Think about Azure Storage

ahmed khemiri
May 25 · 7 min read

Introduction:

Hello developers, Hello Microsoft Azure enthusiasts..

In this article, you will discover Microsoft Azure storage and key points that make azure storage the popular cloud storage solution in the market, focusing on the different storage options available in Azure such as tables, blobs, file storage and queues! Towards the end, we provide a quick demonstration about how to create azure storage account and setup an azure storage explorer in order to connect to associated storage account.

1. What is Microsoft Azure Storage?

Azure Storage is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution for modern data storage scenarios. Azure Storage offers a massively scalable object store for data objects, a file system service for the cloud, a messaging store for reliable messaging, and a NoSQL store.

2. Why Microsoft Azure Storage is the popular cloud storage solution in the market ?

Azure Storage provides highly available, durable, scalable, secure, managed, accessible storage solution at a fraction of the cost, if you were to manage it manually.

Azure storage is :

  • Durable and highly available: Redundancy ensures that your data is safe in the event of transient hardware failures. You can also opt to replicate data across datacenters or geographical regions for additional protection from local catastrophe or natural disaster. Data replicated in this way remains highly available in the event of an unexpected outage.
  • Secure: All data written to Azure Storage is encrypted by the service. Azure Storage provides you with fine-grained control over who has access to your data.
  • Scalable: Azure Storage is designed to be massively scalable to meet the data storage and performance needs of today’s applications.
  • Managed: Microsoft Azure handles hardware maintenance, updates, and critical issues for you.
  • Accessible: ata in Azure Storage is accessible from anywhere in the world over HTTP or HTTPS. Microsoft provides SDKs for Azure Storage in a variety of languages — .NET, Java, Node.js, Python, PHP, Ruby, Go, and others — as well as a mature REST API. Azure Storage supports scripting in Azure PowerShell or Azure CLI. And the Azure portal and Azure Storage Explorer offer easy visual solutions for working with your data.

3. Azure Storage options:

Azure Storage options

3.1. Azure Blob storage:

Azure Blob storage is Microsoft’s object storage solution for the cloud. Blob storage is optimized for storing massive amounts of unstructured data. Unstructured data is data that does not adhere to a particular data model or definition, such as text or binary data.

Blob storage offers three types of resources:

Blob Storage resources
  • The storage account: A storage account provides a unique namespace in Azure for your data
  • A container in the storage account: A container organizes a set of blobs, similar to a directory in a file system.
  • A blob in a container: Azure Storage supports three types of blobs; Block blobs store text and binary data, Append blobs are made up of blocks like block blobs but are optimized for append operations and Page blobs store random access files store the virtual hard drive (VHD) files serve as disks for Azure virtual machines.

3.2. Azure Files storage:

Azure Files offers fully managed file shares in the cloud that are accessible via the industry standard Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. Azure file shares can be mounted concurrently by cloud or on-premises deployments of Windows, Linux, and macOS. Additionally, Azure file shares can be cached on Windows Servers with Azure File Sync for fast access near where the data is being used.

The following diagram illustrates the Azure Files management constructs:

Azure Files Management Concepts

Storage Account: All access to Azure Storage is done through a storage account

Share: A File Storage share is an SMB file share in Azure. All directories and files must be created in a parent share. An account can contain an unlimited number of shares, and a share can store an unlimited number of files

Directory: An optional hierarchy of directories.

File: A file in the share. A file may be up to 1 TiB in size.

URL format: For requests to an Azure file share made with the File REST protocol, files are addressable using the following URL format:

3.3. Azure Queue storage:

Azure Queue storage is a service for storing large numbers of messages that can be accessed from anywhere in the world via authenticated calls using HTTP or HTTPS. A single queue message can be up to 64 KB in size, and a queue can contain millions of messages, up to the total capacity limit of a storage account.

The Queue service contains the following components:

Queue service components

URL format: Queues are addressable using the following URL format:
https://<storage account>.queue.core.windows.net/<queue>

Storage account: All access to Azure Storage is done through a storage account.

Queue: A queue contains a set of messages. All messages must be in a queue.

Message: A message, in any format. The maximum time that a message can remain in the queue is seven days.

3.4. Azure Table storage :

Azure Table storage is a service that stores structured NoSQL data in the cloud, providing a key/attribute store with a schemaless design. Because Table storage is schemaless, it’s easy to adapt your data as the needs of your application evolve. Access to Table storage data is fast and cost-effective for many types of applications, and is typically lower in cost than traditional SQL for similar volumes of data.

Table storage contains the following components:

Table storage components

URL format: Azure Table Storage accounts use this format: http://<storage account>.table.core.windows.net/<table>

Accounts: All access to Azure Storage is done through a storage account.

Table: A table is a collection of entities. Tables don’t enforce a schema on entities, which means a single table can contain entities that have different sets of properties.

Entity: An entity is a set of properties, similar to a database row

Properties: A property is a name-value pair. Each entity can include up to 252 properties to store data.

4. Create Azure Storage Account and Connect using Azure Storage Explorer

4.1. Prerequisites

If you don’t have an Azure subscription, create a free account before you begin.

4.2. Create an Azure storage account with Azure Portal

Now you are ready to create your storage account.

A general-purpose v2 storage account provides access to all of the Azure Storage services: blobs, files, queues, tables, and disks. The steps outlined here create a general-purpose v2 storage account, but the steps to create any type of storage account are similar.

To create a general-purpose v2 storage account in the Azure portal, follow these steps:

  1. In the Azure portal, select All services. In the list of resources, type Storage Accounts. As you begin typing, the list filters based on your input. Select Storage Accounts.
  2. On the Storage Accounts window that appears, choose Add.
  3. Select the subscription in which to create the storage account.
  4. Under the Resource group field, select Create new. Enter a name for your new resource group, as shown in the following image.
  5. Next, enter a name for your storage account. The name you choose must be unique across Azure. The name also must be between 3 and 24 characters in length, and can include numbers and lowercase letters only.
  6. Select a location for your storage account, or use the default location.
  7. Leave these fields set to their default values:

8. Select Review + Create to review your storage account settings and create the account.

9. Select Create.

Create general-purpose v2 storage account

4.3. Setup Azure Storage Explorer & Connect to storage account

a. Setup Azure Storage Explorer:

You can download Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer from here : https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/features/storage-explorer/

b. Connect to storage account using Azure storage Explorer :

  1. In Storage Explorer, select Manage Accounts to go to the Account Management Panel.
  2. The left pane now displays all the Azure accounts you’ve signed in to. To connect to another account, select Add an account.
  3. If you want to sign into a national cloud or an Azure Stack, click on the Azure environment dropdown to select which Azure cloud you want to use. Once you have chosen your environment, click the Sign in… button.
  4. After you successfully sign in with an Azure account, the account and the Azure subscriptions associated with that account are added to the left pane. Select the Azure subscriptions that you want to work with, and then select Apply (Selecting All subscriptions: toggles selecting all or none of the listed Azure subscriptions).
Connect to Azure Storage account

Please let me know your feedbacks in the comments below

ahmed khemiri

Written by

Microsoft Student Partner & Research Master Student in data, knowledge and distributed systems. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ahmed-khemiri-b33400134/

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