native change tracking feature, dubbed RCT, to make incremental backups flow without needing to pause for consistency checks.

Microsoft's other weapon is free data egress from Azure when doing restores. Rival clouds typically charge full freight for egress.

On top of services like VMware-to-Azure backup and using Azure Backup running in the cloud to run on-premises backups, Microsoft's backup services are getting broader and better by the month. And perhaps getting a little too close to backup vendors' businesses for their comfort along the way. ®

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