Azure Blob storage is a service for storing large amounts of unstructured data, such as text or binary data, that can be accessed from anywhere in the world via HTTP or HTTPS. You can use Blob storage to expose data publicly to the world, or to store application data privately. Common uses of Blob storage include:
• Serving images or documents directly to a browser
• Storing files for distributed access
• Streaming video and audio
• Performing secure backup and disaster recovery
• Storing data for analysis by an on-premises or Azure-hosted service
In turn, Dynamics GP takes advantage of capabilities introduced in SQL Server 2012 SP1 CU2 to enable SQL Server backup and restore directly to the Windows Azure Blob service. See SQL Server Backup and Restore with Windows Azure Blob Storage Service for more information.
Note: Starting with SQL Server 2012 SP1 CU4, you can also use PowerShell to backup to and restore from Windows Azure Blob storage services.
As part of the backup and restore process, Microsoft Dynamics GP calls the syGPAzureBackupRestoreProcess system database stored procedure.
Configuring Microsoft Dynamics GP backups with Windows Azure Blog storage service
To take advantage of Windows Azure Blob storage service, you must begin by setting up an Azure storage account. The storage account is the starting point for all storage services. The storage account requirements are fairly straight forward: setup a URL prefix, associate a location or affinity group for your storage account, and determine the type of replication. See How To Manage Storage Accounts for additional information on replication options.
Note: The full URL will be the URL prefix followed by blob.core.windows.net.
|Storage Account Setup|
Following the creation of the account, you will need a storage container. A container provides a grouping of a set of Blobs, and can store an unlimited number of Blobs. To write a SQL Server backup to the Windows Azure Blob service, you must have at least the root container created.
Click on the Containers tab to setup a new container. Enter a name for the container, and select the type of access that will be provided to the container.
|New Container setup|
|Container is now setup|
Return to the storage account dashboard and click the Manage Access Keys option at the bottom of the window for the storage account you setup. You can copy the primary access key, which will be used to setup Microsoft Dynamics GP.
|Manage Access Keys|
In Microsoft Dynamics GP, go to Microsoft Dynamics GP | Maintenance | Backup to open the Back Up Company window. Follow these instructions:
1. Select the company you wish to backup
2. Choose Use Microsoft Azure storage as the destination for your backup
3. Enter the storage account name you created in Windows Azure
4. Paste the access key from the previous section.
5. Enter the URL to the container. The URL format is as follows:
|Back Up Company|
6. Click on Verify account to validate your account settings and connectivity to the container then click OK to continue. The backup performance will depend on your internet connection speed.
Now that you have a pretty good grasp on the configuration, you can begin taking advantage of Windows Azure as a secure, always available option for your Microsoft Dynamics GP data. The best part is, the data geo-redundantly stored (if this option was selected when creating the storage account) and you no longer need to rely on tapes being exposed to damage.
Until next post!
Mariano Gomez, MVP
Intelligent Partnerships, LLC