Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Microsoft Expands Azure Premium Storage 

Mark Russinovich, CTO, Microsoft Azure

Enterprise storage may have been simplified with the recent broad availability of Microsoft Azure Premium Storage.

Under Microsoft's Premium plan, which Microsoft expanded late last week, enterprises' data is stored on solid state drives (SSDs). The program is designed for Azure virtual machine workloads, which need consistent high IO performance and low latency for tasks such as OLTP, big data, and data warehousing running on platforms including SQL Server, MongoDB, and Cassandra, said Mark Russinovich, chief technology officer of Microsoft Azure, in a company blog. Enterprises that choose this storage plan can more easily move their applications to the cloud, he said.

Today, Premium Storage is available for Page Blobs and Data Disks on Azure VMs. Enterprises can attach a number of disks to a VM, enabling up to 32 terabytes of storage per VM with more than 64,000 IOPS per VM at low-millisecond latency for read operations, said Russinovich. Since debuting in December 2014, early customers report backup of 2TB SQL Server database is six-times faster on Premium versus Standard and restore is 30-times quicker, he added.

The service is now available in West United States, East U.S 2, West Europe, East China, Southeast Asia, and West Japan. Microsoft plans to extend the offering to all Azure regions "in the near future," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise group, in a blog. And it's currently only available for Blob service; users of Azure Block Blobs, Azure Queues, Azure Files, or Azure Tables will have to wait.

Enterprises must use a DS Series VM, which can be done via Microsoft Azure Preview Portal, or using Azure PowerShell SDK version, Microsoft said.

"Premium Storage keeps three replicas of data within the same region, and ensures that a write operation will not be confirmed back until it has been durably replicated," said Guthrie. "In addition, you can also optionally create snapshots of your disks and copy those snapshots to a Standard GRS storage account - which enables you to maintain a geo-redundant snapshot of your data that is stored > 400 miles away from your primary Azure region for disaster recovery purposes."

Pricing information, available here, depends on how much data an enterprise stores; the volume of storage transactions and outbound data transfers, and the preferred redundancy option – local redundant storage (LRS), zone redundant storage (ZRS), geographically redundant storage (GRS), or read-access geographically redundant storage (RA-GRS). The service includes billing and subscription management support, and support plans start at $29 per month.

Enterprises create and manage accounts through the Azure Management portal; the Premium Locally Redundant offering only appears if it's available in that area, Guthrie said.

Underscoring Microsoft's commitment to Linux as described six months ago in a webcast by CEO Satya Nadella, with its release of Linux Integration Services v4.0 Microsoft enhanced support for more forms of the open source operating system. Premium Storage works with various distributions, including Ubuntu, SUSE, CoreOS, CentOS, and Oracle Linux, according to the Premium Storage Overview.

"We will continue to add more images to the list as we complete additional validations. Please note, our validations showed that performance varies for these images, and it also depends on workload characteristics and settings on the images," said Selcin Turkarslan, program manager at the Azure Customer Advisory Team.

About the author: Alison Diana

Managing editor of Enterprise Technology. I've been covering tech and business for many years, for publications such as InformationWeek, Baseline Magazine, and Florida Today. A native Brit and longtime Yankees fan, I live with my husband, daughter, and two cats on the Space Coast in Florida.

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