August 18, 2021

4 Essential Tips for Azure Virtual Machine Protection

By David Weiss

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are gravitating to Microsoft Azure in ever-greater numbers. Azure offers high degrees of scalability, coding flexibility, ease of access to Microsoft’s vast app ecosystem, sophisticated automation, and AI readiness, giving it numerous advantages in the cloud infrastructure space.

Despite these benefits, Azure also has drawbacks common to public cloud platforms. Many SMBs overlook the fact that cloud servers have vulnerabilities that mirror those of on-premises servers. User error, hardware failure, data corruption, and ransomware are all possibilities that can disrupt business continuity.

For a managed service provider (MSP), it’s imperative to protect their clients’ virtual machines (VMs) within Azure. Being prepared for business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) scenarios requires a solution that’s a fit for Azure. It should enable an Azure VM to be mounted from a backup, allowing normal business operations to continue with minimal downtime.

Here are four BCDR solution attributes that MSPs should look for to protect VMs in Azure.

1. Ease of Use — When it comes to VMs, Azure backup can present its own challenges for ensuring full VM restoration when disaster strikes. The right Azure disaster recovery solutions allow MSPs’ clients to onboard a new client quickly—optimally within minutes, instead of hours or days. There should also be a centralized cloud backup portal, which allows you to remotely view and manage all of your clients from a single pane of glass.

2. Predictability — Backups are only useful if you have confidence that they will restore Azure VMs when needed. BCDR solutions with advanced backup verification are optimal, with their ability to confirm that the VM will mount correctly, with all data and applications intact. Ransomware scanning should be included in the solution as well — recent research indicates almost 70% of MSPs see ransomware as the most common malware threat that the SMBs face.

3. Efficiency — MSPs have a great deal to monitor, so anything that can streamline operations will make a difference in response/recovery times and margins. Ideally, your Azure VM BCDR solution is an all-in-one Azure cloud backup solution unifying backup and disaster recovery within a single cohesive system.

Since reducing downtime is critical for SMBs, look for solutions that are capable of instant virtualization. This restore method enables MSPs to quickly boot recovery Azure VMs from a backup. Typically, the recovery VM is in use for a short time while the primary VM is being recovered, which optimizes recovery time objective (RTO) and minimizes downtime.

4. Flexibility — Building on the above point, an optimal BCDR solution allows MSPs to choose from the most current Azure VM backup or any previous backup, for increased flexibility around recovery point objectives (RPO). This is key when performing a ransomware recovery since it lets you select a “clean” backup image you can restore from. Additionally, look for a solution that offers a variety of restore types to meet different recovery scenarios.

MSPs should seek out a BCDR solution that provides dedicated Microsoft Azure VM support. It should be capable of performing a full Azure VM system image backup, with granular backup down to 5-minute increments.

When it comes to protecting Azure VMs, there’s clearly a lot to consider. Use this checklist to get you on the right path for fast Azure VM backup and recovery.

Datto Backup for Microsoft Azure, which is designed specifically for MSPs to protect client workloads in Azure, is launching this fall. With Datto Backup for Microsoft Azure, data is replicated to the Datto Cloud, meaning it is multi-cloud by design with $0 in variable egress charges or other associated disaster recovery costs. You just receive one flat-rate bill each month.

Interested in learning more? Download The MSP’s Guide to Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

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