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Cloud data storage 101: everything you need to know about Azure storage
Blog //12-01-2024

Cloud data storage 101: everything you need to know about Azure storage

by OneAdvanced PR, Author

In today’s environment where businesses are amassing data at an unprecedented rate, it has become increasingly important for organisations to have a scalable, reliable, and cost-effective storage solution. Enter Azure Storage - Microsoft's robust cloud storage solution designed to meet the diverse requirements of modern businesses. It offers highly available, massively scalable, durable, and secure storage for a variety of data objects in the cloud, making it an ideal choice for both small businesses and large enterprises.

Whether you're looking to store unstructured data with Blob Storage, manage large-scale applications with Queue Storage, or create highly available and scalable file systems with File Storage, Azure Storage has numerous services to meet your requirements. In this blog, we’ll discuss the benefits of Azure Storage, the different services available, and how to get started.

Why choose Azure for Storage?

Traditionally, businesses have relied on on-premises storage solutions. However, with the advent of cloud computing, a new world of possibilities has opened up. Azure Storage, Microsoft's cloud storage solution, offers a host of benefits that make it an ideal choice for businesses of all sizes. Here's why:

Benefits of cloud storage vs. on-premises:

  1. Scalability: Cloud storage solutions like Azure offer virtually unlimited scalability. As your business grows, you can easily adjust your storage capacity to meet your needs without the need for significant hardware investment.
  2. Cost-effectiveness: With cloud storage, you only pay for what you use. This eliminates the need for upfront capital expenditure on hardware and ongoing maintenance costs associated with on-premises storage.
  3. Accessibility: Cloud storage allows your data to be accessed from anywhere, at any time. This is particularly beneficial in today's remote working environment.
  4. Disaster Recovery: Cloud storage platforms often come with built-in disaster recovery capabilities, ensuring that your data is protected even in the event of a physical disaster at your business premises.

Why Azure for cloud storage?

  1. Integration: Azure seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft products, such as Office 365 and Dynamics 365, providing a cohesive and streamlined experience.
  2. Security: Azure is renowned for its robust security measures. It offers advanced threat protection and complies with over 90 compliance certifications, more than any other cloud service provider.
  3. Flexibility & variety of services: Azure Storage provides a variety of services, including Blob Storage for unstructured data, File Storage for SMB-based cloud file sharing, Queue Storage for large-volume workloads, and Disk Storage for high-performance virtual machines.
  4. Intelligent analytics: Azure provides built-in analytics tools, like Azure Data Lake Storage, that can handle big data and real-time analytics, enabling businesses to derive valuable insights from their stored data.

Choosing a storage solution is a critical decision for businesses. While on-premises storage has its place, the benefits of cloud storage, and specifically Azure Storage, are hard to overlook. It gives you high-quality virtualisation options with great scalability and security, meaning you can be assured of having a convenient, high-quality solution that lets you take advantage of all of the benefits of the cloud.

Azure Storage Services

Azure Blob Storage: This is a highly scalable and reliable service designed to handle massive quantities of unstructured data, from text to binary data. It's perfect for serving images or documents directly to a browser, storing files for distributed access, streaming video and audio, and much more. With Azure Blob, you can store all of that data in a very cost-effective manner with full scalability and integration with Azure Data Lakes. This means it’s one of the best ways to ensure that your data is both safe and stored in an efficient manner.

Azure Files: Azure Files gives you a fully managed file share that can be used from anywhere in the world. Working to replace or supplement network-attached storage (NAS) devices, Azure Files lets you fileshare over the cloud with ease. Being fully managed, you don’t need to worry about managing hardware and software, all of that is handled for you. To access the files, you simply need to go to the path on your computer, like any other network drive. Azure Files are also fully reliable and resilient, meaning that local power outages and network issues won’t be a problem.

Azure Elastic SAN: This service provides storage area network (SAN) with unparalleled scalability, performance, and manageability. It enables you to elastically scale I/O performance independent from the amount of data stored, making it perfect for IO-intensive workloads. Azure Elastic SAN lets you access your SAN from anywhere, meaning that your organisation ultimately becomes more flexible and you can create a more versatile working environment while also saving costs.

Azure Queues: Azure Queues lets you store your organisation’s messages within the cloud and allows you to access them anywhere using HTTP or HTTPS. With Azure Queues, you can have queues of millions of messages, and can create a backlog of work to process asynchronously, meaning you can store all of the messages within your organisation with ease to use within workflows or applications.

Azure Tables: Using Azure Tables, you can store flexible datasets in the cloud with ease. Being a NoSQL datastore, you can use Azure Tables to store structured, non-relational data. It's fantastic for flexible datasets like user data for web applications, address books, device information, or other types of metadata your service requires.

Azure Managed Disks: Azure Managed Disks are network attached block level storage volumes managed by Azure and used by Azure virtual machines. They simplify disk management for Azure IaaS VMs by managing the storage accounts associated with the VM disks for you. Managed disks offer more reliability for high availability applications, better security, and improved scalability.

How to select an Azure Storage solution

With so many solutions available, selecting an Azure Storage solution might seem daunting. However, there are a few questions that you can use to work out what the best option for your organisation is:

  • Do your workloads require disk storage to support the deployment of IaaS virtual machines? Azure managed disks provide virtual disk capabilities for IaaS virtual machines.
  • Will you need to provide downloadable images, documents, or other media as part of your workloads? Azure Blob Storage hosts static files, which are then accessible for download over the internet.
  • Will you need a location to store virtual machine logs, application logs, and analytics data? You can use Blob Storage to store Azure Monitor log data.
  • Will you need to provide a location for backup, disaster recovery, or archiving workload-related data? Blob Storage provides backup and disaster recovery capabilities. For more information, see Backup and disaster recovery for Azure IaaS disks. You can also use Blob Storage to back up other resources, like on-premises or IaaS virtual machine-hosted SQL Server data. See SQL Server Backup and Restore.
  • Will you need to support big data analytics workloads? Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 is built on Azure Blob Storage. Data Lake Storage Gen2 supports large-enterprise data lake functionality. It also can handle storing petabytes of information while sustaining hundreds of gigabits of throughput.
  • Will you need to provide cloud-native file shares? Azure has two services that provide cloud-hosted file shares:
    • Azure NetApp Files provides high-performance NFS and SMB shares, with advanced data management features such as snapshots and cloning, that are well suited to common enterprise workloads like SAP.
    • Azure Files provides file shares accessible over SMB 3.0 and HTTPS.

Using these questions, you can work out some of the things you’ll need to consider for the Azure Storage solution you go with. However, if you need the extra helping hand in working out what you need, reach out to us today.

How we can help

The cloud is important for any modern business and ensuring that you’re aware of the options available to you for any cloud solution is vital. This includes cloud storage, which will let you store your data in a more convenient, cost-effective, and secure way.

If you’re looking to get started with Azure Storage but don’t know where to start, reach out for our support now. We’ll be able to help you work out exactly what you need, to ensure that your storage solution works for your organisation.

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