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Your business relies on technology to operate, and every user interacting with your IT systems expects round-the-clock availability. But as our reliance on technology grows, so does your need for reliable system up-time. And that’s where cloud solutions like Microsoft Azure truly excel.

Downtime Hurts Your Business

Your business depends on the reliability of your systems. When you’re offline, you lose productivity and can’t generate revenue. You could even face some reputational harm if the system is customer facing, especially since most unhappy users broadcast every issue across social media.

However, downtime is not the only risk your IT infrastructure faces when an unplanned incident takes your systems offline. Data loss is a real risk if you don’t have proper backup and disaster recovery (DR) measures in place. If you lose a vital system, you can always replace the hardware and reinstall the software—but any data will be lost forever if it wasn’t backed up. Depending on the system and the amount of data lost, the results could be catastrophic.

The Problem with Traditional DR and Business Continuity

Disaster recovery and business continuity solutions are not new IT concepts. Backups have been around since computer operators made copies of their punch cards in the 1950s. These strategies have also been a core part of IT risk management for decades. However, not all businesses can afford to implement the high-availability solutions needed in today’s technology-driven economy.

Deploying a data protection platform that provides real-time data replication with offsite recovery services is expensive. Investing in redundant hardware and software, commissioning a secondary data center at an offsite location, and providing communication infrastructure is also something few organizations can afford to do correctly.

The other problem is that traditional DR sites are inefficient. Having redundant hardware that sits idle until an incident occurs—and not to mention the ongoing maintenance of that infrastructure—is an unproductive use of IT resources. All these direct and indirect costs add up.

For the small business owner, these factors often make a traditional DR solution unaffordable. Thus, they’re at a disadvantage when compared to larger organizations that can keep their systems up and running during a disaster. But the introduction of commercial cloud platforms offering these solutions as a service has changed everything.

Azure Levels the Playing Field

The cloud is the great equalizer—it’s leveled the playing field for small businesses and has removed many economic barriers. Smaller organizations can now leverage the same enterprise-grade solutions as their larger counterparts. Giving organizations the ability to deploy on-demand resources, scale them at will, and utilize these services on a pay-per-use basis has fundamentally shifted IT operating models. Additionally, the fact that you no longer need significant capital for upfront investment, enjoy lower operating costs, and have greater flexibility has enabled smaller businesses to deploy enterprise-grade solutions they could not afford in the pre-cloud world.

Microsoft Azure offers organizations a world-class data protection solution. Leveraging the infrastructure scale of Azure, organizations can implement enterprise backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity solutions that are both feature rich and affordable. As Microsoft owns and operates the underlying infrastructure, organizations don’t need to procure any hardware or software. Operating expenses are also much lower, as there is no management or maintenance involved.

Azure Recovery Services is a comprehensive cloud-based Azure solution that allows you to back up your data and protect your business from the risk of downtime. It offers a single, easy-to-use interface where you can configure a backup, data recovery, or business continuity solution. This service allows any subscriber to take advantage of data protection services and only pay for what they use. With Azure Recovery Services, smaller enterprises can now create a cost-effective, enterprise-grade solution that’s better than many traditional on-premises platforms.

Selecting the Right Data and Business Protection Strategy

The primary goal of any data protection strategy is to mitigate the risk of data loss or downtime. Using Azure Recovery Services, you can implement a complete solution that incorporates all of the essential elements. However, when you formulate your strategy, it’s vital that you align it with your business requirements and budget constraints.

Business Continuity

Since most businesses can’t afford any form of downtime, a business continuity solution that ensures high availability should be your top priority. Leveraging Azure, you can rapidly build a resilient solution that ensures your systems remain online. However, this option can become expensive, as it would effectively involve a replica of your environment running in the cloud. You would also need real-time data replication to ensure your multiple environments remain in sync. Most organizations reduce these costs by only configuring their critical applications with high availability. That way, when an unplanned incident occurs, their critical systems remain online while the business deals with other recovery processes.

Disaster Recovery

If high availability is beyond your budget, a disaster secovery solution is your next option. With this strategy, you can still protect your business from an extended period of downtime. By leveraging Azure Recovery Services, you can host offline copies of your virtual machines (VMs) in the cloud. You will also need to set a replication schedule to ensure their states remain as current as possible. Should an unplanned incident take down a single server or your entire primary environment, you can rapidly spin up your Azure VMs and have your services back online in a few minutes. This solution is extremely cost effective. Because you only pay for what you use, Microsoft will only charge you for the storage space your VMs utilize and the compute resources you use when your VMs are running.

Data Backups

Data backups form the last line of defense and are the foundational component of any data protection strategy. When all else fails, you can restore your systems and recover your data from an offline, independent copy. However, if you have no high availability, or you have no data recovery solution in place, restoring your systems could take a long time. Most organizations operating in today’s online economy can’t afford an extended period of downtime, so if budget is an issue, data recovery is still your best option.

Azure: Flexibility and Cost Savings

Organizations of any size can leverage Azure Recovery Services to implement a comprehensive data and business protection strategy that uses enterprise backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity solutions. Not only is this the most cost-effective way to protect your business, but it’s also a solution packed with the latest features to help you minimize system downtime.

Written by Sophie Furnival Marketing Communications Manager @ Sherweb

Sophie leads a team of expert marketers in charge of building Sherweb’s brand awareness. Responsible for activities such as email marketing, social media and driving organic web traffic, her role is critical to ensuring Sherweb is recognized and respected by prospects, partners, competitors and other stakeholders. Sophie has extensive experience working in journalism and corporate communications for different industries, including science, technology and the non-profit sector. When she’s not championing SherWeb’s brand, Sophie enjoys diving, cooking and watching The Office.