If you have large amount of data that you would like to move to or download from Windows Azure Blob Storage but are held up by internet speed and bandwidth restrictions, then Windows Azure now has a solution for you. Windows Azure provides a cost effective and easy option to transfer large volumes of data using the new Windows Azure Import/Export Service. The service currently in preview will allow you to copy your data in or out of Windows Azure Blob Storage using physical hard drives.
So how does it work?
- Create an import/export job in Windows Azure Management Portal (or REST) from Blob Storage. This is basically to let the data center know that you are sending in a hard drive. Depending on the type of job it could be a hard drive with data (import job) or an empty hard drive (export job).
- If importing, prepare the data and hard drive, then download and run the WAImportExport tool which will assist in
- Copying the relevant data
- Encrypting the hard drive
- Generating the journal files
If exporting, select data and enter tracking or shipping information of blank hard drive.
- Then schedule a pick up through FedEx, they pick up the hard drive and deliver to a Windows Azure data center.
- For import job the uploading process starts to a storage account after the hard drive is received at the data center and post uploading the hard drive is sent back.
For export job the downloading process begins from the storage account, encrypted and then shipped to the user.
Did you say Security?
Well, Microsoft Windows Azure has you covered there as the service supports BitLocker encryption. Before sending in the hard drive, users can encrypt the data on the hard drive. So if the hard drive is lost in transit you don’t have to worry about data falling in wrong hands. Similarly for an export job the data is encrypted on the hard drive before sending to you. In either case the key stays only with you.
What’s are the charges?
- Hard drive handling fee of $80/hdd ($40 during preview)
- Storage transaction charges
- If you are on a 6 or 12 Month plans the drive handling fees are somewhere around $55 – $65 ($27.20 – $32 during preview)
- No shipping charge within US
- No data transfer charge between hard drive and Windows Azure Storage
What’s the time frame?
Shipping time + several hours per TB of data (approximately 5-6 hrs per TB)
What are the requirements?
- Drive ID – Manufacturer assigned serial number of the hard drive
- A storage account & Blob targets
- Only 3.5″ NTFS formatted SATA hard drives upto 4TB in size
- BitLocker for encryption
Are there any restrictions?
- A maximum of 10 hard drives per job with a maximum of 20 jobs per subscription
- The service is currently available only within US and only through FedEx (the storage account can be anywhere)
Stay tuned for more updates on Azure.