Why Azure Files Only Uses SMB 2.1

Why Azure Files Only Uses SMB 2.1

One of the key Azure announcements at TechEd was Azure Files, which provides a permanent mapped file system that can addressed by any virtual machine in your cloud environment. But why does Azure Files use SMB 2.1, rather than the newer SMB 3.0 release used in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012?

The answer turns out to be a familiar one: the need to communicate with as many different types of software as possible. “What this is effectively giving you is an SMB share on top of Azure storage,” Azure program manager Corey Sanders explained. “This enables lots of app possibilities you haven’t seen before.”

However, many apps haven’t been updated to use SMB 3.0 (the lukewarm business response to Windows 8 is probably a factor here). “It was really around app compatibility and what customers were looking for,” Sanders said.

“When we looked at 2.1 versus 3.0, there were a huge number of apps using 2.1, so that’s what we chose. It was a hard discussion, but for the full range of apps, 2.1 felt like a better choice.” That also means that some relatively esoteric features of SMB aren’t supported (there’s a full list here).

Azure Files is currently in preview, with the official release expected later this year.

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