Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Janakiram MSV, Jnan Dash, Andreas Grabner, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Cognitive Computing , 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
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outlyer, a monitoring service for DevOps and operations teams, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Outlyer is a monitoring service for DevOps and Operations teams running Cloud, SaaS, Microservices and IoT deployments. Designed for today's dynamic environments that need beyond cloud-scale monitoring, we make monitoring effortless so you...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Have you ever noticed how some IT people seem to lead successful, rewarding, and satisfying lives and careers, while others struggle? IT author and speaker Don Crawley uncovered the five principles that successful IT people use to build satisfying lives and careers and he shares them in this fast-paced, thought-provoking webinar. You'll learn the importance of striking a balance with technical skills and people skills, challenge your pre-existing ideas about IT customer service, and gain new in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buyers...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, I provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading the...
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of C...
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, will discuss new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of securit...
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...
As cloud adoption continues to transform business, today's global enterprises are challenged with managing a growing amount of information living outside of the data center. The rapid adoption of IoT and increasingly mobile workforce are exacerbating the problem. Ensuring secure data sharing and efficient backup poses capacity and bandwidth considerations as well as policy and regulatory compliance issues.
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business. Though, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected with a majority of IoT projects having failed. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief IoTologist at Wipro, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology portfolios and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will delve in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great dea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
910Telecom exhibited at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, in November 2016. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and exchanges.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, discussed how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a new m...