One of the ways that organizations are beginning to take advantage of the cloud is for disaster recovery (DR) of virtual machines (VMs). The cloud can be a cost effective DR option as it allows you to take advantage of inexpensive cloud storage rather than needing to foot the bill for creating a your own disaster recovery site.

Related: Cloud Disaster Recovery and Backup

Home grown DR sites can be costly because you need to pay for both the facility as well as all of the computing infrastructure required to run your mission critical workloads. Disaster recovery options are a necessary evil for businesses running mission critical applications—you don’t ever want to use them, but if you don’t have some type of contingency plan to protect your computing resources your business could cease operations and maybe even go out of business if a disaster occurs that takes your computing infrastructure off-line.

One company that’s providing cloud-based DR is HotLink. Best known for their multi-hypervisor management solutions, HotLink’s new DR Express provides protection for VMware vSphere VMs by replicating them to Amazon’s AWS. HotLink’s DR Express is completely integrated into VMware’s vCenter and it uses Amazon’s AWS S3 for storage and Amazon’s EC2 as a DR platform to run VMware virtual machines.

The HotLink Platform Server integrates with vCenter to replicate and transform your VMware vSphere VMs into Amazon VMs—enabling them to run natively on Amazon’s EC2. You only need to pay for the Amazon AWS EC2 instances while they are running. The rest of the time you only need to pay for the lower cost Amazon AWS S3 storage. In addition, to replicating VM’s HotLink DR Express’s CIMple Software Defined Networking (SDN), support also automatically discovers and replicates the vSphere on-premise network settings including vLANs, vSwitches, firewall rules, and of the VM networking configuration to Amazon AWS.

In the event of a failure the VMware, VMs are restored in Amazon’s AWS EC2 where they can be managed exactly like they were on-premise VMs. HotLink DR Express is completely integrated into the vSphere Infrastructure Client enabling you to manage the VM’s in Amazon exactly as if they were running on a local vSphere server.

Related: Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager Protects Hyper-V VMs

Testing your DR facilities is one of the toughest parts of any DR scheme and HotLink DR Express makes it easy to test your DR setup. The VMs are continually replicated and you can simply activate one of the replicated VMs at any time from the vSphere Infrastructure Client. You can learn more about HotLink DR Express from the HotLink website.