Disaster recovery in Azure

Covid-19 has irrevocably changed the way organisations everywhere operate, crystallising the link between a robust and secure IT infrastructure and business continuity.

Organisation’s dependency on IT has been increasing over the years, with many engaging in digital transformation projects and moving on-premises systems to the cloud.

However, coronavirus has further emphasised the importance of an organisations’ dependency on IT to remain operational, should an unforeseen incident occur. IT has become too big to fail.

IDC estimates that as many as half of all organisations could not survive a disaster because they are not adequately prepared to deal with its impact. This lack of preparation results in excessively long recovery times with a significant loss of unrecoverable data.

This stark figure shows the urgent necessity for organisations to use a disaster recovery service, such as disaster recovery in Azure, to keep data safe, and apps and workloads online, when planned and unplanned outages occur or when global disasters strike.

This article explores the disaster recovery services in Azure that enables IT Teams, to create resilient, always-on services and protect data, no matter what disruptions occur.

Disaster recovery in Azure

Microsoft Azure has two services to support disaster recovery:

1. Azure Site Recovery (ASR)
2. Azure Backup

Azure Site Recovery

ASR is a native cloud solution that protects on-premises workloads and allows for disaster recovery failover from on-premises to the Azure cloud. It also provides Azure-to-Azure cloud recovery between different Azure regional datacentres e.g. UK South to UK West. ASR works for virtual infrastructure workloads, whether Hyper-V or VMware, as well as physical workloads.

ASR provides all of the technological components needed for a disaster recovery failover, including data replication, workload migration, and recovery orchestration. Azure disaster recovery also allows IT organisations to test disaster recovery failover without impacting production workloads. ASR allows organisations to scale necessary resources on-demand to minimise upfront costs while maintaining the flexibility to meet full workload demands.

Azure Site Recovery features

  • Management console: Manage replication, failover, and failback from the Azure console
  • Azure Virtual machine (VM) migration: Migrate VMs between Azure regions or from on-premises datacentres
  • Workload migration: Support workload migrations for VMs (Hyper-V and VMware) as well as Windows and Linux physical servers
  • Service-level management: Manage both recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs), with RPOs as low as 30 seconds
  • Application-consistent failover: Leverage snapshots to capture disk data, data in memory, and in‑process transactions.

Azure Backup

Azure Backup provides backup and recovery functionality built into the Azure platform. Its backup and restore capabilities cover VMs, files and folders, Exchange, SharePoint, SQL, and more, both in Azure and on-premises. Management of Azure Backup is performed from the Azure console, including centralised monitoring and reporting.

Multifactor authentication for Azure portal access and alerts for suspicious behaviour help reduce the threat of attack from malware or ransomware. Users are also able to set data retention times to either short term or long term (up to 99 years).

Azure Backup also has several features to help customise the service to specific needs. This includes network throttling to take advantage of off-peak times as well as incremental forever backups to reduce backup storage growth. Data is both compressed and encrypted for secure storage and backup data can be automatically replicated to a secondary Azure region for geographic protection.

Azure Backup features

  • Offload on-premises backup: Azure Backup offers a simple solution for backing up your on-premises resources to the cloud. Get short and long-term backup without the need to deploy complex on-premises backup solutions
  • Back up Azure IaaS VMs: Azure Backup provides independent and isolated backups to guard against accidental destruction of original data. Backups are stored in an encrypted recovery services vault
  • Recovery Services encrypted vault with built-in management of recovery points. Configuration and scalability are simple, backups are optimised, and you can easily restore as needed
  • Scale easily: Azure Backup uses the underlying power and unlimited scale of the Azure cloud to deliver high-availability with no maintenance or monitoring overhead
  • Get unlimited data transfer: Azure Backup doesn’t limit the amount of inbound or outbound data you transfer or charge for the data that is transferred in or out of Azure.

The value of Azure disaster recovery services

Now that the initial shock of an unprecedented pandemic has passed and with lockdown easing, organisations are starting to think about how to re-establish a sense of routine. Now is a good time to evaluate how to shore up potential IT vulnerabilities to ensure business continuity no matter what disaster strikes.

If you would like to understand more about your options for enabling robust IT resilience, read our Azure disaster recovery guide, and discover how you can help your organisation to act and react to unforeseen IT events. Alternatively, visit our business continuity hub, where you can access a wide range of helpful resources.