There's a saying that a paint job is only as good as the preparation. I think this adage also holds true when building out and delivering solutions using Azure Site Recovery. Business continuity is important to every company, and disaster recovery as a service offers a significant opportunity to partners. Gartner has positioned Microsoft in the Leaders quadrant in the 2016 Magic Quadrant for Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). In order to capitalize on this opportunity, you'll want to apply the principles of a good paint job and invest the time and effort in the right preparation to help enable your success.
- Sign up for the May 11 Azure Infrastructure and Management Partner call
- Get the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Disaster Recovery as a Service
Azure Site Recovery overview
Outages may be caused by natural events or operational failures. Companies need a business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy so that during planned and unplanned downtime their data stays safe, apps and services remain available to keep employees productive, and business operations recover to normal working conditions as soon as possible.
Azure recovery services contribute to BCDR strategy. Azure Site Recovery replicates, fails over, and recovers workloads, so that they remain available when failure occurs.
The partner opportunity
Gartner estimates the market for disaster recovery as a service will reach a revenue point of $3.4 billion by 2019 (Gartner, June 2016). You have an opportunity to provide a new set of consulting and managed services to every customer that you’ve ever worked with to identify and help them just about any backup or resiliency requirement they may have.
Learning to paint for the best results
Painting well takes experience and patience to master. When most people take on this task, they just want to get that fresh, new color on the wall and often skip the prep work that gets the best results. In talking to partners that experienced marginal success with their business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) practices, I usually learn that they didn't spend time with preparation and planning, but jumped straight to implementation.
Partners that have established a successful, profitable, business around disaster recovery as a service have learned the following:
- Accepting defaults and answering "yes" to all the setup questions in Azure Site Recovery will not provide the best solution for your customer;
- Plan adequately for the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) elements of business continuity and disaster recovery;
- Don't overlook or underestimate the value of initial replication (IR).
Put plastic down
Designing, implementing, and testing a full-scale site recovery solution is complex, but customers realize tremendous value in the outcome. It’s difficult to achieve this level of complexity by going with a default installation, as it doesn't take into consideration the variables a customer’s environment may introduce. When scoping out your BCDR offering, include enough consulting time to ask questions about and learn about the customer's environment and their requirements and align them to a robust conceptual, logical, and physical architecture.
Investing the time and effort to talk to the right stakeholders at the customer and getting a comprehensive understanding of their needs will be worthwhile.
Tape off the trim
Many customers don’t understand the impact of RTO and RPO. Here is what you should know about them as a partner:
- RTO = Recovery Time Objective. This is the amount of time within which a business process needs to be restored after a disaster or disruption. Read the full definition
- RPO = Recovery Point Objective. This is the maximum amount of time during which data may be lost from an IT service during an outage. Read the full definition
Your conversations with the business should strike a balance between cost/complexity and RTO/RPO objectives. A short downtime and minimal data loss incurred is possible - but the impact of that decision will likely be higher implementation costs due to increased demands on the customer's network, infrastructure, and storage resources.
Wait for the paint to dry
An often overlooked aspect of implementing a BCDR solution with Azure Site Recovery is planning for initial replication. IR is the amount of time it takes to sync a protected workload such as a virtual machine to Azure. The paint isn’t dry until IR is complete. In other words, that workload isn’t protected until IR is complete and the workloads are in sync. Based upon factors such as VM size, your network connection, and the amount of bandwidth available to Azure Site Recovery, initial replication could take days or even weeks. Use the Azure Site Recovery capacity planner to get an idea of what IR will look like given inputs and constraints.
- Deployment planner
- Capacity planner for Hyper-V and physical servers
- Capacity and deployment planner for VMware
- Azure Backup documentation
- Azure Site Recovery documentation