Windows Azure: Our Cloud Stores 4 Trillion Objects

The following graph shows the number of stored objects in Windows Azure Storage over the past year. (Source: Microsoft via the Windows Azure blog)

The Windows Azure Storage cloud operated by Microsoft houses 4 trillion objects, according to a post on the Windows Azure Storage blog. That’s a big number. The new data suggests that Microsoft’s storage cloud houses four times as many objects as Amazon S3, the storage cloud for Amazon Web Services, which topped 1 trillion objects last month.

How is this possible? Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) launched in 2006, and is widely assumed to be the leading cloud storage provider. So how could Azure Storage be four times larger?

One possible explanation is that the total for Windows Azure includes the cloud storage to support all of Microsoft’s company-operated cloud infrastructure. Microsoft has been using internal cost metrics to encourage its 200 online services to migrate their operations to Azure.

It could also be that this is an apples-to-oranges comparison in terms of how the companies manage storage. “Windows Azure Storage uses a unique approach of storing different object types (Blobs, Disks/Drives, Tables, Queues) in the same store, as described in our SOSP paper,” the Azure post notes. “The total number of blobs (disk/drives are stored as blobs), table entities, and queue messages stored account for the 4+ trillion objects in our unified store. By blending different types of objects across the same storage stack, we have a single stack for replicating data to keep it durable, a single stack for automatic load balancing and dealing with failures to keep data available, and we store all of the different types of objects on the same hardware, blending their workloads, to keep prices low.”

Microsoft says Azure Storage processes an average of 270,000 requests per second, and reach peaks of 880,000 requests per second.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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