Azure Site Recovery Adds Support for WS2016

Microsoft recently added support for Windows Server 2016 (WS2016) Hyper-V to its disaster recovery (DR) service (DRaaS) or DR orchestration & replication solution, Azure Site Recovery (ASR). This post will share some of those details.

About Azure Site Recovery

ASR is a DR orchestration and/or replication solution that is offered by Microsoft Azure. It works in two ways:

  • Orchestration between two private sites: You can use ASR to manage replication between two sites that you own, and to orchestrate failover. Replication is done directly between the two sites, supporting vSphere, Hyper-V with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), and compliant SAN systems.
  • Replication to Azure with orchestration: You can use Azure as a DR site for Hyper-V (with or without SCVMM), vSphere, or physical servers.

The benefit of ASR is that it offers a cost-effective solution (prices were quietly halved a few months ago) for orchestration and replication, and makes having a DR site affordable; instead of paying more than double up front (CapEx) to operate a second location with infrastructure, you pay-as-you-go (OpeX) for ASR, and only pay for running virtual machines while they are running in the cloud.

Added Support for WS2016

The launch of WS2016 in September lead to an outcry from Azure Backup and ASR customers expecting, but disappointed, not to find support for the new version of Hyper-V that they wanted to adopt and protect using Microsoft’s cloud services.

That started to change recently, with ASR announcing some, but not complete (yet), support for WS2016. As usual with cloud services, ASR has acted as quickly as possible to answer some requests and make some customers happy and will work behind the scenes to resolve the remaining requests.
Microsoft announced that ASR would add some support for virtual machines on WS2016 Hyper-V in the following scenarios:

  • A single WS2016 Hyper-V host or a cluster of WS2016 hosts without SCVMM
  • SCVMM clouds with only WS2016 Hyper-V
  • Nano Server hosts with SCVMM

Mixed clusters and clouds are not supported now, but Microsoft is working on this. If you have a mixed-mode Hyper-V cluster that is in the process of a rolling cluster upgrade, then it is not supported. If you have an SCVMM cloud that has a mixture WS2016 and older versions of Hyper-V, then it is not supported.

Limited support for WS2016 by ASR [Image Credit: Microsoft]
Limited support for WS2016 by ASR [Image Credit: Microsoft]
What if you are considering upgrading your cluster from WS2012 R2 to WS2016 and you are considering deploying ASR as a disaster recovery solution for your business or customer? The answer is to be patient; you can:

  1. Perform the rolling cluster upgrade
  2. Deploy ASR

There’s no need to panic, unless you are entering hurricane season and are worried about loss of the site. Then I’d advise:

  1. Deploy ASR
  2. Wait until ASR supports mixed-mode clusters before upgrading the cluster

The support might not be complete, but VM replication is not something to rush out into production, and supporting mixed versions adds complexity. I think that Microsoft did the right thing; it added support to single-version deployments and is continuing to work to get support out for everyone else. Be patient, and you’ll get the support that you are waiting for.