Hadoop Azure Support: Azure Blob Storage


The hadoop-azure module provides support for integration with Azure Blob Storage. The built jar file, named hadoop-azure.jar, also declares transitive dependencies on the additional artifacts it requires, notably the Azure Storage SDK for Java.


  • Read and write data stored in an Azure Blob Storage account.
  • Present a hierarchical file system view by implementing the standard Hadoop FileSystem interface.
  • Supports configuration of multiple Azure Blob Storage accounts.
  • Supports both page blobs (suitable for most use cases, such as MapReduce) and block blobs (suitable for continuous write use cases, such as an HBase write-ahead log).
  • Reference file system paths using URLs using the wasb scheme.
  • Also reference file system paths using URLs with the wasbs scheme for SSL encrypted access.
  • Can act as a source of data in a MapReduce job, or a sink.
  • Tested on both Linux and Windows.
  • Tested at scale.


  • The append operation is not implemented.
  • File owner and group are persisted, but the permissions model is not enforced. Authorization occurs at the level of the entire Azure Blob Storage account.
  • File last access time is not tracked.



The Azure Blob Storage data model presents 3 core concepts:

  • Storage Account: All access is done through a storage account.
  • Container: A container is a grouping of multiple blobs. A storage account may have multiple containers. In Hadoop, an entire file system hierarchy is stored in a single container. It is also possible to configure multiple containers, effectively presenting multiple file systems that can be referenced using distinct URLs.
  • Blob: A file of any type and size. In Hadoop, files are stored in blobs. The internal implementation also uses blobs to persist the file system hierarchy and other metadata.

Configuring Credentials

Usage of Azure Blob Storage requires configuration of credentials. Typically this is set in core-site.xml. The configuration property name is of the form fs.azure.account.key.<account name>.blob.core.windows.net and the value is the access key. The access key is a secret that protects access to your storage account. Do not share the access key (or the core-site.xml file) with an untrusted party.

For example:

  <value>YOUR ACCESS KEY</value>

In many Hadoop clusters, the core-site.xml file is world-readable. If it’s undesirable for the access key to be visible in core-site.xml, then it’s also possible to configure it in encrypted form. An additional configuration property specifies an external program to be invoked by Hadoop processes to decrypt the key. The encrypted key value is passed to this external program as a command line argument:




Page Blob Support and Configuration

The Azure Blob Storage interface for Hadoop supports two kinds of blobs, block blobs and page blobs. Block blobs are the default kind of blob and are good for most big-data use cases, like input data for Hive, Pig, analytical map-reduce jobs etc. Page blob handling in hadoop-azure was introduced to support HBase log files. Page blobs can be written any number of times, whereas block blobs can only be appended to 50,000 times before you run out of blocks and your writes will fail. That won’t work for HBase logs, so page blob support was introduced to overcome this limitation.

Page blobs can be used for other purposes beyond just HBase log files though. Page blobs can be up to 1TB in size, larger than the maximum 200GB size for block blobs.

In order to have the files you create be page blobs, you must set the configuration variable fs.azure.page.blob.dir to a comma-separated list of folder names.

For example:


You can set this to simply / to make all files page blobs.

The configuration option fs.azure.page.blob.size is the default initial size for a page blob. It must be 128MB or greater, and no more than 1TB, specified as an integer number of bytes.

The configuration option fs.azure.page.blob.extension.size is the page blob extension size. This defines the amount to extend a page blob if it starts to get full. It must be 128MB or greater, specified as an integer number of bytes.

Atomic Folder Rename

Azure storage stores files as a flat key/value store without formal support for folders. The hadoop-azure file system layer simulates folders on top of Azure storage. By default, folder rename in the hadoop-azure file system layer is not atomic. That means that a failure during a folder rename could, for example, leave some folders in the original directory and some in the new one.

HBase depends on atomic folder rename. Hence, a configuration setting was introduced called fs.azure.atomic.rename.dir that allows you to specify a comma-separated list of directories to receive special treatment so that folder rename is made atomic. The default value of this setting is just /hbase. Redo will be applied to finish a folder rename that fails. A file <folderName>-renamePending.json may appear temporarily and is the record of the intention of the rename operation, to allow redo in event of a failure.

For example:


Accessing wasb URLs

After credentials are configured in core-site.xml, any Hadoop component may reference files in that Azure Blob Storage account by using URLs of the following format:


The schemes wasb and wasbs identify a URL on a file system backed by Azure Blob Storage. wasb utilizes unencrypted HTTP access for all interaction with the Azure Blob Storage API. wasbs utilizes SSL encrypted HTTPS access.

For example, the following FileSystem Shell commands demonstrate access to a storage account named youraccount and a container named yourcontainer.

> hadoop fs -mkdir wasb://yourcontainer@youraccount.blob.core.windows.net/testDir

> hadoop fs -put testFile wasb://yourcontainer@youraccount.blob.core.windows.net/testDir/testFile

> hadoop fs -cat wasbs://yourcontainer@youraccount.blob.core.windows.net/testDir/testFile
test file content

It’s also possible to configure fs.defaultFS to use a wasb or wasbs URL. This causes all bare paths, such as /testDir/testFile to resolve automatically to that file system.

Testing the hadoop-azure Module

The hadoop-azure module includes a full suite of unit tests. Most of the tests will run without additional configuration by running mvn test. This includes tests against mocked storage, which is an in-memory emulation of Azure Storage.

A selection of tests can run against the Azure Storage Emulator which is a high-fidelity emulation of live Azure Storage. The emulator is sufficient for high-confidence testing. The emulator is a Windows executable that runs on a local machine.

To use the emulator, install Azure SDK 2.3 and start the storage emulator. Then, edit src/test/resources/azure-test.xml and add the following property:


There is a known issue when running tests with the emulator. You may see the following failure message:

com.microsoft.windowsazure.storage.StorageException: The value for one of the HTTP headers is not in the correct format.

To resolve this, restart the Azure Emulator. Ensure it v3.2 or later.

It’s also possible to run tests against a live Azure Storage account by adding credentials to src/test/resources/azure-test.xml and setting fs.azure.test.account.name to the name of the storage account.

For example:

  <value>YOUR ACCESS KEY</value>