Data is invaluable in today’s digital world. In fact, according to Zippia, 94% of companies leveraged cloud services in 2022. In particular, the migration to remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced many organizations to migrate their data and workloads to the cloud. Some of this data may be stored in hierarchical form, but a significant amount stays disorganized. With Microsoft Azure Blob Storage, you can conveniently store unstructured data in the cloud.
What is a Blob?
BLOB is an acronym for “binary large object,” and refers to an assortment of binary data stored as one entity. Blobs are typically unstructured data lacking the overhead of a filing system and include audio, images, and similar multimedia objects. Such data can exist as persistent values within several databases, version control systems, or program variables at runtime. Blobs shouldn’t get confused for binary files stored within a file system.
Blobs initially describe huge and amorphous data chunks undefined in conventional computer database systems. This description reflected the fact that at the time, database systems were a relatively new phenomenon. With time, it was easier to store such data, especially after disc space became cheaper.
What is Azure Blob Storage?
Microsoft’s Azure Blob storage is a cloud offering for storing enormous amounts of unstructured data such as text, images, videos, files, or a mix of these. It can also serve as underline storage for managed disk subsystems in Azure virtual machines and Azure data lake analytics solutions.
In fact, there are various ways to access data stored in blob storage. For instance, you can access it from anywhere via HTTP or HTTPS. Furthermore, you can access files stored in blob storage by applications using Azure PowerShell, Azure CLI, Azure REST API, and Azure storage client libraries.
Azure blob storage allows you to transfer files via a network by splitting them into smaller pieces when uploaded. The files will appear together in a single file after they become uploaded to the cloud server. Blobs are grouped in containers that organize each set similarly to how file system directories arrange files. A blob container is akin to a drawer where you store and manage your files.
One container can store video files, while another can hold audio files. A storage account can have unlimited containers, and a container can have unlimited blobs. Each container has all the dependencies it needs since it’s self-contained and can hold up to 500TB of data.
The DNS name must be valid because it’s the unique resource identifier (URI) categorizing the container and the blobs therein. Microsoft outlines several guidelines to follow when naming the containers, including:
- A container’s name should have a minimum of three characters and a maximum of 63 characters.
- The name should start with a number or letter and contain only numbers, lowercase letters, or the dash sign (-).
- Two or more dash characters shouldn’t get included in a container name consecutively.
Characteristics of Azure Blob Storage
Scalability, Durability, and Availability
Azure Blob storage comes with in-built durability alongside geo replications and the flexibility to scale according to your storage requirements. Thus, it’s excellent for storing considerable amounts of data.
Blob Storage has Role-Based Access Control and can become authenticated using Azure Active Directory. Moreover, it has in-built data security, advanced threat protection, and encryption at rest.
Optimization for Data Lakes
Azure Blob Storage has a file namespace and multi-protocol access for analytics workloads.
Convenient Data Management
Blob Storage focuses on comprehensive policy-based access control, end-to-end lifecycle management, and storage. It’s built from scratch to support the needs of cloud-native, web, and mobile applications. It also supports popular programs like NET, JAVA, Node.js, and Python.
Supports Unstructured Data
The demand for storing and analyzing unstructured data has grown significantly in recent years. Azure Blob Storage is an excellent solution for that need.
Support for Multiple Programming Languages
Developers can use Node.js, PHP, Go, Java, Ruby, or Python to access their blob storage. Moreover, Azure Blob Storage is available over the internet and readily accessible for storage teams, provided they have a PC and internet connection.
Availability of Organizational Features
Although Azure Blob is designed for unstructured data, its containers allow an organization to create preferred categories by simply uploading blobs to specific containers.
Types of Azure Blob Storage
Data typically becomes stored in three formats when using Blob Storage:
1. Block Blob
As the name suggests, this Blob Storage format stores in block form. A block blob can store 50,000 blocks of up to 4,000 MB each. Each block can be differently sized from others within the same block blob. The blocks also have an assigned unique ID. Block blobs are excellent for storing significant amounts of data requiring frequent accessibility, including audio and video streaming sites.
