Earlier this year, at its virtual Build conference 2020, Microsoft announced that its Azure NetApp Files service had achieved 99.99% availability. Today, the tech giant has unveiled a flurry of new enhancements in preview for the file storage service, with the headliner being cross region replication.

Cross region replication is essentially a disaster recoverability mechanism, enabling the replication of volumes from one Azure region to another. As one would expect, failure of one such region will still allow the replicated data to be kept safe in a separate region. With the NetApp SnapMirror technology being utilized, only changed blocks are sent over the network in a compressed manner, making the process cost-effective with reduced replication times.

Over the next few months in preview, users can expect the following additions to this capability:

  • Multiple replication frequency options: you can replicate an Azure NetApp Files, NFS, or SMB volume across regions with replication frequency choice of every 10 minutes, every hour, or once a day.
  • Read from secondary: you can read from the secondary volume during active replication.
  • Failover on-demand: you can failover to the secondary volume at a time of your choice. After a failover, you can also resynchronize the primary volume from the secondary volume at a time of your choice.
  • Monitoring and alerting: you can monitor the health of volume replication and the health of the secondary volume through Azure NetApp Files metrics and receive alerts through Azure Monitor.
  • Automation: you can automate the configuration and management of Azure NetApp Files volume replication through standard Azure Rest API, SDKs, command-line tools, and ARM templates.

Currently, cross region replication is available in popular regions from U.S., Canada, AMEA, and Asia. The preview waitlist can be joined here. Three pricing tiers are available – minutes, hourly, and daily, with each corresponding to a replication frequency of 10 minutes, one hour, and one day, respectively. You can learn more about pricing per region here.

Among other free enhancements that have been introduced, for starters, volume snapshots can now be defined at a frequency desired by the user. Hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly options will be offered. The service level of an existing Azure NetApp Files volume can now also be changed by moving it to another capacity pool, and a volume can now also be created with simultaneous dual-protocol (NFS v3 and SMB) access. The preview for dynamic volume tier change can be signed up for here.

Moving on, NFS client encryption in Kerberos modes (krb5, krb5i, and krb5p) with AES-256 encryption is now supported in order to enhance data security. And finally, the NetApp Files service is now generally available in some Azure Government regions, starting with U.S. Gov Virginia. Other regions to which the service will soon be expanded include U.S. Gov Texas, and U.S. Gov Arizona. The region roadmap for Azure NetApp Files can be checked out here.