SQL Database Backups Made easy on #WindowsAzure

The last couple of weeks I’ve been doing quite a lot on the Windows Azure SQL Database (still not fully operational on that new name yet, always still want to use SQL Azure …) front, especialliy in delivering presentations on the subject.

One question that always keeps returning on that subject is: Why isn’t there a build in backup solution (or even worse why isn’t there support for backup) in Windows Azure SQL Database Servers …. ?

There’s actually a couple of misinterpretations on that subject:

  1. There are some mechanism available but not as in a straight backup and maintenance plan kind of way.
  2. There’s support for backup but not as you know it (so no in time backup restore / transaction log backups)

That being said, I still got a lot of DBA’s over my head on the topic, so I went on a quest for a suitable backup solution that still can be used with scheduled backups.

During my quest I stumbled upon a tool from one of my fellow Azure Insiders members, Herve Roggero (http://www.twitter.com/hroggero ), named BlueSyntax’s Enzo Cloud Backup.

Cool thing about the tooling is that it works as either a cloud backup system, an on premises backup system, storage backup and even as a migration tool.

What’s in the package ….

When you open the application, after installing, the app asks your Azure account settings, so you can easily connect automatically in the future. It immediately show that the original purpose was just to be a storage backup application.

When reaching the main screen, there’s a classical management console like application, with a treeview-based tasking area, consisting out of 3 parts:

  • A management area
  • A database area
  • An Azure Storage Area

We want to make good use of tool in the PoV of SQL Databases, so therefor it would be wise to register your SQL Database Environments. You can do this by just right clicking the databases node and choosing Register. A pop up will show and ask for the server name, user name and password.

Once done, you’ll be able to access your DB’s through the treeview:

you can now easily take a backup though a simple right click:

Then the magic moment… Once you are in the real backup screen you select either to backup towards a local file or towards Azure Blob Storage.

In a couple of easy steps you can even schedule your backup

Now the cool thing is you can even apply this to your on prem servers and from there out you can easily migrate databases towards Windows Azure.

Still no in time backup solution, but still a nice tooling on scheduling backups without hassle.

Is it feature complete? I believe a plenty of features is foreseen (at least, there could be even more features added for the future, like for instance incorporation of a SQL Data Sync feature to gain an even more close definition of in time db backups.) If you are a DBA or a DB Backup Responsible then this is really a tool to look into even perhaps as an additional solution for storing your on prem backups in the cloud or for even more facilitating your on prem backups to local files.

App-tastic: It’s Office 2013 – #OfficePreview

For those living under a rock the last couple of weeks: Microsoft is on a spree!!!!! (btw that must have been quite a rock J) And they are working down the list. Having started with Windows 8 last year, the recent announcements on Windows Azure Spring Release, Windows Phone 8 and the most wanted piece of hardware at this moment (Microsoft Surface), the guys from Redmond have almost completed the circle. Yesterday Microsoft announced with great bravoure what they state to be “THE LARGEST RELEASE OF OFFICE. EVER!” (I’m getting into this CAPS thing already J) .

I must say it was quite a show and I’m guessing at least 70 % of the audience was doing what is was doing: installing the goods J. And I must say, it was quite the experience.

For installing the bits you should go to http://office.com/preview

Now when willing to install it you need to make sure to make the correct choices from the start (although you can easily go over it afterwards again). The offer on the main page gives you a direct link to the installer of the Office 365 Home Premium Preview giving you right of use on the following:

A personalized experience
on up to 5 household PCs or tablets.
Access to your applications, documents, and settings on Internet-connected PCs The applications you trust: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, and Access

But being a real fan of Lync, which seems missing in this install, I choose not to go for this one. So I went for the Office 365 Enterprise which installs additional tools :

on top of all the other tools you get the additional InfoPath Tools and the Lync Client.

The installation is very animated and not quite what we used to know, but perhaps that could have had to do with having already installed Office 2010 on my machine (Win 8).

Here’s a quick overview:

All is in the same METRO Style and very sleek. It even contains a movie during the setup, with an overview of what you can do. But the most impressive part is that it install in a time frame which unbelievalbly fast! And all that from online!! I guess the file copy features in Windows 8 do work ;-). Off to the use:

the restyled startup screen is simple sleek and chique J.
New Features I like : The Improved Presenter view in PowerPoint
Excel Flash Fill: type twice in a formatted table and hop: instant column fill J!
Subtle Outlook change: the unread tab in the item list (so WP7.5 !! Me Likes J):

Still playing with it all (didn’t have much time yet), so there’s going to be more in the upcoming weeks. One thing did surprise me though: standard there were no Office Apps, but … there’s already an OneNote MX available in the Windows Store and next up will be the Lync Client (the one I’m most looking forward to).

To wrap up: I believe Microsoft has created the ultimate “Deadly Hallows” to bring the Ava Kadavra to the iPad era: I said it before and I say it again: Sorry Apple but Microsoft created the ultimate Trio with Windows 8, Surface and Office. 2013will be the year the iPad have to do better than just deliver new hardware “tweaks”.