In the Azure Infrastructure and Management Partner Community, we're continuing the discussion of operations management and Microsoft Operations Management Suite. Our November focus will be on Microsoft Azure Site Recovery.
Site Recovery is a cloud-based disaster recovery service that provides fully automated protection of virtual and physical machines. Site Recovery can protect Hyper-V, VMware, and physical servers, and you can use Microsoft Azure or your secondary datacenter as your recovery site. Site Recovery coordinates and manages the ongoing replication of data by integrating with existing technologies, including Microsoft System Center and SQL Server AlwaysOn. It contributes to a company’s business continuity and disaster recovery strategy by orchestrating replication of on-premises physical servers and virtual machines to the cloud (Azure) or to a secondary datacenter. When outages occur in your primary location, you fail over to the secondary location to keep apps and workloads available. You fail back to your primary location when it returns to normal operations.
Keys to success for disaster recovery: Recovery Time Objective and Recovery Point Objective
While real-time replication of services sounds great, its value decreases if it takes hours or days to bring online. Conversely, if you can bring the services online quickly, but the source is hours or days old, that probably won't meet the customer's needs.
At the outset of recovery planning, it's critical to define two components:
- Recovery Time Objective (RTO) - how long can the service be offline?
- Recovery Point Objective (RPO) - how old can the data be?
The determination of these two factors leads to other components for planning, such as the amount of network bandwidth required and the amount of storage.
Site Recovery is capable of an RPO of seconds, and an RTO of minutes.
One of the most often neglected aspects of disaster recovery plans is testing the plan. Site Recovery provides test failovers to support disaster recovery drills without affecting production environments. You can also run planned failovers with a zero-data loss for expected outages, or unplanned failovers with minimal data loss (depending on replication frequency) for unexpected disasters. After failover you can failback to your primary sites. Site Recovery provides recovery plans that can include scripts and Azure automation workbooks so that you can customize failover and recovery of multi-tier applications.
Site Recovery as a starting point
For customers who are not yet ready to move critical workloads to the cloud, Site Recovery is a great introduction to Microsoft Azure. Site Recovery has the flexibility to protect many types of workloads, including Windows and Linux servers - both physical and virtual - and VMWare servers. And, solutions that include Site Recovery typically also include networking components, virtual machines, and premium storage. The opportunity to present capital expenditure savings over traditional disaster recovery methods is a great way for partners to present value to a customers’ IT team, and to their finance and management teams as well. You can expand relationships within existing customers, and quick prove value with new customers.
Site Recovery as a migration tool
One of the strengths of Azure Site Recovery that should not be overlooked is its value as a migration tool. The same tools that are used to set up the failover replication are used to migrate workloads from anywhere, including AWS, to Azure. This reduction in “heavy lifting” for partners is a huge opportunity to create predictable, automated practices around migration services. And there's no additional cost, so it helps customers control project costs.
The Azure Site Recovery Capacity Planner helps you get a quick estimation of the source environment, get VM-level information and validate VMs, and plan capacity for resources such as networking. This planning tool can help you set expectations with customers, especially regarding network bandwidth, as it has a direct correlation to the ability to replicate data. When performing initial discovery on systems to be protected, refer to the Azure Site Recovery Matrix for system compatibility.
The partner opportunity
According to IDC, three out of every four companies are at risk for failing to prepare for disaster, either by having no plan or incomplete plans. In 2015, $1.5 billion was spent on cloud disaster recovery, and that number is expected to grow to $6 billion by 2019. Keep in mind, those numbers are based on less than a third of companies having a successful disaster recovery strategy. Partners should make business continuity and disaster recovery a routine part of their conversation with customers. Cloud resources are just one part of what you can offer - consider adding planning resources, process and procedure documentation, and managed or IP services. Combined with Azure Site Recovery, these components can be packaged into a repeatable solution offering for your customers.