Premium files redefine limits for Azure Files

Posted on 14 May, 2019

Principal Program Manager, Azure Files

Premium files sets new scale and performance bar for Azure Files, providing more power to developers and IT pros.

Today, we are excited to share that Azure Premium Files preview is now available to everyone! Premium files is a new performance tier that unlocks the next level of performance for fully managed file services in the cloud. Premium tier is optimized to deliver consistent performance for IO-intensive workloads that require high-throughput and low latency. Premium shares store data on the latest solid-state drives (SSDs) making it suitable for a wide variety of workloads like file services, databases, shared cache storage, home directories, content and collaboration repositories, persistent storage for containers, media and analytics, high variable and batch workloads, and many more. Our standard tier continues to provide reliable performance to workloads that are less sensitive to performance variability and is well-suited for general purpose file storage, development/test, and application workloads.

Provisioned performance – Dynamically scalable and consistent

With premium files, you can customize the performance of file storage to fit your workload needs. Premium file shares allow you to dynamically scale premium shares up and down without any downtime. The premium shares’ IOPS and throughput instantly scale based on changes to your provisioned capacity, while still offering low and consistent latency.

Defining premium shares performance:

Baseline IOPS = 1 * provisioned GiB (Up to a max of 100,000 IOPS).
Burst IOPS = 3 * provisioned GiB (Up to a max of 100,000 IOPS).
egress rate = 60 MiB/s + 0.06 * provisioned GiB
ingress rate = 40 MiB/s + 0.04 * provisioned GiB
Example: For a 10 TiB provisioned share, 10K Baseline IOPS, and up to 30K burst IOPS, 675 MiB/s egress, and 450 MiB/s ingress rate. Please note, IOPS and egress/ingress rate can vary based on the access patterns and IO sizes and hit peak performance at 100 TiB shares.

So, how fast can it get? Let’s take a look at latency.

Latency average and latency percentile data presented in histograms

The above sample test results are based on internal testing performed with 8 KiB IO size reads and writes on a single virtual machine, Standard F16s_v2,  and connected over server message block (SMB) to a premium share. Our tests revealed that premium shares provides low and consistent latency for read and writes. This means between two to three milliseconds for small IOs sizes of less than 64 KiB, even with varying numbers of parallel threads (up to 10).

Premium shares offer performance with scale. They can massively scale up to 100K IOPS with a target egress rate of 6 GiB/s and ingress rate of 4 GiB/s for 100 TiB shares. To feed throughput-hungry workloads, we raised the bar for premium share throughput even higher. Now, you can get double the total throughput from when we first introduced premium files. In essence, you can get 100 times the IOPS and a total throughput of 10 GiB/s, which is an improvement of 170 times when compared to our current standard files offering.

What about workloads with variable access patterns? Frequently, applications have short peaks of intense IO, with a more predictable IO pattern most of the time. For these scenarios, premium files offers the best out-of-box experience. All premium shares start with full burst credit and a minimum total throughput of 100 MiB/s and with an ability to operate in burst mode.

Let’s look at how the burst mode works. Any un-used baseline IOs are accrued in the burst credit bucket. Shares can burst up to three times their baseline IOPS if there are enough IO credits accrued. On a best effort basis, all shares can burst up to 3 IOPS per provisioned GiB for up to 60 minutes and shares larger than 50 TiB can go over 60 minutes duration. For more details, please refer to our documentation on bursting.

Pricing – Simple and predictable cost

Premium file shares are billed based on provisioned storage, rather than used storage. You only pay for each GiB you provision, with no transaction fees or any additional cost for throughput and bursting. This makes it much simpler to determine the total cost of ownership for a premium files-based deployment. Although the cost of premium per GiB storage is higher than for standard storage, with zero transaction fees, in-built bursting capability, and flexibility to adjust provisioning size, Premium tier can be a more cost-effective solution than standard tier for some IO-intensive workloads. Refer to the pricing page for additional details.

Availability – Broad and global

At the time of this announcement, the Azure Premium Files public preview is available in East US2, East US, West US, West US2, Central US, North Europe, West Europe, SE Asia, East Asia, Japan East, Japan West, Korea Central, and Australia East regions. We are continuing to expand service to additional Azure regions. Stay up to date on region availability through the Azure products availability page.

Getting started – Quick and easy

It takes two minutes to get started with premium files. Premium tier is offered on a dedicated storage account type, FileStorage. Simply create a new FileStorage account type in any available region and create a new share with size provisioned based on your workload performance. You can use Azure portal, PowerShell, or CLI to create premium shares and any of your favorite Azure Files client tools and/or libraries to access data. Please see detailed steps for how to create a premium file share.

Next steps

Visit Azure Premium Files documentation to learn more and give it a try.

As always, you can share your feedback and experiences on the Azure Storage forum or just email us at Post your ideas and suggestions about Azure Storage on Azure Storage feedback forum.

Happy sharing!