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When Disaster Strikes - Comparing AWS and Azure DR Solutions

AWS Azure DR 

Disaster Recovery or DR is a set of procedures that companies follow to allow for the recovery of important technical infrastructure and systems after a far reaching negative event. DR focuses on technological systems that support critical functions of a company. A robust DR plan enables a company to maintain or resume critical functions with minimal downtime.

In this article, we're going to talk about your options for disaster recovery in the cloud and then compare how AWS and Azure integrate DR solutions into their services. But first, let us have a look at why DR is important for your business.

What is Disaster Recovery and Why Should You be Concerned?

Disaster recovery is a key subset of a company's business continuity plan. The objective of a disaster recovery plan is ensuring that under any circumstances, a company's vital and critical data is recoverable and important applications can be brought back online. And this should happen in the minimum amount of time possible.

According to the 2015 statistics for disaster recovery a one hour downtime cost smaller companies an average of $8,000, medium size organizations an average of $74,000 and large enterprises an average of $700,000.

A number of studies have demonstrated that a company could actually fail as a result of loss of data. This is why planning for disaster recovery is of critical importance.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

Two important measures for disaster recovery as well as downtime are Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

RPO represents the age of files that a business is required to recover, normally from backup storage, for the resumption of normal operations post a disaster. The RPO determines the minimum frequency at which the business needs to arrange for backups to be taken.

The RTO, on the other hand, is the amount of time a business takes to recover these files from storage for the resumption of normal operations after experiencing a disaster. The recovery time objective can be translated to the highest downtime a business can bear before normal operations resume.



For a business to be ready when disaster hits, an all round approach is necessary. A robust disaster recovery plan includes hardware and software, power and connectivity, networking equipment and regular testing to ensure that disaster recovery is possible within the given targets for recovery time objective and recovery point objective.

A Cloud Based Disaster Recovery Plan

The implementation of a functioning solution for disaster recovery requires, in most instances, a commitment in to invest in physical data centers as well as hardware. However, given the rapid evolution of Cloud based infrastructure, the upfront cost commitment to set up a disaster recovery plan has reduced to a large extent.

The prime reason being that Cloud service provides like AWS as well as Azure provide complete resource provisioning on demand with custom and reasonable billing models.

The advantages of Cloud are not just restricted to on demand technical infrastructure but also expand to assist in the automation of the disaster recovery process with the help of their numerous applications. A vast majority of these applications are service level structures like Database and Storage Level Replication, Virtual Machine Snapshots, etc. That said, maintaining a centralized utility for management as well as migration for disaster recovery situations can help with

  1. On-premise to Cloud transfers
  2. Across different Cloud providers
  3. Across different regions but with the same Cloud service providers

Most of the cloud infrastructures have set their own standards for disaster recovery and data backup. The popular disaster recovery solutions include Amazon's Disaster Recovery Service and IBM's Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). Third-party vendors such as NetApp provide extended DR capabilities on top of the ones provided by the AWS/Azure.

In this article, we're going to compare the two most popular cloud solutions - Azure Site Recovery and Amazon's Disaster Recovery Services. We'll also see how well they fare against each other.

Disaster Recovery Plans on Azure - Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery is categorized as Disaster Recovery as a Service or a DRaaS solution. The implementation of DRaaS helps provide continuity of business by allowing for the operation of business applications and systems even if part of the system is down following an outage or disaster.

ASR's  configurations can replicate workloads that were running on physical or virtual machines via a Cloud provider like AWS or Azure either from a primary location or secondary site. In the event that the primary site faces an outage, Azure Site Recovery makes sure the secondary location is ready to take over.

Azure Site Recovery simplifies the configuration task to quite an extent and can also simulate disaster recovery situations that can be used for testing. It also centralizes the disaster recovery management effort and aligns itself with the company's business strategies ensuring the disaster recovery solution is functioning as needed.

When to Use ASR?

Azure Site Recovery proves to be a great tool to replicate disaster recovery for multiple infrastructures in the event your business has virtual machines functioning via a Cloud service provider. However, instances where your businesses have inter region Cloud or inter Cloud disaster recovery solutions, Azure Site Recovery may not prove to be the right fit. This is because Azure's alternative Amazon Web Services support disaster recovery natively for all almost all their services. Let's have a look at Amazon's DR solutions.

Disaster Recovery Using Amazon Web Services (AWS)

There are multiple benefits of utilizing AWS to implement a robust disaster recovery plan. It requires minimal investment up front and removes the need for expenses for physical resources needed to run an onsite data center.

AWS provides businesses with the flexibility to do away with the need to undergo a failover test of the complete site if only a single application is malfunctioning. AWS is also easily and rapidly scalable and allows businesses the option of a pay as you go model of billing. This reduces the amount of up front expenditure needed for implementation.

Using Amazon Web Service, businesses have the ability to completely automate their disaster recovery plan making testing, documentation and maintenance much easier. The table below displays the AWS equivalents to an on premise data center infrastructure. 

Essential Amazon Web Services With Efficient Disaster Recovery

Here are some of the Amazon services that have a disaster recovery plan integrated into it:

  • Regions & Availability Zones - The Cloud infrastructure for AWS is segregated into regions and various availability zones within a particular region. An availability zone consists of one or multiple data centers with backup capabilities. These availability zones allow for fault tolerant and highly scalable solutions as opposed to a single data center.
  • Amazon S3 - This provides a durable infrastructure that can be used for storage and is designed primarily for critical data storage.
  • Amazon Glacier - Provides a substantially low cost storage option for backup and data archiving.
  • Amazon EBS- Provides the capability to put together point-in-time illustration of data volumes.
  • Amazon EC2 - Provides the ability to resize the compute capacity in the Cloud. During disaster recovery, this allow for the rapid creation of virtual machines that businesses can control
  • Amazon RDS - Easy set up, operation and scalability of a cloud based relational database
  • AWS Cloud Formation - Provides system administrators and developers an easy method to create an assembly of AWS resources.


The quality of service offered by a business depends on the reliability and availability of the service.  Although companies realize their business value, traditional DR solutions involve high cost and complexity. Cloud infrastructures on the other hand have DR units integrated into their services which cuts down the extra costs.

Cloud DR solutions evidently have an upper hand over traditional systems because they are cheaper and more reliable. In this post, we've made an in-depth comparison between the two popular cloud service providers and how they approach Disaster Recovery. Let us know your thoughts about how prepare your business for disaster recovery in the comments.


About the Author

Limor Wainstein 

Limor is a technical writer and editor at Agile SEO, a boutique digital marketing agency focused on technology and SaaS markets. She has over 10 years' experience writing technical articles and documentation for various audiences, including technical on-site content, software documentation, and dev guides. She specializes in big data analytics, computer/network security, middleware, software development and APIs.

Published Friday, May 04, 2018 7:35 AM by David Marshall
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