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EMC Cloud Boost POC with Azure Storage Gotcha's

We are currently going through a POC of Cloud Boost for LTR for our Networker/Data Domain environment. As we worked the through the initial configuration with Azure Storage, we ran into a few gotcha's that I felt I'd share with the community.

Let's start with Azure Storage ..... Currently (disclaimer this changes weekly), there are 2 Storage Account options namely, Classic and the new Resource Manager. As the company I work for resides in Canada, we prefer for data to stay in Canada. When configuring the Azure Storage, it became evident setting up a Blob Storage (ZRS) account in a Canada region was only available in the Classic mode. So I chose this. Next option, redundancy. Options are LRS, ZRS, GRS, GRS-RA. I'm not going to go into detail as Microsoft has sufficient documentation about those. For compliance and cost from our requirements, I chose ZRS. This is the main issue as I later found out with EMC support and after talking to the Azure technical team. The issue with ZRS is, it is for Blob Storage ONLY. I didn't think this would be a problem as all the documentation around Cloud Boost indicates just a requirement for a Blob storage service. NOTE: This will not work with the Cloud Boost software. Validation fails and you cannot complete the initial configuration.

After the findings, we went back and created an Azure Storage account as Classic, Standard GRS. Setting it up this way fixed the validation and could now complete the initial configuration. I should mention, all other Azure redundancy type work without issues. At this point, I proceeded with my POC and starting cloning some test data out to Azure. That same day I had a call with Microsoft Azure team, and we went through the Azure Storage account after it had some usage. The findings showed that the Cloud Boost software uses more than Azure's Blobs, it also uses Files, Tables, and Queues. Circling back this answers the question as to why Azure ZRS failed. My next question to Microsoft was why would ZRS, being a redundancy option only, be limited to only Blob data? The question puzzled him and he was going to take it back to find out. In the Microsoft Azure feedback forum, there is a topic in which you can vote to have them enable this if there is enough customer interest (https://feedback.azure.com/forums/217298-storage/suggestions/13759197-restrict-zone-redundant-storag...). I voted and you should to if it applies to you. The benefit could mean cheaper storage, while still getting redundancy outside of a single data center.

In chatting with the MS Azure team about the Storage Account options (Classic vs Resource Manager), they encourage customers to use the new Resource Manager for new deployments. Upon hearing this, I went back and attempted to setup a new storage account but ran into a bump as I could not choose Blob and Canada. It's a little confusing, but in a nutshell, choose "General Purpose" as you need support for blobs, files, tables, queues. Upon selecting this, I could choose the options I needed with a Canada region (excluding ZRS). The lesson is this, when configuring a new Azure Storage Service Account you should always choose Resource Manager as it could save you from a migration and restrict you from features moving forward.

The features around Azure Hot & Cold storage for the time being won't be available for Cloud Boost customers, as it is for Blob ONLY accounts. This is unfortunate, as the big use case for Cloud Boost is to send archive data to cheaper storage. Cold storage, all the providers are or will be offering, to me would be the ideal target for this data type. I'm wondering if EMC and Microsoft have a roadmap to allow us to make use of Azure Cold storage for Cloud Boost in the future?

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Re: EMC Cloud Boost POC with Azure Storage Gotcha's

Thanks TKB for posting your experience. At that moment it was a little more trial/error with the updates Azure has been making. I went and added my vote to your link.

We have an RFE out for more investigations on this, but no ETA is available. Current issues manifest with header errors during validation. We'll continue to keep everyone posted as more info is available.

I too have created a post providing details on what is and is not supported with Azure. Hopefully this helps moving forward.