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Microsoft-centric hyper-convergence vendor Gridstore will add tools for implementing Microsoft Azure cloud storage in the next upgrade to its operating system.
Gridstore HyperConverged Infrastructure 3.5 software is in limited deployment with beta customers and scheduled for general availability in June. The upgrade prepackages automated software scripts for Microsoft Windows Server R2, Microsoft Hyper-V, Windows Systems Center 2012, Azure Pack and Azure Site Recovery.
Azure Pack is a free available download of Microsoft Azure cloud storage technologies for use in an enterprise's data center, allowing IT organizations to create private cloud services for internal customers. Azure Pack runs on top of Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2.
The bundled Microsoft software stack enables customers to use clustered Gridstore HyperConverged Appliance hardware nodes to launch private clouds with a Microsoft Azure subscription. The Gridstore nodes use flash as persistent storage with erasure coding for data protection.
"We are exclusively focused on the Microsoft environment. We're the only ones to bring a native, bare-metal implementation of hyper-convergence for the Windows market. We've taken our Gridstore building blocks and put cloud connectivity around it," Gridstore CTO Kelly Murphy said.
Storage provisioning in Windows System Center, per-VM QoS
Hyper-converged platforms consolidate computing power, networking, storage and virtualization in one hardware unit. Gridstore sells its HyperConverged Appliance in a minimum of three nodes and supports clusters of up to 256 nodes.
Gridstore also markets a hybrid version, although demand has been dwindling in recent years.
"We used to ship just hybrid [systems], but customers now predominantly want to buy all-flash. That's been a pretty strong trend, and we're selling very little hybrid now," Murphy said.
The Azure Pack integration provides automated PowerShell scripts for setting up and connecting to Microsoft Azure Cloud Computing platform. The revamped OS includes more than 100 APIs to enable Azure subscribers to manage and provision storage directly within Windows System Center.
Gridstore enhanced performance tuning to set IOPS policies for different virtual machines (VMs) and guarantee quality of service. That enables storage admins to enforce reserves and limits on a per-VM basis.
Cloud-based DR marks first of several workload-specific releases
Gridstore sells its all-flash hyper-converged storage exclusively to Microsoft shops. Most hyper-convergence vendors market hybrid systems to companies hosting virtual production storage in VMware vSphere, although Nutanix also supports Hyper-V and recently added an all-flash appliance.
Murphy said Azure cloud connectivity marks the first of several planned rollouts focusing on specific workloads for Gridstore hyper-convergence.
"We're taking our data-center-in-a-box concept and will be targeting different types of use cases that people can stand up quickly. This is designed for companies that are trying to get to the next level of capability," Murphy said.
George Crump, the president and founder of IT analyst firm Storage Switzerland, said Gridstore's upcoming software release targets a substantial installed base of Microsoft users that are looking to swiftly adopt Azure as a storage tier.
"This is an important next step for Gridstore. It gives them built-in cloud connectivity that's going to appeal to the larger-sized business. I think it's immediately attractive from a disaster recovery standpoint. And then, longer term, it's attractive for companies that want to use the cloud to do cloud bursting and cloud development and things like that," Crump said.
Carol Sliwa contributed to this story.
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