Microsoft is emboldening efforts to boost hybrid storage in the cloud with a new Azure FXT Edge Filer. The company claims it will provide better performance, more memory, and solid-state drive (SSD) capacity. The new caching appliance arrives a little more than a year after Microsoft finalized its acquisition of Avere Systems for an undisclosed sum.
The Azure FXT Edge Filer also includes support for Azure Blob, Microsoft’s service for storing large amounts of unstructured data. Microsoft is previewing a 6600 model at customer sites, which it claims improves read performance by 40% and doubles the memory of the previous version. It also plans to make a 6400 model available to customers that don’t require as much memory or SSD capacity at a lower price.
“The Azure FXT Edge Filer solves latency issues between Blob storage and on-premises computing with built-in translation from network file system (NFS) to Blob. It sits at the edge of your hybrid storage environment closest to on-premises compute, caching the active data to reduce bottlenecks,” Jeff Tabor, principal program manager of Microsoft Azure, wrote in a blog post.
The storage caching appliance combines hardware from Dell EMC and Microsoft software in a pizza box form factor. It enables customers to more quickly access aging, but not yet cold, files in Azure Blob by creating an on-premises cache of active data, according to Microsoft.
Common Uses in Enterprise
The Azure FXT Edge Filer also reduces latency across WANs by caching active data closer to the edge as users search for data stored in data center. Backup, mirroring, and other data protection activities run in the core data center, according to Microsoft.
The new gear is also optimized for network-attached storage (NAS) arrays, including environments supported by NetApp or Dell EMC Isilon. “When demand is at its peak, these storage systems can become bottlenecks,” Tabor explained. “The Azure FXT Edge Filer optimizes these NAS systems by caching data closest to the compute, separating performance from capacity and better delivering both.”
Microsoft said it will begin selling the Azure FXT Edge Filer to customers through a system integrator and said it is scalable to 24 server nodes as demand grows. The gear features a single mount point that provides management across heterogeneous storage and hybrid architecture, including NFSv3, the second version of server message block to clients and applications, and support for NetApp, Dell EMC Isilon, Azure Blob, and Amazon S3 storage.
The new equipment is the culmination of a year-long effort to “provide an exciting combination of performance and efficiency to support hybrid storage architectures with the Avere appliance technology,” Tabor explained. “When datasets are large, hybrid file storage caching provides performance and flexibility that are needed to keep core operations productive.”