To help manage storage costs, enterprises often turn to storage tiering practices that place older, seldom used data on storage systems and media that are less expensive to operate and maintain. Now Microsoft is offering its Azure Blob Storage customers a similar option for their cloud-based object data, called Cool Blob Storage.
"Example use cases for cool storage include backups, media content, scientific data, compliance and archival data. In general, any data which lives for a longer period of time and is accessed less than once a month is a perfect candidate for cool storage," Sriprasad Bhat, a Microsoft Azure Storage senior program manager, explained in a blog post. "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."
Among Cool Blob Storage's most notable attributes is its low cost.
In some regions, customers can expect to pay as little as a penny per gigabyte to keep their data on the service. Latency and throughput performance are similar in both the Hot and Cool tiers, assured Bhat, although their service-level agreements (SLAs) differ.
While Microsoft offers a 99.9 percent (three nines) availability SLA on the Hot tier, the Cool tier gets by with 99 percent. Customers that select for the read-access geo-redundant storage option can bump their Azure Cool Blob Storage SLAs up to 99.9 percent.
A number of data storage vendors are integrating Azure Cool Blob Storage into their products. Backup specialists Commvault and CloudBerry Lab are supporting Microsoft's new cloud storage option. SoftNAS, a provider of filer software for cloud-based network-attached storage (NAS), and converged storage systems maker Cohesity have also signaled their support.
Data protection company Veritas added a cloud connector that supports Cool Blob Storage to the NetBackup 8.0 beta.
"As we work to expand our relationship with Microsoft across a wide range of information management solutions, Veritas is pleased to announce beta availability of an integrated connector in NetBackup for Microsoft Azure Blob storage services. We encourage our enterprise customers to test the ease of use, manageability, and performance of NetBackup on Microsoft," Simon Jelley, vice president of product management for Veritas, said in a May 2 announcement.
The new cloud-storage feature comes three months after Veritas celebrated its legal separation from Symantec and emerged as an independent, privately owned company. It also coincides with the company's induction into Microsoft's Enterprise Cloud Alliance, a partner program for makers of Azure-compatible cloud solutions for businesses.
In another cost-cutting move, at least for select educational customers, Microsoft announced that the company has eliminated Azure egress fees for academic institutions in North America and Europe. "Azure customers who have an enrollment in Education Solutions (EES) agreement are eligible for this program. These EES customers don't have to do anything to get this benefit—there is no special contract to sign or agreement to enter into," Brian Hillger, senior director of Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Business Planning, wrote in a May 2 blog posting.