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  • Cloud Life Team

Summary of AWS Backup & Disaster Recovery Methods




Disaster recovery can be thought of as the extreme edge of continuity management. Where continuity management provides backups and snapshots for your account for both data and services using a scheduled configured plan disaster recovery attempts to deal with catastrophic unexpected events. Listed are the various methods along with the Recovery Point Objective (RPO)* and Recovery Time Objective (RTO)* of each. Note: The estimated RPO and RTO for each disaster recovery method can vary based on factors such as the complexity of your environment, the size of your dataset, the efficiency of your automation, and the tools you use.


1. Backup and Restore:

  • Estimated RPO: Several hours to a day, depending on the frequency of backups.

  • Estimated RTO: Several hours to days, depending on the volume of data and the time required for restoration.

Pros:

  • Simple to implement.

  • Cost-effective for small-scale disaster recovery.

  • Suitable for non-time-sensitive applications.

Cons:

  • Recovery time can be slow, especially for large datasets.

  • Manual intervention required for backup and restore processes.

  • May not meet stringent RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and RPO (Recovery Point Objective) requirements.

2. Pilot Light:

  • Estimated RPO: Hours to a day, depending on data replication frequency.

  • Estimated RTO: A few hours to half a day, depending on the time needed to scale up resources.

Pros:

  • Faster recovery compared to backup and restore.

  • Reduced downtime as critical components are pre-provisioned.

  • Cost-effective as only essential resources are maintained in a standby state.

Cons:

  • Requires manual intervention to scale up resources during recovery.

  • Complexity increases as the complexity of the application grows.

3. Warm Standby:

  • Estimated RPO: Hours, with continuous data replication.

  • Estimated RTO: Several hours, depending on resource scaling and application startup time.

Pros:

  • Faster recovery than backup and restore.

  • Less manual intervention required during recovery.

  • Suitable for applications with moderate RTO and RPO requirements.

Cons:

  • Higher operational costs due to maintaining a larger portion of the environment in a standby state.

  • Resource provisioning and scaling might still require manual intervention.

4. Multi-Site/Multi-Region:

  • Estimated RPO: Minutes to an hour, depending on the data replication mechanism.

  • Estimated RTO: Minutes to a few hours, depending on the complexity of the application and resource synchronization.

Pros:

  • Offers the highest level of availability and minimal downtime.

  • Suitable for applications with stringent RTO and RPO requirements.

  • Can handle complete data center failures.

Cons:

  • Increased complexity due to managing resources across multiple sites/regions.

  • Higher costs due to resource duplication and data replication.

  • Latency might be a concern for applications that require synchronous data replication.

5. Cloud Endurance:

  • Estimated RPO: Seconds to minutes, depending on the data replication technology.

  • Estimated RTO: Minutes to hours, depending on the failover process and application startup time.

Pros:

  • Continuous replication of data to another AWS region.

  • Minimal data loss with low RPO.

  • Suitable for mission-critical applications with strict RTO and RPO requirements.

Cons:

  • Higher costs due to continuous replication and resource provisioning.

  • Potential latency issues in synchronous replication setups.

  • Requires careful design to prevent cascading failures.

6. Backup and Recovery Services:

  • Estimated RPO: Hours to a day, depending on the backup frequency.

  • Estimated RTO: Hours to a day, depending on the recovery process and the size of data.

Pros:

  • Managed services like AWS Backup and AWS Storage Gateway simplify backup and recovery.

  • Suitable for applications that can tolerate slightly higher recovery times.

Cons:

  • Recovery time may not be as fast as other methods, especially for large-scale recoveries.

  • Limited control over the recovery process compared to other methods.

In choosing a disaster recovery method, it's crucial to align your strategy with your organization's RTO and RPO requirements, budget constraints, and application & data criticality. Additionally, consider factors like data synchronization, automation, testing, and the complexity of setup and maintenance. A comprehensive disaster recovery plan can combine multiple methods to ensure the right balance between cost, speed of recovery, and reliability.


Architectural Approaches to Disaster Recovery

In the context of AWS disaster recovery, "active-active" and "active-passive" are two architectural approaches that organizations can adopt to ensure high availability and resiliency of their applications and services. These approaches involve deploying resources across multiple AWS regions or Availability Zones to minimize downtime and data loss during a disaster.

