Category Archives : Storage, Backup & Recovery

06

Sep

Reduce costs by optimizing actuarial risk compute on Azure

Actuarial risk modeling is a compute-intensive operation. It employs thousands of server cores, with many uneven workloads such as monthly and quarterly valuation and production runs to meet regulatory requirements. With these compute-intensive workloads, actuaries today find themselves trapped by traditional on-premises systems (grid computing on hardware) which lack scale and elasticity. Many find they cannot even finish simple tasks like production runs with enough time to spare to correct an error and rerun before a deadline. With scalability and elasticity being the cornerstone of the cloud, risk modeling is incredibly well suited to take advantage of this near bottomless resource. With Azure, you can access more compute power when needed, without having to manage it. This translates to a great savings in time and money.

Your immediate savings comes from reallocating your costs from hardware investments to operational expenses. With on-demand compute, personnel are released from hardware and software burdens. They can devote their time and expertise to other production costs, such as writing scripts for the optimum deployment of cores.

More power, less time, faster reports

New regulations, such as International Financial Reporting Standard 17 (IFRS 17), Solvency II, and Actuarial Guideline XLIII, are increasing the pressure

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04

Sep

Finish your insurance actuarial modeling in hours, not days

Because of existing and upcoming regulations, insurers perform quite a bit of analysis over their assets and liabilities. Actuaries need time to review and correct results before reviewing the reports with regulators. Today, it is common for quarterly reporting to require thousands of hours of compute time. Companies which offer variable annuity products must follow Actuarial Guideline XLIII which requires several compute intensive tasks, including nested stochastic modeling. Solvency II requires quite a bit of computational analysis to understand the Solvency Capital Requirement and the Minimum Capital Requirement. International Financial Reporting Standard 17 requires analysis of each policy, reviews of overall profitability, and more. Actuarial departments everywhere work to make sure that their financial and other models produce results which can be used to evaluate their business for regulatory and internal needs.

With all this reporting, actuaries get pinched for time. They need time for things like:

Development: Actuaries code the models in their favorite software or in custom solutions. Anything they can do to reduce the cycle of Code-Test-Review helps deliver the actuarial results sooner. Data preparation: Much of the source data is initially entered by hand. Errors need to be identified and fixed. If the errors can

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20

Aug

Azure Block Blob Storage Backup
Azure Block Blob Storage Backup

Azure Blob Storage is Microsoft’s massively scalable cloud object store. Blob Storage is ideal for storing any unstructured data such as images, documents and other file types. Read this Introduction to object storage in Azure to learn more about how it can be used in a wide variety of scenarios.

The data in Azure Blob Storage is always replicated to ensure durability and high availability. Azure Storage replication copies your data so that it is protected from planned and unplanned events ranging from transient hardware failures, network or power outages, massive natural disasters, and so on. You can choose to replicate your data within the same data center, across zonal data centers within the same region, and even across regions. Find more details on storage replication.

Although Blob storage supports replication out-of-box, it’s important to understand that the replication of data does not protect against application errors. Any problems at the application layer are also committed to the replicas that Azure Storage maintains. For this reason, it can be important to maintain backups of blob data in Azure Storage. 

Currently Azure Blob Storage doesn’t offer an out-of-the-box solution for backing up block blobs. In this blog post, I will design

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02

Aug

Managed Disks migration now available in the Azure Portal

We are excited to announce the capability of converting VMs with unmanaged Disks to Managed Disks in the Azure Portal! Now you can migrate to Managed Disks in single click without requiring PowerShell or CLI scripts.

Our customers love the benefits of using Managed Disks. Many customers have already adopted Managed Disks since we launched it. If you have not started using Managed Disks, here’s a quick recap of all the capabilities to motivate you to use Managed Disks.

Scale your application without worrying about storage account limits. Achieve high-availability across your compute and storage resources with aligned fault domains. Create VM Scale Sets with up to 1,000 instances. Integrate disks, snapshots, images as first-class resources into your architecture. Secure your disks, snapshots, and images through Azure Role Based Access Control (RBAC)

To read more about the benefits of Managed Disks, see Azure Managed Disks Overview.

Migrating to Managed Disks in Azure Portal

Migrating in the Azure Portal is a pretty simple experience. Let’s walk through this process.

If you are using a VM with unmanaged disks, you will see an info banner on the VM overview blade.

Once you click on the banner, it will launch the migration

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24

Jul

Build richer applications with the new asynchronous Azure Storage SDK for Java

Cloud scale applications typically require high concurrency to achieve desired performance when accessing remote data. The new Storage Java SDK simplifies building such applications by offering asynchronous operations, eliminating the need to create and manage a large thread-pool. This new SDK uses the RxJava reactive programming model for asynchronous operations, also relying on Netty HTTP client for REST requests. Get started with the Azure Storage SDK for Java now.

