Recently, the Azure Backup team released a set of PowerBI reports for Azure Backup.
I had the privilege of being a part of the cognitive study while these reports were in development. Now, they are starting to become available for everyone.
New Azure Backup Reports
If you have a Recovery Services Vault (RSV), you will see a notification banner stating: “NEW! Azure Backup Reports are now available. Go to Settings blade > Backup Reports to configure them.”
Let’s walk through the setup and configuration of this new feature.
The instructions state: “Go to Settings blade > Backup Reports to configure them.” In the Settings blade, the Backup Reports is listed under Monitoring and Reports.
When you navigate to Backup Reports for the first time, you will see a list of instructions to follow.
Step 1: Configure Diagnostics
Our first step is to configure diagnostics for our Backups. This will be an Azure Storage account to hold the data.
When you click the Configure button, you are prompted to enable the Diagnostics Settings.
When you set the Status to On, you will be prompted for the location to store your diagnostics data. Notice that we have 3 options:
- Azure Storage
- Event Hub
- Log Analytics (aka OMS)
I am very pleased and excited that Log Analytics (aka OMS) is an option since this will facilitate maintaining a central view for monitoring your environment.
Also, notice that the Log selection includes ‘Azure Backup Report’ logs, but also includes Site Recovery Jobs/Events, and data on Replicated Items. So obviously, this is expanding beyond just using it for Azure Backup reports, to also exposing Azure Site Recovery information as well. This is very good since it will allow us to more easily create custom OMS Solutions and Alerts for our Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) needs.
Notice, however, that in order to use the Azure Backup Reports PowerBI content pack, you must configure an Azure Storage account. Even though I have configured the data to be sent to my OMS Workspace, in which I could use OMS to create/send a dataset to PowerBI, the currently supported method is to use an Azure Storage account. Hopefully, in the future, we will have the option to forego the Azure Storage account altogether (as was my feedback to the Azure Backup team originally), and just use OMS directly.
Notice that when you select “Archive to a Storage Account” we have a few more options that we can configure. We now have the ability to set the Retention Days. The default is zero, which means the data will be retained forever.
That’s an important setting to be aware of because if you leave it as zero, you’ll have to keep an eye on your Storage Account in the event that it becomes full (not very likely, but still something to consider in case the target Storage Account serves multiple purposes).
Also, notice that the blade journey experience does not allow you to create a new Storage Account as part of this process. You will need to have already created your target Storage Account. Hopefully, this experience will be enhanced in the future, similar to the Virtual Machine creation process, where you can create a new Storage Account in the same journey (without having to leave the process and come back).
Additionally, there is no indication as to the recommended and/or required Storage Account settings and configuration (i.e. General Purpose vs Blob Storage, LRS vs GRS, Encryption, or if it is required to be in the same region as the Recovery Services Vault).
Update: According to the Supported Scenarios, the Storage account selected should be in the same region as Recovery Services Vault. However, it is unclear if this is only in reference to viewing reports across Vaults and across Subscriptions. I have not tested otherwise, as my Azure Storage account and Recovery Services Vault were located in the same Azure Region.
Update 2: According to the Product Group, the region limitation for the Azure Storage account is accurate for all scenarios.
Step 2: Deploy and Configure the PowerBI Azure Backup Content Pack
The second step is to sign into PowerBI, and setup the content pack.
After you have logged into PowerBI, under Services click Get.
In the AppSource, search for “backup“, and click “Get it now” for Azure Backup.
You will then be prompted for the Azure Storage Account that holds the data.
After you’ve specified the Storage Account, you will need to also provide the Storage Account Key to authorize access.
On the first attempt, I encountered an error.
Data Source Error: AzureBlobs failed to get contents from ‘https://azurelabstoragebckuprpts.blob.core.windows.net/insights-logs-azurebackupreport/’. Status code: 404, description: ‘The specified container does not exist.‘.. The exception was raised by the IDataReader interface.
Activity ID: 46c6c314-d9d1-4382-8af1-8b6c0b0187a4
Correlation ID: d53e62ab-d80c-bc44-19f1-f149fc790e5e
Request ID: 9e6c32d3-8bad-6291-9630-5f4ad4397ec8
Status Code: 400
Time: Wed Jun 28 2017 12:07:12 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
Cluster URI: https://wabi-us-north-central-redirect.analysis.windows.net
Notice that it is looking for a container within my Azure Storage account called “insights-logs-azurebackupreport“. It is uncertain at this time, if the log ingestion process will auto-create this Container (and if ti does, how/when this occurs), or if we are required to manually create it ourselves.
Update: According to the Frequently Asked Questions, the “insights-logs-azurebackupreport” container will be auto-created.
In order to continue with my exploration, I manually created the Container required.
Although I configured this against a Recovery Services Vault that actually has data (i.e. being used for Backups and also for Site Recovery), the reports and dashboard remained blank.
Update: According to the Frequently Asked Questions, it will take approximately 24 hours for data to be pushed into the target Azure Storage Account, and therefore available for the PowerBI dashboards and reports.
I’m assuming this is because this solution was just configured, and no logs exist, but it would be nice if it was configured to reach back in time (say, something configurable like 3, 6, or 12 months) to immediately gain valuable insight into the health and status of your backups.
This is what the Dashboard looks like:
And this is what the Reports look like. Notice that there are multiple tabs along the bottom, providing information on Storage, Backup Items, Job Health, Job Duration, and Alerts.
A few quick notes or caveats about the Azure Backup Reports.
Firstly, currently the Azure Backup Reports are only supported for Azure Virtual Machine backups, and File/Folder backups using the Azure Recovery Services Agent (aka Direct-Agent).
This means that, although you can use Azure Backup (via the Recovery Services Vault) with Azure SQL, Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS), and System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM), reporting on the backup jobs, events, and statuses of and through those technologies, is not supported yet.
I highlight the word yet because it makes sense that the Azure Backup team work towards unifying the monitoring, reporting, and management of all backup technologies and uses through a single interface. We just have to be patient.
I am personally very excited about these Reports, as they can help in quickly getting an understanding of your Backup landscape across the environment.
They can help to answer questions like:
- Which protected servers use the most backup storage and have the highest impact on billing?
- What were the top causes of job failures yesterday?
- Which backup items had maximum data transferred last week?
- Which backup items had no successful backups yesterday?
- Which virtual machines had longest running jobs last week?
- Which folders take the longest time to restore?
- Which data sources generated the most critical alerts in last week?
You can get started and try out these new Azure Backup Reports now.
Another useful reference to be aware of is the data model for Azure Backup reports. This will help you get started on either customizing the existing PowerBI content pack dashboards and reports or start creating your own using the same data.
And if you have an idea, suggestion, or feedback, don’t forget to share it on the Azure Backup Uservoice.