Azure Files offers fully managed file shares in the cloud using the SMB protocol. Azure file shares can be mounted concurrently by cloud or on-premises deployments of Windows, Linux, and macOS. Additionally, Azure file shares can be cached on Windows Servers with Azure File Sync for fast access near where the data is being used.
You can use a Point-to-Site (P2S) VPN connection to mount your Azure file shares over SMB from outside of Azure, without opening up port 445. For this, you can configure a Point-to-Site (P2S) VPN for use with Azure Files. A Point-to-Site VPN connection is a VPN connection between Azure and an individual client.
Why Azure Files is useful?
Azure file shares can be used to:
Replace on-premises file servers:
Azure Files can be used to replace or remove the on-premises file servers or the NAS devices. Operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Linux can directly mount Azure file shares. It can also be replicated with Azure File Sync to Windows Servers, either on-premises or in the cloud, for performance and distributed caching of the data where it’s being used.
“Lift and shift” applications:
Azure Files makes it easy for the “lift and shift” of the applications to the cloud that expect a file share to store application or user data. With Azure Files, you can work on both the “classic” lift and shift scenario, where the application and its data are moved to the cloud storage, as well as the “hybrid” lift and shift scenario, where the application data is moved to Azure Files, and the application remains on-premises.
Simplify cloud development:
Azure Files can also be used in simplifying cloud development. This can further be divided into three different parts:
- Shared application settings:
We can keep the configuration files in a centralized location from where they can be accessed by different instances of the application. These configurations can be accessed using the File Rest APIs.
- Diagnostic share:
We can use the file share to store the diagnostics data for different applications. These data include the error logs, and other diagnostic data.
- Sharing of Tools and Utilities:
When working on VMs in the cloud, developers and administrators need a set of tools or utilities. These tools and utilities take a lot of time and effort when copied to individual VMs. An easier option is to share it in a centralized location such as the File Share.
The benefits of Azure File Share are the derivatives of the usefulness of the Azure Files that we just discussed. Some of the key benefits are:
Compatibility – When using the File Share with the SMB protocol, it resolves the compatibility issue. You can work on any machine, mount your File Share as a drive and share or store the data, which others can access if permitted and having different OS.
No or Low Maintenance. Azure File Shares does not have the overhead to configure, manage and maintain the servers. There are no overheads of platform-related middleware activities, such as OS patching, security updates, etc.
High Availability. Azure Files provides high availability and you no longer have to worry about the power outages, server crashes, or network-related issues.
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