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Azure Files is a distributed cloud file system serving file system SMB and REST protocols generally available since 2015. Customers love how Azure Files enables them to easily lift and shift their legacy workloads to the cloud without any modifications or changes in technology. SMB works great on both Windows and UNIX operating systems for most use cases. However, because some applications are written for POSIX compliant file systems, our customers wanted to have the same great experience on a fully POSIX compatible NFS file system. Today, it’s our pleasure to announce Azure Files support for NFS v4.1 protocol!
NFS 4.1 support for Azure Files will provide our users with a fully managed NFS file system as a service. This offer is built on a truly distributed resilient storage platform that serves Azure Blobs, Disks, and Queues, to name just a few components of Azure Storage. It is by nature highly available and highly durable. Azure Files also supports full file system access semantics such as strong consistency and advisory byte range locking, and can efficiently serve frequent in-place updates to your data.
Common use cases
Azure Files NFS v4.1 has a broad range of use cases. Most applications written for Linux file systems can run on NFS. Note: While the service is in preview, production usage is not recommended. See Azure Files NFS documentation for more details.
Here is a subset of customer use cases we have seen during the limited preview:
Linux application storage:
Shared storage for applications like SAP, storage for images or videos, Internet of Things (IoT) signals, etc. In this context, one of our preview customers said:
“T-Systems is one of the leading SAP outsourcers. We were looking for a highly-performant, highly available, zone redundant Azure native solution to provide NFS file systems for our SAP landscape deployments. We were thrilled so see Azure Files exceeding our performance expectations. We also see a huge cost saving and a reduced complexity compared to other available cloud solutions.” – Lars Micheel, Head of SAP Solution Delivery and CTO PU SAP.
End user storage:
Shared file storage for end user home directories and home directories for applications like Jupyter Notebooks. Also, some customers used it for lift-and-shift of datacenter NAS data to the cloud in order to reduce the on-premises footprint and expand to more geographic regions with agility. In this context, one of our preview customers said:
“Cloudera is well known for our machine learning capabilities, an industry analyst firm called us a “machine learning – machine” when they named us a leader in a recent report. We needed a high performance NFS file system to match our ML capabilities. Azure Files met all the requirements that Cloudera Machine Learning has for a real filesystem and outperformed all the alternatives. Because it is integrated with the Azure Storage stack, my expectation is that it’s going to be cheaper and far easier to manage than the alternatives as well.” – Sean Mackrory, Software Engineer, Cloudera
Persistent storage for Docker and Kubernetes environments. We are also launching the preview of CSI driver for Azure files Support for NFS today.
Hosting Oracle databases and taking its backups using Recover Manager (RMAN). Azure Files premium tier was purpose-built for database kind of workloads with first parties taking dependencies on it.
You get the same familiar share management experience on Azure Files through Azure portal, PowerShell, and CLI:
Create NFS file share with a few clicks in Azure portal
Azure Files uses AES 256 for encryption at rest. You also have the option to encrypt all of your data using the keys that you own, managed by the Azure Key Vault. Your share can be accessed from within a region, from another region, or from on-premises by configuring secure virtual networks to allow NFS traffic privately between your volume and destination. Data coming to NFS shares has to emerge from a trusted VNet. All access to the NFS share is denied by default unless access is explicitly granted by configuring right network security rules.
The NFS protocol is available on Azure Files premium tier. Your performance will scale linearly with the provisioned capacity. You can get up to 100K IOPS and 80 Gibps throughput on a single 100 TiB volume.
Backing up your data on NFS shares can either be orchestrated using familiar tooling like rsync or products from one of our third-party backup partners. Multiple backup partners including Commvault, Veeam, and Veritas were part of our initial preview and have extended their solutions to work with both SMB 3.0 and NFS 4.1 for Azure Files.
For data migration, you can use standard tools like scp, rsync, or rsync. Because file storage can be accessed from multiple compute instances concurrently, you can improve copying speeds with parallel uploads. If you want to migrate data from outside of a region, use VNet peering, VPN or an ExpressRoute to connect to your file system from another Azure region or your on-premises data center.
This offer will be charged based on premier tier pricing. You can provision shares as small as 100GiB and increase your capacity in 1GiB increments. See premium tier pricing on Azure Files pricing page.
NFS 4.1 support for Azure Files is in a select set of regions today and we will continually add more regions to this list in the coming weeks. Get started today by following these simple step-by-step instructions!
We would love to hear your feedback as we continue to heavily invest in adding more features and improving the performance of the NFS v 4.1 offer. Reference known issues during the preview as this page will be updated periodically. Reach out to email@example.com in case you have questions or feedback on any of the listed issues or if you are facing an issue not listed on the Troubleshooting Azure NFS file shares page.