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Windows Azure Storage – 4 Trillion Objects and Counting

Windows Azure Storage has had an amazing year of growth. We have over 4 trillion objects stored, process an average of 270,000 requests per second, and reach peaks of 880,000 requests per second.…

Windows Azure Storage has had an amazing year of growth. We have over 4 trillion objects stored, process an average of 270,000 requests per second, and reach peaks of 880,000 requests per second.

About a year ago we hit the 1 trillion object mark. Then for the past 12 months, we saw an impressive 4x increase in number of objects stored, and a 2.7x increase in average requests per second.

The following graph shows the number of stored objects in Windows Azure Storage over the past year. The number of stored objects is counted on the last day of the month shown. The object count is the number of unique user objects stored in Windows Azure Storage, so the counts do not include replicas.


The following graph shows the average and peak requests per second. The average requests per second is the average over the whole month shown, and the peak requests per second is the peak for the month shown.


We expect this growth rate to continue, especially since we just lowered the cost of requests to storage by 10x. It now costs $0.01 per 100,000 requests regardless of request type (same cost for puts and gets). This makes object puts and gets to Windows Azure Storage 10x to 100x cheaper than other cloud providers.

In addition, we now offer two types of durability for your storage – Locally Redundant Storage (LRS) and Geo Redundant Storage (GRS). GRS is the default storage that we have always provided, and now we are offering a new type of storage called LRS. LRS is offered at a discount and provides locally redundant storage, where we maintain an equivalent 3 copies of your data within a given location. GRS provides geo-redundant storage, where we maintain an equivalent 6 copies of your data spread across 2 locations at least 400 miles apart from each other (3 copies are kept in each location). This allows you to choose the desired level of durability for your data. And of course, if your data does not require the additional durability of GRS you can use LRS at a 23% to 34% discounted price (depending on how much data is stored). In addition, we also employ a sophisticated erasure coding scheme for storing data that provides higher durability than just storing 3 (for LRS) or 6 (for GRS) copies of your data, while at the same time keeping the storage overhead low, as described in our USENIX paper.

We are also excited about our recent release of Windows Azure Virtual Machines, where the persistent disks are stored as objects (blobs) in Windows Azure Storage. This allows the OS and data disks used by your VMs to leverage the same LRS and GRS durability provided by Windows Azure Storage. With that release we also provided access to Windows Azure Storage via easy to use client libraries for many popular languages (.net, java, node.js, php, and python), as well as REST.

Windows Azure Storage uses a unique approach of storing different object types (Blobs, Disks/Drives, Tables, Queues) in the same store, as described in our SOSP paper. The total number of blobs (disk/drives are stored as blobs), table entities, and queue messages stored account for the 4+ trillion objects in our unified store. By blending different types of objects across the same storage stack, we have a single stack for replicating data to keep it durable, a single stack for automatic load balancing and dealing with failures to keep data available, and we store all of the different types of objects on the same hardware, blending their workloads, to keep prices low. This allows us to have one simple pricing model for all object types (same cost in terms of GB/month, bandwidth, as well as transactions), so customers can focus on choosing the type of object that best fits their needs, instead of being forced to use one type of object over another due to price differences.

We are excited about the growth ahead and continuing to work with customers to provide a quality service. Please let us know if you have any feedback, questions or comments! If you would like to learn more about Windows Azure, click here.

Brad Calder