Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Mihai Corbuleac, David Bermingham

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, API Journal, Agile Computing, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Using Cloud for Disaster Recovery

Business Case - Best Practices and Lessons Learned

Use of cloud for DR solutions is becoming more common, even the organizations which are not using cloud for mission critical production applications are moving towards using cloud for application DR.

Business Case for Using Cloud for the DR

  1. Faster Recovery Time Objective (RTO): Typically DR requires lengthy manual processes to fully restore the business applications at the DR site.  Having backup data and servers at the DR site is easy, however, restoring the entire application or service takes time.  E.g. full application restoration requires starting services in specified order, performing dns and other configuration updates etc.  In Cloud, the IaaS APIs provide ability to use automation solutions like Kaavo IMOD to fully restore the business applications automatically without manual intervention.  As a result organizations get predictable recovery and reduced RTO.  Automating the service or application recovery can reduce RTO to minutes from hours or days.

  2. Shorter Recovery Point Objective (RPO): Instead of relying on offsite tape backups, organizations can reduce their RPO to minutes by maintaining near real-time data backups in the Cloud.  For faster transfer of large data dedicated lines can be established between the customer datacenters and the cloud.  The cost of the dedicated line depends on the distance of the customer datacenter from the cloud providers' peering point.  For most use cases VPN lines over internet are sufficient for transferring data between customer datacenter and the cloud.

  3. Lower Costs: Typically organizations pay high price for standby infrastructure, especially servers at the DR site.  Using cloud there is no need to pay for the servers when they are not in use at the DR site.  Pay as you use infrastructure model significantly reduces DR costs without compromising the service levels.

Following are some of the best practices and lessons learned from the Cloud DR solutions we have implemented so far:

Cloud DR is Different than Traditional DR
Unlike traditional DR solutions which relies on having a backup infrastructure for the entire datacenter requiring large and costly implementation, Cloud DR can be implemented incrementally application by application.  For example it is common for organizations to have a large shared database with multiple schemas supporting various applications.  In majority of cases this sharing is driven by server consolidation to increase the utilization of internal infrastructure.  Not all applications using a shared database have same service level requirements.  Some applications are more critical than others, so as long as schemas and application data is different, it is better to remove the dependency on shared database by having the right size database for each application in the cloud.  This allows optimal prioritization and incremental delivery of the DR project based on the service levels of the individual applications.

Migration of Applications Using Single Sign-on with LDAP
When planning DR for individual applications it is important to identify the dependent services and making sure that the dependent services would be available as a part of the DR solution.  Enterprise customers typically use Single Sign-on with LDAP for managing authentication.  So best practice is to treat the Single Sign-on Service as the critical application and implement the DR solution for bringing up the Single Sign-on Service first during the DR process.  An automation solution like Kaavo IMOD enables customers to restore applications and services in the specified order automatically during DR without any manual intervention. During a real DR scenario there are many things going and it is easy to make mistakes under pressure if the application restoration process is not fully automated.  To prevent surprises during actual DR, it is important to have a fully automated solution for restoring applications and services.

Restoring Back to Normal Operations after DR
This is one area which is often overlooked or under planned in DR projects.  For companies using their own datacenters for production applications and using cloud for DR, processes and automation must be implemented to fully restore the applications in the customer production datacenter using the latest data from the cloud DR once the primary datacenter is back online.  This step is not required for applications which are using cloud as their primary site.  E.g. if an application is running in one cloud zone and after DR it is running in a different cloud zone there is no need to restore it back to the first cloud zone as long as service levels for both cloud zones are same.  If you are deploying new applications it best to design for failure.  E.g. a distributed application running across various regions and cloud providers eliminate the need for traditional DR planning for the application as handling of failure of individual components is built in the design and deployment model of the application.

