Microsoft has released the first major software update for StorSimple 8000, the company's line of Azure-backed, hybrid cloud storage arrays. The company acquired StorSimple, an early provider of high-speed, flash-enabled hardware that extends enterprise storage infrastructures into the cloud, in 2012.
StorSimple can be used to offload inactive data, backups and archives to the cloud. Inline data deduplication and compression help drive up storage utilization rates. According to Microsoft's estimates, the appliances can help organizations cut their storage costs by up to 60 percent.
In the newest software release, Microsoft is courting agencies that have embraced its secure government cloud services.
"From a multi-cloud support perspective, StorSimple 8000 series is now generally available in Azure Government, which is a physical and network-isolated instance of Microsoft Azure committed to meeting rigorous compliance requirements and U.S. government policies," stated Guru Pangal, general manager of Hybrid Storage and Data Protection at Microsoft. "Customers can run a commandlet to set the cloud platform on their StorSimple device to Azure Government, prior to registering their StorSimple device on the Azure Government Portal."
By enabling the option, the appliance points all data to a customer's Azure Government account and routes its cloud storage management capabilities through the Azure Government portal. It also instructs the device to turn on the security-enhancing Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) mode. "I am also pleased to announce that the StorSimple 8000 series cryptographic modules have completed validation to the Federal Information Processing Standard – FIPS 140-2," Pangal added.
The update also allows customers to pick their own cloud storage provider.
"Customers can use Amazon S3, Amazon S3 with RRS, and OpenStack-based clouds, such as HPCS (a cloud solution available from Hewlett-Packard that offers public, private, hybrid, and managed private clouds based on OpenStack technology), as the backend storage for their StorSimple solution," Pangal revealed. Storage, backup and data management is still handled by Microsoft's Azure StorSimple service, he noted.
StorSimple now supports Azure Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS). First introduced last year as an enterprise-grade data protection option, the "redundancy option helps keep data durable by storing an equivalent of three copies of data across multiple facilities," Pangal said.
Finally, the company is improving on StorSimple's automation and orchestration capabilities, reducing hands-on IT administration.
"Our migration tools enable our customers to upgrade from a StorSimple 5000/7000 Series solution to a StorSimple 8000 Series solution while maintaining their data in-place. Migration is easily orchestrated using a set of Azure PowerShell commandlets," Pangal asserted.
Microsoft is expanding on those time-saving capabilities of StorSimple with more data movement and management tools. "We are starting to add more automation to StorSimple and with the SDK [software development kit] for Azure PowerShell, administrators can use a set of StorSimple Azure PowerShell commands to automate management tasks," he said.
"With StorSimple Update 1 we can now deliver even more cloud connectivity, automation, redundancy and data migration capabilities to our customers," concluded Pangal.