In November 2012, Microsoft made an investment in the future of cloud storage. This investment was intended to address one of the cloud’s most persistent issues: Enterprise-grade storage.
This acquisition came as a bit of a surprise to some. Then – as now – the storage industry faced one of its most profound shifts ever, and the changes ahead were going to both challenge and benefit enterprises and service providers To really get a sense of what was (and is!) coming, consider a couple quick data points:
- Data (in particular unstructured data) is increasing at 40-60% per year
- Operating costs are increasing with the growth of storage – and these costs are amplified by regulation that impacts data retention policies
- Data growth + new regulations that impact data retention have made data protection much harder and much more time / budget consuming
It’s not all doom and gloom, however; below mentioned positive trends counter those first three challenges:
- Storage options in public clouds, and the adoption of cloud storage is growing
- Newer storage system designs are consolidating traditionally silo’s (and expensive) data management functions like primary storage, backup, and archiving
All of this was in mind when Microsoft acquired StorSimple. This acquisition was an investment aimed at helping Microsoft’s customers solve data storage challenges using cloud and advanced storage technologies. By coupling StorSimple with Microsoft Azure, Microsoft offers something truly unique in the market: Hybrid Cloud storage. This kind of approach to storage is a critical part of their Cloud OS vision, and it is a key part of how they look at the adoption and application of Hybrid Clouds. What is StorSimple? StorSimple is a Cloud-integrated Storage (CiS) solution that stores highly active or heavily used data locally while it moves older and less frequently used data into the cloud. StorSimple has become a key part of Microsoft’s differentiated storage portfolio, and it is a core part of Microsoft Azure’s storage offering. There are two specific uses of StorSimple that have been particularly well received in the market:
- Seamless integration with Azure that uses public clouds as an extended tier of primary storage as the data gets colder. This tiering radically changes the scalability of traditional on-premises enterprise storage, as well as the cost of maintaining this data.
- Rapid back-up and recovery is made possible via a combination of several processes that automate data protection via snapshots to the cloud, and support much faster data recovery (aka business continuity) than traditional tape backups. This emphasis on continuity is a key part of the disaster recovery scenario; the only data that is actually needed is downloaded to the new data center, and this means the recovery times can often be measured in hours vs. day or weeks.
StorSimple is part of Microsoft’s broader storage strategy to address customer’s data management needs. In addition to supporting traditional storage architectures with Windows Server technologies, Microsoft has leveraged core and emerging trends in cloud and virtualization to create a broad set of storage solutions that support a breadth of workloads across on-premises, hybrid and public cloud environments. Traditional on-premises storage environments: for customers want to retain their existing storage infrastructure, Windows Server and System Center offer innovations that can significantly improve existing storage environments. Next-gen on-premises storage: for customers those want to keep their primary storage on-prem and achieve enterprise performance at reduced cost, Windows Server 2012 R2 has many innovations to create a next-generation on-prem storage solution using common, low-cost hardware. Hybrid cloud storage: for customers looking to leverage cloud economics while retaining on-premises control, Microsoft has cutting edge architecture for hybrid cloud storage – StorSimple + Microsoft Azure – to solve data growth and data protection challenges.