The best solutions combine the benefits of cloud offerings like Azure and AWS with disaster recovery. The following section discusses five features of a cloud DR recovery solution and how Symantec’s Disaster Recovery Orchestrator — which can be integrated with Azure or AWS — achieves them.
The question at the heart of a potential solution’s value proposition is how it compares to other solutions from a cost perspective. Traditional, on-premises options are costly because the required uptime of the physical backup infrastructures. In contrast, cloud disaster recovery solutions take advantage of just-in-time (JIT) disaster recovery, allowing for the deployment of services and applications only when they are needed.
Microsoft Azure and AWS are a cost-effective solutions in part because the cloud offering was designed to instead be application-centric — treating virtualized and physical resources the same. In a similar sense, management and automation of a cloud DR solution should be easy, consolidated and compute / storage agnostic, as well as cost effective. When coupled with Symantec’s Disaster Recovery Orchestrator, Azure and AWS each give firms unprecedented automation and reliability for their disaster recovery efforts. Disaster Recovery Orchestrator features a simple wizard-based installation and end-to-end configuration experience — no manual installation or rebooting required. The installation process is fast, usually taking about 5 minutes.
On the client side, Disaster Recovery Orchestrator is comprised of two subcomponents: agents and the file replicator. Agents run on any application node that requires protection and recovery. They keep track of dependencies such as required services and hardware — critical information for identifying issues when implementing failover routines. They also enable the tracking and control of startup and shutdown procedures in order of precedence for use in the event of a recovery. Agents essentially monitor infrastructure and application resources. They work together to provide the protection and automation control of the application. They are managed together as a protected application on the secondary virtual machine in Azure or AWS.
File replicators residing on client nodes allow for granular control over what files get replicated, keeping track of application changes and the order in which they change — otherwise known as write order fidelity — in journals sent to the secondary virtual machine in Azure or AWS. This ensures that in the event of a disaster recovery event, the application comes up and is consistent in the recovery process. Replication occurs over the connection of the site-to-site VPN, with I/O changes transmitted as they occur, as opposed to taking a complete snapshot of a volume and sending it over the pipe.
Once installed, a cloud disaster recovery solution should accomplish several key routines central to effective recovery and restoration. In the event of an on-premises failure, takeover operations should occur seamlessly, and then failback to the original on-premises system once it has been restored or recovered. Fire drills, or the graceful testing of application recovery, are also a crucial capability — checking systems for correct backup and recovery without affecting production environments is important for ensuring service levels, as well as instilling or maintaining IT peace of mind and confidence.
The ability to test the consistency and recoverability of an application and related data without disrupting normal operations is a key feature of Disaster Recovery Orchestrator. Reporting should also be a core feature of a cloud disaster recovery solution, as administrators and managers may need to audit system activity and behavior. In addition to takeover, failback and firedrills, Disaster Recovery Orchestrator also features basic reporting that details which applications were run, what actions were taken, when they were taken, by whom, and the result of the activity.
Disaster recovery solutions should not be a management burden. To that end, automation is a key attribute for such offerings. Because Symantec’s disaster recovery solution is application-centric, an extensive range of automation is possible across hybrid environments managed in Azure or AWS. Disaster Recovery Orchestrator uses a consolidated replication target, eliminating the need for application virtual machines to remain in an “always-on” state.
Application recovery virtual machines are created and started in the cloud automatically, but only during a disaster recovery event. This enables enterprises to keep costs down, with a savings of up to 95 percent. Software agents installed on nodes with applications keep track of hardware and software dependencies, ensuring the startup of application software parts in correct order. Agents not only track dependencies required for recovery and operations, but also continuously monitor and track application health, application recovery and startup/shutdown events. The result is a disaster recovery solution that automatically recovers business applications quickly and effectively with one click, allowing firms to meet stringent recovery time objectives (RTOs).
A high level of automation results in more than just time savings otherwise spent on maintenance or cost savings on metered resources in the cloud. A disaster recovery solution that runs and manages itself with built-in application-level intelligence and automated end-to-end recovery task orchestration translates to lower training and labor costs, as well as a reduction in human error.
Due to the sheer volume of moving parts in a disaster recovery solution, it’s important that all management options reside in a centralized location that is always available in the cloud via any web browser. With configuration, reporting and other critical options all located in one place, management becomes a predictable and easy activity — with less chance for human error and a lower learning curve to operate.
Disaster Recovery Orchestrator’s key configuration settings are located in the centralized management console, which in turn resides on the secondary virtual machine in the cloud. The console’s dashboard displays on-premises application states. Each application node to be protected is managed by the installed agent, with the agents collectively managed by the centralized management console. Core operational activities such as takeover, failback, fire drills and reporting are also managed through the console.
To ensure data integrity and continuity, a cloud disaster recovery solution should perform continuous replication instead of backing up a snapshot of the protected system at a single point in time. Continuous replication enables the highest level of backup data integrity without having to take applications offline. Disaster Recovery Orchestrator performs real-time replication without impacting application performance in the production environment.
Because agents installed on protected application nodes keep track of dependencies that may impact failover, recovery activities are tracked in the right order. These features help firms achieve recovery point objectives (RPOs) by providing easier, faster and less problematic data and application recovery.
An effective cloud disaster recovery solution should encompass all five of the above features to deliver a comprehensive, cost-effective strategy. Most traditional on-premises disaster recovery solutions face issues that threaten their viability and effectiveness. In terms of CAPEX and OPEX, the cost of maintaining a one-to-one pairing of backup resources between primary and secondary data centers can be very high — prohibitively so for smaller organizations.
Traditional methods of disaster recovery can have varying results, resulting in the inability to maintain and ensure consistency in service levels. Reliability is also a concern with traditional solutions, as disparate environments and ecosystems often present roadblocks to recovery. In these instances, manual processes are required to properly restore systems to an operational state.
By taking advantage of cloud computing infrastructures and virtual machines in place of physical hardware and software, cloud disaster recovery solutions provide robust business continuity at unprecedented cost savings. Offerings such as Disaster Recovery Orchestrator with Microsoft Azure or AWS provide a disaster recovery solution that combines the best features of the public cloud and an on-premises infrastructure. It enables firms to keep data secure while ensuring quick recovery time, allowing for the fulfillment of strict RTOs and RPOs.
Last but not least, Disaster Recovery Orchestrator’s application-centric focus, in conjunction with robust recovery control, automation and replication capabilities, makes for a comprehensive and reliable end-to-end solution for disaster recovery.
Symantec’s Disaster Recovery Orchestrator — integrated with Microsoft Azure and AWS — provides the best RPOs and RTOs through end-to-end recovery task automation, delivering a comprehensive and cost effective DR solution. Disaster Recovery Orchestrator can automatically handle all complex disaster recovery operations and application recovery, returning operations on-premises with no manual tasks or intervention necessary. Contact Symantec today to explore your cloud disaster recovery options.