2. Append Blob
Like block blobs, append blobs also store data in block format. Similarly, it has limitations and can only hold a maximum of 50,000 blocks per blob.
3. Page Blob
With page blobs, data is stored in 512-byte pages rather than blocks. The page blob isn’t ideal for creating disk subsystems for Azure virtual machines. The maximum size page for each page blob is 8TB.
Azure Blob Storage Goals
Blob Storage is excellent for:
- Data storage for backup, recovery, restore, and archiving.
- Data storage for analysis by on-premise services or Azure-hosted services.
- On-demand video and audio streaming.
- Storing files requiring sporadic access.
- Serving documents or images to browsers directly.
Azure Blob Storage’s goal is storing a significant amount of unstructured data that doesn’t stick to a specific model per se.
How Do You Use Azure Blob Storage?
Azure Blob Storage is a secure and scalable object storage for data lakes, archives, cloud-native workloads, machine learning, and high-performance computing. It enables you to create data lakes for all your analytics needs besides providing storage for creating robust mobile and cloud-native apps. You can also optimize costs with tiered storage for long-term data and scale up for high-performance machine learning and performance computing workloads.
Blob Storage is Excellent for Three Use Cases:
1. Big Data Analytics
Enterprises can leverage the capabilities of Azure Blob Storage to manage significant volumes of data. That’s particularly the case if they want to undertake data analysis. Since blob storage supports unstructured data, it can store multiple formats of your organization’s information. The data will then be readily available for large-scale analytics.
Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2, Microsoft’s big data analytics platform, is an in-built feature on Azure Blob Storage. For this reason, Microsoft customers looking to invest in a big data analytics solution can benefit from using Gen2 alongside their Azure Blob Storage account.
2. Data Backups
With an Azure Blob Storage account, enterprises can keep their backed-up data copies ready for restoration if downtime occurs. Preferably, you should choose an account designed for low latency and high-performance applications that require immediate restoration. SQL Server data can also get restored to Azure Blob Storage.
3. Data Ingestion
Data can become ingested into platforms such as Azure Machine Learning, HDInsight, and SQL Azure databases from Azure Blob Storage. Enterprises looking to pull stored data into applications like Hadoop and ML can benefit from Azure Blob Storage’s impeccable ingestion capabilities.
Hot vs. Cool Blob Storage
Cloud data storage costs depend on two critical factors; storage and transactional costs. As the amount of data in the cloud grows, you can organize it conveniently based on how frequently you access it and how long it stays in the cloud. Azure Blob Storage provides different access tiers for storing blob data. Hot and cool storage are the two main tiers, and here’s a look at each.
Hot Tier Storage
This blob storage type is excellent for storing operational use data that gets accessed and modified frequently. The tier has the highest storage cost and the lowest access costs. Moreover, it’s an excellent option for migrating prep data to the cool tier. Hot-tier storage and access are online.
Cool Tier Storage
Cool storage has lower storage and access costs and is an excellent option for data that’s only accessed occasionally. It’s best to store data in cool-tier storage for at least 30 days. Cool tier storage is suitable for data backup and recovery, infrequently used data that requires 24/7 availability, and large data sets requiring cost-affordable storage. As with hot-tier storage, cool-tier storage is always online.
Grow Your Cloud Data Storage Capabilities with NetTech
More enterprises are looking to migrate their cloud storage to the cloud. Azure Blob Storage provides unlimited data storage thanks to its scalability. This makes it a natural fit for organizations working in or looking to migrate to the cloud.
If you’re considering investing in Azure Blob Storage, you need an expert team to help you navigate the complexities of creating foolproof cloud infrastructure. There is no better way to do so than leveraging the capabilities of the Azure-managed services providers at NetTech Consultants.
Our team can provide advice to your enterprise on Azure best practices and how to satisfy your cloud storage needs efficiently and cost-effectively. Contact us to learn more about our Azure-managed services.