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Microsoft Updates StorSimple and Previews New 'Virtual Array' Storage Solution

Microsoft issued an update today for its StorSimple 8000 Series products and also rolled out preview of a new local virtual machine storage solution.

The new virtual machine preview is called the "StorSimple Virtual Array," which is designed to serve the needs of smaller organizations with remote offices. In general, StorSimple is Microsoft's hybrid storage product line that's available either as an appliance (software plus hardware) or as a virtual appliance (software only). The term, "hybrid storage," is used because StorSimple manages frequently accessed data in local stores while other data get stored in a more remote datacenter. Microsoft acquired the technology back in 2012.

StorSimple Virtual Array
The StorSimple Virtual Array preview is "a single, easy to deploy solution designed for small environments where there is minimal IT infrastructure and management," according to an announcement by Mike Neil, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Cloud and Enterprise. It's a virtual machine supporting 64TB of data that can be used to centralize data management and support disaster recovery scenarios.

Organizations can configure StorSimple Virtual Array preview as a file server via a network attached storage (NAS) approach. Alternatively, it can be used for small SQL databases with an iSCSI server as a storage area network (SAN). When used as a file server, it enables end users to restore files from recent backups, according to Sharath Suryanarayan, StorSimple's senior program manager, in a blog post.

The StorSimple Virtual Array product is designed to be run in an organization's local infrastructure, according to a Microsoft spokesperson:

StorSimple Virtual Array runs on-premises (not in the cloud) as a VM on a virtualized host and provides hybrid cloud storage for smaller enterprise environments where there is minimal IT infrastructure and management. So it provides an easy, highly simplified way to adopt HCS there and comes with all the goodness -- primary storage, integrated data protection, location independent DR. This can be deployed as NAS (with SMB) or as SAN.

StorSimple Virtual Array preview runs on various hypervisors, including Hyper-V from 2008 R2 and VMware ESXi from version 5.5. IT pros can manage the StorSimple Virtual Array preview across regions using the Azure management portal.

StorSimple 8000 Update 2
Microsoft also announced today that StorSimple 8000 Update 2 is now available. It's a no-cost update, according to a video featuring Mike Schutz, general manager of cloud and platform marketing at Microsoft. Update 2 adds a "local volumes" capability to the products, which is designed to support workloads with high input-output needs, such as SQL Server workloads or virtual machine storage. The local volumes feature of Update 2 also adds an ability to leverage the new StorSimple Virtual Array product, according to Neil.

"Local volumes enable primary storage to be stored within the local tier of the StorSimple 8000 series physical array or the StorSimple Virtual Array, without the data being tiered to Azure to provide the performance needed for applications that cannot tolerate cloud latencies," Neil explained.

Updated StorSimple Cloud Appliance
Neil also described a "new StorSimple Cloud Appliance." This version has been updated to support Azure Premium Storage via solid-state disks for the "local storage tier." Microsoft's StorSimple Cloud Appliance is yet another product that's just available through Azure services. This updated virtual appliance runs in a virtual machine on Azure and is based on StorSimple 8020, per the spokesperson:

StorSimple Cloud Appliance is a VM in Azure that allows customers to access data backed up in Azure and make it available to cloud-based applications. We currently have one today (StorSimple 8010) which uses Azure Standard storage. The one we introduced (in today's announcement) is the new StorSimple Cloud Appliance (StorSimple 8020) that uses Azure Premium Storage for higher performance needs. This is deployed in Azure as a SAN.

Lastly, Microsoft announced a scripting enhancement to help automate disaster recovery scenarios in conjunction with using Azure services. Microsoft has new automation scripts that can be used to "integrate workflows between Azure Site Recovery and StorSimple 8000 Series," Neil said.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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