Azure offers a lot of features that enable IT professionals to really enhance their environment. One feature that I really like about Azure is storage accounts. Since disk is relatively cheap, this continues to hold true in the cloud. For less than $100 per month, you could get up to 5TB of storage including redundancy to another Azure region.
Once you have created Azure account, you will need to go to the Storage Accounts blade from the left-hand Resource menu in the Portal. If you don’t see Storage Accounts listed in the favorites already, click on All Services at the top and filter for “storage accounts”. Do not select the classic storage account. You want the new and improved storage account.
Click on Storage Accounts. Click Add
On the following screen, the subscription should auto-populate however, if you have multiple subscriptions you can change it to reflect that one that you want.
The resource group is a container for all assets within Azure. I tended to think of this as a bowl of things. Things like virtual machines, storage accounts, virtual networks, etc. that are related all go into the same bowl. If you want to delete all those resources, you simply empty the bowl, and everything will be deleted for you.
In this example, I’ll create a new resource group, called “CreateStorageDemo”.
Then give the storage account a name. This name must be globally unique simply because the name is a part of the endpoint that can be used to manipulate the storage. You’ll need to choose wisely. In this case, I have supplied a name of “prodsqlbackupdemo”.
Next, choose the region of the storage. Usually you want to choose a region that is closest to you to help reduce latency. If I’m in Kentucky and I choose a region in Europe, the latency across the pond is going to be greater than if I were to choose the East US 2 region. You can see the regions for Azure via this map. The East US 2 region is on the east cost of the United States.
For now, select Standard storage. This will give you the most versatility in what you can storage. Premium storage only currently allows page blobs. Depending on your needs, premium storage may or may not meet them.
Leave the account kind to StorageV2, which is just a general purpose storage. Like with standard storage selection, this will give you more versatility in the long run.
Replication. The replication option refers to if you want your data replicated somewhere else, you can select it here. Here’s a synopsis of what these options mean:
- LRS – Locally redundant storage which means that your data would be redundant within the data center it sits in. There can be multiple data centers within a region so you don’t know exactly where it is but it’ll be redundant within that building. If the building goes away, your data will go away along with it.
- ZRS – Zone redundant storage gives you greater redundancy as your data is replicated within data centers within a region. This would allow your data to survive in the event that your initial data center went away unexpectedly.
- GRS – Geographically redundant storage provides redundancy across a large distance. Think redundancy from Altanta, GA to Seattle, WA. This spans many miles and allows for redundancy in the event an entire region is affected by some outage, like a hurricane on the east coast. The data is not readable on the secondary.
- RA-GRS – Read Accessible geographically redundant storage gives you the ability to read your data from a secondary while being geographically redundant.
The more redundant your storage is the greater the cost but if your data is critical, it’s worth it. For this example, because I’m just showing you how to spin up an account, I’ll select LRS, Locally-redundant storage.
The final option is the access tier, hot or cool. These tiers each individually have requirements around them. If you need to access the data frequently, select Hot. Hot will be more expensive and similar latency than cool however it’ll have a higher availability. If you can leave your data alone for at least 30 days, you can use the Cool tier. The cost will be cheaper however you could get hit with a penalty if you delete the file(s) prior to 30 days. Here is a chart provided by Microsoft that shows the differences:
As you can see, setting up a storage account for any purpose is fairly straight forward and simple. With a couple of mouse clicks, you can easily have storage readily available to upload files to, whether they are family pictures or backups of your production SQL Server databases. Either way, a great solution to get things out of your local data center if needed. Keep in mind that Microsoft is continually pushing updates to the portal so don’t worry if things change slightly over time.
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