Getting started with Azure File Sync

Azure File Sync is a Microsoft feature released in July 2018. It enables to synchronize multiple On-Premise file servers with Azure. In other words, we can replace DFS-R for branch office. Azure File Sync brings also a tiering feature that enables to cache in On-Prem servers the most used files (based on the access data) and to keep in Azure the others. The data can be protected with Azure Backup to avoid to manage backup in each On-Prem file servers and in case of disaster, the data remains in Azure. In this topic, I’ll show you how to implement Azure File Sync.

Requirement

To follow this topic, you need:

  • An On-Prem file server (physical or virtual) running on Windows Server 2012R2, 2016 or 2019.
  • An Azure account

Azure side configuration

First, create a Storage Account. I don’t need performance, so I choose a standard performance account with cool access tier. Regarding the Replication, you must choose regarding the SLA you require.

Once the storage account is created, open its properties and create a file share. I called mine branch1.

Open the Azure marketplace and look for Azure File Sync.

Create the resource in the same location as the storage account. Usually I add Azure File Sync in the same resource group than the storage account.

Once Azure File Sync is created, you can browse registered servers and click on Azure File Sync agent link.

Download the agent for your Windows Server version. I downloaded the version for Windows Server 2019 because my On-Prem server is running on Windows Server 2019. Download the file and copy it to the On-Prem server.

Implement agent in On-Prem Server

Connect to the On-Prem server and run the following cmdlet to install AzureRM PowerShell cmdlet.

Then run the Azure File Sync agent setup.

Once the agent is installed, the following window is raised. Specify your tenant ID and click on sign-in. Another pop-up is raised to ask you credentials.

Next choose the Azure Subscription, the resource group and the Storage Sync Service.

Once you are registered, your server should be present in Azure File Sync (registered server tab). My Windows Server is running on Windows Server 2019 but operating system in Azure File Sync is Windows Server 2016 :).

To finish, I create a folder in P:\ called AFS. This folder will be synchronized with Azure File Sync. I copy files in this folder.

Manage Azure File Sync

Now that Azure File Sync is installed, agent is ready and file are presents somewhere in the On-Prem server, we can sync data between On-Prem and Azure. To create the synchronization job, navigate to Sync Groups in Azure File Sync.

Provide a name for this Sync Group and select the storage account and the Azure File Share that you created at the beginning.

Now that the cloud endpoints is created, we can add servers to the sync group. So, click on Add server endpoint.

Select the On-Prem server, the path to synchronize (P:\AFS) and enable the cloud tiering if you wish.

Once the synchronization has run, you should retrieve files in the storage account.

Conclusion

In large company with branch office, DFS-R is often implemented to replicate branch office data to main datacenter (in a single way). Now Microsoft provides a new solution to replace DFS-R with Azure File Sync. Thanks to Cloud Tiering, your On-Prem file servers don’t require plenty of storage. Data can be accessed from everywhere because they are stored in Azure. It’s a nice hybrid cloud scenario.

About Romain Serre

Romain Serre works in Lyon as a Senior Consultant. He is focused on Microsoft Technology, especially on Hyper-V, System Center, Storage, networking and Cloud OS technology as Microsoft Azure or Azure Stack. He is a MVP and he is certified Microsoft Certified Solution Expert (MCSE Server Infrastructure & Private Cloud), on Hyper-V and on Microsoft Azure (Implementing a Microsoft Azure Solution).

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