Azure Storage SDK v10 for Java adopts the next-generation Storage SDK design providing thread-safe types that were introduced earlier with the Storage Go SDK release. This new SDK is built to effectively move data without any buffering on the client, and provides interfaces close to the ones in the Storage REST APIs. Some of the improvements in the new SDK are:

Asynchronous programming model with RxJava Low-level APIs consistent with Storage REST APIs New high-level APIs built for convenience Thread-safe interfaces Consistent versioning across all Storage SDKs Asynchronous programming model with RxJava

Now that the Storage SDK supports RxJava it is easier to build event driven applications. This is because it allows you to compose sequences together with the observer pattern. The following sample, that uploads a directory of xml files

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23

Jul

Accelerated and Flexible Restore Points with SQL Data Warehouse

We are thrilled to announce that SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW) has released accelerated and flexible restore points for fast data recovery. SQL DW is a fully managed and secure analytics platform for the enterprise, optimized for running complex queries fast across petabytes of data.

The ability to quickly restore a data warehouse offers customers data protection from accidental corruption, deletion, and disaster recovery. We have seen scenarios where compliance requirements and having multiple test and development environments of a data warehouse enforce stricter capabilities in this area as well. To continue delivering first-class data protection and recovery, we have released the following critical improvements which are seamlessly integrated within the Azure Portal.

Finer granularity for cross region and server restores

You can now restore across regions and servers using any restore point instead of selecting geo redundant backups which are taken every 24 hours. Cross region and server restore is supported for both user-defined or automatic restore points enabling finer granularity for additional data protection. With more restore points available, you can be assured that your data warehouse will be logically consistent when restoring across regions.

Fast restore with Enhanced Restore Points

You can now restore your

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23

Jul

Accelerated and Flexible Restore Points with SQL Data Warehouse

We are thrilled to announce that SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW) has released accelerated and flexible restore points for fast data recovery. SQL DW is a fully managed and secure analytics platform for the enterprise, optimized for running complex queries fast across petabytes of data.

The ability to quickly restore a data warehouse offers customers data protection from accidental corruption, deletion, and disaster recovery. We have seen scenarios where compliance requirements and having multiple test and development environments of a data warehouse enforce stricter capabilities in this area as well. To continue delivering first-class data protection and recovery, we have released the following critical improvements which are seamlessly integrated within the Azure Portal.

Finer granularity for cross region and server restores

You can now restore across regions and servers using any restore point instead of selecting geo redundant backups which are taken every 24 hours. Cross region and server restore is supported for both user-defined or automatic restore points enabling finer granularity for additional data protection. With more restore points available, you can be assured that your data warehouse will be logically consistent when restoring across regions.

Fast restore with Enhanced Restore Points

You can now restore your

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19

Jul

Score one for the IT Pro: Azure File Sync is now generally available!

Azure File Sync replicates files from your on-premises Windows Server to an Azure file share. With Azure File Sync, you don’t have to choose between the benefits of cloud and the benefits of your on-premises file server – you can have both! Azure File Sync enables you to centralize your file services in Azure while maintaining local access to your data.

Visit our planning guide to learn more about Azure File Sync.

We created Microsoft Azure Files with the goal of making it easy for you to reap the benefits of cloud storage. We know from decades of experience building Windows file server that file shares are useful for more than just application development; file shares are used for everything under the sun. With Azure Files, we are focused on building general purpose file shares that can replace all the file servers and NAS devices your organization has, and today, we are happy to share an important milestone on that journey: the general availability of Azure File Sync! 
 
Azure File Sync grew out of our conversations with thousands of customers about the challenge of balancing the need for local and fast access to their frequently accessed data with the maintenance

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02

Jul

Azure Backup hosts Ask Me Anything session

The Azure Backup team will host a special Ask Me Anything session on Twitter, Tuesday, June 26, 2018 from 7:30 AM to 11:30 AM PST. You can tweet to @AzureBackup or @AzureSupport with #AzureBackupAMA

What’s an AMA session?

We’ll have folks from across the Azure Backup Engineering team available to answer any questions you have. You can ask us anything about our products, services or even our team!

Why are you doing an AMA?

We like reaching out and learning from our customers and the community. We had great conversations in the past when we did an AMA in 2016 and 2015. We want to know how you use Azure and Azure Backup and how your experience has been. Your questions provide insights into how we can make the service better.

How do I ask questions on Twitter?

You can ask us your questions by putting “#AzureBackupAMA” in your tweet. Your question can span multiple tweets by replying to first tweet you post with this hashtag.  You can also directly message @AzureBackup or @AzureSupport if you want to keep your questions private. You can start posting your questions one day before the scheduled time of AMA but we will start

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28

Jun

Static website hosting for Azure Storage now in public preview

Today we are excited to announce the public preview of static website hosting for Azure Storage! The feature set is available in all public cloud regions with support in government and sovereign clouds coming soon.

This set of new storage capabilities enables a cost-effective and scalable solution for hosting integrated modern web applications on Azure. On a static website, webpages contain static content and JavaScript or other client-side code. By contrast, dynamic websites depend on server-side code, and can be hosted using Azure Web Apps. As deployments shift toward elastic, cost-effective models, the ability to deliver web content without the need for server management is critical. The introduction of static website hosting in Azure Storage makes this possible, enabling rich backend capabilities with serverless architectures leveraging Azure Functions and other Paas Services.

How it works

When you enable static websites on your storage account, a new web service endpoint is created of the form

<account-name>.<zone-name>.web.core.windows.net.

The web service endpoint always allows anonymous read access, returns formatted HTML pages in response to service errors, and allows only object read operations. The web service endpoint returns the index document in the requested directory for both the root and all subdirectories. When the

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