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1 November 2019

Frequently Asked Questions – Acronis Backup

In early October, we expanded our range of #CloudMTS backup services with Acronis-based backup into the cloud solution. Since then, we have received various questions from users who have tried the new option or are willing to do so. In this article we will provide detailed answers to all of them.

In early October, we expanded our range of #CloudMTS backup services with Acronis-based backup into the cloud solution. Since then, we have received various questions from users who have tried the new option or are willing to do so. In this article we will provide detailed answers to all of them.

We divided the questions into blocks

Block 1. Common questions;

Block 2. Questions on key features of the service;

Block 3. Questions asked by our sales managers when they offer to purchase this service.

Block 1. Common questions

Question: What is the difference between Acronis Agent for physical servers and virtual machines? In fact, in both cases, the same boot file is downloaded and installed from the portal.

Answer:  Yes, indeed, to ensure backup and recovery of both physical servers and virtual machines, you need to download and run the same agent (depending on the operating system). When launched, the agent automatically determines on which object (server or virtual machine) it is installed. Then, depending on the quota set for the provision of resources that was selected on purchase, the system determines whether it is possible to backup and restore the required object.

Question: What is the quota for the provided resources? What does it affect?       

Answer: When ordering a backup to #CloudMTS cloud service, the number and type of objects that require backup and restore operations, as well as the volume of the repository for storing backups is agreed with the client. For example, a client needs to backup 1 physical server, 3 virtual machines, and a 2TB repository. Based on these parameters, appropriate quotas are set which the client cannot exceed. 

In this example, the client will be able to download any number of agents. Based on information from previous paragraph it follows that the agents for VMs and the server are the same (depending on the OS). But due to the configured quota, the client’s web interface will display only 1 physical server and 3 virtual machines with which backup and restore operations can be performed. The maximum volume of backups cannot exceed 2TB.

To change the size of the quota for the provided resources, you need to contact your #CloudMTS personal manager.

Question: How to determine the required repository size? For example, I have 2TB of data. How much storage volume do I need to get?          

Answer: There is no exact answer to this question. In order to determine the size of the repository for backup storage, in addition to the size of the source data, you need to understand what backup policies will be used, what level of deduplication and what storage level will be configured, how many recovery points will be, etc.

When setting up a weekly full backup, daily differential backup and hourly incremental backup, as well as a storage depth of 1 month, we recommend using a coefficient of 2.5 (this ratio is very indicative and depends on the parameters mentioned earlier).

Thus, for this exact case, when there is a need to backup 2TB of source data, we recommend a 5TB repository.

Question: The cost of backup of physical server and backup of workstation is significantly different. What is the functional difference between these options?

Answer: The main difference is that the agent for workstations does not allow the creation of consistent backups taking into account the state of applications and, according to the licensing policy, cannot be installed on the server OS. 

Block 2. Questions on key features of the service

Question: Is it possible to quickly launch backups on a virtual machine to #CloudMTS cloud with Acronis-based backup solution without waiting for the recovery process to finish?

Answer: Yes, and it doesn’t matter if there will be a backup of a physical server or a virtual machine. Deployment is possible on VMware and Hyper-V hypervisors. In this case, a virtual machine is created, but instead of restoring it is necessary to connect the backups directly, as if it were its disks and the virtual machine can run slower than usual, but the main thing is that business continuity is achieved and downtime will be minimal and will take up to 5 minutes.

Question: Is it possible to reduce the dependance on physical equipment with Acronis-based backup solution?

Answer: Of course. When there is a need to consolidate computing resources and reduce the costs associated with equipment maintenance, action must be taken. With service for backup to #CloudMTS cloud, this process will not take much time and effort – you just need to backup the physical server, and then select this backup for recovery, indicate the virtual machine on the host as the recovery location. In the case of VMware and Hyper-V, this process is fully automated: a virtual machine is created and disks of the correct size are added to it.

During the recovery process it replaces the drivers inside the restored operating system, so that it remains bootable in the virtual environment.

Within other virtualization environments, it is required to create a virtual machine manually, prepare an ios image for recovery. The option boot will also be provided automatically.

Question: Is it possible reduce the dependance on virtualization platform with Acronis-based backup solution?

Answer: ДYes, this scenario is similar to that described in the previous question, but instead of the physical server, the original machine is a virtual one.

First, you need to make a backup (for example, on a Hyper-V host) and then restore it to another hypervisor (for example, VMware). Possibility to download will be provided automatically.

