Microsoft Azure is presently one of the top cloud service vendors in the market. The credibility of Microsoft’s reputation in the IT sector and frequent introduction of new features and offerings are commendable aspects. Based on these aspects, Microsoft Azure could offer tough competition to the market leader in cloud services, i.e., Amazon Web Services, in terms of market share. Therefore, the attention on Microsoft Azure services such as Azure storage is aptly ideal.
The cloud has been a crucial technological intervention with the introduction of new approaches for computing. However, the advantages of flexibility also point out directly towards concerns regarding capacity that could plague cloud-based applications and systems. Imagine shifting to a big city without any prior awareness of your arrangements for residence in the city!
So, you should worry about the services of Microsoft Azure for storing your data when you move to the cloud. The following discussion aims at providing an Azure storage tutorial of sorts with brief guidelines on the use of storage on Azure. The discussion would outline best practices for using storage services on Microsoft Azure. Also, the discussion would outline the best practices for using storage services on Azure.
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Need for Storage Services on Azure
The first thing we should reflect on is the need for Azure storage. Suppose you have a website having its load distributed among two types of servers, i.e. website server and backend server. The function of the website server is the management of incoming page requests for the website. The backend servers would have to deal with the processing tasks needed for a particular operation.
However, you would also need two different entities for storing data. Why? One of the entities would have to store the incoming requests from website servers. The backend servers would pick up these requests for performing a specific task. Another entity would be mandatory for storing processed jobs without imposing considerable processing overheads.
Furthermore, we could also observe the need for storage as compared to a database because of certain prominent reasons. First of all, accessibility is a prominent concern in the case of a database where you have to perform query requests for accessing data. Secondly, storage does not impose higher processing overheads like a database.
Therefore, Azure storage serves as the ideal cloud storage solution for modern applications with high durability, scalability and availability requirements. You can find storage on Azure as a file system service and a messaging store for credible messaging. Furthermore, you could also avail of the facilities of a NoSQL store.
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Features of Azure Storage
A closer look at the different features of Azure storage can provide further clarity on reasons for its demand.
- First of all, storage on Azure is highly durable and available. As a result, you could safeguard data from general hardware failures. Furthermore, you have the option of replicating data across multiple datacenters and geographical regions to provide additional protection from natural disasters. Such type of replicated data is available at all times, even in the aftermath of an unprecedented outage.
- Azure storage offers higher security since all types of data written to Azure storage has encryption. Furthermore, you can also avail of fine-grained control over access privileges.
- The design of storage on Azure is highly scalable for addressing the requirements for data storage and performance in modern applications.
- The facility of storage as a fully-managed service on Microsoft Azure also provides inherent advantages of hardware maintenance, resolution of critical issues, and updates.
- Accessibility of data is another prominent advantage for which data storage on Azure is the ideal option. The facility of client libraries in a wide range of languages such as Ruby, Java, PHP, Python and others offers credible functionalities. In addition, you could also avail of support for scripting in Azure CLI or Azure PowerShell according to your requirements. In addition, the Azure portal and Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer helps in obtaining simple visual solutions to work with your data.
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Types of Storage Services
The next important concern in this Azure storage tutorial refers to the types of storage services you get on Microsoft Azure. The different types of Azure storage service include blobs, files, queues, tables, and disk storage.
Let us reflect on each type of storage service to understand its implications.
1. Azure Blob
Azure Blob storage is one of the prominent mentions in every Azure storage documentation. The blob storage is an ideal choice as an object storage solution for the cloud from Microsoft. The optimization of blob storage for storing large volumes of unstructured data such as binary data or text is commendable. One of the important concerns, in this case, refers directly to the scenarios in which blob storage is applicable.
Blob storage is perfect for serving documents or images directly to a browser and storage of files for distributed access. Blob storage is also perfect for streaming audio and video as well as storing data for disaster recovery, archiving, and backup and restoring. Blob storage is also the perfect choice for storing data for analysis. The access to Azure blob storage through URLs, Azure CLI, Azure PowerShell, REST API, or client library offers credible flexibility.
2. Azure files
The next important type of Azure storage service is Azure files. Azure files help in establishing network file shares with high availability for access through the standard Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. As a result, multiple VMs could share similar files with reading and write access. The storage client libraries or the REST interface can help in reading the files.
The benefit of Azure file storage is the facility to access files from anywhere in the world with a URL pointing towards the file along with a Shared Access Signature (SAS) token. SAS tokens help in obtaining specific access to a private asset for a particular amount of time. The ideal recommendations for Azure files would be on-premises applications and configuration files. Furthermore, Azure file storage would be ideal for storing diagnostic logs, crash dumps, and metrics.
3. Azure queue
The Azure queue service is another prominent Azure storage alternative that you can find. The Azure queue service is ideal for storing and retrieving messages with messages ranging up to 64 kb in terms of size. The applications of Azure queue service are evident in the storage of lists of messages for asynchronous processing.
4. Azure Table
Azure Table storage is another crucial alternative you can find in Azure storage documentation. As a part of the Azure Cosmos DB, you can find a new Azure Cosmos DB Table API along with the existing Azure Table storage service. The API provides features such as automatic secondary indexes, throughput-optimized tables, and global distribution.
5. Azure managed disk
The final important type of Azure storage option is Azure managed disk, which is a virtual hard disk. The Azure virtual hard disk provides similar functionalities like an on-premises server in a virtualized form. The Azure managed disks feature storage in the form of page blobs that are random IO storage objects in Azure. The “managed” description is ideal because of the abstraction. It provides over page blobs, storage accounts on Azure, and blob containers. All you need to do is provision the disk and let Azure take care of the rest!
Types of storage accounts
The concerns of different types of storage accounts in Azure storage also present notable topics for this discussion. Different types of storage accounts have unique features and pricing models. Therefore, a comprehensive evaluation of your requirements and the differences among various storage accounts on Azure can help in selecting the right type of account for your applications. A detailed reflection on different types of accounts is one of the recommended Azure storage account best practices. Let us find more about different types of storage accounts for Azure.
- General-purpose v2 accounts are the basic storage accounts ideal for blobs, tables, files and queues. The application of this type of storage account is ideal in the majority of scenarios involving storage on Azure.
- General-purpose v1 accounts are the legacy account types. The recommended Azure storage account best practices, in this case, refer to using them natively for blobs, queues, tables, and files. Gradually, you can use general-purpose v2 accounts when possible.
- BlobStorage accounts are the legacy account types for blob-only storage, and you could use general-purpose v2 accounts when possible.
- BlockBlobStorage accounts are known for complying with blob-only storage requirements alongside the assurance of premium performance characteristics. The best recommendation would be to use these storage accounts in scenarios involving high transaction rates, use of smaller objects, or constant requirements of low storage latency.
- The final storage account type refers to FileStorage accounts, which are strictly file-only storage accounts. You can avail premium performance characteristics with FileStorage accounts, thereby making them ideal choices for enterprise and high-performance scale applications.
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On a final note, security is an important concern in Azure storage. The use of different types of authorization measures such as Active Directory authorization, Share Key, Shared Access Signatures, and anonymous access to containers and blobs is evident in Microsoft Azure. Furthermore, the ease of monitoring your storage services with the help of Microsoft Azure storage explorer is commendable.
Based on these factors, the adoption of storage services on Microsoft Azure can be the preferable alternative for you. Furthermore, the facility of tutorials on uploading and processing image data and data lake storage Gen2 on Microsoft’s official website can be helpful. With the facility of so many unique and functionally relevant features, storage services of Azure are worthy investments.
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