Microsoft kicked off a public preview of its Azure Archive Blob Storage service this week, offering customers a lower-cost cloud storage solution for rarely accessed data.
Storage tiering is hardly a new concept, although it may be coming to an end thanks to the advent of solid-state drives and innovations in the storage and hardware space. For now, it's common for organizations to place their critical data on expensive, high-performance storage arrays and then move it down the line as it winds up being accessed less frequently over time.
Eventually, older data ends up on comparatively cheap and slower storage mediums like tape. Naturally, the tradeoff for lower storage bills is leisurely data retrieval times.
Enterprises can employ a similar strategy to contain their cloud storage costs.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example, introduced its Glacier archival cloud storage service in 2012 for the low price of a penny per gigabyte (GB) per month at the time. Today, Glacier storage goes for as low as 0.4 cents per GB in some regions.
Last year, Microsoft introduced its own Azure Cool Blob storage option, which also cost customers a penny per GB per month in some areas. Now, users have another, lower-cost option called Azure Archive Blob Storage, along with new Blob-Level Tiering data lifecycle management capabilities, announced Kumail Hussain, a senior program manager at Microsoft 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)," Hussain wrote. "Archive access tier is our lowest priced storage offering. Customers with long-term storage which is rarely accessed can take advantage of this."
According to Microsoft's pricing page, Azure Archive Blob costs 0.18 cents per GB per month when the service is delivered through its cloud data center in the Eastern U.S. Customers can expect a 99 percent availability SLA (service level agreement) when the service makes its way out of the preview stage, said Hussain.
Complementing the new service is a new Blob-level Tiering feature that will allow customers to change the access tier of storage objects, or "blobs" as Microsoft calls them, among Hot, Cool or Archive.
Also in preview, it enables users to match costs to usage patterns without moving data between accounts, Hussain said. Microsoft will upgrade the accounts of customers who have large amounts of data parked in their General Purpose storage accounts, allowing them to capitalize on the new feature when it reaches general availability.
Adaptability appears to be guiding principles guiding Microsoft's cloud storage strategy.
Earlier this month, the company announced the availability of Imanis Data on Azure. The solution integrates with Azure Blob Storage and Data Lake Store, and uses the HDInsight platform from Microsoft along with software from Imanis Data (formerly Talena) to provide bid data migration and recovery services for big data applications.