Two – no, Three! no, Four! – new features for Azure NetApp Files released! (Feb 2023)

UPDATED Feb 4, 2023 to reflect new added features

One of the bigger benefits of managed services in the cloud is how new features can just appear seemingly from thin air without admins having to do anything, and without needing any maintenance window. Azure NetApp Files is no exception to that, and this month, two new features have been released to better enhance the experience.

EDIT: In fact, a day after writing this, Azure NetApp Files added another 2 new features. See below.

Both of these features are in what is called “Public Preview,” which is defined on the Microsoft Azure site as supported and available to customers, but SLAs won’t apply during this phase. General Availability is when the official SLAs kick in. So, not at the “beta” level, but also not the official level.

New Feature #1: 2TiB capacity pools (Public Preview)

Previously, the minimum capacity pool allowed in Azure NetApp Files was 4TiB, but now you can create smaller capacity pools when using standard networking features. This may seem like a minor change, but it will make a big difference in cost savings when provisioning capacity in Azure NetApp Files.

For more information:

New Feature #2: Customer Managed Keys (Public Preview)

Azure NetApp Files volumes now support encryption with customer-managed keys and Azure Key Vault to enable an extra layer of security for data at rest. This means you get more granular support for key management to encrypt your data volumes for added protection in the cloud.

This feature is also a public preview and also comes with a few more considerations than the smaller capacity pools. Be sure to read up on the details in the following link, as well as the summary of the considerations listed below.

  • To use this feature, you’d need to submit a request through the Customer-managed keys for Azure NetApp Files volume encryption page. Customer-managed keys feature is expected to be enabled within a week from submitting waitlist request.
  • Customer managed keys can only be applied to new volumes; you can’t currently encrypt existing Azure NetApp Files volumes
  • Standard network features must be used
  • Switching from user-assigned identity to system-assigned is not currently supported
  • MSI Automatic certificate renewal isn’t currently supported and expires after 90 days with a renewal every 46 days. fter 90 days, the certificate is no longer be valid and the customer-managed key volumes under the NetApp account will go offline.
  • Applying Azure network security groups on the private link subnet to Azure Key Vault isn’t supported for Azure NetApp Files customer-managed keys.
  • Currently, customer-managed keys can’t be configured while creating data replication volumes to establish an Azure NetApp Files cross-region replication or cross-zone replication relationship
  • Currently supported regions include: East Asia, East US 2, West Europe

New Feature #3: Large Volumes (Public Preview)

This one is a pretty big one IMO. And not just big because of the capacity.

Yes, you can now create volumes up to 500TiB (previously 100TiB), but the name “Large Volumes” isn’t the full story. You get the capacity boost, but you *also* get a substantial performance boost with some workloads, such as EDA or software builds. In some of our internal tests, we saw 9x the performance with a large volume in ANF vs. a regular volume. Definitely worth kicking the tires on this one.

There are a few considerations to review, which you can find here:

New Feature #4: User and Group Quotas (Public Preview)

When you’re deploying storage in the cloud, costs can start to really increase as your datasets expand, so you’d want to get a handle on things sooner than later to avoid that sticker shock you’ll get when the bill rolls in. With User and Group quotas, you can limit the amount of capacity a user or group can create in a volume. Arnt de Gier wrote up a great explainer here:

Now, I’d better post this updated blog before a new feature releases!

Be sure to stay tuned for more new feature announcements in the coming months. There are some really exciting new things on the way for Azure NetApp Files!


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