10 reasons why Azure is the first choice in your Disaster Recovery strategy

10 reasons why Azure is the first choice in your Disaster Recovery strategy

Guaranteed availability and data security, low costs and constant addition of new functionalities make Azure Site Recovery the leader of the global Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service market. ECKO's specialists can help you turn to account such competitive advantages, and thus to benefit from the quality of the Microsoft Cloud services.

The adoption of backup solutions among companies has increased quickly in the past two years. The key factors that have "forced" this development are the higher incidence of cyber attacks - for example ransomware attacks had a 350% increase last year globally - and the coming into force of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This Regulation explicitly stipulates that organisations must have "the ability to restore the availability and access to personal data in a timely manner" (Article 32). The DRaaS market is growing by 44% every year and Azure Site Recovery is a market leader.

Limitations of traditional approaches

The fact that local organisations mostly turn to backup solutions in order to deal with such challenges proves, however, that they have a limited understanding of what it means to ensure the availability and access to data. No matter how "evolved" these backup solutions are, they don't cover the requirements of High Availability (HA) and Disaster Recovery (DR) that companies must acknowledge in order to comply with the requirements of the Regulation, but – especially – in order to ensure business continuity.

This limited approach can, however, be explained by the financial and operational effort. Creating a High Availability infrastructure by ensuring the redundancy of all critical equipment is a goal that is out of reach for SMEs and even large organisations. Disaster Recovery strategies aren't popular either, as the maintenance and operation of a secondary site require substantial investments. In addition, practice has proven that many companies having a secondary DR site don't have an efficient recovery plan, as well, due to the heterogeneity of the technologies used and to the fact that the plan isn't actually tested, in order to be "adjusted" to the level of the actual requirements.

Advantages of Azure Site Recovery

Microsoft's offer for Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) provides a comprehensive solution for all these challenges. Azure Site Recovery (ASR) comes with a number of competitive advantages that ECKO's specialists can help you quickly use:

  • It is a technology-independent service – Using ASR, you can replicate Hyper-V or VMware based virtual machines, VMs hosted in Azure, physical servers that run on Windows or Linux, and workloads specific to the enterprise environment (such as SAP), both to Azure, and to the secondary DR sites on-premises. The Support Matrix for VMware and physical servers provides you with detailed information about the replication process and helps you verify the types of workloads that you can migrate using ASR.

  • It doesn't require a large initial investment and reduces your infrastructure costs – The cost of creating and maintaining a DR site is, for most companies, discouragingly high, just like the related effort. With ASR, the cost of replicating in Azure is 0 for the first 31 days, and starting with the second month there is a charge of about EUR 14 per protected instance in "ASR-to-customer-site" and EUR 22 in "ASR-to-Azure". Using Microsoft's services, your company's DR plan is invoiced in units for the average number of instances that you want to protect every month. The budgeting per instance reduces both the operational cost, and the level of complexity and the administration effort, you can consult the pricing calculator.

  • It is easy to develop and manage – Microsoft provides you with a comprehensive documentation about how you can determine the capacity needed. For this, you can access instruments such as Azure Site Recovery Deployment Planner and Azure Site Recovery Capacity Planner which give you full details.

  • It guarantees a high level of data availability – ASR is specially designed to guarantee data resilience, integrating automatic failover functionalities to a secondary Microsoft Data Center, without intercepting application data. Like all Microsoft Azure services, ASR has a SLA for service uptime of 99.9%.

  • It includes options for application recovery prioritisation – ASR enables you to control in detail and to establish the order in which you want your business systems to be restored according to their criticality level. The Microsoft solution automatically orchestrates service recovery processes by using the predefined selection and hierarchy, thus ensuring compliance with the RTO and RPO indicators, in accordance with the business requirements

  • You benefit from a competitive RTO – For every instance protected using the "On-Premises-to-On-Premises Failover" scenario, ASR provides a high Recovery Time Objective – which can be improved by integrating Azure Traffic Manager – and a Site Recovery service availability of 99.9%. For instances configured for "On-Premises-to-Azure and Azure-to-Azure Failover", the RTO is about two hours.

  • It simplifies performance of failover tests – Traditionally, the regular testing of business continuity plans requires careful planning and executin time, is costly, and may cause unplanned downtime. However, with ASR you can carry out this process "on the fly", without causing any disruptive effects on business activities. Thus, you can verify your company's ability to perform the regular tests necessary for assessing the effectiveness of the technical and organisational actions taken – another requirement stipulated in the GDPR.

  • Data protection is guaranteed – ASR uses data encryption for data in traffic, as well as for those stored in Azure, also providing options for encryption key management. Moreover, Azure has the highest level of certification and compliance with security standards among cloud service providers worldwide (ISO 27018, ISO 27001, ITAR, CSA, DISA Level 2, CJIS, EU Safe Harbour, HIPAA/HITECH, etc.).

  • It can also be used as a migration instrument to the Cloud – ASR is designed to manage and orchestrate disaster recovery of on-premises machines and VMs from Azure, but it can also be used for migrating to Microsoft Cloud. The procedure is identical in part, but it involves an automatic sequence of steps after the migration is completed. Details about the stages of this process can be found here.

  • You are constantly provided with new functionalities – Microsoft continues to extend ASR support by adding functionalities. For example, at the beginning of this year, they announced the introduction of support for UEFI boot system servers, the extension of support for the migration to Azure of servers hosted on public or private cloud platforms, and the introduction of the "Linux disk support" functionality, which eliminates a number of restrictions that companies have to deal with when migrating virtualised Linux servers.

As you can see, Microsoft has made significant efforts to make the adoption and implementation of Azure Site Recovery as easy as possible. ECKO can help you achieve this with even less effort and to focus your attention on your business activity. Moreover, our specialists can help you to implement a Disaster Recovery strategy that would handle any audit process and be within your company's budget.