Microsoft Azure StorSimple: Easy Hybrid Cloud Access. Part 1

    A data warehouse is one of the options that best suits hybrid solutions. Today we can recommend an excellent solution with a minimum configuration for novice users of a cloud data warehouse: Azure StorSimple . This is the same product that Microsoft included in the program after it was acquired by StorSimple in 2013, and which currently complements the Azure cloud services portfolio. Since then, Microsoft has continuously worked to improve this product.

    In this post, we wanted to share with you our knowledge on how you can use StorSimple to adapt to rapidly growing volumes of data.

    What is Microsoft Azure StorSimple?

    In general terms, Microsoft Azure StorSimple is a bridge between on-premises storage networks in Microsoft Azure Cloud. This method allows IT departments to guarantee their users the ability to store large amounts of information in the shortest possible time. This feature can be deactivated as quickly as when activated.

    If you take a closer look at the data warehouse, preparing to work in a common internal IT system immediately makes it clear that the primary working data set (the data that users need in their daily work) only accounts for a small part of the data that the IT system actually needs use.

    • You must back up your primary data to protect against data loss.
    • They must be archived.
    • They must be protected from natural disasters.
    • They must be constantly available.

    These requirements provoked a significant increase in data volumes. The market is discussing the so-called double-digit growth, which causes significant difficulties, the need to attract large investments, and also leads to heavy workload in the IT sector.

    Is Microsoft Azure StorSimple the solution to this problem?

    The Microsoft StorSimple service solves this problem by storing the active working set on a locally installed storage device, while sending information that is not currently in use, it sends in encrypted form to the Microsoft Azure Cloud.

    Microsoft offers two options:

    1. The Microsoft StorSimple 8100 provides 15 TB of local disk memory, which can be expanded up to 40 TB using compression and deduplication. Any additional requirements come from the Microsoft Azure Cloud. In this way, up to 200 TB of memory can be stored on the Microsoft StorSimple 8100.

    2. Containing only 4 units, the StorSimple 8600 model has a capacity of 500 TB, of which local memory is 40-100 TB. The device connects exclusively through 1/10 GbE Ethernet iSCSI and comes bundled with fully redundant internal components to guarantee maximum power reserve.

    At the moment, the extensive capabilities provided by the Microsoft Azure Cloud have become available and are now able to expand these core features. It is in this role that this product is of particular interest. All Microsoft StorSimple devices are managed using the StorSimple Manager in Microsoft Azure. Simply put, you won’t waste your time mastering any complex local set of controls. Moreover, you can take a snapshot of the entire data set locally or in the cloud. The advantage here is that volumes located on the local device can be duplicated for testing purposes (for example, using Azure virtual machines). If I may say so, it's also easy to back up all data in Azure Backup VaultRecognizing Enterprise Tape Architecture Overnight Obsolete.

    Users are also protected from completely losing the location of the data center, as Azure StorSimple provides the virtual script application with access to data stored in Azure Blob Storage . The data that was issued with the storage command in Azure is subsequently copied to the local surrogate device immediately after the company’s location returns to online. In addition, if necessary, data can be copied to different places. Figuratively speaking, such storage can be called acting according to the Dropbox principle, although Microsoft will not be delighted with such a comparison.

    What use cases are supposedly acceptable for devices?

    Let's start with the classic backup and restore script. Modern data backup and recovery solutions, such as Veeam , mainly use the amount of hard drive memory as data storage for backup. The StorSimple service makes available a valid working dataset locally, ensuring the fastest recovery time possible. After all, access to the latest backups is most often required. Archived backups (for example, monthly or annual backups) are automatically relegated to the background, since in most cases there will be no need for them.

    Classic file programsrepresent another use case that is key in any IT system. Even if there are many other new approaches to collaboration today (for example, Sharepoint), file management programs will remain among the most important workflow management tools. The device program for working with files, integrated into Microsoft StorSimple, provides access to the current working dataset in the local storage area, while guaranteeing a quick response to requests. In addition, data is subject to compression and deduplication. All other data that is used less frequently is automatically transferred in encrypted form to the Azure Cloud. This principle is used not only in classic file programs. Even archives can be created this way.

    What work tasks are supposedly unacceptable?

    First of all, integrated SSDs are one of the outstanding devices, which guarantees a large number of I / O operations per second. However, the configuration of the hard drive is static, so in the future it will be impossible to add additional hard drives to improve work efficiency. Moreover, StorSimple does not provide a wide range of administrative functions that would be familiar to users, for example, EMC VNX systems allow you to perform operations such as segmenting data, and also provide other services. In most cases, such actions are performed automatically and the manager in no way affects them. It is very important to check in advance whether any mid-size VMware cluster or SQL database can be stored in StorSimple.


    Not every scenario will need a high-tech data storage solution. The StorSimple storage device allows its users to reduce overall costs while remaining easy to use. Moreover, companies that have already entered into an Enterprise Agreement (EA) with Microsoft, which includes a mandatory payment of Azure, will find that storage equipment is provided free of charge, not including a mandatory payment of Azure in the amount of 50,000 euros.

    Recent Developments

    Microsoft guarantees that the product meets all the latest requirements: in addition to regularly updating existing functions, the company introduces completely new core functions. For example, a virtual array has been available for StorSimple since early March. Generally speaking, now the product is not a hardware device, but takes the form of a virtual device that functions as virtual memory in Hyper-V or VMware . Such a virtual array can provide iSCSI or SMB shared resources.

    Without going into details, StorSimple provides an outstanding product with a minimum configuration, necessary to start working with hybrid cloud scenarios, especially with the parallel conclusion of the Microsoft EA agreement. In the future, it will help companies still undecided to overcome the first difficulties on the way to the cloud. Installation takes only one day.

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