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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Here Comes Another Azure Drive

I have been using Gladinet Cloud Desktop to map a network drive to the Windows Azure Blob Storage, backing up documents, moving files from PC to PC. The Azure storage looks to me just like another network share on the LAN. If you ask me, where is your Azure Drive? I would point to the Windows Explorer on my local PC.


Now here comes another Azure Drive, Microsoft just came out with a beta release of the Windows Azure Drive. As quoted from MSDN,
“Customers have told us that they want to take their already running Windows applications and run them in the cloud using the standard Windows NTFS APIs, and make sure that the data is durable.   With Windows Azure Drive, your Windows Azure applications running in the cloud can use existing NTFS APIs to access a durable drive.   This can significantly ease the migration of existing Windows applications to the cloud, enabling customers a more seamless migration experience while simultaneously reducing the amount of time it takes to move their applications from your own Windows environment to a Windows Azure environment. The Windows Azure application can read from or write to a drive letter (e.g., X:\) that represents a durable NTFS volume for storing and accessing data.  The durable drive is implemented as a Windows Azure Page Blob containing an NTFS-formatted Virtual Hard Drive (VHD).”  - Quoted from MSDN
So what is the difference between the two Azure Drives? The key is to point out where they exist. The Microsoft Azure Drive is not local to your PC while the Gladinet Azure Drive is local to your PC.

The second difference is the purpose of the drive. The Microsoft Azure Drive is for application migration. If you have a Windows app using NTFS APIs, you can continue to use NTFS APIs when the app runs inside the Azure Virtual Machines.   Conceptually it is similar to Amazon’s Elastic Block Storage (EBS) for the Amazon EC2.  The Gladinet Azure Drive is for data migration. Since the drive is mapped locally, you can do drag and drop to transfer files to Azure Blob Storage. 

The third difference is the audience. The Microsoft Azure Drive is for developers. You will need to use specific API (Azure SDK Feb. 2010)to mount the drive inside the Azure VM. On the other hand, the Gladinet Azure Drive is for regular user that needs to use cloud storage to store and backup online content.
The two Azure Drive implementations are two sides of a coin, one helps on application migration, the other helps on data migration to Azure. One helps developer and the other helps regular user to use Azure. One lives remotely in the Azure cloud and the other lives locally, connecting your PC to the Azure cloud.

Related Links:
Use Azure Blob Storage From Windows Explorer

1 comment:

ABC123456 said...

I am a happy Gladinet user and gladly paid for the software. But why do you show screenshots from the 2.0 version? This is misleading, as I understand it is still only for internal use. The 1.4 version lacks a lot of features, like storing files on google docs without having to convert them

So please - use real screenshots from public versions - or better - release 2.0!