20 Key Scenarios with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services (IaaS): Replicate File Server Content to the Cloud with DFS-R

Distributed File System (DFS) is of the more powerful functions of your Windows Server.  DFS has been around for quite a few years.  If you are unfamiliar with DFS it has two main underlying functions that provide a lot of power for your infrastructure.   DFS is made up of DFS Namespaces and DFS Replication.

  • DFS Namespaces (DFS –N): DFS-N enables you to group shared folders that are located on different servers into one or more logically structured namespaces. Each namespace appears to users as a single shared folder with a series of subfolders. However, the underlying structure of the namespace can consist of numerous file shares that are located on different servers and in multiple sites.
  • DFS Replication (DFS-R)   Enables you to efficiently replicate folders (including those referred to by a DFS namespace path) across multiple servers and sites. DFS Replication uses a compression algorithm known as remote differential compression (RDC). RDC detects changes to the data in a file, and it enables DFS Replication to replicate only the changed file blocks instead of the entire file.

With such a fantastic tool, it is only logical that you can also leverage the cloud for the is functionality.  Specifically using DFS-R with your file servers in Windows Azure Infrastructures Services provides a natural target for your replication.  It also provides a natural Disaster recovery environment for your DFS data.  The best thing about using DFS-R in Windows Azure is that after a few steps to get your systems networked together, the setup is nearly identical to setting up on premise servers.  The advantages of having your DFS replications in the cloud are very similar to when you backup data to the cloud in that the DFS replicas are offsite and they are automated.

Getting Started:

  1. Extend your Active Directory to the Cloud via a Windows Azure Virtual Network: Step-by-Step – Extend On-Premise Active Directory to the Cloud with Windows Azure
  2. Add a new Windows Server 2012 member server VM to the Windows Azure Virtual Network and Active Directory domain that you extended in Step 1 above. Great tips here: Complete this training on Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks for assistance.
  3. Install the DFS-R service role (you will find this under the File and Storage Services on the Azure VM provisioned in Step 2 above.  You will also have need to have these roles installed on your on premise server, chances are thay they are already installed. 

After you have the server in Windows Azure installed with the role, it is now a matter of creating the replication partnership between your on premise network and Windows Azure. 

  1. On your on premise DFS primary server open the DFS management tool from the Tools menu in server manager.
  2. Right click on the Replication node and select New Replication Group
  3. For this scenario just Multipurpose Replication Group and click next
  4. Give the group a name and select the domain and click on next
  5. Add the On-premise server and the server you created in Azure previously and click next
  6. Select Hub and Spoke for the methodology click next
  7. On the add Hub members select your on premise server and click add to make it the hub server, click next.
  8. You can modify the connections for the spoke members and click next
  9. On the replication schedule you can modify the replication schedule and bandwidth used.  I would recommend you control the bandwidth based on your available bandwidth click next
  10. Select your on-premise server as the primary member and click next
  11. Select the folders you want to replicate and click next
  12. Set the local path for the replica servers and click next
  13. Review the settings and click create
  14. Verify the confirmation and click close.



Remember you can contribute to the series.  Let us know what scenarios are you interested in seeing?  Are you currently using Windows Azure, if so how are you using it?  Let us know and email me mhester@microsoft.com or comment on this post.  We will try to include them in this series.

Also remember to sign up for your free Window Azure trial: Get Started TODAY with a FREE 90-DAY Windows Azure Subscription

You can find the full series here: 20 Key Scenarios with Windows Azure

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