Adding Storage: Microsoft Azure

There are three basic methods of adding disks (storage) to your SoftNAS® instance on Azure. Each method is a fairly simple task, but there are some considerations before adding your storage, or even selecting your method. One of the key decisions you will need to make is whether to deploy and use block or object storage.

Note: Whichever type of storage you choose, it will require the setup of underlying storage accounts. If using managed disks and block storage, these are created automatically in the background. If using blob storage, these accounts will need to be added manually, as per instructions below.

Block Storage

Block storage provides fixed size raw storage capacity within your VM. In Azure, these are referred to as virtual hard disks. Within the SoftNAS UI, these are referred to as Microsoft (MSFT) Disks. Each volume added is treated as an independent disk drive. Block storage disks are only accessible when attached to an OS, such as the linux-based SoftNAS framework we offer. They are typically formatted with a file system, such as FAT32, NTFS, EXT3, or EXT4. They are also easily configured into software RAID configurations.

Azure managed disks are block-level storage volumes that are managed by Azure and used with Azure Virtual Machines. Managed disks are like a physical disk in an on-premises server but virtualized. With managed disks, all you have to do is specify the disk size, the disk type, and provision the disk.

The available types of disks are ultra disks, premium solid-state drives (SSD), standard SSDs, and standard hard disk drives (HDD). For information about each individual disk type, see Select a disk type for IaaS VMs.

Note: In SoftNAS®, object storage can also be leveraged into RAID configurations.

Block storage is typically used for applications, particularly databases and mission critical apps, such as SQL, Exchange, or Sharepoint, etc...anything that requires high performance benchmarks and low latency. 

Azure's managed disks supplies some of the following benefits:

  • Highly durable and available - designed for 99.999% availability
  • Simple and scalable VM deployment – allowing you to create up to 50,000 VM disks of a type in a subscription per region
  • Integration with availability sets –VMs in an availability set are sufficiently isolated from each other to avoid a single point of failure
  • Integration with Availability Zones – providing the protection of your data from datacenter failures

There are two methods to add block storage for SoftNAS on Azure:

Object (Blob) Storage

Object storage (called Blob storage in Azure), is directly accessible through an API or HTTP/HTTPS and can store any type of data. The data is guaranteed not to be lost and can be replicated across data centers. It offers web service interfaces for easy access.

Typical uses for Object (Blob) storage includes unstructured data such as repositories of music, image, and video files. It is also used for log files, backup files, and data dumps. Blob storage provides large capacity for large data sets and archive files. It can be used to replace local tape drives. While these are typical use cases, SoftNAS offers the ability to treat object storage as independent disks, much like block storage, allowing it to be configured into RAID configured volumes.

To add object storage to your SoftNAS instance: