How often do you find yourself in a situation where you have massive amounts of data that you need to store somewhere? I have had many of those moments and I often had to scale out my database server by adding more machines, more storage disks or a combination of both. And many of those times I had to make an order for new hardware, additional disks which took at least a couple of days.
Now with Windows Azure you have 4 ways to solve that issue.
1. A Database in a VM
Within minutes you can set up a Windows Azure VM running a Microsoft Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Ubuntu Linux Server, SuSE Linux Server or a CentOS Server. There you can install and configure a database of your choice (except the Microsoft SQL Server) to handle your data.
The beauty is that you are set within a few hours (including installation and configuration of your databases), but there’s also a downside to this approach, you need to manage your VM yourself and keep it updated all the time. If that’s not a problem, using the VM approach is by far the easiest way to have your data available.
2. Windows Azure SQL Database
If you already have a MS SQL Server running on your premises, it’s easy to extend it using Windows Azure SQL Database as it’s a robust system you’re familiar with, but now running up in the clouds. If you don’t yet have a MS SQL Server, it requires a little adaptation and an intensive MS SQL training, but you can get around it fairly easily.
There are a ton of advantages using Windows Azure SQL Database, but I just highlight a few of them here:
- You only need to manage the data. Updates, upgrades and backups (failover replication) are all handled by Windows Azure.
- You can create federations (clusters) where you can shard your data at runtime into different SQL Database instances.
- You can use the same tools used for accessing your on-premise SQL Database servers, even for replication of data to Windows Azure SQL Database.
- With Windows Azure SQL Database, you also get great reporting tools that integrate into your Office applications.
But theres also a major downside: this is only Windows Azure SQL Database, a modified version of MS SQL Server customized for running in the cloud. So if you’re looking for the same benefits for another database vendor, you’re kinda stuck here.
3. Windows Azure Table Storage
If you’re already used to using NoSQL databases, you will love the Windows Azure Table Storage components as they allow you to quickly store key/value objects and approach them in a SQL-like way.
The beauty of these Windows Azure Table Storage components is that it’s lightning fast, but persists your data onto a disk. So if you want to dump structured data up into the cloud, have a look at these Windows Azure Table Storage components.
4. Windows Azure Blob Storage
As I already mentioned this in a previous article, I’m not going to spend too much time on this matter. It’s fast, replicated to different data centers and scales very well.
If you have a situation where you need to expand your data storage, come and check out these cool Windows Azure components. You might end up becoming addicted at it.