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Azure Blob storage spindle

Azure Blob Storage

If you have ever had the need to store large amounts of files and data, then Azure’s Blob Storage is made for you. 

Microsoft’s Azure Cloud provides huge benefits with not only their fantastic services, locations, availability and support, but also in their almost seemingly infinite capacity. 

Azure Blob Storage is not only scalable, durable and almost always available it also provides flexibility to scale as your business requirements need. 

A huge benefit to using Azure services is the pay as you go service model, that allows you to only pay for the services you consume. No more need to over provision local file servers hard drives for expected capacity, with Azure Blob Storage you upload your files to Azure and only pay for the space you need.

Azure Blob Storage

What is Azure Blob Storage?

Azure Blob Storage Overview

Azure Blob Storage (Blob stands for Binary Large Object) is storage provided by Microsoft’s Azure for unstructured data. Perfect for massive amounts of data. Example use cases are as a target for your log or analytics data, or Blob Storage can be used as a backup and archival location, and even things like files, pictures and music files. Basically Azure Blob Storage is a great dumping ground for huge amounts of your data.

A Blob is actually a file which is stored in a directory like structure called a Container, then within an Azure Storage Account, and an Azure Resource Group and finally an Azure Subscription.

Access to each Azure Blob is provided by a HTTPS link directly to the Blob itself, meaning you can access the file from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Obviously if you dont want the data exposed to the whole world, you can set this to lock this down to meet your security needs.

Azure Blob Storage Unstructured Data

Azure Blob Tiering

Microsoft provides different storage tiering models for the storing of your data. 

Each one has a different pricing model (per GB) and access requirements.

  • Hot – Best for data that  is accessed frequently. (most expensive per GB)
  • Cool – Great for data that is accessed infrequently. (not as expensive as Hot, but no where as cheap as the Archive Tier)
  • Archive – Perfect for data that is very rarely accessed. (cheapest per GB)

Azure Blob Availability

Additionally when creating your Azure Storage Account you can choose how much redundancy / availability for your Azure Blob Storage. While Microsoft provides an SLA on the uptime of your storage, choosing the correct availability of your Azure Storage Account will ensure your Azure Blobs are accessible in the event of failure.

  • LRS – Locally Redundant Storage – Keeps a synchronous copy of your Azure Blobs three times within the same Azure Datacentre. This is the least cost option
  • ZRS – Zone Redundant Storage – Replicates your Azure Blobs synchronous across three Azure Availability Zones in the primary region.
  • GRS – Geo-Redundant Storage– Copies your Azure Blobs synchronous three times within the same Azure Datacentre, then copies the same Azure Blobs asynchronously across to  one other single location in another secondary Azure Region.
  • GZRS – Geo-Zone-Redundant Storage– Copies your Azure Blobs synchronous across three Azure Availability Zones in the primary region, then copies the same Azure Blobs asynchronously across to  one other single location in another secondary Azure Region.

 

Azure Blob Limitations

Although Azure Blob Storage seems limitless, there are always some technical limitations that you should be aware of.

Some of these limitations are;

  • Service Level Agreement – Microsoft provides an uptime 99.99% on Azure Blob Storage
  • Maximum size of Storage Account – 500TB
  • Maximum size of a Single Blob – 5TB
  • Number of Blocks in a Blob – 50,000 blocks
  • Maximum size of a block – 100MB
  • Minimum size of a block – 64KB
  • Maximum Storage Account Capacity – 5PB
  • Number of Storage Accounts per Subscription – 200
  • Tiering – Only the Hot and Cool Access Tiers can be set at the root of the Storage Container. Archive Tier is per individual Blob. (you can select multiple files using Cloud Storage Manager to change to the Archive Tier. This isnt possible using the Azure Portal)
  • Archive Tier stores the data offline. This requires time to retrieve the Blob from the offline storage. There is additional cost to retrieve this data and the retrieval time can take several hours.
  • Archive Tier Rehydration – When a Blob is in the Archive Tier the data cannot be modified as it is actually offline. To modify a Blob in this Tier you would first need to rehydrate the Blob to an Online Tier (Hot or Cool)

Azure Blob Storage Insights

Now that you have some background in to what Azure Blob Storage can do for you and are ready to take the jump and start uploading huge amounts of data to your Azure Storage Containers.

Cloud Storage Manager provides you with further insights in to your Azure consumption. Providing you with quick to see capacity information as well as historical reporting of your Azure Storage Accounts consumption.

Download now and test it for yourself for free.

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