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Microsoft Azure File Storage OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Microsoft Azure File Storage is the #2 ranked solution in our list of top Public Cloud Storage Services. It is most often compared to Amazon EFS (Elastic File System): Microsoft Azure File Storage vs Amazon EFS (Elastic File System)

What is Microsoft Azure File Storage?

Fully managed file shares that use the standard SMB 3.0 protocol

Key scenarios:

  • Share data across on-premises and cloud servers
  • Migrate file share-based applications to the cloud with no code changes
  • Integrate modern applications with File storage
  • Simplify hosting for high availability workload data

Microsoft Azure File Storage is also known as MS Azure File Storage.

Microsoft Azure File Storage Buyer's Guide

Download the Microsoft Azure File Storage Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

Microsoft Azure File Storage Customers

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Microsoft Azure File Storage Video

Microsoft Azure File Storage Reviews

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JJ
Senior Director of IT Operations at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 5
A cloud file storage solution that plays well with familiar products but is difficult to configure and build-out

Pros and Cons

  • "General user familiarity with Office 365 products make adopting this solution easy to adopt in production."
  • "The initial setup is complex. Unless you have done it a few times it, it is going to be hard."

What is our primary use case?

My company is a managed services firm. We do have a firewall internally, but we have about 70 banks and probably about 30 to 40 clients in other verticals that we are servicing. So it is not just us or our clients that we use products for. I am constantly looking at a lot of different client bases as far as different industries and needs, and a lot of different solutions and possibilities.  

A lot of what we use Azure File Storage for at our company is BLOB storage because the format is flexible in terms of pulling stuff down. Usually what we are doing is storing and retrieving IT management information. We have to be able to store and pull specific files from storage. BLOB storage is a good solution for that type of management.  

Most of our clients are using a private cloud because it is a requirement for them. As financial institutions, that is kind of where they have to go to properly secure critical data. We go public because there is no requirement on our end to do private cloud. For our financial institution clients, there are requirements from oversight boards and governing institutions that they need to have critical information stored privately because they are handling people's money.  

What is most valuable?

The main thing that is valuable about the solution is just the reason you do cloud: because it is flexible. For example, right now we are working on a project for a client and they are entirely involved with the Azure suite. They are using Intune for MDM (Mobile Device Management) and Azure AD for their authentication. That is all nice and well and good, but then they need a server. So what we are going to do is to push data into Azure from the data center and part of it to the house server. The thing with that is it is a flexible solution and it is easy to ramp up or down depending on their compute needs.  

What needs improvement?

I think the place where the product really needs the most attention is in the Intune and the MDM products. They are building it out pretty quickly in updates, yet at the same time that is probably the place where I have seen the most reason to simplifying for ease-of-use. Right now you kind of have to spend some time to wrap your head around the product instead of it being something that is easier to use and easier to onboard into production. In a way, that is just part of the industry standard right now. Any MDM product you choose is going to be a little difficult that way, and it is going to require some build-out that is maybe more than you had expected or cared to dive into.  

If they improved Intune to where it was more deployable out-of-the-box, that would be great. We just have to wait and see if they can do it.  

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the Azure File Storage solution for a few years now at the company I am with. I started utilizing that solution for storage initially with clients about three or four years ago. I actually brought the company I am working for now onto the Azure platform before I started working at the company and that led them to using the Azure File Storage solution.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the product is fine. It is stable. It is just something you have to pay attention to in the management of how you want it to perform. In that way, it is just like everything else.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. But it is really the same deal for just about any product of this type. Everything is stable and everything is scalable to the extent of time that you are willing to invest in it to make it that way. Some products are not worth the time.  

The number of users and how they are using the product depends on the client. In our organization, everyone has to use the product, otherwise, they can not work. So that is 100% of them because we require it. It will not be the same way in every organization.  

How are customer service and technical support?

I have had some experience with the technical support for Azure. Your experience with the support team will depend on the situation. Microsoft splits out their support infrastructure based on two different areas of the planet. So if you are talking about dealing with the Philippines call center, it is much more in line with expectations going on in the US in terms of speed and efficiency and meeting the needs of the client. Whereas if you are talking about their outsourced support infrastructure in India, there are some procedures you have to deal with that makes the support process a little harder if you are not aware of them. Neither of the support teams are bad, they are just different. Getting the support you want is just a matter of being aware of who and what you are dealing with in both situations.  

