Category Archives: Disaster Recover

Azure Site Recovery: 4 Things You Need to Know

Disaster recovery has traditionally been a complex and expensive proposition for many organizations. Many have chosen to rely on backups of data as the method of disaster recovery. This approach is cost effective, however, it can result in extended downtime during a disaster while new servers are provisioned (referred to as Recovery Time Objective or RTO) and potentially large data loss of information created from the time of the backup the time of the failure (referred to as Recovery Point Objective). In the worst case scenario, these backups are not viable at all and there is a total loss. For those who have looked into more advanced disaster recovery models, the complexity and costs of such a system quickly add up. Azure Site Recovery helps bring disaster recovery to all companies in four key ways.


Azure Site Recovery makes disaster recovery easy by delivering it as a cloud hosted service

The Azure Site Recovery lives within the Microsoft cloud and is controlled and configured through the Azure Management Portal. There is no requirement to patch or maintain servers; it’s disaster recovery orchestration as a service. Using Site Recovery does not require that you use Azure as the destination of replication. It can protect your workloads between 2 company-owned sites. For example, if you have a branch office and a home office that both run VMware or Hyper-V, you can use Azure Site Recovery to replicate, protect and fail over workloads between your existing sites. It also has the optional function of being able to replicate data directly to Azure which can be used to avoid the expense and complexity of building and maintaining a disaster recovery site. 


Azure Site Recovery is capable of handling almost any source workload and platform

Azure Site Recovery offers an impressive list of platforms and applications it can protect. Azure site recovery can protect any workload running on VMware Virtual Machines on vSphere or ESXi, Hyper-V VMs with or without System Center Virtual Machine Manager and, yes; even physical workloads can be replicated and failed over to Azure. Microsoft has worked internally with its application teams to make sure Azure Site Recovery works with many of the most popular Microsoft solutions including Active Directory, DNS, Web apps (IIS, SQL), SCOM, SharePoint, Exchange (non-DAG), Remote Desktop/VDI, Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM, and Windows File Server. They have also independently tested protecting SAP, Linux (OS and Apps) and Oracle workloads.


Azure Site Recovery has predictable and affordable pricing

Unlike traditional disaster recovery products that require building and maintaining a warm or hot DR site, Site Recovery allows you to replicate VMs to Azure. Azure Site Recovery offers a simple pricing model that makes it easy to estimate costs. For virtual machines protected between company-owned sites, it is a flat $16/month per protected virtual machines. If you are protecting your workloads to Azure then it is $54/month per protected server. In addition, the first 31 days of protection for any server is free. This allows you to try out and test Azure site recovery before you have to pay for it. It is also a way for you to use Azure Site Recovery to migrate your workloads to Azure for free.


Azure Site Recovery is secure and reliable

Azure Site Recovery continuously monitors the replication and health of the protected workloads from Azure. In the event of an inability to replicate data, you can configure alerts to email you a notification. Protecting the privacy of your data is a top priority in Site Recovery. All communication between your on premises environment and Azure is sent over SSL encrypted channels. All of your data is encrypted both when in transit and at rest in Azure. Performing failover testing with Azure Site Recovery allows you to do a test failover without impacting your production workloads.


For these reasons, companies should be considering adding Azure Site Recovery to their business continuity and disaster recovery toolbox.


[If you’re looking for more Microsoft resources, download our recent webinar around strategies for migrating to Office 365]


By Justin Gallagher, Enterprise Consultant

10 Storage Predictions for 2014

By Randy Weis, Consulting Architect, LogicsOne

As we wrap up 2013 and head into the New Year, I wanted to give 10 predictions I have for the storage market for 2014.