Handling Compliance in Cloud, e.g., HIPAA, PCI, SOX, SAS-70 etc.
Using available security technologies and processes several companies have implemented applications in the cloud compliant to various compliance standards, e.g. HIPAA, PCI, SOX, SAS-70 etc.  Each compliance standard has its own nuances; basically with proper planning you can address all compliance related issues.  This is a big topic on its own so please contact us if you have specific questions about this.  Cloud providers have published various case studies and best practices, e.g. white paper by Amazon on HIPAA compliance.

Handling Public and Private DNS
A common use case for enterprise applications is to have a public DNS for public access and a private DNS over internal network for accessing the backend services and databases etc.  In these situations it is best to use virtual private cloud like AWS VPC or to overlay a private network with the same IP address range as internal datacenter on any public cloud using Open Source solutions (refer to this blog - Building a Private Cloud within a Public Cloud for details on how to implement a secure private network on any public cloud).  For updating the public DNS entries for the restored application in the cloud we use DNS automation services like AWS Route 53 or EasyDNS.  Leveraging these services, Kaavo IMOD automatically updates the Public DNS for the applications as a part of the restoration during DR.

Keeping Application Database Up-To-Date
It is common for applications to have large databases.  Moving the data to the cloud and keeping it current requires first loading the entire database in cloud and then sending and merging incremental data to the database in the cloud.  To address this use case instead of maintaining a hot backup we use Kaavo IMOD to automatically bring up the database servers in cloud whenever the new incremental backup is available and merge the incremental backup then save the merged database and shutdown the servers in the cloud.  This way in case of DR we always have the latest merged database available for restoring the application. This approach provides reasonable RTO without incurring the additional costs of maintaining a hot database backup.

Applying and Maintaining Patches
A typical application requires following two types of updates during its lifecycle:

  1. Updating Application Code: This is quite easy as using Kaavo IMOD we setup automation to pick up the latest code and configuration for the application from the production deployment.  This automation ensures that the application code and configuration changes for the new release of the application or service are available in the cloud for the DR.

  2. OS Patches and Third-Party Software Updates: Sometimes custom patches or updates to third party software or OS are required.  For these types of changes it is best to include them as a part of change control process requiring sign-off from the team owning the DR process.  The DR team can review the change and if required make and test the needed changes to DR automation for the application.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Jamal Mazhar

Jamal Mazhar is Founder & CEO of Kaavo. He possesses more than 15 years of experience in technology, engineering and consulting with a range of Fortune 500 companies including GE and ING. He established ING’s “Center of Excellence for B2B” which streamlined $2 billion per month in electronic money transfer operations. As Lead Architect at GE Capital e-Business team, Jamal directed analysis and implementation efforts and improved the performance of the website generating more than $1 billion in annual lease revenues. At Trilogy he provided technical and managerial expertise for several large scale e-business implementation projects for companies such as Boeing, NCR, Gartner, British Airways, Quantas Airways and Alltel. Jamal has BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and MBA from NYU Stern School of Business.

@ThingsExpo Stories
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
When people aren’t talking about VMs and containers, they’re talking about serverless architecture. Serverless is about no maintenance. It means you are not worried about low-level infrastructural and operational details. An event-driven serverless platform is a great use case for IoT. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Animesh Singh, an STSM and Lead for IBM Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, will detail how to build a distributed serverless, polyglot, microservices framework using open source tec...
The idea of comparing data in motion (at the sensor level) to data at rest (in a Big Data server warehouse) with predictive analytics in the cloud is very appealing to the industrial IoT sector. The problem Big Data vendors have, however, is access to that data in motion at the sensor location. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Scott Allen, CMO of FreeWave, discussed how as IoT is increasingly adopted by industrial markets, there is going to be an increased demand for sensor data from the outermos...
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
"We work in the area of Big Data analytics and Big Data analytics is a very crowded space - you have Hadoop, ETL, warehousing, visualization and there's a lot of effort trying to get these tools to talk to each other," explained Mukund Deshpande, head of the Analytics practice at Accelerite, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to 'DevOps at Cloud Expo 2016' as Conference Chair The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited t...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profession...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...