Affordable Azure DR for everyone

Disaster recovery is something we pray never to happen but unavoidable in certain situations. Every business organization regardless of their size need to plan for a disaster recovery plan to protect their key business assets. In this articles we’re look into how Azure Disaster Recovery (Cloud based DR)  can be used to protect critical business applications systems.

With recent updates there are several methods we can use Azure Site Recovery (ASR) to protect our on premise systems,

1. On-premises Hyper-V site to Azure protection with Hyper-V replication — Orchestrate replication, failover, and recovery from an on-premises site with one or more Hyper-V servers but without System Center VMM. Virtual machine data is replicated from a source Hyper-V host server to Azure.

2. On-premises VMM site to on-premises VMM site protection with Hyper-V replication — Orchestrate replication, failover, and recovery between on-premises VMM sites. Virtual machine data is replicated from a source Hyper-V host server to a target host server.

3. On-premises VMM site to on-premises VMM site protection with SAN replication — Orchestrates end-to-end replication, failover, and recovery using storage array-based replication between SAN devices that host virtual machine data in source and target on-premises sites.

4. On-premises VMM site to Azure protection — Orchestrate replication, failover, and recovery between an on-premises VMM site and Azure. Replicated virtual machine data is stored in Azure storage.

5. On-premises VMWare site to on-premises VMWare site with InMage — InMage Scout is a recent Microsoft acquisition that provides real-time replication between on-premises VMWare sites. Right now InMage is available as a separate product that’s obtained via a subscription to the Azure Site Recovery service.

Option 1 will be covered on this article. Most of the SMB business cannot afford to have SCVMM software but till need DR solution. Apart from that we didn’t forget our VMware fan base who need affordable DR solution. With the acquisition of the Inmage software company now Microsoft protect VMware environments as well.

To enable HYPER-V host to protect VM’s on Azure cloud we need to do few more steps earlier. High level steps are as follows,

Step 1: Create a vault—Create an Azure Site Recovery vault.

Step 2: Create a Hyper-V site—Create a Hyper-V site as a logical container for all the Hyper-V servers that contain virtual machines you want to protect.

Step 3: Prepare Hyper-V servers—Generate a registration key and download the Provider setup file. You run the file on each Hyper-V server in the site and select the key to register the server in the vault.

Step 4: Prepare resources—Create an Azure storage account to store replicated virtual machines.

Step 5: Create and configure protection groups—Create a protection group and apply protection settings to it. The protection settings will be applied to every virtual machine you add to the group.

Step 6: Enable protection for virtual machines—Enable protection for virtual machines by adding them to a protection group.

Step 7: Test the deployment—Run a test failover for a virtual machine.

Step 1 – Create a vault,
Sign in to the Azure Management Portal –> Expand Data Services, expand Recovery Services, and click Site Recovery Vault –> Click Create New and then click Quick Create –>In Name field enter a friendly name to identify the vault (in my case matrixvault) –>In Region select the geographic region for the vault –> Click Create vault
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Step 2: Create a Hyper-V site,
In the Recovery Services page, click the vault to open the Quick Start page–>In the dropdown list, select Between an on-premises Hyper-V site and Azure –> In Create a Hyper-V Site click Create Hyper-V site. Specify a site name and save.
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Step 3: Prepare Hyper-V servers,
In Prepare Hyper-V servers, click Download a registration key file –> On the Download Registration Key page, click Download next to the site –> Click Download the Provider to obtain the latest version

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In the last picture you can see two files has been installed. Their function is as follows,

Azure Site Recovery Provider—Handles communication and orchestration between the Hyper-V server and the Azure Site Recovery portal.
Azure Recovery Services Agent—Handles data transport between virtual machines running on the source Hyper-V server and Azure storage.

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On the Vault Settings page, click Browse to select the key file. Specify the Azure Site Recovery subscription, the vault name, and the Hyper-V site to which the Hyper-V server belongs.

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Step 4: Prepare resources – You need to have a storage account in Azure if not you can go ahead and create a one. Make sure the storage account having geo-replication enabled.
I also make sure there will be a dedicated virtual network created as well.

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Step 5: Create and configure protection groups
Protection groups group the virtual machines togerhter and apply same protection settings. You apply protection settings to a protection group, and those settings are applied to all virtual machines that you add to the group.

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Step 6: Enable protection for virtual machines

Now its time to select which VM’s you need to protect from your HYPER-V host.
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ASR will start checking VM compatibility to be exported to the Azure side.

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Now lets jump into the HYPER-V MMC console and check the VM replication status,
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Depending on your internet connection speed VM replication time can be vary.
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Step 7: Test the deployment
Now it’s time to test the VM failover to Azure side. To do that we need to we need to run a test failover for the protected virtual machine.
Protected Items –> Protection Groups –> protectiongroup_name –> Virtual Machines (select the virtual machine you want to fail over) –> and click Test Failover.

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You can put the test VM into production virtual network in Azure or start the VM without a virtual network. In my case I’ll put into my production virtual network.

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Now series of actions will be carried out in orderly manner. Once that completed we will get our VM in Azure side active. In any case you’ll encounter any issues in this tasks you can get a detail report from the bottom of the Azure portal. This is useful for troubleshooting purpose.

Now VM creation is completed. We have to go and test the VM up and running properly. If things are ok once we confirm VM will be removed from the ASR since our ASR test is success.

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Now ASR will remove the temporary test VM from the environment,

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Some of our VM’s can be very large and replication via internet not feasible. In that situation you can courier the data to Microsoft Azure data center. Microsoft introduce a a service called as “Microsoft Azure Import/Export service” You can find more information about that here.

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