Active-Active Environment:

An active-active environment involves running identical copies of an application or service in multiple AWS regions or Availability Zones simultaneously. Both instances of the application are actively serving user traffic, distributing the load across regions or zones. In this setup, traffic can be directed to any of the active instances, and the system can seamlessly failover between regions or zones if one becomes unavailable.

Pros of Active-Active:

  • High availability: User traffic can be rerouted to a healthy region or zone in case of a failure.

  • Load distribution: Even distribution of user traffic can help prevent overloading of any single region or zone.

  • Minimal downtime: Failover between regions or zones can occur quickly to minimize disruption.

Cons of Active-Active:

  • Increased complexity: Managing synchronization and consistency between active instances can be complex.

  • Potentially higher costs: Running redundant instances in multiple regions or zones may result in higher infrastructure costs.

Active-Passive Environment:

An active-passive environment involves running the primary instance of an application in one AWS region or Availability Zone (the "active" side) and maintaining a standby instance in another region or zone (the "passive" side). The passive instance remains idle until a failure is detected in the active region or zone. At that point, failover occurs, and traffic is redirected to the passive instance.

Pros of Active-Passive:

  • Cost-effective: Resources are only active when needed, reducing operational costs.

  • Simplified management: Managing a single active instance is simpler than managing multiple active instances.

Cons of Active-Passive:

  • Longer recovery time: Failover typically takes longer as the standby instance needs to be brought online.

  • Potential data loss: Depending on the synchronization mechanism, there might be some data loss in case of a failover.

  • Resource underutilization: The standby instance remains idle until failover, which can result in resource wastage.


Choosing between active-active and active-passive environments depends on factors such as the application's criticality, RTO (Recovery Time Objective), RPO (Recovery Point Objective) requirements, budget constraints, and operational complexity. AWS provides services like Route 53 for traffic management and load balancing, as well as data base services like RDS and DynamoDB for database replication, which can aid in implementing these architectures.


When you think about an Active_Active Architecture think high availability and load distribution. Therefore, setting up an Active-Active architecture in AWS involves deploying identical copies of an application or service in multiple regions or Availability Zones. Here are the general steps to set up an Active-Active architecture:

  1. Design and Planning:

  • Identify the regions or Availability Zones where you want to deploy your application instances.

  • Determine how traffic will be distributed between these instances (e.g., using a global load balancer).

  1. Create AWS Resources:

  • Launch identical instances of your application in each region or Availability Zone.

  • Configure auto-scaling groups to manage the number of instances and maintain desired capacity.

  • Set up load balancers (such as an Application Load Balancer or Network Load Balancer) in each region or zone.

  1. Data Replication and Synchronization:

  • Determine how data will be replicated and synchronized between regions or zones.

  • Implement database replication mechanisms (e.g., multi-region read replicas, database replication solutions) if your application relies on databases.

  • Use AWS services like Amazon S3 for storing shared data or assets.

  1. Configure Global Load Balancing:

  • Use a global load balancer (e.g., Amazon Route 53) to distribute traffic across the instances in different regions or zones.

  • Set up health checks to monitor the availability of instances and automatically route traffic to healthy instances.

  1. DNS Configuration:

  • Configure DNS records to point to the global load balancer's DNS name.

  • Set up health checks and routing policies in Route 53 to ensure optimal traffic distribution.

  1. Monitoring and Alerting:

  • Implement monitoring and alerting using AWS CloudWatch or other monitoring tools.

  • Set up alarms to notify you of any issues with instances or load balancers.

  1. Testing and Failover:

  • Regularly conduct failover tests to ensure that the architecture works as expected.

  • Simulate failure scenarios to validate the resiliency of the setup.

  1. Data Backup and Recovery:

  • Implement data backup and recovery strategies for each region or zone to ensure data integrity.

  • Regularly test the backup and recovery processes.

  1. Security and Compliance:

  • Implement appropriate security measures, including identity and access management, encryption, and network security groups.

  • Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements across all regions or zones.

  1. Documentation and Runbooks:

  • Document the architecture, configuration, failover procedures, and troubleshooting steps in runbooks.

  • Train your team on the Active-Active setup and the procedures to follow during failures.

  1. Continuous Improvement:

  • Regularly review and optimize the architecture for performance, cost, and resiliency.

  • Stay updated with AWS best practices and new services that can enhance your Active-Active setup.

