One year ago this week, Microsoft made an investment in the future of cloud computing. This investment was intended to address one of the cloud’s most persistent issues: Enterprise-grade storage.
At the time, this investment was 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; consider these positive trends running 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’d (and expensive) data management functions like primary storage, backup, and archiving.
All of this was on our minds when we acquired StorSimple on November 15, 2012. This acquisition was an investment aimed at helping our customers solve data storage challenges using cloud and advanced storage technologies.
By coupling StorSimple with Windows Azure, Microsoft offers something truly unique in the market: Hybrid Cloud storage. 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.
Successfully integrating acquisitions into the parent company is both science and art, but, from the moment the StorSimple team joined the Microsoft Cloud & Enterprise family, we started accelerating its growth in the marketplace and around the world.
A year later, StorSimple continues to grow much faster than we expected at the time of acquisition. To put that in context, market demand is significantly ahead of our initial expectations, and deployment of StorSimple systems grew by 700% in the 6 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.
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.
This kind of functionality has led to StorSimple’s growth and adoption across a range of industries, like its use by the City of San Jose (who used it to first upgrade their back-up and restore process, and then later replace their SAN entirely), and the City of Palo Alto who selected StorSimple’s offering over a traditional SAN (at a cost of $60k vs. $250k).
There are also enterprises like Steelcase Inc.. and Black & Veatch. Steelcase has used StorSimple to make their SharePoint backup and disaster recovery function 75% faster, reduce database restore time by 87%, and reduce SAN storage costs by 46%. Black & Veatch, a $3+ billion global construction firm reduced their monthly per GB storage cost from $1.85 to 10 cents.
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 & System Center has innovations that can significantly improve existing storage environments.
Next-gen on-premises storage: for customers needing 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 a cutting edge architecture for hybrid cloud storage – StorSimple + Windows Azure – to solve data growth and data protection challenges.
To learn more about Microsoft’s portfolio of enterprise storage offerings, check out our new storage solutions page.