Microsoft Azure file shares is a fully managed service of Microsoft Azure built on the SMB 3.0 protocol, which solves many pain points of traditional windows file shares like maintaining the servers, increasing the size, high availability, etc. It is a file shared on the cloud, and Azure manages everything. We can connect to these shares from within Azure or from on-premises over SMB protocol, or we can have a hybrid model.
Gone are the days where we feared not saving a local copy of our files, thanks to Microsoft Azure File shares. It helps you leverage Azure to control the data in your on-premises environment.
Here, I will show you the steps to configure the Microsoft Azure File Sync service and introduce you to a few of the many capabilities that the Azure File Sync service can offer us. In this article, we perform all activities in Windows server 2016. First, we will start with creating storage accounts and file shares which we will sync with our on-premises server.
Storage File Account and Fileshare:
Navigate to the Azure portal and search for Storage Accounts and click create. Now, select the necessary fields like subscription, resource group, region, performance = Standard, redundancy = LRS (in this case).
Provide a unique storage account name and region suitable to your geography.
Keeping all other fields as default creates a storage account.
You can now navigate to the storage account created before and select. Provide a name and tier for the file share and create the file share. Now that the file share is created, we will proceed with creating the Azure File Sync service.
Azure File Sync Service
Search for Azure File Sync service from the Azure Marketplace.
Once found, select the subscription, resource group, give a name, region = US East (must be same as the storage account). Next, you can go to the resource in our case, ‘vishalsync.’ Next, click on the registered servers option. Here we can find all the servers on which the Azure File sync agent is installed once. We will now install a file sync agent on our desired machine.
Azure File Sync Agent Installation and Server Registration
Download the Azure file sync agent from the link given in the registered servers tab.
Select the version of the file sync agent based on your OS. Here we choose for server 2016.
Now select the default options and finish the setup. Azure file sync server registration pops up. We authenticate with our azure portal credentials and, after registration, select the necessary Subscription, Resource group, and storage sync service.
If we check in Azure Portal, we can see that our registered server on which we installed our file sync agent appears.
Sync Group, Cloud Endpoint, and Server Endpoint
Now we can navigate to the sync group and create a sync group.
Fill in the necessary fields – Sync group name, Subscription, Storage account created above, and our file share associated with it. Click on create sync group, which makes a cloud endpoint. The cloud endpoint is an azure file share that we want our on-premise to sync with.
Click on sync group and we are navigated to a page where we can find our cloud endpoint. Now create the server endpoint. Select the registered server and the path we want to sync to our file shares and click on create.
The server endpoint creation goes from provisioning to pending state and finally, up.
Navigate to your Azure file share and find that all the contents from the given path in the server are replicated in the Azure files here.
Use Cases and Cloud Tiering
One of the best use cases is when an existing file server is running out of space, we can use azure file sync to fulfill the increasing storage demands. This can be done by syncing the on-premise file server and the Azure file share and providing end-users with on-demand scalable cloud storage. We can also enable cloud tiering to set the local file server as a cache for the azure files. So basically, we can have frequently accessed files(Hot) on our on-prem file server and infrequently access files into azure file shares.
The main takeaway is that if you have existing file share servers and want to leverage Azure file’s power to keep the on-prem file servers, you can try Azure file sync. Thus you can have a hybrid extendable storage setup in place backing up your data.
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