  1. DRaaS will be the hottest sector of cloud-based services: Deconstructing cloud means breaking out specific services that fit a definition of a cloud type service such as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) and other specialized and targeted usages of shared multi-tenant computing and storage services. Capital expenditures, time to market, and staff training are all issues that prevent companies from developing a disaster recovery strategy and actually implementing it. I predict that DRaaS will be the hottest sector of cloud based services for small to medium businesses and commercial companies. This will impact secondary storage purchases.
  2. Integration of flash storage technology will explode: The market for flash storage is maturing and consolidating. EMC has finally entered into the market. Cisco has purchased Whiptail to integrate it into unified computing systems. PCI flash, server flash drives at different tiers of performance and endurance, hybrid flash arrays, and all flash arrays will all continue to drive the adoption of solid state storage in mainstream computing.
  3. Storage virtualization – software defined storage on the rise: VMware is going to make their virtual VSAN technology generally available at the beginning of Q2 in 2014. This promises to create a brand new tier of storage in datacenters for virtual desktop solutions, disaster recover, and other specific use cases. EMC is their first release of a software defined storage product called ViPR. It has a ways to go before it really begins to address software defined storage requirements, but it is a huge play in the sense that it validates a segment of the market that has long had a miniscule share. DataCore has been the only major player in this space for 15 years. They see EMC’s announcement as a validation of their approach to decoupling storage management and software from the commodity hard drives and proprietary array controllers.
  4. Network Attached Storage (NAS) Revolution: We’re undergoing a revolution with the integration and introduction of scale out NAS technologies. One of the most notable examples is Isilon being purchased by EMC and starting to appear as a more fully integrated and fully available solution with a wide variety of applications. Meanwhile NetApp continues to innovate in the traditional scale up NAS market with increasing adoption of ONTAP 8.x. New NAS systems feature support of the most recent releases SMB 3.0, Microsoft’s significant overhaul of Windows-based file sharing protocol (also known as CIFS). This has a significant impact on design Hyper V Storage and Windows file sharing in general. Client and server side failover are now possible with SMB 3.0, which enables the kind of high availability and resiliency for Hyper V that VMware has enjoyed as a competitive advantage.
  5. Mobile Cloud Storage – File Sharing Will Never Be the Same: Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Huddle and other smartphone-based methods to access data anywhere are revolutionizing the way individual consumers access their data. This creates security headaches for IT admins, but the vendors are responding with better and better security built into their products. At the enterprise level, Syncplicity, Panzura, Citrix ShareFile, Nasuni and other cloud storage and shared storage technologies are providing deep integration into Active Directory and enabling transfer of large files across long distances quickly and securely. These technologies integrate with on premise NAS systems and cloud storage. Plain and simple, file sharing will never be the same again.
  6. Hyper Converged Infrastructure Will Be a Significant Trend: The market share dominance of Nutanix, Simplivity (based in Westborough, MA) and VMware’s VSAN technology will all change the way shared storage is viewed in datacenters of every size. These products will not replace the use of shared storage arrays but, instead, provide an integrated, flexible and modular way to scale virtualized application deployments, such as VDI and virtual servers. These technologies all integrate compute & storage, networking (at different levels) and even data protection technology, to eliminate multiple expenditures and multiple points of management. Most importantly, Hyper-converged Infrastructure will allow new deployments to begin small and then scale out without large up-front purchases. This will not work for every tier of application or every company, but it will be a significant trend in 2014.
  7. Big Data Will Spread Throughout Industries: Big Data has become as much a buzzword as cloud. The actual use of the technologies that we call big data is growing rapidly. This adoption is not only in internet giants like Google and companies that track online behavior, but also in industries such as insurance, life sciences, and retailers. Integration of big data technologies (i.e. Hadoop, MapReduce) with more traditional SQL database technology allows service providers of any type to extract data from traditional databases and begin processing it on a huge scale more efficiently and more quickly, while still gaining the advantage of more structured databases. This trend will continue to spread throughout many industries that need to manage large amount of structured and unstructured data.
  8. Object based storage will grow: Cloud storage will be big news for 2014 for two major reasons. The first reason stems from shock waves of Nirvanix going out of business. Corporate consumers of cloud storage will be much more cautious and demand better SLAs in order to hold cloud storage providers accountable. The second reason has to do with adoption of giant, geographically dispersed data sets. Object based storage has been a little known, but important, development in storage technology that allows data sets on scale of petabytes to be stored and retrieved by people who generate data and those who consume it. However, these monstrous data sets can’t be protected by traditional RAID technologies. Providers such as Cleversafe have developed a means to spread data across multiple locations, preserving its integrity and improving resiliency while continuing to scale to massive amounts.
  9. More Data Growth: This may seem redundant, but it is predicted that business data will double every two years. While this may seem like great news for traditional storage vendors, it is even better news for people who provide data storage on a massive scale, and for those technology firms that enable mobile access to that data anywhere while integrating well with existing storage systems. This exponential data growth will lead to advances in file system technologies, object storage integration, deduplication, high capacity drives and storage resource/lifecycle management tool advances.
  10. Backup and Data Protection Evolution + Tape Will Not Die: The data protection market continues to change rapidly as more servers and applications are virtualized or converted to SaaS. Innovations in backup technology include the rapid rise of Veeam as a dominant backup and replication technology – not only for businesses but also for service providers. The Backup as a Service market seems to have stalled out because feature sets are limited; however the appliance model for backups and backup services continue to show high demand. The traditional market leaders face very strong competition from the new players and longtime competitor CommVault. CommVault has evolved to become a true storage resources management play and is rapidly gaining market share as an enterprise solution. Data deduplication has evolved from appliances such as Data Domain into a software feature set that’s included in almost every backup software out there. CommVault, Veeam, Backup Exec, and others all have either server side deduplication or client side deduplication (or both). The appliance model for disk-spaced backups continues to be popular with Data Domain, ExaGrid, and Avamar as leading examples. EMC dominates this market share – the competition is still trying to capture market share. Symantec has even entered the game with its own backup appliances, which are essentially servers preconfigured with their popular software and internal storage. Tape will not die. Long term, long capacity archives still require use of tapes, primarily for economic reasons. The current generation of tape technology, such as LTO6, can contain up to 6 TB of data on a single tape. Tape drives are routinely made with built-in encryption to avoid data breaches that were more common in the past with unencrypted tape.


So there you have it, my 2014 storage predictions. What do you think? Which do you agree with/disagree with? Did I leave anything off that you think will have a major impact next year? As always, reach out if you have any questions!