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With the introduction of Windows Server 2012 R2 in October 2013, Microsoft first introduced what it called “extended replication” for Hyper-V. This facility permits any Hyper-V VM to be directed to two different replication targets, which usually means a local target for immediate access, rebuild, and recovery; and a cloud-based target for off-site protection, disaster recovery, and so forth. In July, 2014, as an outcome of Microsoft’s acquisition of InMage Systems, the company’s Azure Site Recovery now supports a variety of hybrid cloud-based business continuity solutions that not only encompass on-premises Hyper-V clouds, and Microsoft Azure, but that also extend to enterprise private clouds, active workloads, and hosted clouds in the Azure environment. Furthermore, the company’s self-described strategy is “…to provide hybrid cloud business continuity solutions for any customer IT environment, be it Windows or Linux, physical or virtualized on Hyper-V, VMware, or others.”
Sometimes, bullet-speak is helpful when decoding complex services, such as DRaaS.
Let’s unpack these bullets so as to better understand what’s going on here:
- Automated protection and replication of VMs: users can established and control automation policies for replication and recovery; integrates with Hyper-V Replica, System Center, and SQL Server AlwaysOn.
- Remote Health Monitoring: Uses System Center Virtual Machine Manager to continuously and remotely monitor cloud health from within Azure.
- Customizable recovery plans: buyers can choose to replicate to their own private clouds at a lower price, or to replicate to Azure based private clouds at a higher price (see below for some details).
- No-impact recovery plan testing: Replication and testing imposes no impact on primary private cloud VMs and host machines; test as often as you like without worrying about impacts on users or consumers of cloud-based services and data.
- Orchestrated recovery when needed: This MS DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) offering enables orchestrated recovery for virtual machines for quick service restoration, even for complex, multi-tiered workloads. This comes courtesy of the Azure management portal, which enables creation of recovery plans, then handles their automation and implementation.
- Replicate to — and recover in — Azure: Lets the Azure cloud function as the “replication site” for recovery operations, to avoid costs associated with creating and maintaining an actual disaster recovery site. Though it’s a higher-priced option, published prices are cheap (though they’re linked to a trial period, and will obviously go up thereafter, where final rates are not so readily available).
A free trial is available on the afore-linked page for easy “try it before you buy it” use, and pricing is surprisingly affordable (though costs vary by geographic region; I used my location in the US West to produce these examples):
- $16 per VM per month for customer owned/hosted targets
- $27 per VM per month for site recovery to Azure sites, where additional monthly storage fees will also be incurred for over 100 GB per VM.
- Pricing after the trial period ends is not readily available, though you can use the Azure Calculator to make that determination given a fairly detailed inventory of your workloads, plus storage and bandwidth consumption needs.
This is a pretty interesting offering, and is bound to set the bar for other major cloud vendors and to give smaller players who first jumped into DRaaS some powerful food for thought. It’s definitely worth checking out.