Azure Site Recovery Case Study

Darren Shahinian
Higher Education Account Executive

You may have seen a few recent ScholarBuys blog posts on getting started with Azure, and how Azure Site Recovery can be a great place to start. Moving services to the cloud or working towards getting out of the data-center business are very relevant conversations in Higher Education right now. With our focus on providing the best possible service to empower the academic community I wanted to share a recent project with our partner – Brenau University – and how Azure Site Recovery has enabled a greater confidence in their ability to combat unforeseen disastrous events.

Founded in 1878, Brenau University is a private, not-for-profit nationally prominent comprehensive institution of higher education that enrolls students in graduate and undergraduate studies on campuses and online. Based in Gainesville, Georgia, Brenau includes the residential Women’s College, which represents the academic and philosophical underpinnings of the liberal arts university. Brenau also provides coeducational opportunities through the doctoral level, including on-ground programs in Georgia locales Gainesville, Augusta, Norcross, Fairburn and Jacksonville, Florida. University offers doctorates in nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy, a terminal M.F.A. in interior design, specialist in education, master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees as well as professional certifications. The Women’s College boasts 14 nationally competitive intercollegiate Golden Tigers sports teams, national honor societies and national sororities with dedicated residential facilities on campus. The university provides outlets for artistic expression and community service for all students. Brenau possesses an extensive and distinctive permanent collection of art and presents year-round programming that includes art exhibitions, lectures, debates and literary readings, and theatrical and musical performances.

Brenau University’s CIO and VP for Information Technology – Chip Andrews – expressed that their business need was to address their business continuity strategy.

“We had a very robust backup and recovery strategy but our business continuity strategy was in need of improvement. When we sat down and thought about how long it would take us to recover from a cataclysmic event in our server room, it was apparent that our recovery time would be measured in days or weeks instead of hours.”

In what I would imagine is a similar sentiment across Higher Education, Brenau’s users and overall business would not tolerate that much downtime. ScholarBuys helped to identify Azure Site Recovery as a logical path to address these concerns, and also as an entry point to start using the Azure platform for other cloud services/migrations.

“Once we saw the limitations we were facing – there were really only two viable options:

  • Move all of our virtual servers to the cloud and start paying monthly for compute and storage costs now, or
  • Keep running the VMs locally but replicate them to the cloud as a “Plan B” solution

We opted for the latter since it let us leverage our existing infrastructure while simultaneously preparing ourselves for a cloud-hosted option at any time.”

In ScholarBuys experience, Azure Site Recovery is a natural fit for either of those options. It provides a great sense of flexibility in that you can start by simply replicating your data to Azure as part of your failover strategy, and then either failback once the disaster event has been resolved or simply allow those VMs to continue to run in Azure and get rid of the physical hardware in your datacenter. Azure Site Recovery essentially works as a lift-and-shift migration tool to the cloud, and you are able to visualize granular reporting on both planned and actual consumption in the Azure Administration Portal.
ScholarBuys was thrilled to be a part of Brenau’s success in implementing a new service to address their business continuity concerns.

“The benefits are piece of mind, low-cost, and confidence that Microsoft has our back when the worst comes to pass. There has been little to no negative impact on our environment or Internet bandwidth other than the need for a local ASR Process Server to manage the replication. So far our experience with ASR has been stellar.  I also like knowing we have partners standing by in case we need to leverage ASR.  We can do regular recovery drills but there’s no substitute for having someone with ASR recovery experience ready to assist when the time comes.”

If you would like to learn more about how ScholarBuys can help with your institution’s business continuity strategy, or if you are interested in other Azure services to help support the growing needs of both your constituents and infrastructure, don’t hesitate to reach out to your ScholarBuys Account Manager!
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