Azure Partner Community: Business continuity and disaster recovery

This article excerpt, by US Partner Technology Strategist Nick Johnson, originally appeared here:

This month we’re talking about business continuity and disaster recovery, two of my favorite IT topics. While they might not sound exciting, they are critical for customers to think about. A good plan for each can mean the difference between long-term success or being one of the 40% of businesses that never re-open following a disaster (as cited in this PDF from the FEMA website).

For partners, helping your customers go through the process of robust business continuity planning, implementation, and testing can solidify your trusted partner status. It can also be a source of revenue when added to your existing capabilities or as a new practice altogether.

Microsoft Azure has two fantastic services, Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery, that enable a host of use cases.

Identifying the opportunity

As a partner, how do you uncover the opportunity and determine what your customers need? I encourage partners to stop talking and listen more when in customer conversations. Listen for these statements that relate to business continuity—then ask clarifying questions.

  • “We have distributed systems across Windows Server, Hyper-V, and VMWare. They all need protection.”
  • “Protecting data and applications continues to grow in complexity.”
  • “We have so much data and we’re not sure if we’re protecting it all properly.”
  • “Are we spending too much money and effort, or too little?”
  • “Our industry requires long data-retention for compliance reasons.”
  • “Our legacy recovery plan is very labor intensive.”
  • “Testing disaster recovery is hard and often does not work as expected.”
  • “The tier 1 workloads are protected, but protecting tier 2 and 3 has been a challenge.”

If you’re not hearing these things from your customers, use the list above to create a few questions that you can use. I think you’ll find that when you dig into this topic that the need is there.

Assess your current practices

Once the need is identified, you need to spend time assessing your own practices. These questions will help you connect what you have been doing with new opportunities.

Question Opportunity
Have you been designing storage solutions using on premise solutions?
  • Extend those solutions to leverage Azure storage
Have you been designing disaster recovery solutions for on premise solutions on physical hardware, Hyper-V, or VMWare?
  • Begin using Azure as the failover site for the solutions
Are you using System Center DPM, Windows Server Backup, or third-party backup solutions with your customers?
  • Extend current solutions to leverage Azure
Have you sold Azure disaster recovery or backup solutions?
  • Assess implementation status and drive further Azure consumption
  • Extend the solutions to other parts of the customer’s business
  • Turn them into reference customers
What are your sales motions for backup and recovery solutions?
  • Build a pipeline with existing customers
  • Train your current sales teams on selling backup and recovery solutions
Do you have anyone trained on Azure backup or recovery solutions implementation?
  • Train your technical staff and sellers

If you are going to add new practices or capabilities, it needs to make financial sense. Use our new Microsoft Cloud Profitability Scenarios and financial models to understand the considerations for investing in a new cloud-oriented practice. For more partner profitability resources, refer to our online guide.

Recommendations for monetizing a business continuity practice


  • Design a Disaster Preparation evaluation to go through with your customers. This should provide opportunity to discover all the servers that need to be backed up or opportunity for Azure Backup to be used for data storage. May also stretch to StorSimple.

Upgrades to on-premises systems

  • Customers that want to run Azure Site Recovery will need Server 2012 R2 if using Hyper-V. Earlier versions of Hyper-V hosts will present an upgrade opportunity.


  • Drive services revenue through setup of the plan
  • Build repeatable IP with scripting/tools


  • Provide regular monitoring and maintenance

Ongoing testing

  • Run regular test failovers and validation for customers

Ongoing assessments

  • Regular assessment to review new parts of the business and make sure the overall DR plan still meets the needs for the customer.


  • Regular, predictable Azure consumption