LASER Service: VRE Project Archive Service

This KB article informs the viewer on general information about the Azure Archive Services deployed to support the LASER Service and for backing up project data for long term data retention (Archive).

The new service is called LASER (Leeds Analytics Secure Environment for Research) which is a PaaS cloud based service on the Microsoft Azure platform.

Azure Archive Services

Microsoft’s Azure Archive Service’ is a cloud-based storage service that allows one to backup and restore data from the Azure cloud. This service will be utilised to protect and support the research projects hosted by the Azure platform underpinned by a backup policy and data retention requirements for any given LASER VRE project.

Azure cloud offers a suite of online, nearline, offline, archive and other storage types, so we need to ensure the appropriate storage provision is chosen that suits the needs of the project. Infrequently accessed and archival storage services can be more cost-effective for backup or long-term archiving tasks. Azure Archive Blob cloud storage will be used for long-term retention of research data.

Azure Archive Blob Storage is a tier in Azure storage that helps make the Azure cloud platform an ideal place to archive data. If a project requires its data set to be kept for long periods of time but will rarely (or never) access it, then we can store it in, what is known as the Archive tier.

Microsoft Azure Storage Accounts are cloud-based data storage repositories for a variety of data types. Azure Block Blob Storage with the chosen Archive access tier will be used to support and protect archive research data for long-term retention along with the following options: General-Purpose v2” (GPv2) storage account type with Geo-Redundant Storage (GRS) redundancy.

Data may be stored offline within the VRE, to reduce costs while access to it is not needed. Data is moved from Hot to Archive tier, and access is removed. A minimum period of 6 months is expected; restoration before this allotted time period incurs additional charges from Microsoft.

Storage costs have several factors to consider. One is the pure costs of storage, the next is the cost of accessing the data once it’s stored in the cloud.  Total cost of Block Blob Storage depends on:

For reference only: Azure Archive Storage provision provide three types of mixed archive blob storage tiers, of which the Archive tier if the preferred option:

Access TierDescriptionMinimum Storage durationUsage Charges

frequently accessed data to be stored <discount on transaction pricing) and has fastest possible response time within the SLA for standard or premium storage.

New storage accounts are created in the hot tier by default.

n/aHigher storage costs, lower access, and transaction costs
COOLinfrequently accessed data to be stored for at least 30 days else expect a penalty charge if early access is required.30 daysLower storage costs, higher access, and transaction costs
ARCHIVErarely accessed data to be stored for at least 180 days.

As the cheapest storage tier it is also the most restrictive to use. While data is in this tier, it’s offline for active use unless you rehydrate it. Think of it as the equivalent of an offsite tape backup. Bear in mind that if you rehydrate early, you will attract a charge depending on the priority of the rehydration. Use this for data that you want to park or archive as the name suggests.

180 daysLowest storage costs, highest access, and transaction costs

Further guidance

If you have any further queries or require further information, please consult with the LIDA's Data Analytics Team (DAT) in the first instance to discuss your initial VRE project requirements. The DAT team will make further enquires on your behalf as well as submitting your requirements, subject to approval, to IT Services to commence VRE builds and or changes to your existing VRE VM environments.

More information is available on the LIDA documentation site.

You may also wish to discuss further options by raising a Service Request for the Service Delivery Management team.