Tag-Based Continuous AWS Cloud Backup and DR

n2wsWith the cloud’s ever-changing and dynamic characteristics, its environments require newer and easier approaches to cloud backup processes. EC2 servers and instances are commonly rolled into new ones, but the data within them needs to be preserved and stay consistent. Since existing backup mechanisms may still try to backup older resources, backup can become challenging. Ideally, each time an instance is rolled into a new one, a backup solution should automatically recognize the changes and perform backups in a continuous fashion. I’d like to share how this can be done within the AWS cloud, leveraging its resource tagging capability.

Continuous Backup and Recovery

There are many cases where continuous backup is an obvious choice. In a disaster recovery scenario example, it may be necessary to move instances to another AWS region due to an outage. You would need the ability to launch a database (like MongoDB or MySQL) to another instance that’s in a different region from time to time. In addition, after all malfunctions are fixed, a failback needs to be performed so that resources move back to their original region. Continuous backup allows environments to stay up-to-date during a failover or a failback.

AWS provides the ability to tag resources, whether they are instances, EBS volumes, or snapshots. This is a solution used extensively by many AWS customers for internal billing purposes in large environments so that they can track their resource usage. Normally, when a failover is performed, the existing backup solution needs to be manually updated. However, if an environment’s resources are consistently tagged, automatic backup procedures can leverage the tags and follow the resources accordingly, while ignoring resource IDs (e.g. instance IDs).

Cloud Protection Manager (CPM)

Cloud Protection Manager (CPM) is an enterprise-class backup and disaster recovery solution tailored for AWS. It allows you to effortlessly back up and recover a large scale of resources and servers on multiple AWS accounts. With CPM, you can create a specific tag for each resource that needs to be backed up and schedule a tag scan, scanning your account on a preset schedule. When CPM performs a scan, it looks for changes, including new or removed tags, and updates your backup configuration accordingly. Tagging allows you to add a resource to an existing backup policy or create a new policy based on a template. Most features offered in CPM’s UI, such as scheduling, resource grouping, and more, are also offered while tagging. Ultimately, tagging provides the ability to perform automated, scheduled, and continuous backup very easily.

An Example

Let’s take a look at a database server running on an EC2 instance with a database that has persistent storage and must be backed up. Once this instance is tagged, CPM performs a backup based on its configuration and attached EBS volumes. As tags change over time, CPM scans the instance to perform necessary backup updates.

If a server is migrated to a new instance and recovery is performed by CPM while retaining tags, the new server will be backed up with the exact same policy as the older instance. In addition, if an instance is terminated, CPM will detect that an old instance no longer exists and will stop backing it up.

Some of our customers integrate backup operations into their DevOps. Using our APIs, they automatically deploy backup for new servers that roll into their system using configuration and delivery tools such as Chef, Puppet, or Jenkins. If that integration and delivery process maintains resource tagging, CPM automatically performs backup for these resources.

Final Notes

Backup and recovery procedures are an integral part of application delivery and service quality. We believe that continuous and automatic backup in the cloud’s dynamic environment is crucial, and will continue to create features that enable our customers to have a more robust and immune environment. Check out how CPM backup works.

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