In this article, I will share with you how Azure Site Recovery can replace your failover (secondary) datacenter to minimize your operational cost, as well as to provide maximum uptime for your critical workloads against any type of disaster whether natural or man-made.
Business continuity in today’s world is becoming more critical than ever. With the increasing amounts of threats and disasters in this all-connected world comes more critical systems that need to be kept up and running 24×7 no matter what the circumstances are and where the workload is running. According to various reports, business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are listed as one of the top 5 priorities businesses continue to have in today’s world.
You may ask – what is different about disaster recovery today? Business continuity and disaster recovery have been there forever –so why does anything need to change and why should be I interested in it?
Traditional Disaster Recovery
In the current state of the art disaster recovery solutions, you need to worry about a secondary facility to be available as well as maintaining that location whether in terms of cooling, hardware, maintenance, etc. Then you need to manage the compute to ensure the failover will happen within the business Service Level Agreement (SLA), and then you need to stand up infrastructure to monitor and manage the entire environment. Ideally, when you consider the cloud as a secondary location for your business, you should not have to worry about any of that. This is one of the key benefits to examine as you look at disaster recovery solutions that support your deployment whether hybrid or cloud-first model.
And Disaster Recovery (DR) to a cloud solution is useful when more and more people are working from home now, and there are difficulties in managing on-premises servers on time.
As you look at various disaster recovery solutions in the market to consider for your failover datacenter, it is important to examine the approach they have taken against this framework and ensure you select the solution that delivers on all that the cloud has to offer.
Azure Site Recovery Overview
Azure Site Recovery (ASR) provides a single DR solution that works across platforms be it running on Hyper-V environment on-premises, Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack HCI, VMware virtualization platform, or even on your physical platform, so it works across platforms and clouds as well. So, it could be your public cloud, your private cloud, or service provider cloud, and across different workloads as well.
As you can see in the preceding figure, you can use Azure infrastructure as your secondary site, then with ASR, you can automate all VMs’ protection, replication, and recovery plans.
Recovery plans will help you to orchestrate the recovery order of your multi-tiered applications during failover since there are many components dependent on each other such as front-end web server, middle-tier, and back-end database server. Recovery plans will orchestrate all this process for you by automating all the manual steps.
After failover to Azure in case of disaster, the replicated Azure VMs will be in an unprotected state. The good news is, once your primary site is back online, you can failback by replicating from Azure to on-premises, then you can run a failover from Azure to your on-premises (primary) site. And once all machines are running on-premises again, you can re-enable replication so that they replicate back to Azure for disaster recovery.
Benefits of Cloud First Disaster Recovery
Since there is no infrastructure to manage (other than the on-premises footprint at your primary site), ASR enables you and the infrastructure admin to do higher leverage tasks such as ensuring compliance with the policy that is increasingly complex to manage when you maintain more than one datacenter. The application admin is more agile in meeting his DR and SLA needs because of the self-service model. This model allows both personas to provide a higher impact on the organization by freeing them of managing infrastructure and focus more on new business opportunities.
This approach also enables scenarios beyond business continuity to deliver even more value. As a first-class PaaS disaster recovery and orchestration service in Azure, it can easily leverage other services in Azure in a secure manner to deliver more value to you. For example, rich monitoring and reporting using PowerBI. You can leverage Azure Backup as a central repository for your DR workload in Azure and eliminate local backup deployment which can easily feed them into the PowerBI service and provide access to rich reports and dashboards.
Azure Site Recovery Pricing
The billing model for Azure Site Recovery is based on the number of instances (virtual machines) protected which is free for the first 31 days, this allows you to get the infrastructure setup and tested without incurring any or minimal cost. After 31 days, you pay CHF 25 per VM (for the scenario where you choose Azure as your secondary location). In addition to the Azure Site Recovery fees, you are also charged for all storage usage, outbound data transfers, and transactions. However, you pay only for the workload when is recovered and running in Azure under the pay as you go (PAYG) model for the compute (Azure VM).
Azure Site Recovery offers unlimited compute, network, and storage scale to provide Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) to businesses. Since all the services are owned and managed by the Azure Site Recovery platform, there are no additional costs for site recovery and there is complete freedom from managing infrastructure.
Azure Site Recovery allows for the use of Azure Hybrid Benefit to reduce the cost of your servers in Azure. It is also important to note that when an instance protected by Azure Site Recovery is recovered to Azure, the software running inside the virtual machine must be properly licensed.
The failover process whether it is planned, unplanned, or test is free and self-service. This model delivers fully on all the cloud promises when it comes to disaster recovery and replacing your failover datacenter.
Azure Site Recovery is complete disaster recovery as a service solution that is part of a broad service presented through Azure Recovery Services Vaults.
Though cloud-native and platform as a service (PaaS), it is also possible to use Site Recovery from one Azure region to another Azure region (cross-region replication), as well as between availability sets within the same datacenter, and between availability zones within the same region for truly DR solution in the cloud. Azure Site Recovery is more than capable of replacing your secondary disaster recovery site with a cloud-based solution that is reliable, secure, and cost-competitive.
Combining Azure Site Recovery with Azure Backup can be a major component of any Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) plan while minimizing cost and investments.
Azure Site Recovery (ASR) is only one part of the disaster recovery equation, however, there are additional pieces that you want to look at during the planning, implementing, and operating phase such as, classifying your workloads based on recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) needs, defining a process around disaster recovery, designing the proper network setup in Azure, automating recovery plans, and running drills at regular cadence for compliance purposes.
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