What Is Azure Storage?

What Is Azure Storage?

Microsoft Azure Storage is a scalable, highly available, and secure cloud storage solution that offers several options for storing and managing both structured and unstructured data.  

What Is Azure Storage?

Azure Storage is a cloud storage solution delivered by Microsoft that enables you to store and access data in the cloud. It offers highly available, massively scalable storage as five different storage services: file, blob, queue, table, and disk. 

Data storage objects are accessed using REST APIs or SDKs which are available in several programming languages, including .NET, Java, and Python. Developers can also access Azure Storage using scripts created with Azure CLI and Azure PowerShell or via the Azure Portal or Azure Storage Explorer.

How Azure SaaS Works 

Azure SaaS solutions are hosted by Microsoft Azure and made available to customers through a web browser using a pay-as-you-go (PaYG) payment model. Users don’t need to install or maintain the software on their own devices. 

To use Azure SaaS, begin by setting up an Azure account, either by purchasing a subscription or signing up for a free trial. Once your account is ready, you can choose, configure, and deploy your services to the Azure cloud. You can also monitor your storage usage from your account. Azure’s PaYG model means that you only pay for services as you use them, enabling you to scale up or down as demand requires.

Benefits of Azure Storage

Azure Storage offers several beneficial features and capabilities for organizations, including: 

Scalability

Azure Storage is massively scalable and able to meet today’s modern applications’ performance and storage needs. Organizations can quickly and easily adapt to changing business requirements and workloads by scaling storage capacity up or down as demand changes. 

Predictable Costs

Because storage is paid on a PaYG basis, you only pay for the resources you use. With predictable costs, you can budget more effectively than if you’re purchasing and maintaining your own storage infrastructure. Further, with Azure Storage SaaS, you don’t have to worry about the costs associated with operating a data center and training IT personnel to maintain it. 

Security

Like all major managed service providers, Azure Storage implements security controls and monitoring mechanisms for detecting threats. Azure Storage also adheres to the relevant compliance regulations for data privacy and safety. All the data in your Azure Storage account is encrypted, and you have fine-grained control over who has access to your data. 

Reliability and Availability

Azure Storage uses redundancy and replication to ensure that the service is reliable and highly available. Redundancy ensures that your data remains available in the event of a hardware failure. Data is replicated to data centers across geographical regions to support business continuity and disaster recovery in an emergency.

Flexibility 

Azure Storage offers a range of different storage options to meet the specific needs and requirements of your organization. Options include file storage for easy storage and access to data in any on-premises or virtual environment; block storage for fast, low-latency access; and scalable, highly durable object storage for backing up or archiving large volumes of data that isn’t accessed frequently.

5 Primary Azure Storage Types

Azure Storage offers the following five primary types of storage that can be used individually or combined to meet your different storage needs:

  • File: Enables you to set up fully managed cloud file storage for sharing files with multiple users. File shares can be mounted from on-premises or cloud deployments on Windows, Linux, and macOS and accessed from anywhere via the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, Network File System (NFS) protocol, and the Azure Files REST API
  • Blob: Is object storage used to store and access large volumes of unstructured data, such as images and videos. Users can access blob storage via the Azure Storage REST APIAzure PowerShellAzure CLI, or storage client libraries. 
  • Queue: Stores and retrieves messages that need to be processed asynchronously. Each queue can hold millions of messages with each message up to 64K in size. 
  • Table: Is a NoSQL, key/attribute store with a schema-less design that you can use to store large amounts of structured, non-relational data in the cloud.
  • Disks: Allows you to store and process data from an attached virtual hard disk (VHD). It is referred to as “managed” because it is an abstraction of Azure Storage accounts, blob containers, and page blobs.

Azure Blob vs. File Storage

Both Azure Blob and File Storage can store and retrieve large amounts of data over a network or the internet, but each type has distinct features that are suitable for different use cases. 

Azure Blob Storage can store large amounts of unstructured data, such as images and audio files, or large amounts of infrequently accessed data, such as backups or archives. Alternatively, Azure File Storage is commonly used to create distributed, cloud-based file-sharing systems accessed via the SMB protocol. File Storage is best suited for storing smaller amounts of data that needs to be accessed by large numbers of concurrent users.

Azure Storage vs. S3: Comparison

Azure Storage and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) are popular cloud storage services offered by Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS), respectively. 

Azure Storage offers five types of storage (file, blob, queue, table, and disk) that are optimized for specific workloads on a PaYG model, based on the amount of data stored, the number of storage transactions, and the amount of data transferred.

Amazon S3 offers three types of storage: Standard, Standard-Infrequent Access (Standard IA), and One Zone-Infrequent Access (One Zone-IA). Each storage tier offers different levels of availability, durability, and performance. Amazon S3 uses a tiered pricing model, based on the volume of data stored, the number of requests made, and the amount of data transferred.

How to Choose the Right Azure Data Service

Microsoft Azure offers several options for storing, processing, and analyzing data in the cloud, with each storage service designed for specific use cases. Let’s consider some example scenarios for each one. 

File Storage

Azure File Storage can be used in small to mid-sized companies to replace on-premises file shares accessed by employees or applications. Using Azure File Storage and the SMB or NFS protocol or Azure File Storage API, you can create a file share in the cloud that employees and applications can access in the same way as local storage on their computers. 

Blob

E-commerce stores, streaming applications, and archiving solutions are all suitable use cases for Azure Blob Storage. Blob Storage supports the large product image files used by e-commerce stores; streaming audio and video applications; and backup, disaster recovery, and archiving solutions. 

Queue

Azure Queue Storage is used to store and process large amounts of messages in the cloud and is suitable for online retail scenarios, such as storing and processing customer orders. 

Table

Azure Table Storage can be used to manage customer data in the cloud or for applications that don’t require complex joins, such as online transaction processing (OLTP) applications that need to store and access large amounts of data quickly.

Disk 

Azure Disk Storage is designed for I/O intensive workloads and applications, such as database servers that require high-performance, low-latency storage. You can use Azure Managed Disks to deploy and manage VHDs for virtual machines (VMs) in the cloud.

Seamless Data Mobility with Azure Storage and Pure 

Looking to integrate Azure cloud into your hybrid cloud? 

Pure Cloud Block Store™ is an enterprise-grade cloud storage solution that offers high-performance, high-resilience, and cost-effective cloud storage. With Pure Cloud Block Store, you can consolidate data resources and workloads across your on-premises, public, and private cloud environments for a true hybrid cloud experience. Integration with cloud provider tools such as Azure Migrate and Azure Site Recovery facilitate seamless migrations from on-premises to cloud or cloud to cloud.

Check out our Azure Data Services solutions for more information on how you can enjoy seamless data mobility with Pure Cloud Block Store.

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