Azure files provides fully managed, simple, secure, and serverless enterprise-grade cloud file shares. Our mission on the Azure Files team is to expand Azure Files to other platforms and workloads. We recently took a big step towards workload expansion by announcing the general availability of our NFS v4.1 shares. This greatly expands the workloads you can run on Azure file shares by providing POSIX-compatible file systems for Linux virtual machines and container-based workloads. This blog provides information on the general availability of NFS v4.1 shares, how to improve performance for all premium file shares, and reserved instance pricing for premium file shares to reduce your costs.

NFS v4.1 shares are now generally available

In November we have general availability of Azure Files support for NFS v4.1. Now you can deploy these fully POSIX-compliant, distributed NFS file shares in your production environments for a wide variety of Linux and container-based workloads.

We saw great interest in the preview, which was attended by companies of all sizes, from aspiring startups to Fortune 100s running a wide variety of workloads. Some examples of workloads include SAP application layer, Enterprise messaging, user home directories, custom line-of-business applications, database backups, database replication, AI and machine learning user directories, DevOps pipelines, and many more industry-specific workloads like the EDF Energy solution below.

EDF Energy uses Azure file shares as part of its asset management solution:

“At EDF Energy, nuclear safety is a top priority. As part of our asset management solution, which is used to control work, maintenance, and troubleshooting to support site licensing terms, we needed a powerful file system shared between multiple Linux application servers – such as an NFS share. We used NFS v4.1 on Azure Files in the preview and are now completely dependent on it. The NFS system works very well for us, it keeps our files and keeps our IaaS requirements to a minimum. “

Helping Cathy Handley, AMS Upgrade Program Manager, EDF Energy – UK achieve Net Zero

Customers who operate critical systems like SAP have told us that synchronous zonal redundancy is a crucial factor for them in order to achieve high availability for their application layer. For Azure Premium file shares, you can choose between Redundancy of locally redundant storage (LRS) or zonal redundant storage (ZRS). With ZRS, data is replicated synchronously in three different availability zones within an Azure region. This means that your applications’ access to the data will not be interrupted, even in the unlikely event of an entire zone failure. The SAP storage administrators gave us great feedback including: “ease of use”, “good performance” and “better cost optimization”.

In contrast to the lower versions of NFS, locking is built into NFS v4.1. As a result, software like IBM MQ relies on the locking support of NFS v4.1 to keep data consistent across a distributed system. During the preview phase, we improved our locking support and implemented locking upgrades and downgrades.

the Azure Files CSI driver (now generally available) makes it easy to access your Azure file shares through Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). The fast append and disconnect times of Azure Files are attractive for applications that require rapid upscaling and downscaling.

NFS v4.1 is available in all regions where the Azure Files premium tariff exists. The full list can be found in the Azure Services Availability page. You can now getting started Use NFS by following these simple step-by-step instructions. See the documentation for more informations.

Improved performance

Today we announce more IOPS and throughput for all premium file shares (SMB and NFS).

All stocks now offer a minimum of 3000 IOPS, up from the previous base value of 400 IOPS. We’re also increasing the minimum burst IOPS so that even the smallest shares can reach up to 10,000 IOPS. As before, you will continue to scale the IOPS linearly up to 100,000 as the share size increases.

You can now use 100 percent of the provisioned throughput for either reads or writes. This means you can get up to 10 GB / s of read or write traffic. Previously, Premium Shares used an assigned throughput with a read-to-write ratio of 40:60, resulting in a maximum write access of 4 GB / s and a maximum read access of 6 GB / s.

These performance improvements apply at no additional cost to all existing and new shares in all regions, including the public and sovereign clouds.

Learn more about provided service in our documents.

Lower costs with Reserved Instances

All premium file shares (SMB and NFS) now support capacity reservations that offer up to 36 percent discount by pre-setting storage usage.

Reserved Instances are also supported for the Azure hot and cool file shares (SMB only).

Look at the Azure Files pricing page for more informations.

Take part

You can get all of the updates mentioned in this blog for higher throughput and more IOPS NFS v4.1 shares at a lower price. Of course, the performance improvements and reserved instances apply to both NFS and SMB shares. We continue to increase investments in Azure files and look forward to releasing the next wave of updates.

We are interested in your comments and feedback. Please contact us at azurefiles@microsoft.com.

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