Option A: Direct-to-Cloud (D2C)

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

Written By Tami Sutcliffe (Super Administrator)

Updated at October 27th, 2023


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 to access D2C

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 your x360Recover Manager. For more information on users, refer to Manage x360Recover users in x360Recover Manager

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.

Note: Although the agent will scan the full contents of the protected system disks during this backup, the data sent to the cloud will be deduplicated and only net-new and changed data will be sent to the vault over the internet. This backup is expected to take somewhat longer than a normal Incremental backup, but typically only by a few minutes. 

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. 

The agent sends hash data to both appliances and vaults. The hash data used by the agent to determine which blocks that have changed is stored. When a full backup is performed, the hash data from the backup server is downloaded to allow full deduplication of the data  already present on the server. 

When a new full backup is requested, the agent copy of the hash file is deleted and the server-side hash files are downloaded. This serves as the basis for deciding ‘what has changed’ between the last backup on the server and the current protected system. 

Agent hash files are replicated to the vault along with the protected system snapshot data. When converting an endpoint from appliance-based backups to Direct-to-Cloud, the current hash data is already present on the vault. 

Billing considerations

If the appliance has been assigned a storage license, you do not need to adjust the license allocations.  Your billing will reflect a new Direct-to-Cloud endpoint charge in the next billing cycle. For details on billing, refer to Billing overview

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

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

How do I convert an existing appliance agent to D2C?

Complete details are available at Convert an existing appliance agent to Direct-to-Cloud (D2C)

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.

Complete details are available at Convert a Direct-to-Cloud endpoint to appliance mode.

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 to accommodate the protected system(s) that are being converted. For information on licensing, refer to Manage licenses in x360Recover Manager

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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