Option A: Direct-to-Cloud (D2C)

x360Recover Essential User Guide - #1. Get started with x360Recover

Written By Tami Sutcliffe (Super Administrator)

Updated at March 22nd, 2022

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Direct-to-Cloud (D2C) provides you with the same full-featured, image-based backups of traditional x360Recover, but without the expense of deploying or managing a local appliance. 

In a hurry? This D2C Quick Start Guide will get you up and running right away:


Introduction to D2C

Direct-to-Cloud was built to help MSPs simplify the work of managing backups. No required appliance and silent installation with an RMM means it can be deployed without the cost and complexity of on-site visits. 

Features available in D2C 

  • Workstation protectionChain-free, image-based backups are sent directly to the Axcient Cloud
  • Recovery options include
    • File and folder recovery
    • Virtual disk export with all major hypervisor disk formats supported
    • Bare Metal Restore (BMR) to disparate hardware

[Full-size map of D2C capabilities]

How does it work? 

x360Recover Direct-to-Cloud can be used with an Axcient-hosted cloud vault in order to set up Direct-to-Cloud backups. Any x360Recover partner with an Axcient-hosted Scale-Out Cloud vault may deploy agents supporting Direct-to-Cloud backup.

You can also opt to use x360Recover Direct-to-Cloud on your privately-hosted cloud, if desired. 

Customized agents are deployed from the vault and are pre-configured to support Direct-to-Cloud backups for a specific customer. The agent software has been enhanced to include identity management and authentication features, enabling it to operate securely in the multi-tenant environment of the vault.

Components of D2C 

Direct-to-Cloud provides a variety of tools and methods to work with your data:

Bandwidth requirements 

The agent has been optimized to perform in an Internet / WAN environment but the minimum bandwidth requirements for any given situation will vary, depending on your specific circumstances and expectations. 

Backup consistency has been tested in environments from 1Mbps to 1Gbps to ensure reliable communications across a broad spectrum of service levels.  Generally, the ultimate determining factor for most partners is the time required to complete the initial full backup.  This will vary widely, based upon the total amount of data being sent and the available uplink bandwidth. 

Refer to the following table for a rough estimate of initial backup completion time for various amounts of data at different upload speeds 


Firewall ports 

Direct-to-Cloud agents require several ports to be open for outbound internet connections between the protected system and the Cloud vault:

  TCP 443   (Https/TLS)
  TCP 9079 (Thrift/TLS - Endpoint Manager)
  TCP 9082 (Thrift/TLS – Cloudserver)
  TCP 9090 (Thrift/TLS – Backup Manager)

Note: On Axcient-hosted vaults with Scale-Out Cloud, the Cloud server service is located directly on a storage node in our data center.  Storage nodes are assigned dynamically, at the time of protected system registration.

If you must secure outbound traffic explicitly for protected systems, you can locate the assigned storage node URL in aristos.log for each protected endpoint.

IMPORTANT - Storage node locations within our data center are subject to change without notification

Deploy Direct-to-Cloud agents

To function in Direct-to-Cloud mode, the agent needs to be installed in a special fashion.

Existing users 

To simplify agent deployment in Direct-to-Cloud mode, customized agent installer packages are provided specifically for each of your customer accounts.

1. Login to the Cloud vault and navigate to the Users page on the left menu. 

2. Locate the client you wish to install Direct-to-Cloud agents for and click the Download agent link provided for that customer.

Note: Users on the Vault Users page correspond to existing customer user accounts in the License Portal.

New users

To deploy Direct-to-Cloud agents to a new customer, first create a new client in the x360Recover Vault. Navigate to the Clients tab on the left navigation, and then click the Add Client button.


Tokens embedded in the download name

The agent files downloaded from the Users page contain temporary token and identity information embedded in the provided filename.  Do not rename the file when saving, as the specified filename is crucial to configuring the agent installation for Direct-to-Cloud mode.

When deploying Direct-to-Cloud agents, a single downloaded file can be used for installation on multiple endpoints for the same customer, but the embedded token information expires after a few hours. Installation of the agent for additional endpoints later for this customer will require that you download a fresh copy of the installer.

Important note

Direct-to-Cloud agent installers are specific to the customer. You must download a dedicated agent installation package for the customer each time you wish to deploy new agents.

Related knowledgebase articles

Direct-to-Cloud (D2C) Quick Start Guide
x360Recover - Direct-to-Cloud agent deployment


Parallel deployment

The agent has been optimized as much as possible to coexist with other backup solutions during the initial full backup phase of the deployment. 

Note that although the agent is optimized to operate in low memory and low CPU environments, high resource utilization may occur if multiple backup solutions are scheduled to run concurrently.  We recommend adjusting scheduling for multiple solutions so that simultaneous backups do not occur. 

In most cases, you may continue to operate your existing backup solution while the new Direct-to-Cloud agent captures and transmits the initial full backup to the Cloud vault.  Once the full backup is completed and incremental backups are occurring regularly, you may then remove the legacy backup solution from the endpoint and retain the data for historical purposes.

Convert from appliance to D2C

Why switch an agent from appliance mode to D2C mode? 

It is sometimes necessary or desirable to switch an existing protected system agent operating in the appliance mode to one operating in the Direct-to-Cloud mode. For example: 

  • A partner has an aging on-premise BDR appliance they would like to retire in order to convert a customer to no-BDR, cloud-only backups. However, the existing backup history already replicated by the appliance to the Cloud vault must not be lost.
  • A partner has a customer who has experienced a sitewide disaster, with their server infrastructure virtualized in the Axcient cloud.  To seamlessly continue backups while virtualized in the cloud, that partner wishes to convert the agents on the protected systems to Direct-to-Cloud mode, and then attach them to the existing vault backup sets.

