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Introducing Azure Cool Blob Storage

Posted on 28 april, 2016

Senior Program Manager, Azure Storage

Data in the cloud is growing at an exponential pace, and we have been working on ways to help you manage the cost of storing this data. An important aspect of managing storage costs is tiering your data based on attributes like frequency of access, retention period, etc. A common tier of customer data is cool data which is infrequently accessed but requires similar latency and performance to hot data.

Today, we are excited to announce the general availability of Cool Blob Storage – low cost storage for cool object data. Example use cases for cool storage include backups, media content, scientific data, compliance and archival data. In general, any data that is seldom accessed is a perfect candidate for cool storage.

With the new Blob storage accounts, you will be able to choose between Hot and Cool access tiers to store object data based on its access pattern. Capabilities of Blob storage accounts include:

  • Cost effective: You can now store your less frequently accessed data in the Cool access tier at a low storage cost (as low as $0.01 per GB in some regions), and your more frequently accessed data in the Hot access tier at a lower access cost. For more details on regional pricing, see Azure Storage Pricing.
  • Compatibility: We have designed Blob storage accounts to be 100% API compatible with our existing Blob storage offering which allows you to make use of the new storage accounts in existing applications seamlessly.
  • Performance: Data in both access tiers have a similar performance profile in terms of latency and throughput.
  • Availability: The Hot access tier guarantees high availability of 99.9% while the Cool access tier offers a slightly lower availability of 99%. With the RA-GRS redundancy option, we provide a higher read SLA of 99.99% for the Hot access tier and 99.9% for the Cool access tier.
  • Durability: Both access tiers provide the same high durability that you have come to expect from Azure Storage and the same data replication options that you use today.
  • Scalability and Security: Blob storage accounts provide the same scalability and security features as our existing offering.
  • Global reach: Blob storage accounts are available for use starting today in most Azure regions with additional regions coming soon. You can find the updated list of available regions on the Azure Services by Regions page.

In addition to using the Azure Portal, PowerShell and CLI to manage Blob storage accounts, you can also use Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer to manage data in the storage account. Azure Storage Explorer is a cross-platform desktop application from Microsoft which allows you to connect to your storage accounts in multiple ways (sign-in, using account name and key, SAS connection strings) and exposes actions to easily manage the contents of blob containers, queues, and tables. Using the Storage Explorer, you can view and manage blobs and containers in your Blob storage accounts, including copying them from one storage account to another.

For more details on how to start using this feature, please see our getting started documentation.

Many of you use Azure Storage via partner solutions as part of your existing data infrastructure. Here are updates from some of our partners on their support for Cool storage:

  • Commvault: Commvault’s Windows/Azure Centric "Commvault Integrated Solutions Portfolio" software solution enables a single solution for enterprise data management. Commvault's native support for Azure has been a key benefit for customers considering a move to Azure and Commvault remains committed to continuing our integration and compatibility efforts with Microsoft, befitting a close relationship between the companies that has existed for over 17 years. With this new Cool Storage offering, Microsoft again makes significant enhancements to their Azure offering and we expect that this service will be an important driver of new opportunities for both Commvault and Microsoft.
  • Veritas: Market leader Veritas NetBackup™ protects enterprise data in on a global scale in both management and performance - for any workload, on any storage device, located anywhere.  The proven global enterprise capabilities in NetBackup converges on and off-premise data protection with scalable, cloud-ready solutions to cover any use case.  In concert with the Microsoft announcement of Azure Cool storage, Veritas is announcing beta availability of the integrated Azure Cloud Connector in NetBackup 8.0 Beta which enables customers to test and experience the ease of use, manageability, and performance of leveraging Azure Storage as a key component of their enterprise hybrid cloud data protection strategy. Click here to go to the NetBackup 8.0 Beta registration and download website.
  • SoftNAS: SoftNAS™® will soon be supporting Azure Cool storage. SoftNAS Cloud® NAS customers will get a virtually bottomless storage pool for applications and workloads that need standard file protocols like NFS, CFS/SMB, and iSCSI. By summer 2016, customers can leverage SoftNAS Cloud NAS with Azure Cool storage as an economical alternative to increasing storage costs. SoftNAS helps customers make the cloud move without changing applications while providing enterprise-class NAS features like de-duplication, compression, directory integration, encryption, snapshotting, and much more. SoftNAS StorageCenter™ console will allow a central means to choose the optimal file storage location ranging from hot (block-backed) to cool (Blob-object backed) and enables content movement to where it makes sense over the data lifecycle. 
  • Cohesity: Cohesity delivers the world’s first hyper-converged storage system for enterprise data.  Cohesity consolidates fragmented, inefficient islands of secondary storage into an infinitely expandable and limitless storage platform that can run both on-premises and in the public cloud.  Designed with the latest web-scale distributed systems technology, Cohesity radically simplifies existing backup, file shares, object, and dev/test storage silos by creating a unified, instantly-accessible storage pool.  The Cohesity platform seamlessly interoperates with Azure Cool storage for three primary use cases:  long-term data retention and archival, tiering of infrequently-accessed data into the cloud, and replication to provide disaster recovery. Azure Cool storage can be easily registered and assigned via Cohesity’s policy-based administration portal to any data protection workload running on the Cohesity platform.
  • CloudBerry Lab: CloudBerry Backup for Microsoft Azure is designed to automate data backup to Microsoft Azure cloud storage. It is capable of compressing and encrypting the data with a user-controlled password before the data leaves the computer. It then securely transfers it to the cloud either on schedule or in real time. CloudBerry Backup also comes with file-system and image-based backup, SQL Server and MS Exchange support, as well as flexible retention policies and incremental backup. CloudBerry Backup now supports Azure Blob storage accounts for storing backup data.

The list of partners integrating with cool storage will continue to grow in the coming months.

As always, we look forward to your feedback and suggestions.

Thanks,

The Azure Storage Team.