Azure Recovery Services for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Every business should have a disaster recovery and business continuity plan integrated with daily operations. Through a viable strategy, you can maintain system integrity and availability during scheduled or unscheduled maintenance. A tested recovery strategy also ensures you can retrieve critical data if an outage occurs. Azure Site Recovery Services enables you to move business continuity and disaster recovery to the cloud.

Azure Recovery Services can coordinate failover and replication of VMs and physical machines. Whether you run a small business or large enterprise, deploying a solid disaster recovery plan in the cloud is a smart move. In this post, we’ll discuss how you can achieve this level of protection with Azure Recovery Services.

Create a disaster recovery checklist in Azure.

Site Recovery Environments

Azure Recovery Services can protect a mixture of environments involving both physical and virtual machines. Businesses with on-premises, hybrid or cloud-based systems can use recovery services in the Microsoft Cloud and configure the disaster recovery plan to work with a backup site or data center. Configurations examples include:

  • Replicate on-premises VMware virtual servers to Azure or a backup site.

  • Replicate Hyper-V machines in virtual machine manager clouds to Azure or a backup site. You can also replicate Hyper-V VMs (not managed by VMM) through Azure Recovery Services.

  • Replicate physical servers running Windows or Linux to Azure or a backup site.

  • Azure Site Recovery can also migrate Azure IaaS to other regions.

How Azure Recovery Services Works

Microsoft built Azure Recovery Services into Azure so you can access the service right from your portal. Azure Recovery Services work by remotely and continually monitoring servers in your data center. A security key establishes the connection between the on-premises and cloud environments. Azure Site Recovery also has an encryption capability for additional security.

The Recovery Plans drive how recovery services react to an outage by prioritizing which services and servers to restore first. You can set recovery plans to be as simple as you want or customize them with PowerShell scripts. Site Recovery enables testing of recovery plans without disturbing the live network. Testing is easy, free and seamless compared to traditional, intrusive disaster recovery tests that could shut down networks.

To replicate with Azure, you need to configure the Site Recovery vault. When you do this, the failover task kicks in and provisions the VMs. Once you replicate a VM, you can configure the settings to the appropriate size to run the workload. Because disaster recovery is covered by Software Assurance, you don’t have to purchase additional licenses with this configuration.

Calculate your monthly costs with our Azure backup calculator.

Plan for Site Recovery

Before you plan to implement Azure Site Recovery, you should understand how the current environment is configured. Do you have a hybrid, on-premises or full cloud environment? Create a network and system workflow as part of your planning. Make sure to document any dependencies your system has and define times the environment can be down temporarily without accessing those dependencies.

Microsoft has an SLA for recovery services, which includes:

  • For Protected Instances configured for on-premises-to-on-premises failover, Microsoft guarantees at least 99.9% availability of the Site Recovery service (per each billing cycle)
  • For Protected Instances configured for on-premises-to-Azure planned and unplanned failover, Microsoft guarantees a two-hour Recovery Time Objective.

Recovery point and time objectives should be created based on your business’ operational requirements and compared to the SLA.

Azure Paired Regions

With the power of Azure, you can benefit from paired regions. Azure functions in different geographies throughout the globe. Each geography has at least one Azure Region (areas with one or more data centers). Each region comes with a pair within the same geography. For instance, North America has paired regions with North Central U.S. and South Central U.S.

When using Recovery Services, you should replicate your workloads across your regional pair to benefit from Azure’s isolation and availability policies. Azure’s system updates are installed sequentially across a paired region, so if a failed upgrade or patch occurs, both regions will not be affected. You can correct the error before it reaches the other region.

What Are the Benefits of Paired Regions?

Think of Azure Paired Regions like backup and recovery sites. Whenever feasible, Azure favors having 300 miles of separation between each regional pair. The physical separation of data centers in each region minimizes the chances of natural disasters, civil conflicts and power issues affecting the physical network. If the regions are too close, these disasters could affect both.

Applications that are loaded across a paired region have guaranteed recovery coverage across one of the regions. Applications loaded across unpaired regions would notice delays in recovery. Worst-case scenario — it may take slower for one region to recover than the other.

Microsoft schedules updates sequentially to reduce downtime, the risk of error and other issues that arise from a failed update. A region exists within the same geography as the pair so it can meet the data residency requirement for local taxes and laws.

Partner For Success With Azure Recovery

Azure Recovery Services make it safe, easy and secure to develop a business continuity and disaster recovery plan. If you’re serious about protecting intellectual property and guaranteeing it’s recoverable, disaster recovery should be your top priority.

Improper testing or failing to inform stakeholders can compromise your entire backup and recovery plan. Agile IT specializes in backup and recovery for desktops, laptops, servers and virtual machines. If you need help setting up and maintaining a dependable disaster recovery plan, reach out to us today.

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