Azure Cool: The Cool Kid On the Block

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Recently, Azure (MSFT) announced another storage tier in the cloud called ‘Azure Cool’. As the name suggests it is targeted at ‘cool data’. It seems the industry focus has moved from high performing hot data to glacier age cold data to now cool data. So what exactly is ‘cool data’?

Cool Data

MSFT with Azure Cool is now targeting non mission critical data. Example use cases for cool storage include backups, media content, scientific data, compliance and archival data. In general, any data which lives for a longer period of time and is accessed less than once a month is a perfect candidate for cool storage. Cool data, in our opinion forms a significant portion of the larger secondary data storage market.

Ecosystem

It’s good to see Microsoft working with the eco system partners to build out solutions around Azure Cool. At launch, Microsoft did announce integration with leading data protection providers including Commvault, Cohesity, and Veritas besides others. The API for cool storage is the same as hot blob storage which reduces the complexity of integrating with such a solution.

Performance, Availability & Pricing

Interestingly the performance of Cool is the same as Hot tier with a lower level of availability (99% vs 99.9%). This is an interesting twist to the positioning of Cool tier, as it provides a higher performance compared to similar offerings form AWS and Google. Of course, the pricing for Cool is cheaper at $.01/ GB/mo. I am sure most enterprise customers have a better deal than what is advertised via their ELAs (enterprise agreements).

So where do you start?

Cool tier has lower cost of storing data but higher cost of accessing data and it should be used for data that is not frequently accessed and has lower availability SLA requirements. If you do not know the access pattern for your data, MSFT recommends that you start with the Hot tier for at least a month and then determine whether you can save costs by moving to Cool storage based on your actual usage. Surely, something easier said than done.

What would be interesting is to have lifecycle policies provided by Azure around the storage management of the objects in the hot tier such that they are automatically migrated to the cold tier or between tiers when access patterns change or when certain cost thresholds are crossed etc.

Cool Kid, welcome to the neighborhood. Some interesting use cases for you around the corner.

Let’s stay cool till then!

-CloudLanes Team
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