Microsoft Sizes Up Its Cloud

Microsoft says its Azure cloud has more than 4 trillion objects stored in it, a fourfold increase from a year ago.

Its Azure cloud averages 270,000 requests per second, while peaking at 880,000 requests per second during some months. The requests per second have increased almost threefold in the past year, a Microsoft official wrote in a blog post.

As a comparison, Amazon Web Services said earlier this year that just its Simple Storage Service (S3) holds 905 billion objects, and was growing at a rate of 1 billion objects per day, while handling an average of 650,000 requests per second.

It's slightly difficult to compare the size of each company's clouds apples to apples though. AWS's S3 offering is just one of the storage options the company provides to users, with others including its Elastic Block Storage (EBS) and its database services, such as DynamoDB, the company's fully managed NoSQL database.

Microsoft, meanwhile, says its 4 trillion objects account for each unique user piece of content, not replicated copies. The objects include disks, drives, tables, queues and "blobs," or Microsoft lingo for a collection of files connected to a single user account. A single blob can be made up to hundreds of blocks, each of with can be up to 200GB in size, while each user account can have up to 100TB of blobs. Microsoft says these blobs are used to store large amounts of unstructured data, such as videos and images that are served to Web browsers, storing files for distributed access or disaster recovery. In June Microsoft dropped the cost of access the Azure storage tiers by tenfold.

The disks and drives, meanwhile, are part of the company's new infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering, which it rolled out this spring. Azure has mostly been a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering as a service for developers to create custom applications that are built and stored in the cloud. By rolling out virtual compute instances in the form of both Windows and Linux operating systems, Azure jumped into the IaaS market where it will compete with AWS's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) offering. Shortly after Microsoft's IaaS announcement, Google added Google Compute Engine, an IaaS offering to complement its PaaS offering, named Google AppEngine.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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