Microsoft StorSimple updates bring more cloud storage options

Microsoft rolls out a series of updates to StorSimple to extend its hybrid cloud storage capabilities to more workloads on-premises and in the cloud.

Microsoft expanded its Azure hybrid storage strategy this week by adding more types of workloads capable of connecting to StorSimple.

Microsoft acquired StorSimple in 2012 to simplify enterprise customers' transition to the cloud for primary storage, backup, disaster recovery and archival storage. The company has since worked to improve its integration with Microsoft Azure so customers can take advantage of some of the services available on the public cloud.

StorSimple and other hybrid cloud storage products, including Amazon Storage Gateway, continue to be an onramp for cloud-based storage by acting as a translator between on-premises workloads and the back-end cloud API, said Arun Chandrasekaran, research vice president at Gartner.

By providing a server message block front end in a virtual form factor with iSCSI protocol, Microsoft can go after file-based, transactional workloads on top of its existing capabilities, he added.

"This is a continuum of providing more flexibility to customers, especially for those who want to dip their toes in cloud and seeing what it's all about," Chandrasekaran said.

New hybrid cloud storage features

Microsoft added a StorSimple Virtual Array to support storage for remote offices and made an updated version of its 8000 series generally available, introducing local volumes and a new cloud appliance for high-performance workloads.

StorSimple Virtual Array, now available for public preview, allows customers to use a VM running on Hyper-V or VMware hypervisors to support network attached storage or storage area network configurations. The intention is for this new virtual instance to allow remote and regional offices to scale primary storage without a centralized data center on site, while still allowing the primary office to monitor and ensure workloads remain compliant.

StorSimple Virtual Array also integrates with primary storage, data protection, archiving and disaster recovery for smaller environments.

The local volumes can be stored on the physical array or on the new Virtual Array without tiering to Azure for applications that need to avoid latency issues. The new StorSimple Cloud Appliance, which runs as a VM in Azure and uses SSD for local storage, also offers a wider range of support for high-performance cloud-based applications backed up in Azure.

Convergent Computing, an IT consulting firm in Walnut Creek, Calif., has been a StorSimple customer since before the Microsoft acquisition. The company uses the service to tier its training materials to the cloud, but it has been using the new 8000 series appliances for a few months, said Rand Morimoto, Convergent Computing president.

The company used to have five different storage products from three vendors, but the new local volumes has allowed the company to cut back considerably by running its high-speed workloads on it while still automatically tiering to the cloud instead of backing it up to tape.

"We've been in the process of shrinking our data center, so it has been nice to get rid of multiple appliances and consolidate," Morimoto said.

The product is also a big money saver, Morimoto said. The company used to spend $500 a month on tape, now it's paying $150 a month for terabytes of storage.

Trevor Jones is a news writer with TechTarget's data center and virtualization media group. Contact him at [email protected].

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