Sep 2017
Azure Blob Archive Tiering

Avoid the costs of data hoarding – Azure Blob Storage and Blob-Level Tiering

The announcement from Microsoft that Azure Archive and Blob Level Tiering is in preview phase should be followed by anyone who stores data. So anyone.

Depending on your source, you’ll have heard claims around the proliferation of data that blow your mind. Forbes has previously claimed figures like “1.7MB of data are created every second by every human on the planet”. Or that “more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race”. Much of this data proliferation is in rich media but in business, we still create more data than ever before.

In some cases the data we create must be retained. In some cases it’s a legal requirement, in others a company policy. But storage is not free.

Whether it be employee data, medical records, customer information, financial records, backups, etc. the 1s and 0s that make up the data we retain cost us money as a business. Public cloud promises so much in terms of the reduced capital outlay but many businesses find that the charges they accumulate once they move onto/into the cloud are not what they first imagined; they then back out of their decision, forever burned by the experience.

But higher than expected cloud costs are more than likely a result of misuse. Failure to properly manage the use of the cloud resources and poor planning and categorisation of your data is often the cause.

One solution is a cloud health check. You contact an expert, you’d forgive us for recommending ourselves, and they’ll assess whether your current configuration is working for you or if a new direction is needed.

Another is to make better use of “cool/cold storage”. That is, storage from your cloud supplier that is significantly cheaper than your “normal” storage. Your trade off is longer times to access this data. But if it’s the type of data you’re only holding onto because you’re forced to, what’s the issue? Think of cold storage like sticking that old exercise bike in the back of the garage because you don’t have the heart to get rid of it – no really, I’m sure you’ll ride it tomorrow. If it’s not being accessed daily, it doesn’t need to be in your living room.

The announcement of Azure Blob-level tiering is another big step forward in this space. The ability to change what tier your data falls within between hot, cool and archive tiers means that users don’t have to stress over decisions they make because it can always be reversed. Gone is the fear of archiving something only to find out it’s needed more frequently than first thought. Our tendency to over estimate the use rates of data should decline and so to should our cloud bills.

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