Azure Site Recovery (ASR) and How it Can Help with Windows Disaster Recovery

In the event that a disaster strikes and renders computer services temporarily unavailable, it’s imperative for enterprises to have the ability to recover their mission-critical applications and/or their entire computer network quickly and minimize downtime.

After all, research shows that 98 percent of enterprises estimate the cost of just one hour of downtime to run as high as $100,000. The same research has 81 percent of enterprises estimating a one-hour downtime cost in excess of $300,000. Bearing such costs in mind, it’s not stretching it to say that the speed at which a business can get its IT infrastructure functioning after an unexpected outage can make a difference to its long-term survival.

In this article you’ll find out about the options for disaster recovery on Azure ASR, what a Windows disaster recovery plan entails, and how site recovery solutions such as Azure ASR can contribute to the implementation of a successful disaster recovery plan for Windows server workloads.

What is Azure ASR?

Azure Site Recovery (ASR) is a disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solution provided by Microsoft Azure that orchestrates and manages disaster recovery for Azure virtual machines (VMs), on-premises VMs, and physical servers.

The idea is that Azure ASR automatically replicates application workloads to another machine in a secondary location, returning apps to a functioning state quickly in the event of a human or natural disaster that disrupts workloads running either in the Azure cloud or on-premises. Accessing apps running in the secondary location is termed fail over, and you typically fail back to the primary systems once they are functioning again.

The pricing structure of Azure ASR is simple:

  • $16 per instance protected and recovered back to a customer-owned site.
  • $25 per instance protected and recovered back to the Azure cloud.

The first 31 days for each instance protected is free, after which the above prices apply.

Azure ASR Usage

Some of the specific ways to use Azure ASR include:

  • Replicate workloads on Azure cloud virtual machines in one region to other Azure virtual machines in a different region.
  • Replicate, failover, and recover physical servers between an on-premises site and Azure.
  • Replicate on-premises Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs) from a Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) server in a primary location to one in a secondary location.
  • Replicate on-premise workloads running on Hyper-V or VMWare virtual machines to Microsoft Azure VMs.

Windows Disaster Recovery Plan

A Windows disaster recovery plan is a closely related concept to the type of site recovery provided by the Azure ASR service. Essentially, a Windows DR plan is a set of preventative steps taken to recover applications, data, system states, and configurations for all Windows systems used by an enterprise.

Enterprises tend to run applications and workloads on several types of systems, particularly with the popularity of modern hybrid cloud solutions that combine on-premise and cloud computing resources.

While site recovery services attempt to approach disaster recovery from a wider perspective, it’s important for administrators specifically of Windows servers to develop their own disaster recovery plan. This is because Windows systems come with their own unique considerations in terms of recovery from backups, and concepts such as Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC) that make it easier to geographically cluster a server.

Site Recovery Solutions for Windows Administrators

As already noted, one of the main use cases for Azure ASR is the recovery of physical servers by replication, failover, and failback of workloads between physical servers and the Azure cloud. Such an option is useful for Windows server admins looking for a solution as part of their Windows DR plan that helps to get Windows servers back online quickly with minimal downtime in the event of an outage.

Other disaster recovery options available for enterprises that use Windows servers include using Amazon Web Services (AWS) for Windows file servers, or the Fujitsu DRaaS solution for recovery of both physical and virtual servers running Windows.

Closing Thoughts

A site recovery service such as Azure ASR is particularly valuable for enterprises because it manages to kill two birds with one stone. In addition to providing peace of mind for the swift recovery of a wide range of systems deployed by an enterprise in the event of a disaster (virtual machines, Azure cloud, physical servers), Azure ASR also solves specific problems for Windows admins who need a robust disaster recovery option as part of their own Windows-specific DR plans.

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