Introduction to Microsoft Azure Storage

In this  Azure Tutorial, we will learn about Microsoft Azure Storage, describing its importance, and the different types of Azure Storage. Then, you will learn about the different storage accounts and their different types, and in which scenarios they can be used.

 Introduction to Microsoft Azure Storage Azure

Storage is the bedrock of Microsoft’s core storage solution offering in Azure. No matter what solution you are building for the cloud, you’ll find find Azure Storage to be essential. Azure Storage is a very scalable and highly available solution. You can store up to hundreds of terabytes of data. The data stored in Azure Storage is protected from corruption or loss because Azure Storage provides a highly available storage service that ensures that your data will be available, even if the primary storage server gets damaged.

Why use Azure Storage?

There are many reasons for using Azure Storage, which will be covered throughout this book. Some of them are listed here:

  • Global presence: You can host your storage wherever you want in the available Azure regions, allowing you to provide applications close to your user base.
  • Redundancy and recovery: Azure has a global presence that can be leveraged to maintain storage availability using data replication even if a disaster occurs in a specific region, which will be covered later in this chapter.
  • Many flavors: Azure Storage has many flavors, based on resiliency, durability, connectivity, performance, and so on, which can be used according to your needs in different scenarios. This will be covered later in this chapter.
  • Pay as you go: Pay as you go has always been one of the distinguished reasons for using the cloud generally. It is no surprise that Azure Storage supports this model as well.

Azure Storage types

Azure Storage has many types and even sub-types, to satisfy Azure service consumer needs. The most common types can be classified based on the following factors:

  1. Durability (replication) .
  2. Performance (standard versus premium).
  3. Persistency (persistent versus non-persistent)

Durability

Microsoft Azure Storage is durable and supports data replication; therefore, you can make sure your storage is highly available. Replication ensures that your data is copied somewhere else, whether it is in the same data center, another data center, or even another region.

 Replication types

Microsoft Azure supports multiple options for data replication. You can use whatever suits your business, especially as every type has its own price.

Locally redundant storage

Locally redundant storage (LRS) replicates three copies of your data within the same data center. The write requests you do with your storage are not committed until they are replicated to all three copies, which means it replicates synchronously. Not only this, but it also makes sure that these three copies exist in different update domains and fault domains.

Drawbacks

The following points are the drawbacks for using LRS:

  • The least durable option, as it replicates only within the same data center.
  • Your data will be lost if a catastrophic event, such as a volcanic eruption or flood, affects the data center

Advantages

The following points are the advantages of using LRS:

  • It is the cheapest type compared to the other types
  • It is the fastest type of data replication, offering the highest throughput, since it replicates within the same data center, mitigating the risk of data loss that would occur during data replication caused by a failure that occurred on the original data host .
  • It is the only available replication type that can be used with premium storage at the time of writing.

Zone redundant Storage

Zone redundant storage (ZRS) replicates three copies of data across two or three data centers within one of two regions asynchronously, plus the three copies of data stored within the same data center as the original source of the data.

Drawbacks

  •  This type can only be used for block blobs, and a standard storage account.
  • Does not support metrics or logging.
  • Does not support conversion for other replication types, such as LRS, GRS, and vice versa.
  • If a disaster occurs, some data might be lost, because the data replicates to the other data centers asynchronously.
  • If a disaster occurs, there will be some delay in accessing your data until Microsoft failover to the secondary zone.

Advantages

It provides higher durability and availability for data than LRS, as it not only replicates in the same data center, but also in other data centers.

Geo-redundant storage

Geo-redundant storage (GRS) replicates data not only within the same region, but also in other regions. Firstly, it makes three copies of the data within the same region synchronously, and then it makes another three copies of data in other regions asynchronously.

Drawbacks

  • If a disaster occurs, some data might be lost, because the data replicates to the other regions asynchronously.
  • If a disaster occurs, there will be some delay in accessing your data until Microsoft initiates a failover to the secondary region.

Advantages

It provides the highest durability and availability, even if a disaster occurs in an entire region.

Unlike ZRS, if the original source of data faces an outage, there will be no possibility of data loss if the other three copies that exist within the same region don’t face an outage too, as it replicates synchronously within the same region.

Read-access geo-redundant storage

Read-access geo-redundant storage (RA-GRS) follows the same replication mechanism as GRS, in addition to read access on your replicated data in the other regions.

Drawback

If a disaster occurs, some data might be lost, because the data replicates to the other regions asynchronously.

Advantages

  • It provides the highest durability and availability, even if a disaster occurs in a whole region.
  • If a disaster occurs, you still only have read access to the storage, but no write access until Microsoft initiates a failover to the secondary region.
  • The region with the read access can be used for data retrieval by the nearest offices to it without the need to go to another region to access the data; as a result, the data latency will decrease.

Performance

Azure provides services for all business types and needs. There are two types based on Azure Storage performance: standard and premium.

Standard storage

Standard storage is the most common type for all the VM sizes available in Azure. The standard storage type stores its data on non-SSD disks. It is commonly used with workloads where latency is not critical. Plus, it is low cost and has support for all Azure Storage services. It is also available in all regions.

Premium storage

Premium storage is designed for low latency applications, such as SQL Server, which needs intensive IOPs. Premium storage is stored on SSD disks. That is why it costs more than standard storage. Microsoft recommends using premium storage for better performance and higher availability.

Persistency

Another type of Azure Storage depends on data persistence. This means that data will be there or not after stopping and starting the VM within which your data exists.

Persistent storage

Persistent storage means that the data will be there after stopping and restarting the VM within which your data exists.

Non-persistent storage

Non-persistent storage means that the data will be gone after restarting the VM within which your data exists.

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