Making SAP Cloud Platform available on Azure wasn't the only recent addition to Microsoft's cloud ecosystem.
The company also introduced an "infrastructure-less," pay-as-you-go data protection service called Azure Backup for SQL Server, allowing customers to back up SQL Server databases running on Azure instances. This approach frees administrators from managing backup agents, servers, storage and other components that are typically required to maintain database backups and recover data when disaster strikes, explained Anurag Mehrotra, a Microsoft Azure Backup program manager, in a blog post.
Azure Backup for SQL Server hooks right into SQL's backup and restore APIs, enabling support for full, differential and log backups, along with providing space-saving capabilities like backup compression, noted Mehrotra. As a bonus, existing SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) users can monitor their backups with the tool.
The offering also allows users of Azure Recovery Services to centrally manage their backups, including short- and long-term retention periods, and set email notification policies in case of issues that cause backup or restore failures. In terms of business continuity, the service supports 15-minute recovery objectives, Mehrotra said. When problems do arise, customers will be able to get back up and running by restoring databases down to a specific second.
More features are in the works in the lead up to the service's general availability release later this year, Mehrotra revealed.
Microsoft plans to enable an auto-protect capability for SQL Server databases as they are spun up by customers. The company is also adding a Power BI integration, allowing for the creation of customizable backup reports using the business intelligence and data analytics tool. Similarly, Microsoft plans to allow monitoring using its Operations Management Suite (OMS). Finally, PowerShell and Azure CLI users will be able to target the service with those command-line tools.
For customers that place other types of workloads on Azure infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) instances, Microsoft also recently announced the general availability of a new disaster recovery service within Azure Site Recovery that can be configured in minutes. It allows customers to replicate IaaS applications to a different Azure cloud center location, enabling cross-region disaster recovery without resorting to extra software appliances or additional infrastructure components.
Microsoft Hits SSD Storage Sweet Spot
For Azure customers looking for some middle ground between Azure’s SSD-backed Premium Storage and more run of the mill cloud storage based on hard disk drives (HDDs), Microsoft is now offering a new storage tier called Standard SSD Managed Disks.
"This new disk offering combines the elements of Premium SSD Disks and Standard HDD Disks to form a cost-effective solution best suited for applications like web servers which do not need high IOPS on disks," explained Sirius Kuttiyan, a Microsoft Azure Storage principal program manager, in a separate blog post. The Standard SSD Managed Disks service is currently available in preview.
Meanwhile, Azure Stack, a hybrid-cloud hardware and software bundle from Microsoft and select server vendors, has expanded into more markets. It is now available in 92 countries, double the number of markets where the solution was initially made available during its September 2017 launch at Microsoft's Ignite conference.