When Microsoft announced on April 28, 2016 the general availability of Cool Blob Storage, my marketing eye was immediately twitching. What a great name! It immediately made me want to see what it was all about. That I was immediately attracted to it shows what a great marketing ploy this was.

Cool Blob storage is a new, low-cost storage for long term data. As of today’s writing, the cost of Block Blob Cool, Locally Redundant Storage (LRS) in the Central U.S. is $0.01/GB/Month, and it stays the same for 4,000 TB. Pricing varies depending upon locality. There is even a difference between Central U.S. and North Central U.S. Storage prices also change depending upon how much data, as well as type of redundancy (LRS, ZRS, GRS and RA-GRS). Though there is variety in pricing of Cool Storage, it is minor compared to the cost of Hot Storage: $0.024 versus $0.01 in Central U.S. That is a savings of $50 per month for 4,000 TB of data.

AWS has had pricing for Glacier archival storage for years, priced as little as $0.007/GB/Month. Google has Nearline archival storage for $0.01/GB/Month. So, it’s good to see that Microsoft finally has a similar offering.

The low cost of storage is a perfect opportunity for using Azure as an archival location. The key differentiator between Hot and Cool storage is the price point of storage and the transaction cost. Cool Storage has lower storage costs, but higher access and transaction costs. For example, for the same Central U.S. as above, Put Blob/Block, List, Create Container Operations (per 10,000) is $.10, Data Retrieval (per GB) is $0.01, and data write (per GB) is $0.0025. That is compared to Hot Storage, which is $0.05, FREE, FREE, respectively. So, you can see that storing data is cheaper, but access is more expensive. The recommended best practice is to put data in Hot Storage until you are completely sure it is not being accessed, and then move to Cool Storage once confirmed it is long term.

You can find all the detailed information on Azure Storage here. I found the prices above at the Azure Storage Pricing site.

Storage Tools

You can use the Microsoft Azure Storage Tool’s AzCopy to copy data from on-premises to Azure Storage. I copied a few files and it just took seconds. Below is an example of the command use to copy.

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As you can see, elapsed time was 00:00:00:07. Now, these were not huge files, but you can see how quickly you can upload files to Azure Storage.

Of course there are other tools to migrate data, such as Microsoft’s Data Movement Library for .NET, REST APIs or the one of Azure’s Client Library.

Storage Explorer (Preview)

Additionally, you can use Storage Explorer to manage data in this account. You can download the Storage Explorer here for use with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. With this tool, you can view, delete, copy and upload. Below is what my Explorer looked like after I uploaded my files:

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As you can see, they were small files. Note that the activity log only shows the deletions from Explorer, not the upload using the Storage Tool. When I manually used the Upload option on the same files, it seems almost as quick and was then recorded in the Activity Log.

With the Explorer, you can switch subscriptions to see other storage locations. Say, for example, you create a subscription to manage just your archival storage, but use another subscription for daily productivity operations. You can then switch to production to view other Blobs, Queues or Tables. You can also use the Explorer to easily find the URL of the Storage Container. Of course, you can also view the files within the container.

Though it’s only in Preview as of this writing, it is still a valuable tool that has been receiving constant updates. For example, check out the latest blog, Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer Preview: June Update

There is certainly more information you need to be aware of when working with storage in the cloud. However, I hope you found this introduction interesting enough to seek more information. Cool storage is a great play on marketing, combining the concept of Hot and Cold storage with the nuance of it being new and different. I hope you will find it interesting enough to investigate more and potentially use it to offload on-premises storage costs.

To learn more about migrating to Microsoft Azure or CDW’s White Glove Services, check out this page for more information.

Also, don’t forget to head over to BizTech Magazine for the latest in Microsoft Azure developments.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below with any questions.

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