What's next for Azure Site Recovery?

Microsoft’s Azure-based high availability disaster recovery service turns the cloud into your off-site failover for complex applications, and it can double as a migration strategy.

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When Microsoft first showed off its disaster recovery service on Azure in 2014, it was called Hyper-V Recovery Manager and was an extension of a System Center tool for failing over Hyper-V virtual machines (VM) to another location, using the public cloud to coordinate testing and managing recovery between your data centers.

Today, Azure Site Recovery (ASR) lets you fail over into the cloud as well to another location, from physical and virtual servers, and it handles far more workloads than just Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (or even VMware and vSphere, which it also supports).

“We’re an application-centric disaster recovery solution,” Srinivasan Chandrasekar, director of program management for ASR and Azure Backup, tells CIO. “Getting your application to work is more complex than protecting one virtual machine. How do you protect your Active Directory infrastructure? How do you protect your VM infrastructure? If you’re running a three-tier web application with Oracle or SQL infrastructure in the back end, how do you protect that? How do you protect management infrastructure like System Center Operations Manager? How do you protect a SharePoint application?”

ASR promises to do all that and more. “If you replicate a virtual machine, in theory any workload should be supported. There’s no reason a line of business app built internally shouldn’t work, because we are app agnostic in the core technology,” says Chandrasekar. That includes apps that need Active Directory replication, specific IP addresses, load balancing and other infrastructure to be in place, not just simple VMs.

But because ASR focuses on protecting applications that have complex infrastructure rather than just backing up virtual machines, specific workloads have been tested and certified. Those cover Active Directory and DNS, web applications built on SQL and IIS, System Center Operations Manager, SharePoint, SAP, Exchange, Remote Desktop and VDI, Oracle, Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM, the Windows File Server role, Linux servers, and now Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp (all of them running on VMware as well as Hyper-V).

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