Microsoft Issues VMware-Friendly Azure Site Recovery Update

The company upgrades its cloud-based disaster recovery offering for virtualized environments powered by VMware.

Microsoft Azure site recovery

Microsoft is making it easier for customers to back up and recover their VMware virtual servers using Azure Site Recovery (ASR), Hyper-V Recovery Manager, the company's cloud-based disaster recovery (DR) product.

This week, the company officially released enhanced VMware to Azure functionality that has been in private beta since October. "Customers can now protect and replicate their VMware virtual machines and physical servers to Azure, without the need to deploy any replication or orchestration components in Azure IaaS [infrastructure-as-a-service]," said Abhishek A. Hemrajani, senior program manager of Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise, in a Jan. 11 announcement.

When it comes to building up its enterprise cloud bona fides, Microsoft isn't letting old rivalries get in the way.

While VMware is the leading virtualization platform and a competitor to Microsoft's own Hyper-V technology, the Redmond, Wash., tech titan is taking more of a platform-agnostic approach as part of a "cloud-first" product strategy. "Azure Site Recovery, as part of Microsoft Operations Management Suite, enables you to gain control and manage your workloads no matter where they run—Azure, AWS, Windows Server, Linux, VMware or OpenStack," noted Hemrajani.

The old version of the feature—now labeled "legacy"—will remain available for existing customers, but the company strongly recommends "that customers begin using the new enhanced VMware to Azure solution when replicating VMware workloads or physical machines to Azure," Hemrajani. Overall, the new version addresses some of the cost and complexity of setting up Azure-backed DR services.

"This enhancement to ASR is designed to help drastically reduce the total cost of ownership and dramatically improve manageability and simplicity when customers choose to deploy ASR to replicate, and protect (or migrate) their VMware workloads to Azure," Hemrajani noted.

Specifically, by eliminating the Azure IaaS requirements, customers now pay for Azure compute resources only during migration and failover operations. "Application data is replicated to customer's Azure Storage account to ensure security and isolation, and virtual machines are provisioned in Azure only after a failover or migration is initiated," explained Hemrajani.

On the management front, administrators can install the on-premises components of the product using Microsoft's installer technology (MSI), allowing them to "configure replication to Azure in a few simple steps without incurring the cost and complexity that traditional replication solutions entail," Hemrajani claimed. Another perk is non-disruptive recovery testing, he added. Users can test and validate VMware virtual machine failover to Azure within minutes without affecting production workloads.

Businesses can also use ExpressRoute, private, high-speed connections to the Azure cloud that bypass the public Internet, to failback after a disruption. "With ASR-integrated failback, start replicating your Azure virtual machines back to your on-premises ESXi environment, and failback to the original or an alternate location when your on-premises site is once again available for use."

Rounding out the new features are "automated VMware vCenter Server discovery, continuous data protection (CDP), one-click failovers with ASR Recovery Plan, and rich health monitoring and email notifications," added Hemrajani. A table of the new ASR functionality is available in this blog post.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...