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October 24, 2019
Topics: Azure NetApp Files 6 minute read
Both the migration and deployment of applications in the cloud require careful planning, evaluation, and service mapping—all while keeping in mind performance, availability, security, ease of deployment, costs, and myriad other factors. While many cloud services offer ways to address these concerns, managed service availability for Linux file share hosting has been one area in which most current offerings fall short.
Azure NetApp Files (ANF) fills the gap, answering the demand for a fully managed Linux NFS service on Azure. In this blog, we’ll dive into some of the most common requirements of enterprise Linux file share applications and how ANF meets those needs.
The Challenges of Enterprise Linux File Shares
Linux workloads run as first-class citizens in Azure, and support for Linux and OSS workloads is constantly improving. While roughly half of all workloads running in Azure are now Linux, organizations often hesitate to migrate Linux file share-dependent workloads because of a perceived lack of proper tools, services, and migration paths.
No Rearchitecting Required?
Moving legacy file shares to Azure requires a readily available NFS file share service for a “lift-and-shift” approach, meaning that the move to the cloud involves minimal rearchitecting, but some level of preparation. In the absence of an NFS file service, it would take considerably more time and effort to rearchitect the entire solution to fit into existing cloud services. The greatest challenge with legacy applications is most often either a lack of proper documentation or insufficient information available to IT teams—both are major bottlenecks for a build-your-own, rearchitecting-oriented approach.
Fluctuating Database Performance Needs
Database performance needs fluctuate as they move through each phase of their lifecycle. As the database moves from the development/test phase into production, the performance pattern changes. In some instances, availability takes priority over performance. For production workloads with high read/write patterns, the underlying storage must be capable of handling the increased IOPS.
Handling Large Datasets
Linux file shares used by analytics applications must be able to handle large datasets at any given moment. The storage must be able to support the pace of analytics applications accessing the data, without causing delays in the queue. It should also be capable of meeting data growth requirements, which might start at a few gigabytes and quickly increase to several terabytes in a short period of time.
Fast Changing CI/CD Environments
The quick provisioning of development, test, and CI/CD environments is important for ensuring “business-as-usual” functionalities for organizations. These environments should be created as replicas of the production environment to guarantee maximum productivity and faster time to market (TTM).
Enterprise Linux File Shares Made Easy With ANF
For enterprises with large-scale storage requirements (large datasets), setting up an NFS file share system on your own is generally not an efficient solution. Doing so would involve considerable investment in design, deployment, and maintenance; every aspect of the solution (such as security configuration, availability, performance, capacity) would need to be addressed separately.
Azure NetApp Files is a versatile storage solution in Azure on par with—and even exceeding the performance of—on-premises solutions. As an Azure-native enterprise-class managed Linux file share service, ANF can be quickly deployed with no additional configuration or management overhead—meaning no need for storage-centric expertise.
Under the covers, ANF is powered by NetApp’s trusted ONTAP storage solution, but is available as a first-party service in Azure. The service enables enterprise applications with NFS file share requirements (for example, Oracle, SAP, and SQL) to be migrated to Azure quickly and easily. The service can be provisioned directly from the Azure portal in just a few clicks or automated through the AzureCLI, speeding up and simplifying the process of setting up IaaS hosted NFS file share solutions.
Fully integrated within the Azure data centers, ANF offers best-in-class storage throughput and latency. It requires no additional contractual obligations, making the onboarding process straightforward and easy. The service can also be provisioned by customers with existing enterprise agreements as a draw down on your Azure commit.
The Azure NetApp Files Advantage
ANF was created by Microsoft and NetApp to address a longstanding need for an enterprise-class Linux file share service in Azure. The service ensures that your workloads get the same performance as they would on-premises, while availing the many added advantages of cloud, such as high availability and scalability. ANF’s key features make it the go-to service for all your enterprise Linux file share needs.
With three service levels to choose from—Standard, Premium, and Ultra—ANF offers the best in terms of cost and performance to right-size your data to your workload requirements. Production databases can benefit from the unmatched throughput of 128MB/s per terabytes of storage offered by the Ultra tier, whereas for development and test databases, the Standard tier with throughput of 16MB/s per terabyte would be ideal.
Databases in UAT may not require the same level of throughput as production, thus the Premium tier at 64MB/s per terabyte would be most appropriate. Customers can create hot and cool storage pools using different service levels that can cater to varying performance demands throughout the database lifecycle.
ANF is highly available by design, which is particularly helpful in use cases that require the deployment of highly available databases that are resilient to system failure. This high level of availability applies to all service levels, including the Standard tier. For example, in scenarios where high availability of databases takes precedence over performance, customers would benefit from using the Standard tier at a significantly lower cost.
Rapid Clones and Snapshots
ANF supports cloning from existing production datasets, which means it meets the quick provisioning requirements of CI/CD environments. Based on snapshot copies, clones can be created without affecting existing production data. Multiple such clones can also be created to deploy dev/test environments on demand and at scale to ensure faster time to market for new features.
A single ANF volume can start at a minimum size of 100GB and scale up to 100TB of data. The capacity pools from which the volumes are created can be up to 500TB, with one account able to support 25 such pools. ANF thus provides the scalability to support big data analytics workload requirements, where the data growth can be very rapid. This scalability can be achieved in a matter of few clicks, without having to go through extensive capacity planning and storage configuration, as would be required in a typical do-it-yourself NFS file share service.
A One-Stop Solution for Your Enterprise Linux File Share Hosting Needs
As organizations adopt a cloud-first approach, ANF has come to bridge the gap between the on-premises and cloud worlds for your Linux file-share requirements. Its bare-metal-like performance, built-in high availability, scalability, and cloning features make Azure NetApp Files a one-stop solution for all your enterprise Linux file share hosting needs in Azure.
Subscribe to Azure NetApp Files today to benefit from consistently excellent performance for your enterprise file share requirements in the cloud.
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