People think that you should implement azure site recovery for business continuity plan or a disaster recovery plan at the time of a disaster. NO!! Every company must have a business continuity/disaster recovery plan and should make sure that you will be able to provide the critical business functions to those who require at the time of the disaster.
When we take Business continuity of IT industry, there are certain challenges. Protecting an entire environment with traditional disaster recovery solutions can be very expensive. For example, if I want to implement a disaster recovery solution on my data-center, I have to spend some money on another set of hardware and I have to do a lot of manual interventions to complete the disaster recovery solution.

Why Azure site recovery (ASR)

An unexpected crash of an unprotected server (by hardware failure, power failure, network outage or any natural calamities) is a nightmare for every administrator. But, there is now a solution that defends against outages with near zero data loss and downtime. It’s Microsoft’s Azure Site Recovery. Azure site recovery provides you a way to create recovery plans. ASR supports a couple of platforms. It supports not only disaster recovery but migration as well. For an example, if you have a physical server to migrate to the cloud, you can just use Azure site recovery to migrate that physical server once and for all to the cloud. You can replicate your workloads that are in VMware to Azure, Hyper-V to Azure, physical server to Azure and of course Azure to Azure (to different regions). Azure will automatically convert machines to Azure Virtual Machines, so no additional configuration or administrative overhead is needed from the customer. ASR uses Azure IaaS to host replicated machines, so you will get full support for Linux, Windows and specific enterprise workloads like SAP.

  • Automated VM level replication
  • Planned and unplanned fail over
  • Migrate to Azure from anywhere
  • Orchestrated recovery plans for disaster recovery
  • Proactive service monitoring
  • Perform quick and easy replication testing
  • Provides flexible and reliable workload replication
  • Automation removes the risk of human error
  • Data is secured up to AES-256
  • Simple test drills prove your business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan works
  • Only pay for replicated VMs when you use them

Options for Failover

In the event of the disaster, a failover process is initiated to get replicated machines up and running. There are three types of failover processes — planned, unplanned and test.
Planned failover is used in case you expect to have a major outage at your primary location. So, Azure will start to synchronize all differences made between two replication intervals, stop the machine at the primary location, and the trigger the machine up in Azure. Once the primary data centre becomes available again, you can easily reverse replication from Azure to on-premises and initiate a failback procedure. This is the solution that ensures zero data loss and downtime.
Unplanned failover is used in case you have a sudden outage in your primary location. But it involves data loss between synchronization intervals.
Test failover is used to create an isolated replica of your primary server for the purpose of testing the environment.

Steps to setup ASR

I am going to demonstrate how to setup Azure-Azure site recovery and see how it works in an event of a disaster.
I have a VM ‘Test1’ created under the resource group ‘rgsounthindia’. And its location is South India.

Now I am going to setup Azure site recovery for this VM to replicate it to another region. So in an event of a disaster at my primary region (South India), I can trigger the failover and the secondary VM (from another region) will be UP and running.
1.Go to ‘All resources’ and click ‘Add’ to add a resource. Here we are going to add ‘Backup and site recovery (OMS)’.

2.Search for Backup and site recovery in search box and select Backup and site recovery (OMS)

3.Give a name for recovery vault, Select your Azure subscription, Select resource group and location of your recover vault (it should be on a different location. We cannot replicate the VM to the same location.)

Click ‘Create’.
4.You can see the status of every action at the notification area. Once the deployment of the recovery vault is completed, it will be available to configure. Go to ‘All resources’ menu and select the newly created recovery vault. Then click on ‘Site recovery’ to configure it.

5.Click on ‘Prepare infrastructure’ to configure infrastructure type. Here we are going to choose Azure to Azure protection goal. Since its an Azure to Azure site recovery, there are no additional steps to configure. If we choose ‘On-premises to Azure’, we must complete 4 more steps.

Click ‘OK’.
6.Click on ‘Replicate application’ to enable the replication. Click on step 1 to configure the source. Since its an Azure to Azure site recovery, Source must be Azure. Select the source’s location. My VM is located in south India. Select your source resource group.

Click ‘OK’.
7.Select the virtual machine which you want to replicate.

Click ‘OK’.
8.Select ‘Configure’ to configure the target and select the target location. You can modify Resource group, Network, Storage, Availability sets and Replication Policy by clicking Customize button.

Click on ‘Create target resources’
9.Once the Target resource is created, Click on ‘Enable replication’

10.Go to ‘Replicated items’, there you can see the “Initial replication is in progress”. Wait to complete it.

11.Once the replication of the VM is completed, you can trigger a test failover to see the working of your ASR.
Click on ‘Test failover’ then select "Recovery point’ and ‘Virtual network’

Click ‘OK’. A test failover will be triggered and a new test VM will get fired. We can call it as a drill test of our ASR. By doing this, we can confirm whether our ASR configurations are correct or not and how it is going to work in an event of a disaster without making any disruption to the live server. We can also use this test failover feature before publishing a new version of an application or before applying any kind of OS patches to the production server.
If everything working smoothly and as expected, we can tear down the test VM by clicking ‘Cleanup test failover’.
12.In case of any disaster event, we can trigger the ‘failover’.
Click on ‘failover’ button and select the ‘recovery point’.

Click ‘OK’. This will fire a new virtual machine and it will start working from another location. We can keep the old VM as stopped.

13.Once the failover is completed, Click ‘Commit’

Click ‘OK’.
As soon as the ‘Commit’ is completed, all services from replicated VM will be working.
Don’t wait for the Disaster to strike! Configure a Disaster Recovery now!

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