We are pleased to announce an update to the Azure HPC Cache service!
HPC Cache helps customers enable High Performance Computing workloads in Azure Compute by providing low-latency, high-throughput access to Network Attached Storage (NAS) environments. HPC Cache runs in Azure Compute, close to customer compute, but has the ability to access data located in Azure as well as in customer datacenters.
Preview Support for Blob NFS 3.0
The Azure Blob team introduced preview support for the NFS 3.0 protocol this past fall. This change enables the use of both NFS 3.0 and REST access to storage accounts, moving cloud storage further along the path to a multi-tiered, multi-protocol storage platform. It empowers customers to run their file-dependent workloads directly against blob containers using the NFS 3.0 protocol.
There are certain situations where caching NFS data makes good sense. For example, your workload might run across many virtual machines and requires lower latency than what the NFS endpoint provides. Adding the HPC Cache in front of the container will provide sub-millisecond latencies and improved client scalability. This makes the joint NFS 3.0 endpoint and HPC Cache solution ideal for scale-out read-heavy workloads such as genomic secondary analysis and media rendering.
Also, certain applications might require NLM interoperability, which is unsupported for NFS-enabled blob storage. HPC Cache responds to client NLM traffic and manages lock requests as the NLM service. This capability further enables file-based applications to go all-in to the cloud.
Using HPC Cache's Aggregated Namespace, you can build a file system that incorporates your NFS 3.0-enabled containers into a single directory structure – even if you have multiple storage accounts and containers that you want to operate against. And you can also add your on-premises NAS exports into the namespace, for a truly hybrid file system!
HPC Cache support for NFS 3.0 is in preview. To use it, simply configure a Storage Target of the type "ADLS-NFS" type and point at your NFS 3.0-enabled container.
Customer-Managed Key Support
HPC Cache has had support for CMK-enabled cache disks since mid-2020, but it was limited to specific regions. As of now, you can use CMK-enabled cache disks in all regions where CMK is supported.
Zone-Redundant Storage (ZRS) Blob Containers Support for Blob-As-POSIX
Blob-as-POSIX is a 100% POSIX compliant file system overlaid on a container. Using Blob-as-POSIX, HPC Cache can provide NAS support for all POSIX file system behaviors, including hard links. As of April 2nd, you can use both ZRS and LRS container types.
Custom DNS and NTP Server Support
Typically, HPC Cache will use the built-in Azure DNS and NTP services. When using HPC Cache and your on-premises NAS environment, there are some situations where you might want to use your own DNS and NTP servers. This special configuration is now supported in HPC Cache. Note that using your own servers in this case requires additional network configuration and you should consult with your Azure technical partners for further information. You can find more documentation here.
Client Access Policies
Traditional NAS environments support export policies that restrict access to an export based on networks or host information. Further, they typically allow the remapping of root to another UID, known as root squash. HPC Cache now offers the ability to configure such policies, called client access policies, on the junction path of your namespace. Further, you will be able to squash root to both a unique UID and GID value.
Extended Groups Support
HPC Cache now supports the use of NFS auxiliary groups, which are additional GIDs that might be configured for a given UID. Any group count above 16 falls into the auxiliary, or extended, group definition. HPC Cache now supports the use of such group integration with your existing directory mechanisms (such as Active Directory or LDAP, or even a recurring file upload of these definitions). Using HPC Cache in combination with Azure NetApp Files, for example, allows you to leverage your extended groups.
To create storage cache in your Azure environment, start here to learn more about HPC Cache. You also can explore the documentation to see how it may work for you.
Tell Us About It!
Building features in HPC Cache that help support hybrid HPC architectures in Azure is what we are all about! Try HPC Cache, use it, and tell us about your experience and ideas. You can post them on our feedback forum.