Azure today announces the launch of VM restore points, a new resource that stores VM configuration and a point-in-time snapshot of one or more managed disks attached to a VM. VM restore points captures a comprehensive backup solution as it supports both app consistent and crash consistent snapshots (in preview). This can then be used to restore disks and VMs in scenarios such as data loss, data corruption, disaster recovery, or mishaps during the maintenance of your infrastructure and workloads.
VM restore points are incremental, where the first VM restore point stores a full copy of your data. For each successive restore point of the VM, an incremental copy i.e., only the changes to your disks are stored. The incremental design enables you to benefit from the data protection of frequent backups while minimizing storage costs. To further reduce your cost, you can optionally exclude any disk when creating a restore point for your VM. If you want to retain multiple VM backups in different regions for redundancy, you can use the built-in copy functionality to copy your VM restore points to any region of your choice.
Incremental disk snapshots, which launched in April 2020, captures data from a managed disk but doesn’t provide a way to get point-in-time consistency across multiple disks. VM restore points plugs this gap by maintaining the source VM metadata and offers both application and crash consistency across disks. Using VM restore points, you can also recover a replica of the source VM in your region of choice. Customers who are looking for a managed solution can continue to leverage Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery. For customers and Azure partners who are looking to build their own business continuity and disaster recovery solutions, VM restore points provides a feature rich building block available natively on the Azure platform.
VM restore points are always stored on the most cost-effective storage i.e., standard HDD irrespective of the storage type of the disks attached to the VM. Additionally, for increased reliability, they are stored on Zone redundant storage (ZRS) by default in regions that support ZRS. If ZRS is not available in the region, then the VM restore point will default to locally-redundant storage (LRS). Each VM restore point collection is billed as a separate meter within the subscription. This meter includes the sub billing meter for storage space consumed.
Commvault a data protection and data management software company, partnered with us during preview to leverage VM restore points for their app consistent backup solution for Azure VMs. Similarly Azure Backup uses VM restore points to create multiple backups per day of workloads running on Azure VMs.
VM restore points are now available globally. Getting started with VM restore points is easy; you simply go to the Azure portal and start creating restore point collections under which you can create restore points for your VMs. You can also use Azure PowerShell, CLI or Azure Resource Manager template to create VM Restore Points. To learn more about VM restore points, please visit our public documentation.
What is VM restore point?
A VM restore point stores the VM configuration and point-in-time crash or application consistent snapshot for all managed disks attached to a Virtual Machine. VM RestorePointCollection is the ARM resource which contains the restore points specific to a VM and each restore point contains disk restore points for each included disk. The resource hierarchy hence looks like this:
VM Restore Points Collection
-- VM Restore Points (application or crash consistent across disks at a point in time)
-- Disk Restore Points (one for each disk included in the VM restore point)
You can create individual disks from the Disk restore point objects and then attach these disk to a new VM. VM restore points are incremental where the first restore point stores a full copy of all the disk attached to the VM. For each successive restore point for a VM, only the incremental changes to your disks are backed up. To further reduce your cost, you can optionally exclude any disk when creating a restore point for your VM. You can also perform all operations supported on snapshots, such as copy, and delete on individual disk snapshot within a VM restore point.
What is the difference between crash and application consistent snapshot?
Application consistent snapshot uses an agent running in the VM to capture memory content and pending I/O operations. App-consistent snapshots uses a VSS writer (or pre/post scripts for Linux) to ensure the consistency of the app data before a capture occurs.
For crash consistent snapshot, only the data that exists on the disk at the time of backup is captured and backed up. No agent is needed to be running on the VM and hence does not impact the VM’s performance. Crash consistent snapshots can also be taken at a higher frequency compared to application consistent snapshots.
What will I be able to do that I couldn’t do before?
As an Azure partner or customer, you can now directly leverage Azure platform capability to:
Take a point-in-time app/crash consistent snapshot for all managed disks attached to a Virtual Machine aka VM restore point. Hence, eliminating the need to develop and run custom code in the VM to build a Backup/DR solution for yourself or your customers.
Exclude disks that you don’t want to be a part of your backup to further reduce cost.
Recover a VM by restoring individual disks using the VM restore point and attaching them to a new VM.
Who should use VM restore point?
Any Azure customer or partner who is looking to build their own Backup or DR solution or who wants to take quick ad hoc backup of their VMs before maintenance or any other event can utilize VM restore points.
How do I get started with VM Restore Point?
You go to Azure portal to create Restore Point Collection for your VMs. You can choose the target Azure region where you want the restore point collection to be saved. Inside this restore point collection you can create restore points for that VM.. You can also use Azure PowerShell, CLI or Azure Resource Manager template to create VM Restore Points.
Are VM Restore Point secure?
Yes, VM restore points support both customer key and platform key server-side encryption.
How is VM Restore Point different than Azure Backup?
Azure Backup is a fully managed backup service that makes it easy to centralize and automate the back up of Azure Virtual Machines and on-premises VMware machines. It provides added functionality such as custom solution to backup SQL server or SAP HANA databases running on Azure VMs. VM restore points on the other hand provides you with a point in time snapshot of all the managed disks attached to your Virtual Machine. So, VM restore point provides platform capability which enables you to build your own backup or DR solution while Azure Backup is a end to end solution.
How much does VM restore point cost?
VM restore point pricing is based on the amount of storage space your backup snapshot consumes. For the first backup of a VM, a full snapshot of your data is saved. For each incremental backup, only the changed part of your VM is saved in the snapshot.
For pricing details of snapshot, refer the pricing page here.
What are the current limitations with restore points?
VM restore points currently cannot be moved between subscriptions or Resource Groups
VM restore points are currently not supported for Ultra-disks and shared disks. You can exclude these disks and create restore point for rest of your disks.
App consistent restore points can only be created at frequency of 3 hours
Up to 500 restore points per VM can be created.
What is the service level agreement?
Since restore points are stored in ZRS account. We guarantee at least 99.9% availability for VM restore points