Microsoft, Symantec Collaborate On Azure Cloud Disaster Recovery

The new alliance will eventually result in customers' being able to offer disaster recovery in the Azure cloud, including spinning up virtual machines to keep applications in production until the primary site recovers, said Saveen Pakala, director of product management at Mountain View, Calif.-based Symantec.

The new Symantec-Microsoft agreement was unveiled this week at the Microsoft TechEd conference, but the cloud offering will not available until sometime in calendar 2013, Pakala said.

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It is the first disaster recovery platform announced for Microsoft Azure, Pakala said.

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"This is a pre-announcement," he said. "There are many open questions we are still working on. But we want to take advantage of TechEd to get the word out there that, hey, this topic is cooking. Things are in flux, but not that far out."

Symantec is extending its Storage Foundation High Availability for Windows and Veritas Volume replicator disaster recovery software to the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform.

The end result is a disaster recovery-as-a-service solution for enterprise and midrange customers who can take advantage of hybrid cloud deployments, Pakala said.

The new service is aimed at providing zero data loss as part of a disaster recovery system that includes a customer's primary site, asynchronous replication to a disaster recovery site, and synchronous replication to a bunker site or a site that is close enough to the primary site so that performance is not an issue, he said.

Data will be replicated to either a physical or a virtual data "container," Pakala said. There are two parts to the solution.

The initial part will replicate the data but not the application. Instead, the application will be running in a virtual machine in the Azure cloud at all times for fast recovery, he said.

In the second part, Symantec and Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft will add a lower-cost version with the ability to spin up virtual machines in the cloud as needed, Pakala said. "It's for customers who don't want the additional cost of running virtual machines in the cloud all the time."

In either case, the amount of storage required is the same, Pakala said. "The cost difference comes from the fact that Azure charges are based on CPU cycles as well as the amount of storage capacity," he said.