Azure Blob Storage – Part 1 (WHY should you use it)

Azure has come a long way to come up with reliable storage options offered as cloud services. In this series of articles we will go into details in the below order.

  1. Azure Blob Storage – Part 1 (WHY)
  2. Azure Blob Storage – Part 2 (WHAT and WHERE) 
  3. Azure Blob Storage – Part 3 (HOW)     —  Coming shortly
  4. Access Control policies (HOW LONG) — Coming shortly
  5. Triggering Azure function to process Blobs —  Coming shortly

Even though I am focusing mainly on Blob storage in particular, We will first analyze the need to choose Azure storage and then continue to cover Blob in depth.

Azure offers below storage options as service.

  1. Blob
  2. File
  3. Disc
  4. Queue
  5. Table

Conceptual Diagram

AzureStorage

WHY:  Let’s see why we must re-visit the conventional storage methods which were serving well earlier.

  • Data growth is exponential in ever-growing social media platforms and streaming services.
  • Scalability. You may not want it today but you want to be ready for future.
  • Simplifying storage infrastructure management like backup and Site Recovery.
  • Simplifying the user access management for stored resources. Audit compliance.
  • Simplify to access large size data over web faster using redundancy and SSD.

Previous file shares were useful though it came with many vulnerabilities. Maintenance and user access audits were time consuming tasks. Once the user or a service account has access to file share, there was no way to control the duration of access.

Azure on the other hand takes care of most of the maintenance and other critical tasks for us to focus on the business problem not the operational aspect of infrastructure.

Here is a quick comparison snapshot of storage options as per MS documentation.

StorageComparison.png

 

Even though the comparison chart above is self explanatory, in my personal experience I had observed the below use cases.

  • Upload/download large sized documents of different formats to server. 

    • If this is a new project and you have analyzed the cost aspects of storage, Blob is the easiest to implement which provides all benefits like Redundancy,security and time controlled access.

 

  • Migrate existing File share to Azure storage with minimal or no code change. (Lift and Shift) 
    • In such cases Azure File Share fits better. You can even map a middle tier VM (on IAAS) directory and access it as a regular network file share with no code changes.

 

  • Process large size files in a distributed system. Durability and decoupling is more important here.
    • Choose Queues.

 

  • Store unstructured (noSQL) data which can be quickly accessed across regions.

    • Use Tables.

 

Azure provides extensive range of tooling to support different audiences like Powershell, CLI, Export/Import services.

Now that basic context has been set, we can double click on Blob storage.

First thing you would need is to have an Azure Subscription where we are going to generate and subscribes for these storage services. Refer to the below link to know the steps to create a storage account.

Create a Storage account with Azure subscription. 

Blob Storage:

A blob can be considered to store any file (assume its binary) which can be in any format like .xls,.ppt etc. Blobs reside inside Containers. We will learn more about containers in Part 2.

Blob Storage Types

  • Block blobs :  Are most commonly used files. Up to ~4.7 TB

  • Page blobs:    Are used for random access large files like VHDs. This is how Azure manages files for itself.

  • Append blobs:  Are made up of blocks like the block blobs, mainly used to append information to the existing block blob. Like logging information.

I hope it gives you a good start and we shall go in deeper in Part 2.

Azure Blob Storage – Part 2 (WHAT and WHERE)

 

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About saxenapraveen

I work with Microsoft and have 12 years of experience in developing,designing and leading reliable and scalable solutions for cloud and device ready businesses.

Posted on November 3, 2017, in .NET, Azure Storage, Blob Storage, Cloud and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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