Amping up your disaster recovery with the cloud

In the previous post about DRaaS, we discussed the objectives of protecting your workload, emphasising the use of Cloud Backup.

In this post, we will discuss the differences between Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) DRaaS solutions.

Microsoft Azure has invested heavily in their DRaaS service with a big push on hybrid cloud, and includes built-in tools to help you backup, restore, replicate VMs, files and applications, putting Azure at the epitome of DRaaS.

Whereas AWS have not invested into DRaaS as heavily, at the current point in time, AWS only offer Storage Gateway and tape libraries for their solution.

 

DRaaS in Azure

Azure provides hybrid cloud as a means for disaster recovery provides tools and services to help you backup, restore, replicate servers, files and applications.  The functionality is built-in to the platform and focuses on being simple to use while providing powerful flexibility.

 

Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery (ASR) is like any other replication tool that you may have used before (be it VMware SRM, VEEAM, or Hyper-V Replica). It can replicate physical Windows and Linux servers, VMware and Hyper-V VMs, You can even use ASR to migrate your workload from AWS to Azure.

Contrary to popular belief, ASR is not limited to DRaaS. We often work with customers who use it as a means to lift and shift workloads from on premise infrastructure to Azure.  Not only does it detect the workload of each replicated server, but it also provides recommended sizing for the Azure VM to support the workload when deployed in Azure.

For this post, we’ll be focusing on breaking down its DRaaS capabilities.

  • ASR can replicate the targeted VMs, within a defined RPO (policy).
  • You could choose to replicate VMs every 30 minutes and if you were to think traditionally, it’s as though you’re running a backup of your VMs every 30 minutes.
  • You can create a policy which will define retention periods, RPOs, app-consistent snapshots to attach to your VMs. For example ,SQL servers will have a different policy than Microsoft Navision.
  • The recovery plan feature helps you perform a disaster recovery with one click of a button, instead of going through a lengthy process of recovering each machine by itself.
Keep in mind the RPO you can achieve will depend on the amount of available bandwidth and rate of change on the targeted workloads.

 

Azure Backup

Azure Backup is designed to backup Hyper-V VMs, VMware VMs, SQL Server, SharePoint Servers, Exchange Servers, Object Level backup, bare metal, and system state backups. 

Depending on your IT environment and application backup requirements, you may have to download and install an Azure Backup Server. For example, the following workloads can be backed up directly to an Azure Recovery Vault using the Azure Recovery Services Agent:

  • Windows Server (File, System State and Bare Metal Recovery)
  • Linux Servers
  • Azure IaaS Virtual Machines (Agentless)
  • SQL 2014 and later versions can also be backed up directly to Blob Storage

The following workloads would require an Azure Backup Server:

  • Hyper-V Virtual Machines
  • VMware Virtual Machines
  • SQL Backups
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • SharePoint

If you already use System Center On-Premise (Data Protection Manager), it will provide the same functionality as an Azure backup server. Much like ASR, you create policies and plans for your backups that determine how much data is backed up locally and replicated online, how often and of course how long it is kept for.

 

Azure StorSimple

Azure StorSimple is hybrid cloud storage that can be easily configured and integrated with your overall storage solution. Azure StorSimple could be used for storing files or as a secondary storage for backup copies (remember the 3,2,1 backup rules). StorSimple could either be configured a SAN (SMB) or a NAS (iSCSI).

There are two types of StorSimple:

  • StorSimple Virtual Array; this is a VM running in your environment. The capacity of this array is hybrid, for example 300GB available locally and 3TB available in Azure.
  • StorSimple 8000 series; this is a VM running in Azure. It’s primarily used for highly critical applications and Disaster Recovery.

For those familiar with AWS Storage Gateway, the StorSimple Virtual Array is quite similar.

Let’s assume you’re using a non-cloud supported backup solution, which is a backup solution that doesn’t run in the cloud or able to restore objects into the cloud, we could utilise Storage Gateway or StorSimple to back up to a cloud storage attached via iSCSI.

 

High level diagram for AWS Storage Gateway

 

Using Azure with StorSimple is similar to Storage Gateway, but with Azure StorSimple you can’t back up to tapes like AWS and you don't have an AWS Glacier Storage for long term, infrequently accessed archiving. With Azure you’ve got more options in terms of backup, starting with Azure Backup as previously mentioned.

 

A high level diagram on Azure backup.

 

Other third party tools like Veeam, with close partnership with Microsoft offer Veeam Cloud, that would allow to restore objects and VMs into Azure even from a local backup.

 

Where can I start with cloud DR?

Xello can help your organisation get started with the right Azure Cloud disaster recovery services that fits your current business needs and objectives - visit our Azure Disaster Recovery solutions page for more information.