What happens during the switch from appliance to D2C?

During the conversion from appliance mode to Direct-to-Cloud mode, data for the protected system may already exist from a previous appliance replication partnership. The agent now assumes the vault instance and preserves the existing recovery point history. 

Important: A full backup is required when converting an agent from appliance to Direct-to-Cloud (or vice versa.) In most cases, this full backup will be triggered automatically. If the full backup is not triggered automatically, then a full backup should be triggered manually. This is to ensure that critical recovery metadata is generated and fully synced between the server and the protected system.


A note about full backups in x360Recover

Unlike other backup products, x360Recover does not generate new recovery chains when performing subsequent full backups.

Instead, because of the chain-free nature of x360Recover, the additional full backup simply serves to fully synchronize the protected system with the backup server. Any data on the backup server which is not different from data on the protected system is discarded, and does not cause duplication of storage consumption. 

With Direct-to-Cloud support in Release 10.4.0, vaults now store a copy of the hash data used by the agent to determine blocks that have changed. When a new full backup is requested, the agent copy of the hash file is deleted and the server-side hash files are downloaded, if they exist. 

When hash files exist, they allow the agent to deduplicate the backup data before sending it over the internet to the vault.  Since the appliance does not collect hash data, when converting to Direct-to-Cloud the entire contents of the protected system will have to be sent to the vault. Note that this will be deduplicated on the server side and will not cause duplicate data storage in the cloud.

Billing Considerations

Important: To avoid double-billing for this protected system, you must (A) remove the protected system from the appliance and (B) also remove its license assignment in the License Portal.

Direct-to-Cloud billing is based on usage. Usage is automatically calculated by the presence of the protected system data on a vault. 

Appliance billing is based on License Portal licensing assignments. 

Note: It is important to either (a) fully delete the protected systems from the appliance or (b) remove the appliance entirely from the Management Portal. Otherwise, converted protected systems will not be reported properly in the reports.

Converting a protected system to Direct-to-Cloud mode automatically triggers billing for a new Direct-to-Cloud endpoint. 

Failure to remove the original License Portal assignment for the system will result in double billing for that endpoint.  (If the original appliance license is part of a storage license, you do not need to adjust the License Portal configuration.  Your billing will reflect a new Direct-to-Cloud endpoint charge in the next billing cycle.)

For a full review of Direct-to-Cloud billing, please see Direct-to-Cloud (D2C) Billing.

How do I convert a D2C endpoint to appliance mode?

There are situations when you may choose to migrate a Direct-to-Cloud system "back" to an appliance-based mode. (For example, in the event you are recovering from a Cloud failover.)

Please note that recovering a Direct-to-Cloud protected system from the vault to an appliance requires x360Recover version 10.6.0 or higher.

 

Steps to convert a D2C endpoint to an appliance

To convert a Direct-to-Cloud endpoint back to an appliance, perform the following steps:

1. Check the Vault Jobs page and verify that no backups are currently running for the endpoint.

2. Stop and disable the agent service.

3. Deploy an appliance provisioned for the customer.

     (a) Option 1: Perform a Vault-to-Appliance Recovery over USB

Select Recover – USB from the Vault Protected Systems Details page and complete the export of data onto USB storage. (This will require support assistance for an Axcient-hosted vault).


Attach the USB to the appliance and select Import from the Protected Systems page.


     (b) Option 2: Perform a ‘Recover over Network’ from the vault to the appliance

Select Recover from the Appliance Protected Systems page. Enter the vault URL and select the protected system to recover.

4. Once the recovery of the protected system data to the appliance is completed, configure and enable replication on the appliance to the vault

5. Edit the agent configuration file (aristos.cfg) and change the SERVER= parameter to the IP address of the appliance. 

6. Delete permid file in the agent installation directory.

7. Enable and start the agent service. 

8. Verify that the vault no longer shows the protected system as Direct-to-Cloud. Be sure that there is no Schedule selector on the Protected Systems page and also that there is no Schedule Now or Run Analysis Tool option on the Details page.


9. Verify that the agent backups are completing to the appliance and replications are completing to the vault.

 

How do I recover a protected system from a vault to an appliance?

If your appliance has failed entirely, or if the appliance storage pool has failed, you can recover protected systems from the vault to a new appliance. Full details are available at How to recover a protected system from the vault to a new appliance.

Be aware that Direct-to-Cloud usage will automatically be removed once the protected system is recovered on the appliance. Be sure you have assigned sufficient licenses in the License Portal to accommodate the protected system(s) that are being converted.    

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Recover D2C endpoints

For recovery of Direct-to-Cloud endpoints, you have all the options you would normally expect when recovering from the Cloud:

  • Virtualize the system in the Axcient Cloud 
  • Download a virtual disk image of the protected system in various formats compatible with all major Hypervisor platforms
  • Mount a recovery point to perform file and folder recovery using the file browser on the vault

Bare metal recovery

To recover back to a physical device, the x360Recovery Bare Metal Recovery wizard has been enhanced to enable using a virtual disk image as the recovery source. 

  1. Download or request a USB shipment of the Virtual Disk export file from the vault.
  2. Boot the replacement hardware device from our Recovery ISO.
  3. Attach either (a) the USB containing the image to the machine, or (b) mount a remote NAS share containing the file.

The Recovery Wizard will then step you through selecting the disk file image(s) and mapping them to local volumes for recovery.






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