Azure Blob Storage: Giving Structure to Unstructured Data

azure blob storage

What are Azure Blobs?

As businesses worldwide move towards a cloud-native world where work from anywhere is the new reality, safe data storage, and effective remote management of IT infrastructure is of paramount importance.

In this scenario, enterprises are forced to live with multiple instances of unstructured files, including images and videos. Microsoft Azure Blob (short form of Binary Large OBject) is emerging as an ideal solution for storing a massive amount of unstructured data and a lot more.

Massive volumes of such unstructured data generated, including email attachments, social media sites, presentations, video and audio files, photos, can have serious repercussions. Not only does such unstructured data increase the data storage costs, but numerous versions and instances of the same file can lead to compliance headaches for an enterprise.

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Such new complexities in data management can make you rethink your cloud strategy and re-look at your cloud deployment budgets. Microsoft Azure Blob Storage comes to the rescue here as a new and efficient way to save a massive amount of unstructured data and make them available to the users through HTTP and HTTPS.

This new storage mechanism helps serve images or documents directly to a browser and stores files for distributed access. Such a distributed system also allows you to stream videos and audio. One can also leverage Parablu’s BluSync, an enterprise file synchronization and sharing solution that leverages Azure Blob storage to allow businesses to securely share files and collaborate on any device.

Microsoft Azure Blob Storage also helps businesses create data lakes for your analytics needs and provides storage to build powerful cloud-native and mobile apps. Enterprises can optimize their costs with tiered storage for your long-term data and flexibly scale up for high-performance computing and machine learning workloads.

Take, for instance, a development environment where each developer requires access to IDE and tools without using the internet to download it. Here, using Azure Blob Storage, they can easily store only the development tools and then share a link to the team members to access the Blob location.

You can also use Azure Blob storage for storing data for backup, restore, disaster recovery, and archiving. Enterprises can enhance security by using Parablu’s BluKrypt technology, which stores all data in a protected container in Azure Blob Storage and uses encryption with strict segregation of duties.

Blob Storage: What’s inside Blob?

Blob storage is built from the ground up to support the scale, security, and availability needs of mobile, web, and cloud-native application developers. It can be used as a cornerstone for serverless architectures such as Azure Functions. Further, Azure Blob Storage supports the most popular development frameworks, including Java, .NET, Python, and Node.js, and is the only cloud storage service that offers an SSD-based object storage tier for low-latency and interactive scenarios.

Microsoft Azure Blob storage allows transferring large files through the network by splitting it into chunks. These parts are first created by breaking the large file into smaller pieces to upload, and then all these pieces are merged once they are uploaded on the cloud server.

Azure Blob Types 

Essentially, Azure Blob Storage contains three types of blobs: Block Blob, Page Blob and Append Blob. Block blobs are suited for a massive volume of data. While one block blob can have as many as 50,000 blocks, each block can be of different sizes depending on your requirement. The minimum size of a block is 64 KB, which can be expanded to 100 MB. It is also possible to alter an existing block blob by inserting, replacing, or deleting it.

On the other hand, Page blobs are a group of 512-byte pages for read and write operations. They are perfect for storing index-based and sparse data structures like OS and data disks for Virtual Machines and Databases. One can easily create a page blob by initializing and specifying its maximum size. Azure virtual machine disks are backed by Page Blobs. The utmost size limit for a Page Blob is 8 TiB.

The third type of Blob, Append blobs, are designed for log files and support appending operations.

The different types of blobs provide greater flexibility to the organizations to opt for a storage option in keeping with their particular needs.

Microsoft Azure Blob Storage helps you redefine your storage in a distributed environment where transferring large chunks of unstructured data can strain your organization’s data management efforts. It ensures data integrity and anytime-anywhere access to the data. Azure Blob Storage allows enterprises to organize their data assets better and then make them available to various departments and countries as per their needs. Parablu’s data management and cloud data protection solutions are designed to help enterprises do this securely and efficiently.

In combination with other storage mechanisms, Microsoft Azure Blob Storage can act as the missing link that can turn cloud storage even more efficient than your on-premise storage, along with all the flexibility that cloud computing is known for.

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