Microsoft is making it a little easier for businesses to ditch their file servers and network-attached storage (NAS) equipment with its new Azure File Sync product. The cloud-based file-replication service for Windows Server is generally available, announced Tad Brockway, general manager of Azure Storage and Azure Stack at Microsoft, on June 19.
"Azure File Sync replicates files from your on-premises Windows Server to an Azure file share, just like how you might have used DFS-R to replicate data between Windows Servers," explained Brockway in a blog post. DFS-R, short for Distributed File System Replication, is used to synchronize the contents of folders by transmitting only the changes made to files, a tactic that helps reduce network traffic compared to transferring entire files each time they are changed.
"Once you have a copy of your data in Azure, you can enable cloud tiering—the real magic of Azure File Sync—to store only the hottest and most recently accessed data on-premises," Brockway continued. Administrators can connect multiple servers to an Azure file share, providing a measure of centralized management over their organization's file services. The offsite enterprise file storage solution can also serve as a safety net if a local server goes bust, he added.
Now that it's cleared for production deployments, Azure File Sync boasts a number of enhancements since the public beta version hit the scene in September 2017.
In terms of performance, uploads are twice as fast and disaster recovery operations are 4X to 18X faster, depending on the type of hardware involved, Brockway said. On the back end, Microsoft has reworked its cost-cutting cloud tiering technologies for faster and more reliable operations.
Improved Visibility Into Azure Cloud Costs
For Azure users who are keeping a close eye on their cloud expenditures, Microsoft recently launched a new Azure cost forecast API that provides forward visibility for better budgeting decisions. Although the cloud makes financial sense for workloads like analytics, many organizations are having a tough time telling if they are cloud-based services.
A late-2017 survey from cloud services provider Densify revealed that 75 percent of enterprises are exceeding their budgets on public cloud spending or just have no visibility into their spending at all. Half of the 200 cloud infrastructure professionals polled for the report said they were unsure if they're spending the correct amount for the services they are getting from cloud vendors.
The new API delivers daily and monthly forecasts with a confidence interval of 95 percent, according to a July 17 announcement from Vinod Kurpad, of the Azure Intelligence Platform at Microsoft. To better calculate cost trends, the API takes the past two months of actual usage into consideration. Microsoft also added more parameters this time tied to location and the type of cloud service consumed, for more granular visibility. Additionally, Microsoft has added new price sheet mapping functionality, helping users better account for special offers.
Google, too, wants to help its customers get the most out of their IT budgets.
In May, the company added a new programmatic budget notification feature to its cloud billing services, letting administrators and business managers know when they are approaching their budget limits. On July 9, Google followed up with a new forecasting feature that projects costs, from an entire billing account down to a single project's individual servers.