Introduction to AWS Backup Management through EBS Snapshots

AWS snapshots (EBS Snapshots) give you an excellent infrastructure for backup.

You will need a management layer to provide a full-scale AWS backup solution. You can use scripts to fire snapshots on a schedule and automate other operations, but sometimes custom scripts are simply not up to the task. Here are a few examples:

•    When you need to backup many instances
•    When you need to support consistent backup for different applications
•    When you need to take frequent snapshots and support managing hundreds of snapshots or more
•    When you need the ability to recover a lot of volumes and instances and do it quickly and without errors

When you start to scale out and need full control over your backup operations, you need a central AWS backup solution that will allow you to control everything at the tip of your fingers. You need a policy-based system that allows you to control different aspects of different volumes: You may need different backup frequencies, different consistency methods, and different retention periods (for how long to keep your AWS snapshots) etc…

When the “hour of truth” comes and you need to actually recover your data, you want to be able to get your EBS volumes and AWS instances back as quickly as possible. To do so, you will need to understand what’s going on between a large amount of snapshots and instances. Sometimes you will want to most recent snapshots of your volumes, and at sometimes you will need to handpick between different ones. If your backup operations include supporting applications such as databases, you will need to control which instances and volumes need application support and to configure each one differently.

An AWS backup solution should include:

  • Central Control and Monitoring
  • Automation of all tasks involved in the backup operation:
    • Grouping of related instances and volumes.
    • Policy based scheduling
    • Policy based retention management
    • Policy based application consistency
    • Policy based Disaster Recovery – Copying of snapshots to different regions.

Cloud Protection Manager (CPM) will allow you to manage all the EBS volumes from multiple AWS accounts. You will be able to manage as many AWS snapshots, volume, and instances as you need. While the backup process will be completely automated, you will still have complete control over your AWS backup solution. You will be able to view your backup policies, make sure which backups were successful, and be alerted to any problem or issue that was encountered.

AWS snapshot list of a certain backup occurrence

How CPM helps you as your AWS backup solution?

Policy: Each backup policy defined what, when and how you are backing up a certain related group of resources. Resources can be whole instances, specific EBS volumes and RDS databases. You will usually want to include in policy resources that need to be backed up together because they are tied up logically and need to be on the same ”point-in-time.” It can be a few nodes in a cluster, an instance with several disks. An application server that needs to be backed up in sync with its database etc…

By attaching schedules to a policy, you define when backups of this policy will occur. Scheduling is very flexible, and the fact you can attach more than one schedule to a policy makes it even more flexible. For example, you can easily setup this following schedule: During weekdays perform backup every three hours starting with the time: 00:00, except on Fridays after 18:00. Also perform one backup during weekends on Sunday at 12:00 PM.
How to backup is also something you control in a policy level. “How” can mean what method of consistency you are using. It can also be how what to do if a script fails. How many retries to perform, at what interval etc…
It’s easy to look at the main backup monitor and to see the backups of any policy, to filter by policy or status, to sort the backup on practically any field time, status etc…

Defining Disaster Recovery (DR – Copying your AWS snapshots to other regions) is also done on a policy level. For each policy you define whether to run DR, to which regions and at what intervals. You can easily see the status of the DR process for each backup.

No need to look at the monitor in the AWS snapshot level
Recovery: At the time of recovery, you can use CPM to easily find the backup you need, by using the backup monitor. Sometimes you need the most recent backup and at other times you will want the most recent before a certain event happened (data loss or corruption). After finding the backup you wish to recover from, you can perform your recovery operation with virtually a mouse click. You don’t need to worry how to find the relevant snapshots because CPM takes care of that for you. CPM will also remember all the configuration details of your original resources and will use those as the default for the recovered objects. However, if you wish to change anything, you have full control over the recovery process. E.g. If you recover an instance you can remain with the instance type, security groups, key pairs etc… like the original instance had, or you can choose to change those using CPM’s recovery screens.

Summary:

CPM gives you a comprehensive AWS backup solution. You can control your backup operations, change almost any aspect per policy and when you need to perform recovery, it’s simply a matter of a few mouse clicks to get your resources back.