Random Ramblings About Making Games and Stuff from Cloud

So you have your application running on Azure. Some next steps would be beneficial to have. Well maybe, but you need to first figure out answers to a couple of important things.

  • Backup
  • Monitoring
  • Autoscaling

As of now Azure does not provide any solutions of the shelf. You need to build those by yourself. I will describe one possible setup that will provide you some functionality for the points listed above. Being a Cloud Man that I am, this setup is also running entirely on the Cloud :)

Setup

Firstly, the setup. In order to get things up and running you will need the following tools and accounts:

  • Amazon EC2 account with Windows 2008 and Amazon monitoring service.
  • Windows 2008 server (with SQL Server 2008 R2 client utilities) for Azure backup.
  • SQL 2008 RC2 server for Azure SQL backup.
  • Azure Management Cmdlets tools for Azure Storage backup.
  • Red-Gate SQL Comparison Bundle version 9 or above for Azure SQL backup.
  • AzureWatch account for Autoscaling and monitoring Azure web and worker roles.
  • (Optionally) Dropbox with Packrat service so you will get unlimited undo history on your backups.

The overall picture of this setup will look something like in the picture below. You could replace Amazon EC2 Windows 2008 server + SQL 2008 RC2 with Azure VM role, or your own hosted server and Dropbox with Azure storage account. By replacing Amazon with Azure WM role you will gain savings on the data transfer fees and the steps should be fairly similar. If you decide to do that I would recommend having those under different Azure subscription so that one Administrator cannot delete your backups and your service!

Azure setup

High level picture of monitored Azure app with backup and autoscale.

In addition, make sure that Windows 2008 Server has at least SQL Server 2008 R2 installed especially bcp.exe version 10.50.1600.1. That is because bcp.exe utility is used to perform database backups and older versions had nasty bug that prevented backup from working.

If you have several services running on one Azure subscription it is useful to direct their logs into one shared storage account. This is because AzureWatch can monitor only one log account per subscription.

Installation instructions

I don’t go to all the details because steps those are quite obvious. If you get confused with my quick instructions, please send me an email and I will add more details into this blog post.

  1. Get Amazon account and launch Windows 2008 server with SQL 2008 RC2 server or Make VM role for Azure.
  2. Install SQL Server 2008 R2 client utilities
  3. Install Dropbox
  4. Install Azure Management Cmdlets
  5. Install Red-Gate SQL Comparison Bundle
  6. Get AzureWatch account and install the control panel to 2008 server.

Scripts

You should also automate running of these PowerShell scripts with Windows 2008 Server Scheduler:

  • Remember that you need to give full path to PowerShell script in Task arguments like this:

-noninteractive -nologo -command “&”c:\my backup scripts\backup.ps1″”

  • Modify SQL backup script from Mike Mooneys blog to suite your needs. Make sure that zip files are stored in folder that is Dropbox synchronized.
  • Modify backup sample scripts of Azure Management Cmdlets to suite your needs. Samples can be found from installation folder. You can direct backup to Azure storage account or to Dropbox folder.

That’s it!

Happy Clouding!
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