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How Azure helps solve the big 3 challenges of business continuity

Microsoft | Posted on October 26, 2017

It seems like every month there’s a new story highlighting the cost of service outages and data loss. When it happens, business reputations tank and IT loses stature in the company. These effects can be even worse than direct costs from lost customers and sales.

To prevent downtime and outages, environments need to be resilient in the event of failures, and able to recover from them quickly.

There are three key issues making business continuity a challenge today:

1. Cost

The need for a second site, extra hardware, fast WAN and extra people is prohibitive for many companies.

2. Complexity

Maintaining multiple data centers and tape restoration is complex, while managing, patching and upgrading disaster recovery systems is daunting. And remember – your backup and disaster recovery system is only as good as your ability to restore it.

3. Compliance

For many organizations, data residency for personally identifiable information is also a concern.

The cloud helps businesses to overcome these barriers. It’s easier and cheaper in the cloud to keep the lights on and plan for inevitable failures to come. In Azure environments specifically, a wide array of options exist for business continuity. Microsoft has invested heavily to make Azure an open platform. Azure supports — and is supported by — a vast ecosystem of disaster recovery, backup and archiving tools. That way you can use your existing business continuity solutions or favorite vendors on the cloud.

Of course, those seeking a pure Microsoft environment can find it through Azure Site Recovery and Azure Backup. Using Microsoft Azure solutions for business continuity makes it fast and simple to set up your recovery environment. It’s also easy to test that your fail over plan actually works. This is a critical-but-often-overlooked element of disaster recovery planning.

Watch our video to see how these two solutions work in the real world.

Cloud-based solutions like Azure Site Recovery and Azure Backup help you modernize your business continuity system by offering some pretty significant benefits.

Azure Site Recovery

is Microsoft’s disaster recovery-as-a-service solution. It can create a failover environment from one on-premise data center to another, from on-premise to the cloud or even cloud-to-cloud. Cost of disaster recovery is reduced by eliminating the need for front-end hardware investments, or for a secondary site.

With 36 or more global Azure locations available (the number is constantly growing!), it’s now easier to meet the disaster recovery requirement of having more than 100 miles between sites. Microsoft has also worked with governments and regulators in those regions to meet local privacy regulations, solving the compliance challenge.

Site Recovery enables high-availability to applications while reducing the cost of disaster recovery. Businesses pay only to store the restore data of the physical or virtual machines being replicated — on low-cost cloud storage, of course. For compute power, you pay only in the case of an outage. Fail overs can be set to occur based on predefined situations, improving response times.

Of course, time must be spent scripting these situations, but that’s basically the setting up of your disaster recovery plan. Azure Site Recovery is not an out-of-the-box solution. It must be customized.

Azure Backup

is Microsoft’s backup-as-a-service solution. Originally a different architecture from Site Recovery, the two now use the same storage model and interface. Azure Backup backs up disc images but can be used to back up applications. The tool protects against failures not caused by disasters. Azure backup gives the ability to quickly restore data that’s been compromised by hackers, file corruptions, human error, ransomware or lost devices.

It’s simply another locked door to prevent the bad actors from getting you. For example, during a ransomware attack, you can pay to get your files back and hope for the best. Or you can use Azure Backup to wipe and restore the encrypted files.

There are three main considerations that go into building a modern business continuity plan:

  • Are the business continuity services built to support native cloud services?
  • Does the cloud platform support business continuity?
  • Perhaps most importantly, how do you test the business continuity plan?

Business continuity and high availability don’t need to be beyond an organization’s reach. The cloud, and Azure specifically, can help overcome the common barriers by reducing cost, helping manage complexity and providing the flexibility to meet the specific needs of your business.

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