Exploring Windows Azure Storage Options

My newest adventure has me exploring Big Data and I have spent the past few weeks swimming in the deep end of the Windows Azure pool.

Here are some quick links to the data storage options available on Windows Azure:



SQL Database (formerly known as SQL Azure)

This is Software as a Service (SaaS) serving up a full featured relational database engine.  SQL Database is based on SQL Server so if you are already working with SQL Server you will find SQL Database a familiar place.  It does not support all the features of SQL Server at this time, but more and more features are being added with each release.

Read more here.

 [Aside: If you need full blown SQL Server in Windows Azure please take a look at SQL Server on Windows Azure VM].

Azure Storage


This is NoSQL storage. This is a key/value pair implementation. Don't be fooled by the name this is not relational storage. You will not be doing any complex queries against it, but it is excellent storage for high speed simple typed data. There can be a LOT of data here. This scales very well and a single table can hold 1TB of data.


Binary Large Object storage.  Unstructured binary data, good for video, images, big binary data.  A single blob can be as large as 1 TB.

Both Blob and Table storage are ISO 27001 certified managed services. Both can scale to massive amounts of data and both are accessible from REST and managed APIs.

More details here.

Hadoop on Azure (Isotope)

Although not categorized as storage per say, in Windows Azure it is found as part of Business Analytics. I want to add it to this summary anyway since one of its components (HDFS) is data storage.

The format definition; Apache Hadoop core provides data storage with the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) and a MapReduce programming model to process and analyze in parallel the data stored in this distributed system.  Apache™ Hadoop™-based Services for Windows Azure is a service that provisions and deploys Hadoop clusters in Windows Azure.

Hadoop on Azure is currently in Customer Technical Preview (CTP). I'm lovin' it. I'll be bloggin more about it soon.

In the meantime, read about it here.