When Disaster Strikes : AWS and Azure’s Disaster Recovery Offering Compared

| By Webner

AWS and Azure’s Disaster Recovery Comparison

Disaster recovery policies and tools have always been a crucial aspect of business continuity, but technological advancements, particularly the maturity of cloud computing services, have altered the market for disaster recovery solutions.

Traditionally, implementing a full-featured disaster recovery solution entails mirroring critical IT infrastructure and data to an off-premise location. Such a setup is prohibitively costly for all but the largest enterprises. And even at such enterprises, difficulties and conflict may arise in convincing stakeholders to allocate business funds for events they deem very unlikely to actually happen.

However, disaster recovery solutions are now cheaper and more accessible to businesses of varying sizes, thanks to the evolution of disaster recovery as-a-service (DRaaS). Cloud service providers now offer disaster recovery solutions as services, accessible via an Internet connection, typically using a pay-as-you-go model.

These DRaaS options make it more convenient than ever to back up important data, restore mission-critical applications, and minimize the overall impact of an unplanned outage on business operations and profitability. Given that a single hour of downtime costs 81% of enterprises up to $300,000, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of swiftly recovering business operations and minimizing data loss in the post-disaster period. The current market leaves no room for excuses in neglecting to use a disaster recovery solution.

This article compares the disaster recovery services available from two of the leading cloud vendors—Microsoft Azure and AWS. When you finish reading, you’ll be better informed on which disaster recovery option best fits your business.

AWS Disaster Recovery

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) approach to disaster recovery is to tailor your disaster different disaster recovery needs to different AWS services. In this regard, AWS doesn’t have a dedicated solution for disaster recovery—it has multiple services that fulfill different disaster recovery needs.

The full suite of disaster recovery options is outlined in an AWS whitepaper, but the crux of the options is as follows:

  • Data backup: you can use the S3 Simple Storage service to back up and promptly restore your most important data. To back up less important data for which long retrieval times are adequate, you can opt for the low-cost Amazon Glacier service. AWS Storage Gateway enables you to copy local data volumes as snapshots to S3. You can import data into S3 from on-premise data centers via the Internet, a faster private network connection to AWS, or by physically transporting storage devices using the AWS Import/Export service.
  • Pilot Light: you can configure a “pilot light” AWS deployment that keeps a minimal version of your critical IT infrastructure running in the cloud. If a disaster occurs, you can quickly turn to this pilot light and rapidly scale it to a full-scale production environment. Important services here include Amazon EC2, which provides scalable compute capacity in the AWS cloud for database servers, and Amazon Machine Images, which are pre-configured application/caching servers ready for rapid deployment in EC2 to add to your pilot light. You can also use the Elastic Load Balancing service to distribute traffic to multiple instances for a more stable cloud-based DR environment.
  • Other Options: You can use AWS services previously mentioned to implement different DR configurations, such as a warm standby, wherein you keep a scaled-down version of a fully-functioning environment running in the cloud (as opposed to the limited pilot light that only maintains a database server).

You may also wonder what your options are if you run production environments in the AWS cloud already, or if you merely want to complement your existing AWS disaster recovery setup. Cloud environments can experience outages too, and you might want to look into a dedicated AWS disaster recovery solution that specifically protects AWS workloads and data.

Azure Disaster Recovery

Microsoft Azure has two important services for disaster recovery, namely Azure Site Recovery and Azure Storage.

Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery is a dedicated disaster recovery service that promises best-in-class recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO); two key parameters that companies use as a guide when choosing disaster recovery policies and tools.

On-premise workloads, virtual environments, and workloads running in the cloud are all protected by failing over to a secondary location when using Azure Site Recovery. An important point about Azure Site Recovery is that the secondary site can be either in the Azure cloud or a secondary datacenter.

Azure Storage

You can use Azure cloud storage for secure geo-redundant storage of important data for backup purposes. Azure Storage replicates your data three times within a primary region while also replicating this data to a second cloud region in case the first region experiences an outage.


Azure is the most straightforward option between the two cloud providers for many businesses. Small and medium business can quite easily use and AWS disaster recovery solution configure Azure Site Recovery as a dedicated DR solution.

However, AWS offers more in terms of customization and different configurations, which might appeal to some organizations.

Both service providers have pay as you go pricing models, helping to avoid the high upfront costs of traditional disaster recovery methods.

DR Best Practices

Regardless of your chosen option, don’t forget some of these important disaster recovery best practices:

  • Frequently test your disaster recovery plan, including the tools and services you use to help with DR.
  • Set up alerts that can monitor your backup environments and alert you if they experience outages.
  • Cloud-based secondary disaster recovery environments should be secured using the principle of least privilege with employee user access restricted to only the resources necessary to perform their jobs.
  • Orchestration tools can help to automate the deployment of applications from on-premise data centers to the cloud after a disaster.

Wrap Up

That wraps up this article comparing AWS and Azure’s disaster recovery solutions. If disaster strikes, consider the cloud as a means of ensuring you are properly prepared to minimize its impact on your business.

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