Loss of data means the destruction of information that is critical to your business. Data loss, be it because of human error, natural disasters, software corruption, or theft, is a severe problem and can have grave implications for your business. Other than the loss of money, it can be detrimental to your reputation. It is only imperative, therefore, that you create a regular backup of your data. Simply put, creating a backup of your data means copying critical information to another location that you can recover data from if required.
Tapes to Microsoft Azure Blob Storage
Traditionally, tapes were popular second homes for your data. However, these new homes meant you had to build solutions that revolved around enhancements to the existing infrastructure, required space, and were cost-intensive. Additionally, there was an overhead of transporting them to a secure location to protect them from catastrophic events.
If you are part of an organization that wants to move your on-premise SQL server data to a no-infrastructure, centrally-managed, scalable solution provided by Azure virtual machines, you should be interested.
SQL Server Backup to URL
Using the Azure Backup Service enables you to replace tape libraries and create, monitor, and manage backups of your on-premise data straight to Microsoft’s cloud platform. Specifically, instead of creating a copy on a tape, you use a specific URL (Uniform Resource Identifier) to a unique backup file in Microsoft’s Azure Blob Storage as the backup destination. Blob storage, also known as binary large object storage enables you to store large amounts of unstructured data, which you may not require to access frequently, in a cost-effective manner. Microsoft’s Azure storage service allows your data to be stored in two types of blobs – block blobs and page blobs.
Microsoft Azure Blob Storage Service Components
Block and Page Blobs
While both block and page blobs enable you to store binary data, there are significant use cases where you would want to use one instead of the other.
Block blobs provide storage for blocks of data of sizes upto 100 MB. Block blobs are formed by a set of blocks where the largest block can be formed of 50000 blocks. Individual blocks, identified by block IDs, can be sent to the storage and then combined to form a block blob. Therefore, other than storing files of specific sizes, for example, text, audio, images, video, etc., this type of storage can be used for streaming of audio and video data.
Page blobs, on the other hand, are a collection of pages of size 512-bytes. You will require to use page blobs when you want the storage for random read and write operations. For example, page blobs are used for storing virtual file systems such as VHDs that are used to create backups for Azure virtual machines.
Containers in Azure Blob Storage
Related blobs are grouped together into containers. For example, a blob may have all kinds of text files while another, only audio. Containers and blobs are analogous to folders and files, where folders are used to arrange and organize files systematically. Each container can have an unlimited number of blobs.
A storage account is akin to having a bank account to which all the assets belong. Containers and their contents are linked together with storage account. For you, as a business, having a storage account means that you have full administrative access to all your data in the containers that you can access easily from across the globe. An SQL server credential stores authentication information that is required to authenticate a user to the Microsoft Azure Blob Storage service, the containers and the blobs.
Bringing it All Together
Microsoft Azure’s Blob Storage is highly reliable, scalable, provides high availability and is easy on the pocket. Data in the blob storage can be copied in the same data center, data centers across zones in an area or in different areas, so you can access your data from any geographical location worldwide.
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