The more important a website gets, the more perilous the threats of downtime and data loss become. Microsoft Azure’s SLAs guarantee at least 99.9% uptime, and deliver more than that, but no service is flawless — and even if you could be assured of 100% availability, there are various relevant factors (such as power supply) that can’t be guaranteed.
This is why Microsoft Azure was loaded up with features for simplifying the process of handling disaster scenarios. In this post, we’ll look at two tools in particular — Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery — that are accessible through the Recovery Services vaults section of the main Azure portal. Together, they can prove invaluable for keeping business operations going when core systems are compromised (intentionally or unintentionally).
How does Azure Backup work?
As the name suggests, Azure Backup is the core service for creating cloud copies of Azure deployments. It can be used to back up local systems or Azure virtual machines, and can encompass all files and folders, application data, and even operating system data. This allows the easy restoration, reversion or replacement of specific files on specific systems.
Before a deployment can be backed up, it must be linked to a Recovery Services vault — and if you’re backing up a cloud system, the backup must go to the vault that it’s already linked. You can then monitor and maintain your saved recovery points (up to 9999 per instance) from the dashboard, restoring or deleting them as needed. The data transfer isn’t limited, and there’s no charge for it outside the scenario of creating the initial backup for a large offline deployment.
That doesn’t mean that Azure Backup is free, though, because there are various charges involved: you must pay for each backup instance and the storage space used (with the latter also depending on the storage type — more secure storage is more expensive).
What does Azure Site Recovery offer?
Though it works in a broadly-similar way to Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery has a completely distinct purpose: to provide a complete deployment fallback service that can keep things running during downtime until the primary service has been restored to full functionality. It’s a form of disaster recovery as a service, or DRaaS.
If you run your main website in the cloud, it’s simply a matter of pivoting from one virtual machine to another. If you maintain an on-premise deployment, you can create a cloud reproduction that can exactly mimic its functionality when needed (typically with negligible loss of speed or responsiveness and minimal loss of recent data).
As for Azure Site Recovery pricing, users are charged for licensing, the storage space used (though only what’s used, regardless of the disk space allocated), and the data transfers needed along the way. The costs can certainly add up, but given the losses that can stem from extended downtime, they’re obviously justified.
How users can benefit from these tools
For anyone running a business operation of any size, the necessity of uptime should be clear, and is often a core motivation to move to Azure in the first place. What’s great about having these two tools available is that it allows you to protect both the operation and the component parts of your deployment at the same time through one portal.
Azure Backup is incredibly useful when you’re going through multiple iterations of a system (perhaps during a development phase) and you don’t know when you might need to go back several steps. It’s also excellent for protecting vital business files: if something is ever lost, you can look back through backup points to find an older version.
Azure Site Recovery, meanwhile, is about the continuity of service. Keep it running, and your primary system could lose all functionality for several days without any users noticing the difference. In the event that there’s a catastrophic system meltdown (perhaps involving server drives failing at an on-premise installation), the Site Recovery copy can take over while the latest Backup point is used to get fresh drives suitably configured.
How resellers can benefit from recommending them
So, having been through the user benefits of these tools, what makes them so valuable for resellers to recommend? It’s simple enough: the fewer interruptions or cases of data loss your clients encounter, the happier they’ll be, and the less frequently (and urgently) they’ll need to reach out to you for support.
It makes your role significantly easier on the whole. You may need to get involved at the beginning to confirm that everything is configured correctly, but once you’re sure that backup points are being created and a site fallback is in place, you can feel confident that you’ll suffer through minimal stress in the event of an emergency.
Wrapping up, Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery are two more strong reasons to recommend the Azure service as a whole, reflecting the incredible mixture of power and convenience made possible through cloud technology. If you’re interested in learning more about these tools (or Azure in general), feel free to contact intY for some expert guidance.