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Microsoft strengthens cloud play with StorSimple acquisition

Microsoft Corp. today announced it is acquiring StorSimple, a cloud integrated storage (CIS) provider that uses its appliances to consolidate primary storage, archiving, backup and disaster recovery into the cloud. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The cloud appliance company has been at the forefront of designing its technology so companies can converge on-premise primary storage, backup and archiving to the cloud. Its appliances provide full primary storage capabilities, with up to 100 TB of on-premise storage capacity for enterprise applications while pushing data into the cloud.  StorSimple’s software 2.0 version, which does automatic tiering on solid-state drives (SSDs), SAS and the cloud, has a volume prioritization feature for moving data between local and cloud tiers.

“This tells me Microsoft is serious about getting into primary storage,” said Arun Taneja, founder, president and consulting analyst for the Taneja Group. “They can use StorSimple as an on-ramp to their (Azure) cloud, but they don’t need StorSimple for that. StorSimple goes way beyond an on-ramp. Amazon built their own gateway for their cloud, so Microsoft must have more in mind for StorSimple.”

Mike Schutz, Microsoft’s general manager of the server and tools business division, would not comment on whether the Santa Clara, CA.-based StorSimple will be folded into Microsoft. He also declined to discuss any other specific plans for its new acquisition.

“We just signed an agreement. The deal is not done (and) we will share more details after we close,” he said. “(But) StorSimple’s solution and technology is tightly aligned with our strategy of what we call Cloud OS. It’s a hybrid cloud focus. This is a perfect match for our cloud strategy.”

StorSimple’s systems are optimized for Microsoft applications such as Exchange and SharePoint, user files and virtual appliances. It uses Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to take snapshots of Microsoft applications and the Windows file system for backups. It also is certified with VMware.

“StorSimple started from the ground up doing Microsoft applications,” said Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst of Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). “It was really specific around Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft for applications. This is not about Microsoft trying to be a storage company. It’s trying to be a cloud-enabled company.”

StorSimple also has a number of cloud provider partnerships, including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, EMC Atmos and Nirvanix. But Microsoft’s Schutz said there are “no plans to change the current partners StorSimple has today.”

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