The other thing I would say is that we are a provider. We sell the product and we are a Microsoft silver partner. Because of that, we get to contact a different support infrastructure than somebody who does not have that type of relationship with Microsoft. I have experience with it from both sides. There was a time when I was running a nonprofit and I had to call into support and I did not have a provider who had silver partner status. It was a lot harder to get support then because I would have to call in and I just got the tier-one guys all the time. Now, as a silver partner, I can call in and get the right person on the phone the first time without waiting or trying to get past the tier-one guys. So, support is fine depending on your relationship with the company and the context of the issue which may include your location or the size of the organization.  

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex. There is a lot to do to build it out. There are a lot of nuances to how the MDM works and that makes Intune a little bit harder to work with. Unless you have done it a few times and paved the pain points of some of the things that you have to do in configuring it, it is going to be hard.  

At the same time, it is hard to say how long a deployment takes. That is because you can roll out Intune in a matter of a few minutes, but building it out to function the way you want it to is the part that impacts the speed in which you implement it.  

What about the implementation team?

We did not use an integrator or reseller or consultant for the deployment because that is what we do. We are those things and we deal with the problems that you face in deployments every day.  

What other advice do I have?

We try to push as many clients as we can toward Azure because most of our clients are Office 365 clients as it stands already, so they already have Azure integrated. They have the authentication and because of that, it allows us to push Azure a little easier because it is already native to the products they are using and familiar to their users. 

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate this solution as a six. Currently, you just have to spend too much time wrapping your head around what the product does and how it does it. Then the build-out takes a lot of effort. If it took less effort in that way — especially from my perspective as a reseller and consultant where implementation is so important — then I could rate it higher. The economy of scale plays in, but it is just hard to invest into that build-out on the front end.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: partner
SHAHNAWAZ ALI
Manager Cloud Platform at AGILE CLOUD SOLUTIONS LLC
Real User
Top 10
Scales well and offers flexible access but storage should be optimized

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution can scale to fit any requirement."
  • "The solution should support all the legacy storage systems."

What is our primary use case?

The product is primarily used for the file server. You can have the complete infrastructure including the repository and access control as well. People can use offline data if they like.

As an example, there is a company we work with that has different offices across the world - in Europe, the UK, UAE, and India - and they want around 100,000 customers as well as employees to access their file system. That file system was built on-prem, however, they have multiple challenges in terms of having delays in accessing the files. For security reasons, they are not able to manage the identity on Active Directory for all the locations. They want a complete advanced and modern authentication to be used, like multifactor cloud app security, and advanced start production, et cetera. That is not possible on-prem. Therefore, they have decided to go for Azure file sharing - a cloud-based file system. They use the three locations in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.

These three locations have a file-sharing system enabled that replicates their on-prem storage and people can access all the data over the cloud storage, which easily replicates across the locations. Whatever file(s) people are accessing frequently will be shown via an AI-based pattern so that admins can see which file(s) are being used the most. The system will make it easier to access those most-used files while keeping users and the system safe within the system.

What is most valuable?

The overall solution is great. There isn't really a specific standout feature.  

We appreciate how you can customize the service. There are multiple options. You can use the modern authentication that has developed a good IP, for example. 

You can access what you need from anywhere, anytime, from your personal device, from your office et cetera. Users have great flexibility in terms of access without sacrificing security.

The stability is good. 

The solution can scale to fit any requirement. 

What needs improvement?

The solution should support all the legacy storage systems. 

They should make it easy to migrate in one click.

In terms of storage and latency, it should be more optimized. 

The Microsoft File System should support all the regions. 

Some customers want to use SharePoint instead of File Share. SharePoint offers one terabyte of storage for an organization, and for small or medium organizations, this size is good enough to store their files. However, Microsoft should also think of very small organizations that might only have 10 or 20 users spread across the world. It would be ideal if they had some sort of file share system designed for their much smaller needs. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for the last four or so years so far. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, I haven't had any issues with stability. I haven't witnessed any bugs or glitches and I don't find that it crashes and freezes. It's reliable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability has been great. There's no limit on the scale in terms of storage and in terms of infrastructure it's good enough. No matter the size of the company, it shouldn't be a problem to scale and meet its needs. 

