The Benefits of Azure Site Recovery with Rackspace Application Services for Sitecore

Downtime can negatively affect a company’s brand and cost it big money, in the form of lost business. Rackspace customers depend on us to help mitigate outages, maintain business continuity and manage disaster recovery.

As a Microsoft Tier 1 partner, we recently received access to a private preview of Azure Site Recovery, a popular business continuity/disaster recovery product for on-premises deployment; it’s now available in a limited capacity for digital customers as well.

One of the first workloads we tested was the Sitecore Experience Platform, a vital digital marketing tool used by many of our customers.

The challenge

A robust single-region solution without any single point of failure and backed with Rackspace’s available Production Platform Guarantee (with a subscription to Rackspace Application Services) is a great start, but it will not protect business applications in the event of a facility outage, natural disaster or catastrophic human error.

To protect against such instances, our technical experts recommend a multi-site design, which allows your solution to failover to an unaffected facility. The downside to this site redundancy is the additional infrastructure and licensing commitments required for your operating system, database and digital applications like Sitecore.

This makes traditional multi-site deployments cost-prohibitive for many customers.

The solution

Azure Site Recovery enables Azure clients to set up disaster recovery between Azure virtual machines (VMs) across multiple available regions. The ability to replicate Azure VMs is a key tool in the developing digital business continuity/disaster recovery tool belt. Azure Site Recovery automatically updates with new Azure features as they’re released (Managed Disk support is a recent example) and minimizes recovery issues by sequencing the order of multi-tier applications running on multiple VMs from the Azure portal.

As ASR is currently in public preview, however, leveraging its capabilities still involves a lot of planning and coordination between Rackspace and our customers.

When reviewing your production environment, we’ll need to be mindful of applications that could comprise your workload and might need to be excluded from replication strategies in order to achieve your desired Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs).

Following our Sitecore test case, we’d focus on the replication of Sitecore Content Delivery and Content Management components to a secondary region. We’d designate Microsoft SQL Server and Windows Server Active Directory for ASR “Test Failovers” so that you can verify their viability without affecting production operations. Other critical applications include Always On availability groups and Active Directory multi-master replication, protecting the data and identity tiers.  We found that the Sitecore Experience Platform may also require MongoDB, which we can fully manage with our proprietary ObjectRocket.

The takeaway

A fully-realized digital business continuity/disaster recovery-as-a-service solution is still evolving, but Azure Site Recovery provides our Sitecore Experience Platform customers with a cost-effective option previously only available for on-premises deployments and geared toward enterprise commitments.

Making the most of these resources requires the commitment of a team of technical experts dedicated to understanding your unique business requirements and focused on providing the benefits of our unmatched experience.

Learn more about Sitecore, Rackspace and Azure.

Gerry Le Canu is a cloud solution architect at Rackspace specializing in Microsoft Azure. With over 15 years in IT, Gerry has worked at Rackspace for the past 10,and spent his first five years as a systems engineer supporting Rackspace’s growth from 500 to over 5000 employees, managing the systems to support the explosive growth. Over the last five years, he's worked in the product organization where he's been responsible for the management and launch of many products, including Rackspace Services for SharePoint, Rackspace Dedicated Exchange, Microsoft Cloud Platform and Fanatical Support for Microsoft Azure.

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