Microsoft Releases Lower-Cost Cloud Storage for Rarely-Accessed Data

The new Azure Archive Blob Storage option allows businesses to store their infrequently accessed data on Microsoft's cloud for less than a penny per gigabyte per month.

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Microsoft has introduced new ways for Azure customers to manage their cloud costs.

With general availability Azure Archive Blob Storage, businesses now have a new, lower-cost storage tier on which to archive their infrequently-used data.

The new offering comes in below last year's Cool Blob Storage option, which allows customers to store their backups and other rarely-accessed data on Microsoft's cloud for a penny per gigabyte (GB) per month. ("Blobs" are Microsoft's take on object storage in Azure.)

"Azure Archive Blob storage is designed to provide organizations with a low cost means of delivering durable, highly available, secure cloud storage for rarely accessed data with flexible latency requirements (on the order of hours)," said Kumail Hussain, senior program manager of Azure Storage at Microsoft, in a Dec. 13 announcement.

The service is available in 14 Azure regions, including most of the U.S., Ireland and the Netherlands. Customers can expect to pay $0.002 per GB per month for Azure Archive Blob Storage, plus other charges depending on how much data they transfer to and from the service. More information regarding pricing and regional availability is available here.

To help users capitalize on the cost-savings, Microsoft also released a new blob-level tiering capability that makes it easy to switch between storage tiers. Users can now select the appropriate tier (Hot, Cool or Archive) for each object without transferring data between accounts, Hussain said.

Some of Microsoft's hybrid-cloud customers won't have to wait long to start saving.

Data storage systems provider NetApp pledged "day 1" compatibility between its AltaVault cloud-integrated storage and Azure Archive Blob Storage. Data protection specialists, Commvault, HubStor, and CloudBerry Lab also support the service.

To provide another tool to help customers to keep cloud budgets in line, Microsoft is expanding the reach of its Azure Cost Management tool, which also goes by the name of Cloudyn, a Microsoft acquisition. On Dec. 15, it gains support for Azure Virtual Machine Reserved Instances, allowing customers to weight the financial considerations of using the prepaid alternative to other pay-as-you-go instances.

Although many businesses have adopted the public cloud as an IT cost-cutting measure, calculating those savings is often easier said than done.

A recent study from cloud services provider Densify revealed that 75 percent of enterprises are either spending more on the public cloud than their budgets allow or don't know how much they're spending at all. Half of all companies can't be sure their spending accurately matches the services they're getting from their providers.

"Cost Management is free to all customers to manage their Azure spend," said Jeremy Winter, director of Azure Security and Management at Microsoft, in a separate announcement. "We are continuing to invest in bringing new capabilities to Cost Management."

The company is also trimming the price on its Dv3 series cloud instances by up to four percent, added Winter. Released in July, Dv3 instances support nested virtualization, or the ability to run a virtual machine within a virtual machine.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...