Windows Azure Backup Service Available as 'Paid Preview'
Microsoft indicated today that it has released a "public paid preview" of its Windows Azure Backup service.
Few details about the service were provided in Microsoft's announcement. It was one of the tidbits of news coming from the Microsoft Management Summit, which is happening this week in Las Vegas. A preview of the Windows Azure Backup service, using a free trial of Windows Azure, is also possible, as described at this page.
The Windows Azure Backup service works with Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 Essentials and System Center 2012 Service Pack 1. It enables local backups or backups to Windows Azure storage in Microsoft's datacenters. The service has "configurable data retention policies, data compression and data transfer throttling" capabilities, according to Microsoft's brief description.
Microsoft quietly launched a beta of the Windows Azure Backup service (then called the "Microsoft Online Backup Service") about a year ago. At that time, testers were limited to backups of 10 GB and three backups per day. It's not clear what users can do with the public paid preview of the service, nor is it clear how much it costs to use it.
The service seems to be a fail-safe supplement to backup media, rather than a replacement for an in-house backup process. However, Microsoft has talked little about the service so far. It's not clear when the Windows Azure Backup Service will be commercially available or whether a "paid public preview" constitutes commercial availability.
This Microsoft blog post contains a sign-up link to the preview (not sure if users need to pay) and some steps to set up the Windows Azure Backup service. Once configured, the service works with Microsoft management tools, such as the "Microsoft Management Console snap-in, System Center Data Protection Manager Console, or Windows Server Essentials Dashboard."
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.