In 2019, the top obstacles for businesses searching for the right backup solution is speed and performance, while larger enterprises are struggling with balancing cost and complexity.
Whatever your business size, 30 per cent of organisations targeted by cyber attacks are predicted to spend over two months cleansing their backup and suffering delayed recoveries because of inefficient disaster recovery (DR) plans, according to Gartner.
Traditional discussions around IT resiliency have been focused on continuous availability, but as Gartner puts it, “backup can only take us so far” when the need to achieve business agility and sustained resilience across hybrid infrastructure is growing rapidly as cloud adoption rises.
To be optimally prepared for potential downtime, it’s important to get on top of your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Strategy (BCDR) and deploy solutions that compliment your backup process. Azure Site Recovery is the first native DR service offered by a public cloud and one of the most versatile DR tools we recommend.
What is Azure Site Recovery?
Azure Site Recovery (ASR) is a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) offered as part of the Microsoft Azure suite, working in tandem with Azure Backup to fit a modernised BCDR strategy. With Gartner labelling it a leader in its Magic Quadrant for Disaster Recovery as a Service, it’s one of the most popular and proven tools in its category.
With ASR, businesses can create customised DR plans, and orchestrate and manage the entire process for workloads located in Azure virtual machines (VMs), on-premises VMs and physical servers, which includes replication, failover and fail back. To further break down the process:
- Replication: ASR moves your apps and workloads from a primary site to a secondary site by synchronising the contents of your operating systems and the disks of your servers and virtual machines, hosted on either Azure or an on-premises environment.
- Failover: When an outage affects your primary site, you can access workloads and use apps from your secondary location automatically.
- Fail back: When the primary site is back up again, you can fail back to it seamlessly.
In summary, ASR ensures business continuity is upheld by keeping your business applications and workloads running whenever you might experience outages, and Azure Backup adds further protection for your business-critical data by backing it up to the cloud.
Who is Azure Site Recovery for?
Because you can replicate your applications and failover to Azure to plan for and enable business continuity across cloud and on-premises environments, Azure Site Recovery can help organisations with hybrid infrastructure or even those entirely cloud-first on Azure. It also supports coverage across Hyper-V, Linux, Windows and VMWare virtual machines, and physical servers.
The three uses of ASR are as follows:
1. Azure to Azure: Automatically replicate your virtual machines from one geographical Azure region to another when you experience any downtime.
2. On-premises to Azure: Automatically replicate your physical servers and on-prem virtual machines to an Azure VM with nearly zero downtime.
3. On-premises to on-premises: Use ASR to manage the migration of your data between the primary and secondary on-premises sites - effectively, as a communication channel between the two.
Ultimately, ASR’s native integration with Azure, replication automation capabilities and plethora of features makes it a more attractive disaster recovery solution compared to traditional DR models - we break down some of the enterprise-grade benefits in more detail below.
Cost-effective disaster recovery
ASR is free to use for protection for your instances - for the first 31 days. Each instance you protect always gets that free period no matter how long you’ve been using the service. After that, it’s just a minimal monthly subscription fee to host your data, and standard Azure billing for any VMs failed over into the cloud.
Using ASR to replicate your data to Azure completely eliminates the need for a secondary data centre. This means all of your potential costs associated with building, maintaining and managing an additional infrastructure environment can be circumvented. You can also pre-assess the compute, network and storage resources you need to replicate apps from your on-premises setup to Azure - and only have to pay for what’s needed during outages.
There is also zero software licensing fees or ongoing compute bills to worry about, because ASR is a fully managed service. The only other costs you need to worry about is the storage you need to use to support your application replicas, the average daily number of instances you opt to protect, and the amount of desired recovery points.
Reduced complexity and automated failover
Azure Site Recovery streamlines and reduces the complexity of the DR process significantly. You can configure the tool with workflows that automatically run during failover.
ASR handles all of the steps, including the provisioning of virtual machines in the target site which the failover occurs, and attaches storage disks which contain replicated copies of your data.
Replication and compliance testing
ASR allows you to run failover, recovery and compliance testing without disrupting your live production environment, or spending the extra cash on creating servers for drill purposes - so you know your apps and data actually perform and work in a real disaster scenario.
Not all traditional DR tools give you the option to ensure your configurations and replication process is foolproof, and it’s an understated but key advantage to have an isolated test environment that gives an extra level of confidence to know your failovers work seamlessly.
One place to manage DR
ASR lets you handle all DR-related plans in a single location in the Azure portal instead of having to use multiple tools to manage your BCDR strategy. The console gives you a unified overview of all your protected instances, the replication status of workloads and a way to launch maintenance and update your DR whenever needs change.
In terms of usability, Azure Site Recovery is a better way to manage your DR plans, instead of having to use multiple programs. It’s even more ideal if you’re already heavily using the Azure platform.
High-availability and instant support
Azure Site Recovery guarantees 99.9% service availability for every instance you protect using the service, with 24/7 support from Microsoft and low recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs). From our experience implementing it for our customers across a wide range of industries, including those that can’t afford any downtime at all, ASR offers a seamless DR process that makes it hard to actually notice when there is an outage.
Should I use Azure Site Recovery?
ASR is a highly recommended disaster recovery tool for your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Strategy (BCDR). From our experience helping customers get set up, it best suits businesses with complex hybrid cloud environments who want to ensure continuity between on-premises and cloud setups with zero room for downtime.
If you need help determining whether ASR or another back-up and DR tool is better for your business, visit Xello's Azure Data Protection solutions page for more information.