Today, we are excited to announce the general availability of Azure File Storage!
With the introduction of Azure File Storage, Microsoft Azure now offers fully managed file shares in the cloud. Because Azure File Storage exposes file shares using the Server Message Block 3.0 (SMB) protocol, the predominantly used file share protocol for existing on-premises applications, it simplifies moving your existing applications to the cloud, and because Azure File Storage allows applications to mount file shares from anywhere in the world, your on-premises applications can take advantage of cloud storage without change. Azure File Storage also implements REST API protocol, which enables you to develop modern applications that integrate with existing applications.
With the general availability release of Azure File Storage, we are announcing these new features:
• SMB 3.0 support, includes encryption and persistent handles
• A new browser-based file explorer in the Azure Preview portal
• Azure Storage Metrics for Azure File storage
• The ability to mount Azure File Storage file shares from outside of Azure datacenters
Further, Azure File Storage API endpoints are now enabled for all existing storage accounts, so you no longer need to create new storage account just to use Azure File Storage.
Azure File Storage usage scenarios
Azure File Storage is designed to support a variety of different use cases, including the following:
Migrate existing applications to the cloud
Many existing applications access data using file-based APIs, and are designed to share data using SMB file shares. Azure File Storage enables you to migrate your on-premises file or file share-based applications to Azure without having to provision or manage highly-available file server VMs.
Share server data across on-premises and cloud
Customers can now store server data such as log files, event data, and backups in the cloud to leverage the availability, durability, scalability, and geo redundancy built into the Azure storage platform. With encryption in SMB 3.0, you can securely mount Azure File Storage shares from anywhere. Applications running in the cloud can share data with on-premises applications using the same consistency guarantees implemented by on-premises SMB servers.
Integrate modern applications with Azure File Storage
By leveraging the modern REST API that Azure File Storage implements in addition to SMB 3.0, you can integrate legacy applications with modern cloud applications, or develop new file or file share-based applications.
Simplify hosting High Availability (HA) workload data
Azure File Storage delivers continuous availability so it simplifies the effort to host HA workload data in the cloud. The persistent handles enabled in SMB 3.0 increase availability of the file share which makes it possible to host applications such as SQL Server and IIS in Azure with data stored in shared file storage.
Since the preview, we have worked closely with our customers to validate Azure File Storage in real-world scenarios.
“Overall, we see that running Talon software with Azure File Storage drastically accelerates business, because you can start today if you want to and benefit immediately from things like geo-redundant storage as well as easier collaboration. So it’s really an enabler, as well as an accelerator.”
- Andrew Mullen, senior vice president of sales and marketing, Talon Storage Solutions
Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) is the IT management solution for the hybrid cloud and is Microsoft’s answer to IT & Dev Ops needs for Log Analytics.
OMS enables operations teams to collect, search and analyze machine data from virtually any source – regardless of volume, format or location. Without instrumenting any code directly or having knowledge of any complex schema, OMS’s powerful Search capabilities enable ad-hoc root cause analysis and troubleshooting across multiple data sources. Custom dashboards and analytics solutions provide deep insights into environments spanning across private and public clouds.
The OMS engineering team’s underlying Search Infrastructure was using the traditional file API, and having Azure File Storage made it possible to continue the investment without any code changes in the underlying Search Infrastructure, because Azure File Storage offers fully managed file shares in the cloud. As a result, the Microsoft OMS team decided to use Azure File Storage as their central storage for log analytics in the cloud.
Since OMS went public, they have seen petabytes of data flow into Azure File Storage from customers. The built-in scalability supported by the underlying storage platform allows Azure File Storage to scale together with this born-in-the-cloud solution without manual effort. This allows the engineering team to provide more business value to their customers instead of spending extra effort maintaining infrastructure changes.
Azure File Storage characteristics
Below are some more details on those new capabilities introduced along with Azure File Storage GA.
SMB 3.0 Protocol Support
In addition to SMB 2.1 supported through the preview, we now support SMB 3.0, including encryption and persistent handles.
Azure File Storage was restricted to connect from the same region because of lack of encryption in the underlying SMB 2.1 protocol. With the support for encryption in SMB 3.0, customers can now connect from anywhere in the world. Note that mounting a share from outside of Azure datacenter requires that port 445 (TCP outbound) not be blocked by your ISP or your firewalls.
In addition to encryption, use of SMB 3.0 increases file share availability by enabling transparent failover in clients and allowing persistent access to files without the loss of session state. Customers can leverage this capability to host HA workloads data such as SQL Server and IIS.
Note: When client accesses Azure File Storage, the actual SMB version used will depend on the client OS being used.
Below is a list of SMB version supported for Windows client. Please refer to this blog for more details.
|Windows Client||SMB Version Supported|
|Windows 7||SMB 2.1|
|Windows Server 2008 R2||SMB 2.1|
|Windows 8||SMB 3.0|
|Windows 10||SMB 3.0|
|Windows Server 2012||SMB 3.0|
|Windows Server 2012 R2||SMB 3.0|
Azure File Storage can also be accessed by Linux clients via the SMB protocol. When creating a Linux virtual machine in Azure, you can specify a Linux image which supports SMB 2.1 or higher from Azure image gallery. Below is a list of recommended Linux images:
|Linux distributions||SMB Version Supported|
|Ubuntu Server 14.04||SMB 2.1 and 3.0|
|Ubuntu Server 15.04||SMB 2.1 and 3.0|
|CentOS 7.1||SMB 2.1 and 3.0|
|Open SUSE 13.2||SMB 2.1 and 3.0|
|SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12||SMB 2.1 and 3.0|
|SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 (Premium Image)||SMB 2.1 and 3.0|
Note that since the Linux SMB client doesn’t support encryption yet, mounting from Linux still requires the client to be in the same Azure region as the file share. However, encryption support for Linux is on the roadmap of Linux developers responsible for SMB functionality from the community. Linux distributions that support encryption in the future will be able to mount Azure File Storage from anywhere as well.
File explorer on the Azure Preview portal
The Azure Preview portal now provides a new user interface for customers to manage Azure File Storage. You can now perform the following from browser:
- Create and delete file shares.
- Upload and download files to and from your file share.
- Adjust the file share size quota.
- Get the full net use command which can be used at Windows client to mount the file share.
Diagnose Azure File Storage issues via Azure Storage Metrics
Azure Storage Analytics provides metrics data for a storage account including Blob, Table and Queue storage. Now it supports File Storage as well. You can use metrics data to perform your own analysis to help diagnose issues.
To use metrics for Azure File Storage, you must enable it by using File Service Properties operation via the REST API or the storage client libraries.
Tooling support for IT pros and developers
IT pros can take the advantage of various tools we offered to manage Azure File Storage, including tools such as AzCopy, Azure Powershell (Windows), and Azure Cross Platform Command Line Interface (Linux/Unix).
You can find pricing details for Azure File Storage here.
Preview users automatically transition to GA users at service GA. No additional action is required by preview customers.
Azure File Storage is available in all public Azure regions, and will be generally available for Azure US Government and Azure China customers soon.
There is a summarized list of steps for getting started with Azure File Storage. For more details, please read the Getting Started with Azure File Storage for Windows and Getting Started with Azure File Storage for Linux.
Feedback and more information
As always, we would love to hear feedback from you via comments on this blog or the Azure Storage MSDN forum.
Please see these links below for more information