It's important to note that setting up an Active-Active architecture can be complex and will require careful planning, testing, and coordination. Additionally, AWS provides various services and features that can facilitate the implementation of an Active-Active architecture, such as AWS Global Accelerator, AWS Transit Gateway for VPC communication Inter-region and intra-region, and multi-region data replication options for databases.


Setting up an Active-Passive architecture in AWS involves deploying a primary instance of an application or service in one region or Availability Zone and maintaining a standby instance in another region or zone. Here are the general steps to set up an Active-Passive architecture:

  1. Design and Planning:

  • Choose the primary region or Availability Zone where your main application instance will be deployed.

  • Select the secondary region or zone for the standby instance.

  1. Create AWS Resources for the Primary Instance:

  • Launch the primary instance of your application in the chosen region or zone.

  • Configure auto-scaling groups and load balancers for the primary instance.

  1. Data Replication and Synchronization:

  • Determine how data will be replicated and synchronized between the primary and standby instances.

  • Set up database replication mechanisms or use AWS services like Amazon RDS Multi-AZ for database redundancy.

  1. Create AWS Resources for the Standby Instance:

  • Launch the standby instance of your application in the secondary region or zone.

  • Set up auto-scaling groups and load balancers for the standby instance.

  1. Health Monitoring and Failover Detection:

  • Implement health checks and monitoring for both the primary and standby instances.

  • Use AWS services like Amazon CloudWatch to monitor instance health and performance.

  1. Failover and Traffic Routing:

  • Configure DNS records to point to the primary instance's load balancer's DNS name.

  • Implement failover detection mechanisms to detect primary instance failures.

  1. Failover Process:

  • Create scripts or automation to trigger failover when the primary instance becomes unavailable.

  • The failover process should include starting up the standby instance and updating DNS records to route traffic to the standby instance.

  1. Data Integrity and Recovery:

  • Implement data backup and recovery strategies for both the primary and standby instances.

  • Regularly test the backup and recovery processes to ensure data integrity.

  1. Security and Compliance:

  • Implement security measures such as encryption, access controls, and network security groups for both instances.

  • Ensure compliance with security and regulatory requirements in both regions or zones.

  1. Documentation and Runbooks:

  • Document the architecture, failover procedures, and troubleshooting steps in runbooks.

  • Train your team on the Active-Passive setup and the procedures to follow during failover events.

  1. Regular Testing and Maintenance:

  • Regularly conduct failover tests to validate the effectiveness of the failover process.

  • Keep both instances up to date with the latest software patches and updates.

  1. Continuous Improvement:

  • Periodically review and refine the architecture for performance, cost, and reliability.

  • Stay updated with AWS best practices and new services that can enhance your Active-Passive setup.

Remember that an Active-Passive architecture can help minimize downtime and data loss during a failure, but it requires careful planning and testing to ensure that failover processes work smoothly when needed. AWS provides services and features that can assist in setting up and managing an Active-Passive architecture, such as Amazon Route 53 health checks and failover routing policies.


Definitions:

RPO and RTO are two important metrics that help define the acceptable level of data loss and downtime during a disruption. These metrics will help guide organizations in designing disaster recovery strategies.

1. Recovery Point Objective (RPO): The Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the maximum amount of data loss that an organization can tolerate in the event of a disaster or system failure. It represents the point in time to which data must be restored in order to resume operations with an acceptable level of data integrity. In simpler terms, RPO answers the question: "How much data can we afford to lose?"

For example, if an organization has an RPO of one hour, it means that in the event of a disaster, the data must be restored to a state where no more than one hour's worth of data is lost.

2. Recovery Time Objective (RTO): The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the maximum amount of time within which a system, application, or service must be restored after a disruption in order to minimize the impact on business operations. RTO defines the downtime that an organization can tolerate before the system or service is back up and running. RTO answers the question: "How quickly do we need to recover?"

For example, if an organization has an RTO of four hours, it means that after a disaster, the systems or services must be restored and operational within four hours to meet the business's requirements.

In summary:

  • RPO focuses on data loss and specifies the maximum tolerable amount of lost data.

  • RTO focuses on downtime and specifies the maximum allowable time to restore systems or services to normal operation.

Both RPO and RTO are essential metrics to consider when designing disaster recovery and business continuity strategies. These metrics help organizations determine the appropriate level of investment in data protection, backup, replication, failover, and other strategies to ensure the resiliency of their IT infrastructure and minimize the impact of disruptions on business operations.

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