Azure Storage Services - The Basics


Azure Storage, managed by Microsoft, is one of the top cloud storage services that provide reliable and simplified storage services. Azure Storage offers storage services that are enormously scalable, accessible, and durable. The storage services include storage structures for data objects, disks for virtual machines, message storage for messaging and communication, file storage for cloud-based and on-site file systems, and NoSQL storage. 

Moreover, Azure Storage provides its customers with a unique namespace that is accessible from anywhere in the world using HTTPS protocol.

Azure Storage

The article will present a brief overview of Azure Storage services, their benefits, and Azure Storage Accounts:

Azure Storage Services - The Benefits

Microsoft Azure Cloud provides Storage services to their users and customers. The services are not only durable and accessible, but they are also secure, scalable, and manageable. Furthermore, they provide accessibility to the data in a variety of languages.

Let’s look at the benefits of Azure Storage services in detail:

1. Durability

The data, in Azure Storage, is replicated across the regions, which makes the data to be easily accessible globally. It also ensures that the data is available to users even in case of major hardware failures. Users can opt to replicate their data across various geographical regions or different zones. Furthermore, they can also opt for locally redundant storage. Hence, this ensures the integrity of the data in case of natural disasters or catastrophes.

2. Security

Azure Storage provides safe and secure encryption services to its users. All the data kept on the cloud is encrypted using the shared Key mode. Furthermore, it provides granular control over data. To further enhance security and take one step ahead, users can also use a shared access signature (SAS) token to restrict access to data. 

3. Scalability

Not only is Azure Storage scalable, but it can also handle updates and maintenance of data for its users. Azure Storage is designed to be scalable as per the data and application requirements. In addition, it can manage and handle updates, critical issues, and hardware maintenance for its users.

4. Accessibility

As discussed above, data stored in Azure Storage is feasibly accessible from anywhere in the world. Moreover, users have the option to access it in a variety of language supports provided by Microsoft client libraries. Azure Storage also offers CLI and PowerShell options to support scripting in addition to Azure Portal.

Azure Storage Account Types

Azure Storage offers two kinds of storage services to its customers: Standard Storage and Premium Storage. These storage services come with different features and pricing plans. 

Azure Cloud Storage services appear under the section “Storage Account”. To set up and access the storage services, users will have to set up a new Azure Storage Account via Azure Portal. Once the account is created, the services will be visible on the main page. It is essential to consider the core differences between these storage types while creating an Azure Storage account:

1. Standard Storage Account

The standard plan includes Blob, Table, File, and Queue storage. Let's have a look at each one in detail to understand the primary differences.

Blob Storage: The first type of storage facility is Blob Storage. Blob Storage refers to storage for unstructured data. This type of data could include videos, images, audio files, raw data, logs, and documents. Apart from that, users can also store backup data. Similar to AWS S3, the data in Blob Storage is stored in a directory structure known as “Container”. The maximum size of the blob is 500 TB. Blob Storage consists of three kinds of blobs: block, append, and backup blobs. 

Table Storage: Azure Tables, as the name implies, refers to the tabular data structure. This kind of structure is suitable for the data in key-value pairs. Azure Tables are easy to use and provide scalability to a massive level. Using the REST API, the data stored in the tables can be accessed easily.

File Storage: Azure File Storage is a storage service meant for legacy applications and data. It is an organized storage structure the enables file sharing across the cloud for on-premise environments. Azure VMs access Azure File storage to share their data. On the other hand, on-premise applications access the Azure File storage using REST API.

Queue Storage: The last type of storage service for Standard Account is Queue Storage. This service is mostly suitable for exchanging messages and facilitating communication between various Azure components. These components could be on Azure cloud or on-premise. The messages are communicated via HTTP or HTTPS protocol. 

2. Premium Account Storage

Premium Storage services are the latest offering provided by Microsoft. In this type of storage, the data is stored in SSDs for enhanced throughput and better I/O access to the data. This category is ideal for situations requiring a high number of transactions and low latency. However, it only supports Page Blobs and Data Disks. 

Moreover, Premium Storage is designed to manage the workload of Azure Virtual Machine as well as other intensive workloads, which include Big Data, Data Warehousing, and OLTP. Critical enterprise applications can now easily be shifted to Azure Cloud with the help of Azure Premium Storage. 

Conclusion - Final Notes

Azure Storage Services is one of the best examples of fine and well-designed cloud architecture. With its support of two different accounts, the customers have the choice to choose the appropriate features for their enterprise solutions. The storage types range from expandable objects to file systems, and from HDDs to SSDs. 

Furthermore, the storage services are scalable, durable, secure, and highly accessible. Microsoft also utilizes Azure Storage for its Skype, Bing, and SkyDrive services - if its good enough for Microsoft, its good enough for everyone else :)

Happy coding!


If you want to learn more about the information in this article., here are some great links for you to start with!

Official documentation for Storage account
Microsoft labs for Azure Storage services
Video - Azure Disk Storage Overview