Question: What is the difference between using an agent at the hypervisor level or inside the guest operating system for backing up virtual machines?

Answer: The main and only difference between these scenarios is management methods applied, as the total cost in both cases is calculated based on the number of virtual machines required for backup.

For a hypervisor-level backup with the platform supported by the solution, you need to download and run the corresponding agent, and then centrally configure the backup of the required virtual machines deployed on this host. Otherwise, you must install the agent separately in the guest operating system and configure the backup for each virtual machine. In this scenario, server agents for Windows/Linux are used, depending on the OS. During installation, Acronis independently determines the need to use the agent for virtual machine backup.

Question: When is it best to use an agent inside the guest operating system for virtual machine backup?

Answer: This method is applicable in cases when there is no access to the virtualization host. For example:

·      The service provider keeps several of its clients on the host who have access only to the desktops of their machines;

·      When there is access to the Hyper-V host, but you need to use application-aware backup, i.e. a scenario where the same backup file can be used not only to restore the entire machine or a separate file inside it, but also application elements in this machine: a mailbox or mail from Microsoft Exchange, in case of using an Exchange server, or the Microsoft SQL database, in the case of an SQL server;

·      When the virtualization host is not supported by Acronis for agentless backup. Currently, only VMware, Hyper-V, and Virtuozzo machines can be backed up without the use of an agent. For other platforms, a data backup script with the use of Acronis agents for Windows and Linux servers is applied. For example, if the client, has an KVM or Xen server, the agent has to be installed inside the guest OS.

Block 3. Questions asked by our sales managers when they offer to purchase this service.

Question: Why pay for #CloudMTS service to make backups if there is a built in snapshot function in hypervisors (Snapshots in VMware and Checkpoints in Hyper-V)?

Answer: The backup process is more flexible and more reliable than snapshots for several reasons:

·      Snapshots are usually taken manually. On the contrary, backup process is fully automated and is carried out on the regular basis (at least once a week or at least once every 10 minutes);

·      Multiple snapshots turn into a large snapshot tree that is difficult to manage (for example, deleting old snapshots is quite time-consuming), damage inside the snapshot chain destroys the entire chain;

·      Multiple snapshots ultimately degrade the performance of the virtual machine itself (since the contents of its disks become smeared over many files on the side;

·      Snapshots are stored in the same place as the virtual machine disks, thereby, this confronts the idea of ​​backup (keep a copy of the source data away from them);

·      Acronis backups take up less space than snapshots, because they only store those file system blocks that really have data within them; snapshots keep track of the entire disk and potentially with all junk of long-deleted data;

·      Acronis Backup allows at the agent level to compress a backup file and encrypt its contents.

Question: Question

Answer: The following factors should be considered when using non-core solutions instead of specialized cloud services:

·      In case of in-house solutions you will be limited in options. For example, in a packaged solution, it is unlikely that you will get a fully localized version of it with user-friendly management system. Usually such solutions do not contain a pre-default protection from ransomware software (the feature is available in the Acronis solution – you just need to enable it);

·      When choosing an in-house solution, you need to think what to do with already purchased equipment that will no longer be in use. It can either stand unused, or vice versa will be loaded very quickly, and the purchase and delivery of another batch of equipment might not be planned in the near future. You can easily manage and change resource quotas with the help of #CloudMTS personal manager when using the Acronis-based backup solution;

·      Usually, in-house solutions have low reliability level of stored backups. RAID configurations are pale in comparison with the backup options that are provided within our service. We are ready to lose 3 nodes (and there is little to no possibility that this happens) from 6 nodes inside our cluster without loss of data.

·      In addition, #CloudMTS cloud backup service has industry information security standards.

Now what comes to pricing. Let’s take NAS as an example. The estimated cost for this option is 40 000 rubles. Add 4 disks of 2TB each – the cost of each disk is 3 700 rubles. In total, 4 disks are required, that sums up for 14 800 rubles. We will use RAID 1+0 and, thus, provide 4TB of usable volume with a 2-year drive warranty.

Total cost of such option is 54 800 rubles.

#CloudMTS Acronis-based backup service annual packages

Package 1. 5 workstations backup, 1TB repository — 25 000 RUR*

Package 2. 2 Virtual Machines backup, 1TB repository — 24 500 RUR*

Package 3. 1 physical server backup, 1TB repository — 30 000 RUR*

* The cost is indicated for 1 year without VAT, packages are purchased on a prepaid basis.

Please email all your questions regarding this backup service to feedback@cloud.mts.ru

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