Data storage plays a crucial role in the success of digital platforms. But it is a challenge for businesses to store their data and protect it while also making it accessible to authorized users.
As digital processes become more demanding for exponentially larger data volumes, traditional data storage and management methods are rendered ineffective. Moreover, high-tech websites and applications need sophisticated systems to store and manage enormous data packets without the risk of breach or damage.
When your databases are no longer the best option, you could try a relatively low-cost, high-security alternative.
It’s called cloud storage, a massive industry. And it is also a lot less expensive than managed databases, accommodating a wide variety of application architectures. The global cloud storage market is expected to expand to USD 137.3 billion by 2025, at a yearly rate of 23%. This only proves that many organizations are getting wiser about the impact cloud can have on their processes.
Out of all the cloud storage options available to you, Azure is the most viable as it has many data storage options for web and app developers.
To learn more about Azure storage, let’s dive into the basics and find the best way to leverage Azure services.
Azure storage is an integral part of Microsoft’s cloud storage, offering contemporary object data storage solutions. Azure is an ascendable store for data objects, and it also provides a wide array of usability options.
You could consider it a file system service for cloud storage, a messaging store for reliable communication, and a NoSQL store for data storage and retrieval. All in all, Azure Storage offers scalability, durability, accessibility, and easy management.
Its high availability, reliability, and flexibility make it perfect for people handling big data and analytics. Whether it’s audio, video, images, configuration files, sensor data, or any other form of information, Azure can save it all and make it accessible for you anywhere.
The storage account serves as an access point to all the features that make up the azure storage cloud. In order to avail of the Azure services, you need to create an account and choose the level of resilience you require. The rest will be taken care of.
A single account can store around 500 TB of data, which is beyond any other data storage. You can get the following types of azure accounts:
Includes blob, queue, table, and file storage capabilities. This type is recommended for most scenarios.
If you want premium performance from the block and append blobs, this is the account for you. We suggest you opt for it if you often deal with high transaction rates, use smaller objects or require low latency for your storage.
This type of account also offers superior performance but only for files. Suggested for enterprise use or high-scale applications.
If you only use page blobs and need premium high-speed storage, this one’s it.
This is where we explain some of the terms used above. There are four ways to use your Azure storage:
It serves as storage for unstructured data such as text or binary data. In fact, it is a massively scalable object-store.
It is a messaging queue storage and stores millions of messages between the application mechanisms. These messages can be text strings or data bytes with any kind of information in XML, CSV, or any other format.
It offers managed file sharing for cloud or on-premise distributions.
Table storage works as a NoSQL store specifically designed for storing structured data in a schema-less design.
Once you have discovered what each type of resource entails, here is an in-depth list of how all four storage resources help businesses and online platforms:
Cloud storage serves as the replica of all the data retrieved from your app. Similarly, the storage account works to replicate your app data once you determine the level of replication for your platform.
With that said, storage replication and availability options are divided into three categories, which are:
LRS: Locally Redundant (local replication of data with the lowest availability)
ZRS: Zone Redundant (Regional replication of data with average multiple cluster availability)
GRS: Geo-redundant (Secondary region replication of data with the highest availability)
Now that you know the basics of Azure storage and accounts, here is what you need to know about blob storage. It’s the most commonly used storage by developers and entails much more than one can specify.
Blob (Binary Large Object) is designed by Microsoft Azure developers to handle unstructured data of small to massive amounts. It can store binary large objects composed of unstructured data, which may include images, text, videos, metadata, and the list goes on. Blobs are stored on azure accounts but in directory-like folders, also called containers, as they contain the data in them. Moreover, you can control the security parameters of the stored data at the container level and set the default behavior for better management.
This type of blob is optimized to upload and store a large amount of data efficiently, and each block blob can be managed individually. Each block blob is identified through an ID and comprises up to 50,000 blocks. Moreover, each block blob’s size can vary from the other, and it can be maximized to an extent permissible by the blob storage version in use. Block Blobs are capable of storing up to 190.7 TiB (thread information block) data.
This type of blob is also made up of blocks, but these are designed explicitly for append operations. With append blobs, users can easily log data from virtual machines. These blobs are composed of several different blocks, with each block storing up to 4MB of data. Each append blob is adept at holding up to 50,000 blocks. Hence, the storage of each append blob can go up to 200GB.
These types of blobs store random access (read and write) files that can go up to 8 TiB in size. Page blobs are optimized to store VHD (Virtual Hard Drive) files. These blobs can also serve as storage disks for Azure virtual machines.
Blob storage is categorized into three tiers. Make sure you select the right one when creating the storage account.
This tier is ideally optimized for storing frequently accessed files and offers the lowest accessibility cost. However, it comes against the highest storage cost.
This tier is designed for cases where data is to be stored for up to 30days at least without being accessed frequently. This tier comes against lower storage and higher accessibility cost.
This tier is designed for storing data that doesn’t need to be accessed immediately. It comes against higher data retrieval and higher data access latency costs. It is ideal for cases where data will be stored for up to 180 days without anyone accessing it.
Data storage, in most cases, is focused on storing, managing, and distributing files, logs, images, videos, and other formats of data. Using blob storage ensures fulfilling this need with complete efficacy. It helps the users overcome the challenges they face when they want to deploy various databases to store different data types.
Blob storage provides ease of storage, consistency, flexibility, accessibility, and convenient management through a singular platform. Not only this, but it offers a myriad of services and options to suit the needs of various users.
For an overview, here is a list of tasks you can accomplish with a blob storage account.
Moreover, you can control the access and storage according to the blob storage policies. To keep the original files safe, you can specify when a copy of the older version should be maintained. Lock the blobs to prevent modifications by any source or place them for a legal charge. All of these steps ensure that the documents for ongoing cases are never modified without permission from the authority.
Azure storage offers a Software Development Kit (SDK) for the users, making it easier for them to connect their web and app portals to the repository. The kit works as a tool between the storage and the coded platform and helps the online storage interact with the development codes.
The SDK supports various coding languages, including Java, Python, Node.js, .NET, and many other languages. Here is how the code connects the storage to the portal by creating a container and uploading a file through a stream object. The stream comprises the bytes of files on the disk. Once the file is uploaded, the code retrieves the Uri to access the file.
Developers can upload their static assets over the web by creating a particular container. Once the file is uploaded, it can be accessed by the web without configuring a web server. This way, the developers can cut down tremendous cloud expenditure.
Azure allows the users to create many mountable files over the cloud that can be shared across the web. Once uploaded and shared, the files can be accessed over any operating system such as macOS, Linux, and Windows. Software developers who face difficulties in sharing the legacy applications to the web can now create file shares and mount the files to the cloud through a virtual machine linked to the legacy application. This will make the app run flawlessly without any difference in its performance.
Queues serve as a swift and cost-efficient method for handling the messages sent and received through the application. It can take any format of messages, where the size of the message remains under 64 kilobytes. Most common approaches for text and strings that use Azure queue come as JSON-formatted data.
The service proves to be very useful for communication with cloud-based clients, tracking backlogs of information, and storing many other sorts of messages or means of communication.
Databases are an outdated method of storing information and prove inefficient when paired up with the advanced web and app codes. With that said, Azure storage is the most sophisticated solution that fulfills the needs of modern tech-enabled platforms.
However, Azure storage is a professional-grade storage option that needs expert handling to utilize all of its aspects. The complex information may overwhelm a newbie. Therefore, if you are looking forward to redesigning your web or app storage platform using either Amazon Web Services or Azure Storage, get help from experts to get the best out of the Microsoft Azure Storage Service.
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.