Architecture Considerations for Azure Storage


Making good architecture decisions is key to building solid foundations, reducing project risks, and ultimately creating happy customers.    We previously looked at the key factors of a well designed Cloud Architecture in a earlier blog "How Important is Cloud Architecture for your Company?".   

This blog here looks at how these key architecture factors are considered when using Azure Storage.  

Our job  as an architect is to determine which Azure data service(s) we should  use for our specific requirement and the best practice for configuration and integration.  The following is a list of available data services in Azure Storage:

  • Azure Blobs - Scalable object store for text and binary data.  Supports big data analytics via Data Lake Storage Gen2.
  • Azure Files - Managed file shares
  • Queues - Message store for reliable messaging between application components
  • Tables - A NoSQL dictionary store (i.e. no schema)
  • Disks - Storage volumes for Azure VMs.

Security Considerations

All data in Azure Storage is encrypted both at rest and during data transfer regardless of the type of data service.  All users accessing Azure storage must be authenticated and authorized and Azure Storage can only be accessed via SSL.  Microsoft has made it easy for us architects here as all data services are encrypted and accessed similarly.

Resiliency & High Availability Considerations

Multiple copies of storage accounts are always maintained by Azure Storage increasing resiliency and high availability.  Recovery options differ by the location of copies and the actual number of copies. Cost considerations are also part of the Azure Storage redundancy options below:

  • Locally Redundant Storage (LRS) - 3 copies in single data center within the region,
  • Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS) - 3 copies in different data centers with same region
  • Geo Redundant storage (GRS) - 3 copies in single data center and replicated to 3 copies in data center in secondary region.
  • Geo Zone Redundant Storage (GZRS) - 3 copies across 3 data centers in primary region and replicated to 3 data centers in secondary region.

Cost & Management Considerations

Services are offered in either Standard or Premium tiers.  Standard tier is less costly and typically fine for development efforts where Premium tiers contain more functionality that is more suitable for production environments.

We can use this information to understand the deferent options available to us and to aid us in the  design of suitable architectures that meet our customer needs.