Effective Disaster Recovery plans with Azure

The core business of a company, in most cases, is deeply dependent on the IT solutions used, therefore it becomes important to structure your infrastructure to cope with accidents of any nature, even the most remote, which could cause damage, an interruption or loss of data. This article describes how, thanks to Azure and the solutions offered by Microsoft's public cloud, effective disaster recovery plans can be developed to better protect all environments, even non-homogeneous ones, providing the ability to easily orchestrate and test all scenarios.

Azure Site Recovery overview (ASR)

The solution called Azure Site Recovery (ASR) allows you to implement disaster recovery strategies that, in case of necessity, can keep applications running and restore normal working conditions. Indeed, Azure Site Recovery favors the implementation of Disaster Recovery strategies in heterogeneous environments, orchestrating near real-time replicas of systems to Microsoft Azure and, within Azure, between regions or between different availability zones. This solution allows you to minimize downtime and recovery times, all in a safe way and through a simple and economically advantageous management.

Figure 1 - Main features of ASR

If there are outages in the primary data center with ASR, you can start a failover process to keep workloads accessible and available. Furthermore, when it will be possible to use the resources in the primary data center again, ASR will allow you to govern the failback process.

ASR is a complete solution that allows you to cover different protection scenarios:

Figure 2 - Possible scenarios for the adoption of ASR

To evaluate in detail all the features offered by ASR you can consult this official Microsoft document.

Main strengths of ASR and integration with other solutions

Among the main advantages that can be obtained with the adoption of this solution we find:

  • Cost optimization as only the virtual machine disks are replicated on Azure. The activation of VMs, with a consequent generation of consumption, occurs only during tests and in the case of DR.
  • Simplify the process of creating disaster recovery plans. In fact, in the recovery plans is possible to include scripts and runbooks present in Azure Automation so that you can model and customize the DR procedures for applications with complex architectures.
  • High flexibility thanks to the potential of the solution that allows you to orchestrate replicas of virtual machines running in different environments.
  • Thanks to the ability to replicate workloads directly on Azure, you can consider completely eliminating a secondary data center built only for disaster recovery purposes.
  • Periodic execution of failover tests to validate the effectiveness of the recovery plans implemented, without giving any impact to production application environment.

ASR is strongly integrated with various native solutions and technologies of the Azure platform, thus being able to guarantee a complete and secure solution, as shown in the following image:

Figure 3 - Main Azure functionalities that can be used in ASR

Furthermore, ASR can also be easily integrated with other BCDR technologies (Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery) already existing in the company, in order to guarantee a complete and effective DR strategy.

When dealing with the issue of Disaster Recovery, in the presence of VMware environments, it is also possible to evaluate theadoption of the Azure VMware solution (AVS), in particular considering the integration with VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM), as described in this article.

Furthermore, in the presence of Azure Stack HCI it is possible to take advantage of the disaster recovery features inherent in the solution and, starting with version 21H2 of Azure Stack HCI, there is also official support for Azure Site Recovery.

The business value of Azure Site Recovery

To analyze the return on investment (ROI) associated with the adoption of Azure Site Recovery and Azure Backup, you can consult this IDC white paper sponsored by Microsoft. The paper highlights how Azure is being used by various companies across various industries for:

  • Optimize overall performance, the speed and reliability of operations related to backups and disaster recovery.
  • Reduce unplanned downtime and consequently business risks, increasing productivity up to 93%.
  • Achieve an estimated five-year ROI up to 370%, with higher levels of team efficiency, faster application development and greater savings on personnel and infrastructure costs.

Other important aspects

To make the Disaster Recovery strategy effective and functional, the following aspects must also be taken into consideration:

  • The data protection policies in place to implement an appropriate synergy. In fact, backups can be an integral part of the DR strategy.
  • Enabling a monitor system useful for identifying problems, their impact and causes. Useful aspects for evaluating the need for activation of the DR strategy.
  • Periodic tests, updating of documentation and training on the staff involved.

Conclusions

Often we are faced with a challenging activity aimed at determining which solution is most appropriate to meet your needs in the activation of disater recovery plans. Microsoft, as a proprietary provider of Data protection as a service solutions (DPaaS) on the Azure platform, can accurately meet various corporate data protection requirements. In particular, with Azure Site Recovery it is possible to contemplate different protection scenarios in an effective and flexible way, ensuring high standards regarding the security of data and sensitive information.

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