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One of the key areas of advancement in the cloud is disaster recovery. While all vendors boats about how unbreakable their security is or how reliable their clouds are, they need to be realistic about the risks. To be honest, the risks are getting bigger and severe by the day. It is impossible for any cloud vendor to guarantee hundred percent risk-free operations. Disasters are almost inevitable and that is where disaster recovery becomes a major point of distinction.
When it comes to Azure, Microsoft is setting an example for other cloud vendors to follow. There is a complete Azure Recovery Service vault that allows enterprises to manage, configure, and protect their resources and data. Azure certification allows teams to effectively monitor, manage, and mitigate in case of a disaster. With enterprise-wide training, your team will be able to ensure that there is minimal to no loss of application functionality. In order to understand the importance of enterprise-wide training, let’s take a detailed look at Azure disaster recovery features.
What constitutes a disaster in the world of the cloud?
There are many scenarios that can compromise data and disrupt functionality. While many believe that poor strategy and implementation are the main culprits, administrative and management errors are equally responsible. It is why we recommend Azure training and certification such as Developing Azure Solutions and Azure Fundamentals; across the board. With training, your team will have the knowledge and skills to leverage Azure features and create application-specific strategies. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios in order to get a better understanding of the feature.
One of the common data related disaster occurs when the data is corrupted by the user or the application. Now Azure automatically stores data in a redundant manner. Data is stored three times in a region. For enterprises that utilize geo-replication, it is three times for each region. Now, if the primary data is corrupted due to any reason, all the other copies will also hold the corrupt data. This is a major disaster scenario for teams who aren’t aware of data recovery strategies for Azure. There are many ways to tackle the situation, for instance, your team can utilize the point-in-time option to recover a database or create and manage a custom backup strategy.
Application errors can occur due to many reasons. Usually, it is the failure of the underlying hardware or operating system on the host VM. Azure Traffic Manager is designed to manage these failures automatically. It simply creates a role instance and if there are more than one instances running, it automatically shifts to the other role and replaces the failed instance.
However, it is not always that simple. Some application errors aren’t caused by hardware or operating system failure. There can be more severe cause such as data integrity issues or failed logic that can lead to catastrophic exceptions. These are the kind of issues that become impossible to resolve without training and knowledge of the disaster recovery process. It boils down to the admins' decision to initiate a failover process or resolve the errors at the cost outage.
Role instances might be unavailable due to network outages. The applications are unable to access data from the Azure network and it can potentially reduce the application functionality. Disaster recovery strategy must be created around this reduced functionality in case of a network disaster. However, your team needs to determine which applications can run on this strategy. For applications that don’t, there are other recovery options such as alternative emperor data storage location. This location can be used until the network connection is restored. This will involve some downtime or temporary application failure. Therefore, the importance of creating applications that support reduced functionality is the most feasible decision. It is why we believe that disaster recovery should be a core consideration throughout the development and deployment phase as well.
Azure offers numerous dependent services. While failure of these services is rare, it is not impossible. Sometimes these services might go down for a while. Your team must be aware of the implication of these downtimes and how they can impact your applications. Your team needs to create a plan that revolves around this knowledge. For instance, they can make use of the Azure Redis Cache that allows you to cache applications from within the cloud service. This means the service runs on the local deployment roles and allows you to monitor and manage the cache status. While this strategy improves availability, it may decrease throughput and cause latency due to multiple copies of cache being managed at the same time. Now, this is an issue, that can be answered beforehand i.e. during the capacity-planning phase.
Now, speaking of service disruption, we need to further break it down into region-wide service failure and Azure-wide disruption of service. The former occurs when the service is disrupted across an entire region. in this case, the local copies of the data will not be available. While geo-replication is one solution, you have little control over how Azure remaps entries to the replicated regions. Azure Site Recovery is another solution to this regard. If well trained, your team can utilize this option and maintain more control even in case of failure. Azure-wide service disruption, on the other hand, occurs when there is a problem in all Azure regions. While it is a rare occurrence, your team must prepare to deal with it. Like in other cases, one option is to choose a temporary downtime but if there are mission-critical apps, you will have to make sure you have a backup and recoveries plan that can be engaged immediately. This is a scenario where hybrid cloud really shines as an enterprise-friendly option.
No system is immune to incidents but it all boils down to your preparedness. Azure certification covers disaster recovery aspects to help your team manage functions and process in case of data and platform disaster. Invest in training your team so that they can ensure minimal disruption of services and functions even in the worst-case scenarios.
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