"By coupling StorSimple with Windows Azure, Microsoft offers something truly unique in the market: hybrid cloud storage," Microsoft CVP Brad Anderson wrote in a recent blog post. "This kind of approach to storage is a critical part of our Cloud OS vision, and it is a key part of how we look at the adoption and application of hybrid clouds."
A year after the acquisition, StorSimple sales continue to grow much faster than anybody expected, Anderson wrote.
"To put that in context, market demand is significantly ahead of our initial expectations, and deployment of StorSimple systems grew by 700 percent in the six months following the acquisition. In a very short amount of time, StorSimple has become a key part of our differentiated storage portfolio, and it is a core part of Windows Azure's storage offering," Anderson said.
Integration with Azure Cloud
Anderson noted two use cases that are trending in the market: seamless integration with Azure that uses public clouds as an extended tier of primary storage as the data gets colder; and rapid back-up and recovery, made possible via a combination of several processes that automate data protection via snapshots to the cloud.
The latter also supports data recovery for business continuity that is much faster than conventional 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," Anderson said.
Cities Use StorSimple for Multiple Purposes
For example, the city of San Jose, Calif. deployed StorSimple to upgrade its backup and restore process, and later to replace its storage-area network entirely. The city of Palo Alto, Calif., which selected StorSimple over a traditional SAN, ended up spending $60,000 against the $250,000 it would have taken to build out the SAN, Anderson said.
Microsoft has been making storage news for most of the past 24 months, with the launch of the updated SkyDrive cloud storage service, a deal with Symantec to provide cloud-based disaster recovery, and Windows 8, which includes new storage-related features.
The clear message here: Microsoft, despite its slow start in the cloud, is becoming a serious player in cloud storage, thanks to its installed base and new products that work and are easy for business people to use.