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not used the technical support personally, so I cannot say from personal experience, however, it is my understanding that it is merely okay.

I'd describe it as average. Unless you have a premium service from Microsoft they will respond fast, and normally it takes a lot of time and it goes to a very basic support level. That's not just for this solution. that's the basic assumption for any Microsoft support for any product. If you have subscribed for the premium services, professional services, then it will be better.  

How was the initial setup?

The solution's initial setup contains a moderate amount of complexity. I can't say it's easy. I cannot say it's complex. However, if people know the solution, they likely have a good idea of the product and what to expect. It's not very hard, but, again, when you can go and set up, especially if it's a big infrastructure environment, you have to understand the storage and the network and to know the framework you are working in. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing is okay, however, it's quite a bit higher compared to AWS.

You only pay for storage. However, if you think you might need support, and you want better support options, you may need to pay for the premium Microsoft support services. 

What other advice do I have?

We are a Microsoft partner. 

While I only use the cloud deployment, it can be integrated with any on-premises solution as well. 

I'd rate the solution at a seven out of ten.

It's been a pretty good solution so far.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: partner
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Learn what your peers think about Microsoft Azure File Storage. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: October 2021.
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Marcus Van Houten
Project Manager / Solution Architect at Ultimum
Reseller
Top 10
After the easy setup, expect a lack of scalability

Pros and Cons

  • "The initial setup is fairly easy."
  • "Microsoft Azure File Storage is not that scalable. Once you reach the boundaries, you need to migrate to another solution."

What is our primary use case?

We are using the VP storage version.

Our primary use case is for roaming profiles flowing on the frictional desktop.

What is most valuable?

In terms of features that I've found most valuable, I would say none.

What needs improvement?

We have performance issues with Microsoft Azure File Storage. We have a standard version and we have also a premium version. I would like to upgrade to premium but that is not possible on the fly. So you really need to do a migration.

I was investigating when do I get to the boundaries of the premium storage. Because now we have a couple of users using it, but I'm sure that once we got to premium, there will come a time that we will again have performance issues.

That's why I was looking into comparisons with the NetApp store. It seems that it has a higher performance for the roaming profile.

I feel that we cannot just upgrade but we should really do an immigration with all the difficulties.

There are limits to the usage capacity-wise, and it is not easy to measure because they just use some other figures. You really need to understand what you are seeing if you do performance monitoring.

I do not think that NetApp is better in that way, to be honest.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Microsoft Azure File Storage for half a year.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Microsoft Azure File Storage is not that scalable. Once you reach the boundaries, you need to migrate to another solution.

We do plan to increase usage, though. We now we have these roaming profiles that are for the frictional desktop and we have currently around 120 users on the platform. That will grow. But we cannot grow further with the solution. So we need to migrate to the premium solution, then we can grow a bit. I don't feel that it is coping with 3000 users.

That's why we're looking for another solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

I'm currently dealing with the support. It takes a long time to see if that performance issue is really because of the file storage. It takes at least a week before they act.

There is certainly room for improvement here.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is fairly easy.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, I think Microsoft Azure File Storage is workable, but you really need to make a design to make it redundant. There is a possibility to connect several discs, several file storage accounts. Then you can make it scalable yourself. I'm fully comfortable with that solution. We worked it out that we direct users to different storage accounts. But that all needs to be done before you start. Before you start, you really need to consider your design and make it scalable yourself. That's my recommendation.

I think that they should implement on the background so that you can upgrade and migrate on the fly. 

It doesn't feel hardware-wise that I'm working in a cloud, and it doesn't really feel like cloud. It feels like I have a dedicated device disc I am working on and that doesn't provide me the cloud experience. Because I'm working on the dedicated device I expect that I can read the usual suspects as normal, the IOPS, et cetera, and those figures are not provided standardly.

I am sure that we will find a solution. It integrates very well and is easy to implement.

But like I said, I expect more of the cloud experience.

