Develop for Azure Storage

Develop for Azure Storage - AZ-204 Study Guide

Azure Storage

The primary purpose is to clear Azure Storage terminology in terms of the AZ-204 Exam and show how to store data in Azure. I also provide basic Data Classification and Azure possibilities for storing data.

Azure Storage as a Confusing Term

When I first went through Develop for Azure Storage domain of the AZ-204 Exam, it confused me. I understood Azure Storage as a part of the Exam, which deals with storing data in Azure. But after some investigation, I realized that the term Azure Storage represents a service embracing four services – Azure Blobs, Azure Files, Azure Queues, and Azure Tables. Therefore I consider the naming Develop for Azure Storage a bit clumsy.

Data Classification and Related Azure Resources

Below I briefly classify three commonly used types of data together with their related Azure Resources.

Structured Data

Structured data are a type of data with a given schema. They are usually stored in database tables with rows and columns. In most cases, we use SQL for queries over this kind of data. A related Azure resource for structured data is Azure SQL.

Azure SQL Icon

Unstructured Data

Multimedia files, e.g., audio, video files, or photos, are typically stored as unstructured data. We can also store log or text files that way. In Azure, we usually use the Azure Blob Storage resource.

Azure Blob Icon

Semi-Structured Data

NoSQL or non-relational is another term that describes semi-structured data. Their structure is not as strict as in the case of structured data. It can acquire various forms such as key-value pairs, graphs, documents. As an example of semi-structured data, I can offer XML, JSON, or YAML files. In Azure, we most often use Azure Cosmos DB resource for this kind of data.


Storage Account

Storage account is a container grouping Azure Storage services described above. Storage account helps to handle Azure Storage resources in it as a group. It is an Azure resource with a unique name and is generally a part of the Azure resource group. Therefore, it enables to manage settings such as type, performance, location, geo-replication, security, pricing.

Azure Storage Services

Here is a brief explanation of particular Azure Storage services’ purpose with its default endpoint URLs.

Azure Files

  • often used for shared files, e.g., config and log files
  •           enable access from different Virtual Machines

  • <storage account name><file name>
Azure Files Icon

Azure Queues

  • queue of messages
  • size of one message is max. 64kb
  • <storage account name><queue name>
Azure Queues Icon

Azure Tables

  • key-value storage for NoSQL data
  • Azure Cosmos DB also includes more performant equivalent
  • <storage account name><table name
Azure Tables Icon

Azure Blobs

  • storage for unstructured data
  • will be covered in more detail in a separate article
  • <storage account name><blob name>
Azure Blob Icon

Azure Storage Example

As I like to say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Putting it all together, we can see an example of two resource groups.

Azure Subscription Example

In the first one, on the left, there are four Azure resources: Storage account, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure SQL, and some Web App. The first significant outcome from this example is that the whole Storage account is hierarchically Azure resource at the same level as Azure Cosmos DB and Azure SQL. The second one is that we can arbitrarily mix up Azure Storage services inside Storage account.

The second resource group contains two different Storage accounts and two Virtual machines. It is sometimes helpful to divide Azure Storage services into separate Storage accounts due to different requirements on pricing, performance, location, replication, etc.

Azure Storage Summary

This blog post’s main goal was to clarify terminology around resources used for storing data in Azure. We learned that Azure Storage is an Azure resource storing specific data, although it could be mistakenly understood as a general term for storing data in Azure.

Then I showed some basic data classification into structured, unstructured, and semi-structured data with related Azure resources (Azures SQL, Azure Blob Storage, Azure Cosmos DB).

I also explained the term Storage account and showed available Azure Storage services. Last but not least, I provided an example for consolidating the new knowledge.

In case you have any questions, comments, you find anything unclear, or you just liked it. Don‘t hesitate to let me know in the comments below, or feel free to contact me.

See also other articles from my Azure AZ-204 Study guide.

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