Today Microsoft announced some interesting news on StorSimple:
- introduction of two new StorSimple arrays
- a new StorSimple Virtual Appliance
- a new Azure service called ‘Microsoft Azure StorSimple’.
For those unaware of Microsoft StorSimple: it is a hardware storage appliance available in 4 models which is placed in an on-premises location. It has a couple of SSD and SAS drives for local storage. Volumes are served to hosts using iSCSI. SMB shares are not supported yet. StorSimple complements Tier1 storage systems by being able to automatically move infrequently accessed data to Microsoft Azure storage. Data stored in Azure remains available for access by users and applications. Users will only notice a small delay when accessing data stored in Azure. Think about a single stretched volume which has data located on the StorSimple local storage as well as in Azure.
The main driver to use StorSimple devices is saving on storage costs while its unique disaster recovery features are a nice bonus as well.
StorSimple is limited to serving unstructured data like Office files etc.
The interesting news of today is that StorSimple will be available as a virtual appliance as well. An Azure virtual machine can run the StorSimple software and perform the same features as the hardware appliance placed on-premises.
This will be available from August 1.
The news was announced in this blog titled Introducing Microsoft Azure StorSimple
The two new arrays are the 8100 and the 8600. The 8100 has a raw local storage capacity of 15 TB while the 8600 has 40 TB. By using compression and deduplication the effective capacity for the 8100 is 75 TB to 200 TB for the 8600.
The new StorSimple virtual appliance enables for example a scenario where customers replicate on-premises StorSimple snapshots to Azure based virtual appliances. Applications running in Azure can then analyze data without disrupting production workloads running on-premises.
The StorSimple virtual appliance is only supported when the StorSimple 8100 and StorSimple 8600 are used. Current models are not supported! Which is a big pity if you ask me.
Another use case is disaster recovery. A StorSimple hardware appliance is a single point of failure. If it breaks down or is destroyed because of fire/flooding/collapse of the datacenter, customers will require a spare StorSimple appliance to be able to recover data. Now recovery can be performed using StorSimple virtual appliances running in Azure.
Recovery using StorSimple is not having to wait before a restore has complete. StorSimple instant recovery works as follows: a cloudbased snapshot is mounted to a StorSimple array or virtual appliance. Then the data is made available to users instantly. The file is only moved from Azure to the appliance when it is being accessed. So instead of recovering all files, only files which are accessed are restored while showing all files.
The Virtual Appliance connects to Azure VMs using a virtual iSCSI Ethernet network and the same platform volume and storage management tools (such as Windows Disk Management) and iSCSI initiators that are used on-premises. That means many of the same system management skills used on-premises are used in Azure to do the same things there.
This Microsoft blog has some details!
Management of the 8000 series arrays and the Azure StorSimple virtual appliance running in Azure is done using a new Azure service called ‘Azure StorSimple Manager‘.
StorSimple Manager provides a central console for monitoring multiple StorSimple devices which are located in for example branch offices. It shows whether it is online or offline, shows the ratio of the provisioned capacity to the maximum capacity of the device. It also can be used to restore a cloudbased backup from for example an on-premises StorSimple device to a StorSimple virtual device.
Two new hardware appliances will be available: the model 8100 and the 8600.The 8100 is a 2u model while the 8600 has 4u. The specifications are shown below. For a full overview see this page.
The StorSimple appliances are not cheap. The 8600 has a listprice of $ 170.000,-
The pricing overview showing all currently available StorSimple devices is here.