File shares in the cloud with Azure File Storage

During the recent AzureCon a bunch of new Azure services was announced, including the very exciting and much requested Azure File Storage, which enables offboarding traditionel file service to Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft Azure now offers fully managed file shares in the cloud, across all public Azure regions!

Azure File Storage is managed from the Azure Portal, where you will be able to perform a range of file share operations:

  • Create and delete file shares.
  • Upload and download files to and from your file share.
  • Monitor the actual usage of each file share
  • Adjust the file share size quota.
  • Get the net use command to mount the file share from a Windows client.

An Azure File Storage account can contain an unlimited number of shares, and a share can store an unlimited number of files, up to the capacity of the storage available in the account. The size of a single file in the storage can be up to 1 TB !

Azure File Storage presents file shares using the industry standard Server Message Block 2.1 and 3.0 (SMB) protocol, with is already widely used for accessing on-premises file shares. Applications running in Azure can easily mount file shares from Azure virtual machines. And with File storage, users can mount a file share from an on-premises application that supports SMB 3.0.

SMB protocol support

With the support for SMB 3.0, Azure File storage supports encryption and persistent handles from SMB 3.0 clients.
Support for encryption means that SMB 3.0 clients can mount a file share from anywhere, including:

  • Azure virtual machine in the same region (also supported by SMB 2.1)
  • Azure virtual machine in a different region (SMB 3.0 only)
  • On-premises client application (SMB 3.0 only)

Below is a list of supported Windows and Linux clients and their supported SMB version:

Client System 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
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

Since the Linux SMB client does not yet support encryption, using a Linux client for mounting Azure File Storage shares will require the client to be in the same Azure region as the file share.

To mount a file share from an on-premises client, ensure these prerequisites are met:

  • Use a supported version of Windows or Linux, preferable with support of SMB 3.0, as this enables secure transfer data between your on-premises client and the Azure file share.
  • Open Internet access for port TCP/445 (Outbound) from your local network – this is required by the SMB protocol.
    Note: port TCP/445 may be blocked by the Internet Service Provider.

Pricing and preview transition

During the initial period, the Azure File Storage service will be in preview.Users signing up during the preview will automatically be transitioned, when service is finally released into General Availability. No additional action is required.

Pricing details for the Azure File Storage service is available here – look under the “File Storage” section.

How to get started with Azure File Storage

Detailed instructions on how to get started with Azure File Storage and tutorial on how to use this amazing new service:

How to use Azure File storage with Windows – https://goo.gl/xqJirD

How to use Azure File Storage with Linux – https://goo.gl/D6ZxeN

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