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Exchange Server 2013 offsite protection using DPM and Microsoft Azure (Part 3)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

In the first article of this series, we went through the process of updating the DPM Server, then creating the Backup Vault in Microsoft Azure. In the second article, we protected the Exchange Server databases using long-term retention in Microsoft Azure.

In this article, we are covering all the steps to restore an entire Exchange database from Microsoft Azure using DPM. During the restore process, we will go over some capabilities of DPM, which an administrator may find useful when protecting Exchange Server workloads using DPM.

Checking the status of a job…

Even though DPM does not allow managing a job per se like any other vendors, for every Protection Group created, a series of jobs will be created in the background.

A common question is… Where can we see the information being transferred to Microsoft Azure? The answer is simple, open the DPM Administrator console, click on Monitoring, click on All jobs located under filters, and make sure that status is being selected on the right side.

In the Figure 01, we can see that we have a scheduled backup and the type is Online recovery point, which means that data will be replicated from on-premises to Azure.


Figure 01

If we check the same area during a synchronization period, we will be able to see the amount of data being transferred and for how long that specific job is running, as shown in Figure 02.


Figure 02

The same is true for completed jobs on the same area (Figure 03) where we can see all jobs (online recovery points in Azure and regular jobs using the local disks or short-term protection).


Figure 03

Creating a Recovery Point in Microsoft Azure…

Before starting our process to restore from Microsoft Azure, we will perform a simple procedure that allows the administrator to create a Recovery Point directly in Microsoft Azure manually.

Using DPM Administrator Console, click on Protection item on the left corner, and then right-click on the desired Database and then click on Create Recovery Point, as shown in Figure 04.


Figure 04

In the new window (Figure 05), select Online Protection in the Create point for field and click OK. That will generate a Recovery Point using the latest information on DPM disks, however, there will not be any communication between the Exchange Server and DPM/Azure at this time, the long story short is, the information that is available in DPM will be used to create a Recovery Point in Microsoft Azure.


Figure 05

An important point to remember, the recovery that was created was for that specific database and not to all databases on a server. If we want to protect more than one database, then we need to create a recovery point for each one of the mailbox databases.

Recovering a mailbox database…

It is time to recover a mailbox database from Backup Vault in Microsoft Azure, before we start we have the following scenario (Figure 06) where all mailboxes are in the database TORDB01, and our test user (called number2) has a few messages on its Inbox.


Figure 06

Now, on our Exchange Server we will open Exchange Admin Center, and click on Servers, Databases and then dismount the database (click on and then Dismount), the results will be similar to the Figure 07.


Figure 07

After that, we will be going to the folder where the database and its log files are being stored and we will delete all files. If you are not sure about the location of the database or Log files, the following cmdlet will provide all the required information Get-MailboxDatabase | Select name,edbfilepath,logfolderpath | fl

After removing all the files, we can try to mount the database, and we will get the following warning message (Figure 08), please click on Cancel because we will be restoring the mailbox database using DPM and we do not want to create an empty database.


Figure 08

By design, DPM will always have short-term data on local disk and the long-term is going to be in the Backup Vault in Microsoft Azure. In order to make sure that we are using only Microsoft Azure, we will be stopping the protection of the TORDB01 database on DPM, and removing all protected data from the local storage.

Using DPM Administrator Console, click on Protection, right-click on the TORDB01 database, and click on Stop protection of member… (Figure 09)


Figure 9

In the new window, the administrator can decide to delete the protected data from either local disk or Microsoft Azure, in our scenario, the decision is to select Delete replica on disk and click on Stop Protection, as shown in Figure 10.


Figure 10

The results of the operation that we have just performed is that the TORDB01 will be displayed as Inactive protection for previously protected data in DPM, as shown in Figure 11. That is a common scenario where a mailbox database is in process to be evacuated and it does not need to be protected anymore however you still want to keep that information in Microsoft Azure.


Figure 11

We are ready to start testing the restore, we created the perfect hell situation for any company, where we get rid of the mailbox database, and then on top of that we removed any local protection of that database from the site.

The first step is on the Exchange Server side, open Exchange Admin Center, click on Servers, Databases and on the database’s properties, click on Maintenance and check the option This database can be overwritten by a restore (Figure 12).


Figure 12

The next step is to open DPM Administrator Console, click on Recovery, and select the database that we want to restore (in our case TORDB01). After the database selection, on the right side, we will have a calendar where all days in bold represent a day where we have a recovery point, select any given date, after that the recovery time and source will be available (Figure 13). Right-click on the database being listed on the frame below, and click on Recover… to start the recovery process.


Figure 13

In the Review Recovery Selection page. We will have some information of what we are restoring, such as recovery point location and date, and original source information data (Exchange Version, Server Name and Database name), click Next.

In the Select Recovery Type page. Select Recover to original Exchange Server location and click Next. (Figure 14)


Figure 14

In the Specify recovery Options page. Select Mount the databases after they are recovered, and click Next. (Figure 15)


Figure 15

In the Summary page. Click on Recover to start the recovery process and that may take a while depending of your Internet bandwidth and the size of your mailbox database. Depending of your environment, you may want to use smaller databases to speed up the recovery process.

If you have not closed the wizard page, then the recovery process will be updated when it finishes as shown in Figure 16. After getting a successful on the recovery status, the administrator can check the Mailbox Databases and the restored database should be mounted and the data available to the end-users.


Figure 16

Conclusion

In this article we went over the steps required on DPM and Exchange Server to restore and entire database.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to: