The Azure File Service

At TechEd 2014 in Houston, Microsoft announced preview availability of a much-anticipated feature, Azure Files. It is a platform capability to easily expose SMB file shares that can be used from multiple instances to read & write files, without having to build an infrastructure yourself (like I described in my blog post about building file shares using DFS. It is a native Azure service built on top of the same architecture as the other storage services (blobs, tables, queues), so it offers the same characteristics in terms of (geo-)redundancy, HA and scalability. Apart from providing a SMB 2.1 interface (that is only accessible for Azure VMs being hosted in the same geographic region or from on-premises environments via a VPN connection), shares in Azure Files can also be accessed remotely via REST from anywhere in the world, provided that a client knows the storage account credentials.

This post gives an introduction to getting started with Azure Files and shows how to automatically mount a share when provisioning a new Windows VM, using the new Custom Script configuration extension (also announced at TechEd).

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High-Available File Share in Windows Azure using DFS

Windows Azure Storage provides a scalable, reliable and highly available service to manage relational as well as unstructured data in the cloud. In order to access your data you can either leverage the Storage REST API directly or use one of the available abstractions on top of it (e.g. the Management Portal, PowerShell Cmdlets, .NET Libraries, 3rd Party Tools, etc.). Windows Azure Blob Storage can be used to store binary data. Many existing applications have requirements in terms of accessing data on network shares using the SMB protocol in Windows. When migrating these applications to Windows Azure one option is to change the file access code to the native REST interface of Blob Storage. However, often the effort for changing an application is too high and customers are looking for a ‘lift & shift’ migration without having to change any of their code.
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