Automation in Azure Backup

As your Azure estate expands to span a large and diverse set of workloads, it becomes increasingly necessary to automate key tasks (such as configuring backups for the right machines, monitoring their health, and taking timely corrective action) to ensure that your backup goals are met. Having robust automation in place for backup operations helps you achieve efficiencies while managing at scale; also, it reduces the possibility of human error.

Azure Backup allows you to automate most backup related tasks using programmatic methods. This article talks about the different automation clients supported by Azure Backup. Also, it walks you through some end-to-end Azure Backup automation scenarios that are commonly seen in enterprise-scale deployments.

Automation methods

To access Azure Backup functionality, you can use the following standard automation methods supported by Azure:

  • PowerShell
  • CLI
  • Python SDK
  • Go SDK
  • Terraform
  • Ansible
  • ARM templates
  • Bicep

You can also use Azure Backup associated with other Azure services, such as Logic Apps, Runbooks, Action Groups, and Azure Resource Graph to set up end-to-end automation workflows.

For more information about various scenarios that automation clients support and the corresponding document references, see the supported automation solutions for Azure Backup.

Sample automation scenarios

This section provides a few common automation use cases that you might encounter as a backup admin. It also provides guidance for getting started.

Configure backups

As a backup admin, you need to deal with new infrastructure getting added periodically, and ensure they're protected as per the agreed requirements. The automation clients, such as PowerShell/CLI, help to fetch all VM details, check the backup status of each of them, and then take appropriate action for unprotected VMs.

However, this must be performant at-scale. Also, you need to schedule them periodically and monitor each run. To ease the automation operations, Azure Backup now uses Azure Policy and provides built-in backup specific Azure Policies to govern the backup estate.

Once you assign an Azure Policy to a scope, all VMs that meet your criteria are backed-up automatically, and newer VMs are scanned and protected periodically by the Azure Policy. You can also view a compliance report via Backup center that provides visibility into non-compliant resources.

Learn more about built-in Azure Policies for backup.

The following video illustrates how Azure Policy works for backup:

Export backup-operational data

You might need to extract the backup-operational data for your entire estate and periodically import it to your monitoring systems/dashboards. At large scale, the data should be retrieved fast (while you query huge records). You may need to query across resources, subscriptions, and tenants. You may also need flexibility to query data using different clients (Azure portal/PowerShell/CLI/any SDK/REST API). Additionally, you may need flexibility in output format (table vs Array) as well.

Azure Resource Graph (ARG) allows you to perform these operations and query at scale. Azure Backup uses ARG as an optimized way to fetch required data with minimal queries (one query for one scenario). For example, a single query can fetch all failed jobs across all vaults in all subscriptions and in all tenants. Also, the queries are Azure role-based access control (Azure RBAC) compliant.

See the sample ARG queries.

Automate responses/actions

The automation of responses for transient Backup job failures helps you ensure that you've the right number of reliable backups to restore from. This also helps to avoid unintentional breaches in your RPO.

You can set up a workflow to retry Backup jobs using a combination of Azure Automation Runbooks, PowerShell, and ARG. This helps in scenarios where Backup jobs have failed due to transient error or planned/unplanned outage.

For more information on how to set up this runbook, see Automatic retry of failed Backup jobs.

The following video provides an end-to-end walk-through of the scenario:

Additional resources