What to do in the event that an Azure service disruption impacts Azure VMs

At Microsoft, we work hard to make sure that our services are always available to you when you need them. Forces beyond our control sometimes impact us in ways that cause unplanned service disruptions.

Microsoft provides a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for its services as a commitment for uptime and connectivity. The SLA for individual Azure services can be found at Azure Service Level Agreements.

Azure already has many built-in platform features that support highly available applications. For more about these services, read Disaster recovery and high availability for Azure applications.

This article covers a true disaster recovery scenario, when a whole region experiences an outage due to major natural disaster or widespread service interruption. These are rare occurrences, but you must prepare for the possibility that there is an outage of an entire region. If an entire region experiences a service disruption, the locally redundant copies of your data would temporarily be unavailable. If you have enabled geo-replication, three additional copies of your Azure Storage blobs and tables are stored in a different region. In the event of a complete regional outage or a disaster in which the primary region is not recoverable, Azure remaps all of the DNS entries to the geo-replicated region.

To help you handle these rare occurrences, we provide the following guidance for Azure virtual machines in the case of a service disruption of the entire region where your Azure virtual machine application is deployed.

Option 1: Initiate a failover by using Azure Site Recovery

You can configure Azure Site Recovery for your VMs so that you can recover your application with a single click in matter of minutes. You can replicate to Azure region of your choice and not restricted to paired regions. You can get started by replicating your virtual machines. You can create a recovery plan so that you can automate the entire failover process for your application. You can test your failovers beforehand without impacting production application or the ongoing replication. In the event of a primary region disruption, you just initiate a failover and bring your application in target region.

Option 2: Wait for recovery

In this case, no action on your part is required. Know that we are working diligently to restore service availability. You can see the current service status on our Azure Service Health Dashboard.

This is the best option if you have not set up Azure Site Recovery, read-access geo-redundant storage, or geo-redundant storage prior to the disruption. If you have set up geo-redundant storage or read-access geo-redundant storage for the storage account where your VM virtual hard drives (VHDs) are stored, you can look to recover the base image VHD and try to provision a new VM from it. This is not a preferred option because there are no guarantees of synchronization of data. Consequently, this option is not guaranteed to work.


Be aware that you do not have any control over this process, and it will only occur for region-wide service disruptions. Because of this, you must also rely on other application-specific backup strategies to achieve the highest level of availability. For more information, see the section on Data strategies for disaster recovery.

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