Microsoft has introduced the lowest-cost storage option to its Azure public cloud, challenging rivals Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform in a heating cold storage market.
Archive Blob Storage, launched in public preview, will be the cloud giant's cheapest tier, intended to preserve data that's so rarely accessed, in the past it might have been discarded, said Kumail Hussain, senior program manager for Azure, in a Microsoft blog post.
The new option responds to archival solutions from Azure's top competitors – Google Coldline and AWS Glacier. Microsoft hasn't yet released pricing information for storing data in, or retrieving it from, Archive Blob Storage.
Cold storage solutions are increasingly in demand as organisations discover the old data they thought had little value can yield important insights under the scrutiny of modern analytic techniques.
"Customers want to keep more of these data sets for a longer period but need a scalable and cost-effective solution to do so," Hussain said.
Archive Blob Storage builds on Cool Blob Storage, an option Microsoft introduced last year to reduce costs for customers looking to preserve data they rarely touched.
The new option presents the common cold storage tradeoff of even greater latency—on the order of hours to retrieve data, according to Hussain. All data in the tier is stored under encryption.
Microsoft expects Archive Blob to prove valuable to cloud customers obligated by industry continuity and compliance mandates to preserve specific data, like medical and financial records, Hussain said.
And advances in analytics and artificial intelligence are convincing many customers that data once thought worthless could have untapped value, he said.
Microsoft also introduced Blob-Level Tiering - the option of changing the access-level of data across Azure's three Blob storage tiers: hot, cool and archive.