So taking all that together, on a scale of one to ten I would give Microsoft Azure File Storage a six.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller
MarioAfonso
Operations Engineer, Public Cloud at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 10
The support is very good and I like the backup to the firewall

Pros and Cons

  • "Implementations with other products are easy."
  • "Sometimes it takes very long to refresh the information."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case of this solution to migrate several products to the cloud. We use several Microsoft products simultaneously. 

What is most valuable?

I like the diverse facilities offered by the solution. If a facility tool upgrades, it also upgrades in the cloud. This is very dynamic. Is it very easy to manage and we haven't had any problems with file system limitations or performances. The backup to the firewall has been working well. I like the speed of the program.

What needs improvement?

So far we haven't had any difficulties with migrations. Sometimes I call support to help me with the migration of the servers. So far it has been all very easy.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Microsoft Azure File Storage for two months now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any issues with the stability of the solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't faced any issues in terms of scalability so far.

How are customer service and technical support?

Microsoft has a good support systems and we have good relationship so far. We have our own team of engineers to help us whenever we have an issue, but whenever we contact Microsoft for support, they are there to give us the help we need.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have a small contract with Amazon, but I don't use that very often because it doesn't offer that much storage.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was easy and straightforward and the deployment didn't take too long. It is a static plan, so we have to see it first and then we organize. We did have some help from a consultant when we did the deployment. 

What other advice do I have?

Implementations with other products are easy. In the past we had to use a multi-cloud, but we had a preference for one unique tool for each subject that we wanted to manage. So now we are using one cloud only. We had a very new team and we were building everything from scratch.

I will rate this solution an eight out of ten. We haven't been using it very long, but we don't have any complaints. The interface is easy to work on, but sometimes it takes very long to refresh the information. Perhaps that can be improved. It is not a big problem but it would be nice if you could get what you need straight away. So an improvement in the design and speed of things would be great. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
GG
CTO & Co-Founder at a financial services firm with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 10
An easy setup with a good interface and good monitoring capabilities

Pros and Cons

  • "The interface is very good."
  • "The pricing could be improved. They need to make the costs more transparent so users know what they will be charged and why ahead of time."

What is most valuable?

The solution is easy to use and works well.

We've been happy with the monitoring capabilities.

The interface is very good.

The setup is easy.

What needs improvement?

The pricing could be improved. They need to make the costs more transparent so users know what they will be charged and why ahead of time.

Technical support could be improved.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using the solution for seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Over the past seven years, the solution has been mostly stable. We haven't experienced any stability issues that have been catastrophic. The solution overall has been fine.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've had contact with technical support in the past. They're mostly okay. The level of service, however, varies. They could work to make it a bit better.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. We find it easy to implement.

What about the implementation team?

I deployed the solution myself seven years ago. I didn't need the assistance of a reseller or specialist.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing is a little bit hard to determine. I never know how much it's going to cost me in advance, only after the fact.

What other advice do I have?

We use quite a few different products on Azure. For example, we also use Azure Backup and Stack.

A small team at our organization is using the software. We use the solution daily.

I don't really have any advice to give to others. I would just say that it's pretty straightforward and it works well for our team.

I'd rate the solution eight out of ten. It's generally okay. It doesn't blow my mind in the sense that it's so unique or revolutionary. It does what it needs to do.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
RH
Executive at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
Top 10
Great embedded integration with the entire Azure platform

Pros and Cons

  • "Integration with the entire Azure platform."
  • "Lacks integration with other platforms."

What is our primary use case?

We are partners with Microsoft and I'm an executive of the company.  

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the integration with the entire Azure platform, very bluntly and very simply how it's embedded, how you can use it. That's the sort of factor that sets the solution apart. 

What needs improvement?

I'd like to see integration with other platforms as part of the solution. If you have a company to do cloud strategy that could have an impact.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for two years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is a stable solution. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is scalable. It's one of the strengths of the product. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We have support staff within the company. I have never ever had the need to call anybody from Microsoft support. If we do call support on other matters, then our directors have links to Microsoft, but I've never had the need for myself. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. Deployment time depends on the size of the project but it's easy and simple.  

What other advice do I have?

I would certainly recommend this product, especially if you are working with the Microsoft and Azure ecosystem, because then it's really easy to be used and you get all the benefits and I can't think of any reason not to like it. Once you're on the platform, it should be that it's more a question of how strong the solution is. 
 
I would rate this solution a nine out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner