Q. What is the best way to backup SQL Server running in Azure IaaS?
A. SQL Server has a number of different backup options available that vary depending on the version of SQL Server running in Azure. From an application-aware backup, i.e. understands that databases are being backed up instead of a complete operating system
- SQL Server 2012 supports backup to URL which can be Microsoft Azure Blob storage service
- SQL Server 2014 supports managed backup to Microsoft Azure Blob storage service
- SQL Server 2016 supports file-snapshot backups to Microsoft Azure Blob storage service using the actual Azure Blob snapshot feature
- Use Azure Backup Server (or System Center Data Protection Manager) to protect SQL from within the VM and backup to Azure Backup
- Can also perform backup to Azure Files (SMB) or backup to disk (another VHD backed by page blobs)
Another option is to use Azure Backup to backup the Azure IaaS VM however this would not be application-aware and only the VM could be restored and not specific databases.
Note that the SQL options that backup to Azure Blob storage can use either the hot or cold storage tiers.