Microsoft Acquires Cloud-Storage Appliance Provider StorSimple

Redmond, Washington - In the race against stiff competition from Amazon EC2 and Rackspace, Microsoft is expanding its new 'devices and services company' mission to heart on the enterprise side of the house, too. It just announced today that it has acquired cloud-integrated storage device, StorSimple, the compliment to its cloud-based infrastructure, Azure.

Now enlarging its cloud-based arsenal with today's acquisition for an undisclosed sum, Microsoft has lifted the veil on its long-term strategy that it had picked up enterprise cloud computing specialist StorSimple in a deal that will strengthen its offering for Windows Azure customers. Instead of luring enterprises away from the competition, it is focusing on an entirely new subset of customers.

Essentially, the plan is to win over the large enterprises that are still using traditional disks, before Amazon or Rackspace can get to them. And no wonder, Santa Clara, Calif.-based StorSimple is a player in the “cloud-integrated storage (CiS) space”.

In fact, a technology like StorSimple is so attractive to investors and potential acquirers because it connects with multiple cloud services - including ones offered by Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Rackspace - and an enterprise's on-premise storage.

In addition to some pretty cool features, the Silicon Valley-based StorSimple incorporates physical data management services, such as basic storage, backup and recovery, with cloud integration which helps its enterprise customers get the most from both. The firm asserts that its hybrid approach can reduce costs by up to 90 percent, and that its customer base includes businesses across retail, oil and gas, manufacturing, healthcare and more. Hence, it is breaking down the barriers that have prevented large-sized enterprises from selecting cloud-based services.

Microsoft says the pick-up will advance its Cloud OS vision and help customers embrace hybrid cloud computing more efficiently.

“Customers faced with explosive growth in data are looking to the cloud to help them store, manage and archive that data. But, to be effective, cloud storage needs to integrate with IT's current investments,” said Michael Park, corporate vice president, Server and Tools Division for Microsoft. “StorSimple's approach helps customers seamlessly integrate on-premises storage with cloud storage through intelligent automation and management.”

Among other things, StorSimple provides cloud-integrated enterprise storage for Windows and VMware by combining the cloud with on-premises enterprise storage “through a single appliance that delivers high-performance tiered storage, live archiving, cloud-based data protection and disaster recovery,” according to StorSimple's Web site.

Microsoft officials said that the deal will help customers better integrate their local storage with that which is stored virtually.

“The StorSimple device sits in between the cloud storage infrastructure and its applications, and makes it look like they are talking to a local disk,” explained Mike Volpi, an enterprise-focused investor at Index Ventures, who has been an advisor to the company since 2009.

Besides, Park further explained about the announcement on the Windows Azure blog, where he notes, “CiS is a rapidly emerging category of storage solutions that consolidate the management of primary data, backup disaster recovery and archival data, and deliver seamless integration between on premise and cloud environments. This seamless integration and orchestration enables new levels of speed, simplicity and reliability for backup and disaster recovery (DR) while reducing costs for both primary data and data protection.”

However, neither Microsoft nor StorSimple is sharing information about plans around future support of VMware. But Microsoft officials are saying that they will continue to work with other storage partners with both on-premises and cloud-integrated offerings, even after it acquires StorSimple.