October 16, 2021

Storage in Azure

There are a few options when it comes to storing things in Azure.

  • Container (blob) Storage
  • Disk storage
  • Azure Files

There are also storage tiers

  • Hot
  • Cool
  • Archive

Container (blob) Storage

Azure Blob Storage is for storing unstructured data, like images, videos, text files, documents. Anything stored in blob storage is referred to as a blob. Blobs are organized and stored in storage containers.

3 types of blobs:

  • Block blob
    • Used to store files that an application uses.
  • Append blob
    • Typically used in logging. Append blobs are designed for append operations
  • Page blob
    • Used for virtual hard disks (*.vhd) in VMs.

If you want to move data from on-prem to Azure Storage, you have a few options:

  • Azure Storage Explorer
    • Free Microsoft tool
  • Command line tools
    • For uploading to Azure
  • Data Box Edge
    • Microsoft service, easy to use, like copying to a hard drive. For large amounts of data.
  • Data Box Offline
    • Like Edge except it’s for even larger amounts of data, where Microsoft ships you hard drives for you to fill up and send back. Of course you use BitLocker to protect them during shipment.
  • Data Box Heavy
    • Even more data, like 1 peta-byte. Microsoft ships you a rugged device (I’m imagining a half rack) on wheels

Storage Tiers | Blob Storage

  • Hot
    • accessed often
    • highest cost of storage
    • low cost for accessing it
  • Cool
    • access less often
    • lower cost of storage
    • higher cost for accessing it
    • required to keep the data in storage for 30 days
  • Archive
    • lowest cost for storage
    • highest cost for accessing it
    • required to keep the data in storage for 180 days
    • takes a long time to retrieve the data. The first byte time is 15 hours

Disk Storage

Disk storage is for VMs but is designated as temporary when you create the VM. Data will be lost during a maintenance event. If you need to store data that will be used for VM deployments, then create the disk using an image.

Azure disks can be traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDD) or Solid-State Drive (SSD)

Azure disks are backed by page blobs in Azure Storage.

Azure disks can also be managed or unmanaged:

  • Unmanaged Disks
    • Uses Azure Storage in your Azure Subscription
    • You have to manage that account
    • There are limitations in Azure Storage, so if you are a heavy disk user, you might run into throttling.
    • Maybe a single point of failure
  • Managed Disks
    • Microsoft manages the disks
    • Limitations are removed
    • Microsoft recommends managed disks for new VMs
    • Microsoft recommends moving from unmanaged to managed
    • No single point of failure

Azure Files

Azure Files is a completely managed file share that uses SMB. So applications that talk to a NAS or a file share can use Azure Files. This is different from Blob storage because you need tools or a client to store stuff in the containers. Azure Files just uses SMB to connect.

Azure Files are backed by Azure Storage, so you need a storage account.

Since Azure Files is using SMB, you will need to make sure that TCP 445 isn’t blocked. With powershell you can use:

Test-Connection SMB

If typically you have network latency issues you might want to install Azure File Sync on an on-prem server, which keeps a local copy of the files on that server and syncs them.