At TechEd 2014 in Houston, Microsoft announced preview availability of a much-anticipated feature, Azure Files. It is a platform capability to easily expose SMB file shares that can be used from multiple instances to read & write files, without having to build an infrastructure yourself (like I described in my blog post about building file shares using DFS. It is a native Azure service built on top of the same architecture as the other storage services (blobs, tables, queues), so it offers the same characteristics in terms of (geo-)redundancy, HA and scalability. Apart from providing a SMB 2.1 interface (that is only accessible for Azure VMs being hosted in the same geographic region or from on-premises environments via a VPN connection), shares in Azure Files can also be accessed remotely via REST from anywhere in the world, provided that a client knows the storage account credentials.
This post gives an introduction to getting started with Azure Files and shows how to automatically mount a share when provisioning a new Windows VM, using the new Custom Script configuration extension (also announced at TechEd).