Getting the Most From Azure Storage
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The Azure Storage suite of services form the core foundation of much of the rest of the Azure services ecosystem. Blobs are low-level data primitives that can store any data type and size. Tables provide inexpensive, scalable NoSQL storage of key/value data pairs. Azure queues provide a messaging substrate to asynchronously and reliably connect distinct elements of a distributed system. Azure files provide an SMB-compatible file system for enabling lift-and-shift scenarios of legacy applications that use file shares. Azure disks provide consistent, high-performance storage for virtual machines running in the cloud.
In this Introduction to Azure Storage course you'll learn about the features of these core services, and see demonstrations of their use. Specifically, you will:
- Define the major components of Azure Storage
- Understand the different types of blobs and their intended use
- Learn basic programming APIs for table storage
- Discover how queues are used to pipeline cloud compute node together
- Learn to integrate Azure files with multiple applications
- Understand the tradeoffs between standard/premium storage and unmanaged/managed disks
Okay, so let's do a quick demo of Azure Managed Disks and show you how easy it is to work with these, and attach them to virtual machines that are running in the Cloud, et cetera. So in order to do this, let's first go to our Resource groups. So we have to say, C, yeah, there it is, right there.
Oops, just lost it, ca-intro, there we are. All right, we'll create it in this particular Resource group that we've already been using. And we'll click Add, and type Managed Disks. All right, select it, more button clicks. Okay, just a little bit of information that we have to provide in order to create the disk.
Now, recall that Managed Disks, the nice kind of benefit of Managed Disks is that the underlying storage account is still there, so we're still using page blobs to store, to use as the kind of the low-level storage for these Manage Disks, but the storage account itself is sort of abstracted away from us.
We're not managing it ourselves, we're not mapping disks to storage accounts to ensure that we're not exceeding some throughput threshold, et cetera, that's all being handled for us on the Azure side, by the infrastructure. So that's really the primary difference and advantage of Managed Disks over unmanaged disks.
So let me just give this a name, we'll call this josh. disk. We'll keep the subscription, Resource Group is the one we want, location is the same. I can create a premium disk or just a standard HDD disk, platter-based disk, I'll use that, just to keep this simple. Have a few different source, kind of, sources we can use.
We can either create a new disk from a snapshot of an existing disk, so if we already have a snapshot stored somewhere else in blob storage, we can start from that point, or we can, if we have, separately, if we have a disk image in a blob somewhere, we can also start from that as well. I just want an empty disk here, so I'm just gonna pick empty, and I can create up to a terabyte in storage.
I'll just create 100 gigabytes, that'll be fine, just for demo purposes, so I'll click Create. And that'll take just a second to spin up. Okay, so it looks like our disk has been created. So let me back all the way out to our Resource Group. And now I'm going to click on this virtual machine that I previously created.
I used this for a couple of other demos. And we're going to attach this disk to this virtual machine. So if I look on the left-hand side, you can see that there's a Disks element here, so I'm gonna click on that. And of course, that's going to show us the primary operating system disk that we currently have added to this or attached to this VM, but now I wanna add the Managed Disk that I just created.
So I'll click Add Data Disk and I have this dropdown. Now I can, presented with a couple of options here. First it'll scope it by the particular Resource Group that I'm currently in, that this VM is currently in, and it'll show me all of the available disks in that Resource Group, but it'll also show me all of the disks that are in my subscription.
It just so happens I only have one available, it's just showing the same one twice here, just the one that I just created. Of course, if I wanted to, I could also click on Create Disk here, which would take me more or less through the same wizard that I just went through on my own to create a new disk.
But I'll pick, of course, the one that I just created. And it looks like everything else is okay. I'll just keep the rest of these defaults and I'll click Save and it'll take just a moment to attach this, in fact, if I switch over to this VM, if we look here, click Refresh in Explorer, just to show you that currently I have a local drive C and a temp drive D that are currently attached to this machine, but I don't have anything else.
So by the time the attached process runs, the disk is attached to this virtual machine. Then I'll have to go in to File Management or Drive Management on this VM in Windows and add it as a, you know, assign it a drive letter, format it and then I'll be able to use it. And of course, I'm doing in this in Windows, but bear in mind, this works just as well in Linux as it does in Windows, slightly different tools and mechanisms, of course, inside the operating system, to mount it, but ultimately, it's the same basic process.
So this works just as well in Linux as Windows. Let me flip back over here and we'll check on progress. It looks like, yeah, it looks like it's actually done. So if I open up, yep, it was successful. So, let's go back to the VM. I'm gonna Refresh. And we still don't have a drive here, of course. We don't see a new drive because we have to actually, on the operating system side, we have to assign it a drive letter and format it.
So, I'm going to open up the Disk Management Utility in Windows, and of course, it's gonna prompt me right away. It's gonna say, hey, you've got this new disk that's been attached to this machine and we need to do something, we need to decide what partition strategy we're using, et cetera, for it. So this is all kind of low-level operating system details.
I'm just gonna click OK and accept the defaults, and it'll take a minute, you can actually, if you look, you can see that I already have, of course, I have the operating system disk, which is 0, I have this temp disk, which is 1 and disk 2 is now this hundred gigabyte unallocated chunk of space, which corresponds to the drive that I just attached.
So I just want to create a simple volume out of this, so that I can start using it. We'll use the entire size. We'll assign it drive letter F, we'll take the one that it's suggesting for us. And we'll format it using, of course, NTFS, which is kind of standard for Windows. And we'll click Finish and that should just take a second.
And looks like we're almost there. And if we look, we should, in a moment, we should see. Yeah, there we go, so there it is. So if we drill into this, our new volume F, looks like we've got a hundred gigs of free space, and now we can do whatever we want to with it. It's a drive in Windows just like any other drive in Windows.
About the Author
Josh Lane is a Microsoft Azure MVP and Azure Trainer and Researcher at Cloud Academy. He’s spent almost twenty years architecting and building enterprise software for companies around the world, in industries as diverse as financial services, insurance, energy, education, and telecom. He loves the challenges that come with designing, building, and running software at scale. Away from the keyboard you'll find him crashing his mountain bike, drumming quasi-rythmically, spending time outdoors with his wife and daughters, or drinking good beer with good friends.