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In spite of the fact that many organizations have modernized their file sharing strategy through Office 365, SharePoint, and OneDrive, the old school file server backed by the corporate SAN persists in most organizations. However, innovations in cloud storage are rapidly bringing us closer to the day when we trade another hardware refresh for a move to the cloud. Fortunately, Microsoft’s recent work includes a number of features that allow enterprises to adopt a hybrid strategy, enabling a gradual, transparent transition to cloud storage.

Here are four Azure storage features that may ultimately replace the corporate SAN.

#1 Azure Files

Azure Files offers fully managed file shares in the cloud that are accessible via the familiar standard Server Message Block (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.

  • Replace or supplement on-premises file servers. Azure Files can be used to completely replace or supplement traditional on-premises file servers or NAS devices. Windows, macOS, and Linux can directly mount Azure file shares wherever they are in the world.
  • “Lift and shift” applications. Azure Files makes it easy to “lift and shift” applications to the cloud that expect a file share to store file application or user data
  • Simplify cloud development. Azure Files can also be used in numerous ways to simplify new cloud development projects

Read more on the capabilities of Azure Files HERE.

#2 – Azure File Sync

Azure File Sync tackles the challenges of the old school file server, for scenarios not already wiped out by modernization efforts in Office 365, SharePoint, and OneDrive. The primary function of Azure File Sync is to synchronize file shares, including both data and ACLs, to an Azure general storage account using the Azure Files service. It looks a lot like a modernized version of StorSimple functionality without the hardware.

Azure File Sync provides  secure, centralized file share management in the cloud. You install the File Sync agent on your Windows Servers, which can replicate and store less frequently accessed files in the cloud, while keeping more frequently accessed data on local file shares, and will be able to deliver consistent file share performance with no configuration or code changes. Centralizing file share management with File Sync could also lower the IT support requirements for branch or remote office locations including centralized backup and multi-site replication.

Learn more about Azure File Sync HERE.

#3 – Tiered Storage (hot, cool, & archive)

Azure storage offers three storage tiers for Blob object storage so that you can store your data most cost-effectively depending on how you use it. The Azure hot storage tier is optimized for storing data that is accessed frequently. The Azure cool storage tier is optimized for storing data that is infrequently accessed and stored for at least 30 days. The Azure archive storage tier is optimized for storing data that is rarely accessed and stored for at least 180 days with flexible latency requirements (on the order of hours), much like the AWS Glacier service.

Various enterprise data access scenarios benefit from a different storage tiers optimized for particular access patterns. With hot, cool, and archive storage tiers, Azure Blob storage addresses this need for differentiated storage tiers with separate pricing models to help manage costs.

Read up on the details of Azure storage tiers HERE.

#4 – Azure Import/Export Service

For the odd occasion you need to move a LOT of data to or from Azure, there is Azure Import/Export Service. This service enables you to transfer large amounts of data to and from Azure using hard disk drives, so it’s faster and more cost effective for moving big data sets than transferring the data over internet. It enables you to transfer data to Azure by the secure transport of hard disk drives to our data centers, and by using a high-speed, secure internal network.

Get the scoop on the Azure Import/Export Service HERE.

Have an Azure storage feature you’re leaning on to modernize your enterprise storage strategy? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below