StorSimple's Cloud Storage Appliance Optimized for Microsoft Apps

StorSimple launched a line of cloud storage appliances that are optimized for Microsoft products, including SharePoint, Exchange and Windows 2008.

StorSimple unveiled a line of cloud storage appliances that are optimized for Microsoft applications, file servers and virtual machine libraries, the company said Dec. 6.

The appliances are deployed on premises within the data center and stores data locally on SSDs (solid-state drives) and in the cloud to offer hybrid storage while maintaining or improving performance, the company said.

Companies need to "think like Bing and Google search algorithms" and not treat all content the same, but weigh each piece differently so that the most important content is accessible first, said Ursheet Parikh, CEO of StorSimple.

StorSimple classifies all content to determine whether it is a working copy or an older version, Ian Howells, chief marketing officer of StorSimple, told eWEEK. It keeps all working copies on the local drives and automatically migrates all other content onto the cloud, he said.

The appliances automatically deduplicates content, which reduces total storage required, said Howells. Each block is then ranked using StorSimple's "BlockRank" algorithm to determine the company's "working set" of files that are "necessary for every day operations," he said.

With only a quarter of the data being stored locally and a deduplication ratio of 10, StorSimple dramatically reduces the amount of data that needs to be stored locally and moved over the WAN, the company said.

According to Howells, content is growing at rates of 50 to 60 percent each year and rapidly becomes redundant as a new version of the file is created each time a change is made. The author needs rapid access to the working set, so keeping that data locally on the appliance ensures that information is available instantly, he said. The remainder of the "less used data," which can make up nearly 75 percent of the business's data, can be moved to the cloud without impacting application performance, he said.

It's not just maintaining performance, as StorSimple claims the appliances help reduce backup and restore times, time to rebuild indexes, and upload times for large files. The amount of time required for SharePoint backups drop 99 percent to 27 seconds using the appliance, from 68 minutes on a standard SharePoint backup, said Howells. Restores are almost as speedy, at 38 seconds instead of 68 minutes, according to StorSimple's benchmarks.

The appliances come in three models: 1010, 5010 and 7010. The StorSimple 1010 is a 1U server that acts as a cloud storage controller, keeping all the data on the cloud. The 1010 is capable of handling up to 50TB of data. The StorSimple 5010 and 7010 are 2U appliances that are hybrid storage controllers, utilizing both local storage and the cloud to offer tiered storage, the company said. The 5010 can handle up to 100TB of data, and the 7010 has a maximum capacity of 200TB.

The StorSimple line differs from competitors like Cirtas and Nasuni because the appliances are optimized specifically for SharePoint, Exchange, Windows Server 2008 and File Services, said Howells. The appliances also support cloud storage providers such as Amazon, AT&T, EMC, Iron Mountain and Microsoft Azure, according to Howells.

With tiered storage, data is stored according to its BlockRank, said Howells. In a SharePoint deployment, the database is always stored on the solid-state drive; the log files are on the SAS drive; and the rest of the content, such as images, text, video and audio, can be spread over SSD, SAS or the cloud, depending on whether it's being used.

The appliance also provides businesses with redundant disaster recovery using the data stored on the cloud, said Howells. And there is instant storage provisioning as well as data encryption on the cloud, he said. "This gives enterprises the best of both worlds-SSD performance and the elasticity of the cloud," said Parikh.

The company launched the StorSimple appliances at the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas.