Business continuity management

Continuity Guaranteed

Disaster Recovery Scenario for SMEs

The solution described above is primarily designed for enterprises that already operate one or two data centers and rely on Hyper-V (and System Center) for their management. As you can see from the architecture described here, the installed agent communicates via the System Center Virtual Machine Manager with the Hyper-V host.

It often does not make business sense for small to medium-sized enterprises to run a second data center. This is where a new scenario offered by Microsoft comes into its own; it is designed for customers who do not have a second data center and who do not operate System Center. It supports operations with Azure Site Recovery without purchasing and running Virtual Machine Manager.

Of course, Microsoft expects you to pay them for operating the hub in the cloud – after all, this is an enterprise-level service with corresponding Service Level Agreements. Microsoft differentiates pricing between where the virtual machines are provisioned online in case of failure – monitoring and supplying a virtual machine with agents costs the same for all models. Virtual machines that are resuscitated in the secondary data center in case of an outage cost slightly more than EUR10 per month and virtual machine.

If you choose Azure IaaS as the failover location, the costs are slightly more, according to the catalog – this includes geo-redundancy. According to the price list, this means that 20 virtual machines, of which 10 are restored to a secondary data center, while another 10 are recovered in Azure, will set you back slightly more than EUR500 per month (of course, prices may vary depending on your contractual agreement with Microsoft). Compared with a solution that you program and maintain in-house, this can be an attractive solution, especially if only the critical workloads are configured for fast failover, and you do not have your own data center available for that function.

Integrating Storage

ASR lets you integrate existing configurations for storage replication at the hardware level into your failover plan. This means that you can design even better and more competitive failover plans. To integrate your storage infrastructure into Azure Site Recovery, you need SCVMM, which relies on the SMIS (Storage Management Initiative Specification) to communicate with your storage hardware. In this context, Microsoft has sought support from its partners, including EMC, Hitachi, HP, and NetApp – to be able to integrate this third-party hardware including recovery as a scenario for "Storage Replication" based on SMIS in ASR.

The hardware failover configuration is also managed via SCVMM, which means you can integrate your enterprise storage directly into your failover plan – thus rounding off the solution.

Hypervisors and Physical Hardware

Microsoft also supports physical hardware with its site recovery offerings. Physical servers are monitored and replicated into the cloud by agents. In case of failure, the physical server continues to run in the cloud. This is not the typical ASR agent used with SCVMM or the Hyper-V host; instead, it comes from the InMage software suite, whose components are gradually being added to the Azure portfolio since its acquisition by Microsoft.

To use the service, download InMage via the Azure Site Recovery portal by pressing the Setup Recovery button on the Quick Start page and then selecting Between two on-premises VMware Sites from the list. You again use the InMage suite for this. The software package lets you manage the recovery and replication of two VMware implementations beyond the boundaries of your data center; it ensures encrypted, compressed transmission of the virtual machines in doing so.

The InMage Scout component of the suite helps you replicate and provide failover protection for physical servers. The software runs on supported operating systems and replicates changes to a target system. The cloud, the underlying hardware, or the hypervisor are not decisive here. This means that the system can run on physical hardware, VMware, Hyper-V, Azure, or AWS. Scout is only interested in changes to the operating system, which replicates on the target system – and this can reside in Azure. In addition to VMware-to-VMWare, InMage Scout also supports Anything-to-Azure.

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