The application is already deployed to Azure, it is hosted by a Web Role and uses Azure SQL as its main data storage. In the mean time, the Vault should store metadata for each document indicating the time of the upload and the initiatior of the upload (or modification). Before we describe how exactly the electronic vault can be implemented, lets take a look at the architecture and  possible usage of Azure Blob Storage.
Each user will possess one container, which will allow us to assign concrete rights to each container. REST API is completely platform independent and uses HTTP as its transport protocol to execute actions, upload and download data from the storage. Note that the metadata of the file (comments, authors) are added as headers to the HTTP Request. In case of generation of documents (such as transaction overviews), the documents will be generated and inserted to the vault using the server side API.
The access to Azure storage is protected by “storage access key” (Composed of 88 ASCII characters). So how to allow the client application to directly access the Blob storage without giving the key to the Silverlight client application ? One option would be to build WCF service (secured by SSL) which Silverlight could ask to obtain the access key after performing authentication against the server. Shared Access Signature (SAS) is a temporal authentication token which enables access to concrete blob (or whole container).This way when the client desires to access the Blob storage, he will first contact the server and ask for Shared Access Signature. The attacker would obtain the access just to one container or blob, not the access key which can be used to sign all requests. That being said, here is the diagram showing the communication between the client, server and the Blob storage.
Shared Access Signature is a Message Authentication Code, standard term in cryptography describing short piece of information which authenticates a message. The hash is applied two times during the process in order to disable some simple attacks on previously simpler variants of the function which used just hashed combination of data and key. The same data is added to the request, so when the server receives the request, it simply performs the same calculation of the HMAC value to verify the Shared Access Signature. As you could see in the second part, it is quite easy to add a new functionality using Azure Blob storage, which allows your client to upload the data directly to the server without loosing the security of the application. We can achieve the same functionality storing the files in SQL Server, so the question which comes in mind is what are the advantages which Blob Storage has over SQL Server (or SQL Azure). Blob Storage has the ability of separating the files into blocks and thus provides better support for treatment of large files.
The architecture of Blob Storage allows the access to each blob to be load-balanced and thus provides high access speed (See details here).
I’ve started a new video and audio series (I guess we can them podcasts?) with ‘(not so) Stupid Questions’, and while I’ve chosen to have the videos on YouTube (for now) the question was where to put the audio file?
The first thing I’d like to share is how to use Azure CDN, and use PowerShell to push content to a blob container.


There are other ways to go about this, I’ll try a few more things and update the post and add some more posts as I learn new things. If you require a persistence disk to save your data, you would need to add an additional Data disk (a third disk) to Save local data. In this post we will look at how to Add\Import a new Data Disk to an existing Virtual Machine using PowerShell. Azure Charges for only the amount of data uploaded to the Data Disk (not as per the quota of the disk).
You can also navigate to the Virtual Machine in Azure portal to get the details of where the default VHDs are being saved.
Option 3: Using Add-AzureDataDisk with Importfrom parameter to attach or associate the new uploaded VHD (in option 2) to a new Virtual Machine 2 (Sp2016vm2).
Office 365 New Feature - Microsoft is working to converge Office 365 Video and Stream into a single solution. While Stream is in preview, Office 365 Video and Stream will coexist as two separate services. Subscribe to monthly Newsletter for round-up of Tips, News and articles related to SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure IaaS Cloud. This post follows the first one which made the introduction to Azure and described how to deploy existing application to Azure. In each container we can have several blobs and each blob can be composed of several blocks.
Note that there is no notion of folders inside of each container, but there is a special naming convention which allows overcoming this issue.
Note that the access key is part of the connection string which is passed to FromConfigurationSetting method. Thus if we want the Silverlight client to have a possibility to access the storage we  have two options: Expose the calls to API by WCF services or use the REST API.
However if Silverlight wants to talk directly to Azure Storage, it will need the key to sign all REST requests, so we would need to give the key to the Silverlight application.
However this way the key would be handed to all the clients and once the attacker would infiltrate only one client machine he would also obtain non-restricted access to the whole storage account.
Server knowing the right information (the demanded blob or container) and being sure that the client is identified will generate the token. HMAC algorithms use one of the existing hash functions in combination with the secret key to generate the MAC value. The following snippet illustrates the generation of Shared Access Signature, which will give the user read, write and delete rights for the next 10 minutes. However due to the dependence on network connection this is difficult to compare with SQL Server on premise or Azure SQL and no metrics have been published by Microsoft so far.
Please keep in mind that I’m learning as I’m going, so this might not be best practices or a fully featured demo. Upload VHD from Local to Azure Storage – Add-Azurevhd cmdlet can be used to upload a VHD (from local) to Azure blob storage.


Attach empty Disk: Add-AzureDataDisk used with Importfrom parameter this cmdlet will be used to add a data disk from Azure blob storage to second Virtual Machine. For testing, i will be downloading a 1GB VHD created for Virtual Machine 1 (from its Azure Storage) and then after a rename, I will upload that into another Azure Storage using Add-Azurevhd. Let’s recall the architecture of the application and see the changes which will be made while adding the connection to Azure Blob Storage.
Both the client as well as the server will have the possibility to interact with the Blob Storage. The following diagram shows the structure of Azure Blob Storage the way it can be used to create a electronic vault for each user.
When file is separated into blocks, than the upload has three phases: first the list of block ids is sent, than each block is uploaded separately and at least a commit is send to the server. This will also avoid passing of all the data through WCF Services and take significant data load of our servers (or Web Roles). Silverlight as a client is just compiled XAP package, which could be reverse engineered to obtain the key in the case of the access key hard coded inside the package.
This token is then sent to the client using secured channel (such as WCF service secured by SSL). I’ve been wanting to dig deeper and learn more about Azure ever since I moved my site to Azure Websites from a generic host, so this is the perfect opportunity. For testing, i will be downloading the VHD created for Virtual Machine 1 (from Azure Storage) and then after rename, will upload into another Azure Storage using Add-Azurevhd. For that, you might need to run the following commands to get the Containers and to verify the path. When some of the uploads fails, server can easily send the list of missing blocks to the client.
The client can than add this token to its upload or download request which will permit him to access the demanded files.
I’m also setting up an Azure VM for some build work, so expect more on Azure as I learn new things. Once Microsoft converged the two solutions, they will ensure that all existing videos, metadata, links, and embed codes from Office 365 Video will persist into the new converged Microsoft Stream solution.
The access to each partition server is load-balanced and all the partition servers use a common distributed file system. Because each blob has a unique partition key, than in fact the access to each blob is load-balanced.
Since the aim here is not to give detail explanation of the architecture, you can refer to the Azure Storage Team blog for more details.




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