Microsoft has expanded its cloud strategy with its planned acquisition of StorSimple, a developer of hybrid local and hybrid cloud storage technology for Windows platforms that could lead Microsoft to compete against partners that provide Azure-focused cloud storage gateways.
Microsoft said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire StorSimple as a way to expand its cloud technology and help its customers better take advantage of hybrid cloud computing.
StorSimple develops cloud storage appliances featuring local capacity of up to 100 TB integrated with cloud-based primary, archive, backup and disaster recovery capabilities.
The acquisition of StorSimple brings up the question of whether Microsoft will be competing with storage vendors that have been developing cloud storage gateways to Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.
StorSimple brings to Microsoft hardware appliances that provide both local storage and a gateway to cloud storage offerings. Others in this part of the storage business include Riverbed with its Whitewater cloud storage appliance, and Nasuni, which develops unified NAS and SAN storage solutions that leverage such cloud storage platforms as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Nirvanix and AT&T.
StorSimple could also give Microsoft Azure cloud a competitive boost against arch-rival VMware, which recently made cloud storage a priority with the integration of new Avamar backup technology from parent company EMC. Likewise, it could also boost Microsoft's ability to compete against other cloud platforms such as Rackspace and Amazon.
Michael Park, corporate vice president for Microsoft's server and tools division, wrote in a blog post that cloud storage has become compelling as an alternative technology for customers looking for flexible, scalable and economic ways to store data.
"[Cloud-integrated storage] 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 ... [to enable] new levels of speed, simplicity and reliability for backup and disaster recovery (DR) while reducing costs for both primary data and data protection," Park wrote.
Park also said Microsoft in the last few months has been talking about its "Cloud OS" vision of a consistent, intelligent and automated platform of compute, network and storage across customers' and service providers' data centers and the Windows Azure public cloud.
"StorSimple’s approach of seamless integration of on-premises storage with cloud storage is clearly aligned with our Cloud OS vision. Their innovative solutions enable IT organizations to reduce the cost of storing data for backup, DR and archival and ensure fast recovery through a single console," Park wrote.
Park, in his blog, seemed to anticipate potential questions related to possible competition with his company's storage partners from the acquisition of StorSimple.
"There are a number of robust storage options already available that integrate with Windows Server 2012 and Windows Azure and we will continue to work with our broad ecosystem of partners to deliver a variety of innovative storage solutions -- both on-premises and cloud integrated.
"By working together Microsoft and StorSimple can help you with the storage challenges you face today and continue to provide platforms and technologies on which our partners can innovate and extend."
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Microsoft and StorSimple spokespeople were not available to provide more information on the acquisition by press time.