What is Microsoft Hybrid Storage?

Hello everyone! My name is Ekaterina Kiseleva, and I work for Microsoft as a Technical Solution Sales Professional in Azure and EMS. As Kirill has started Microsoft Hybrid Cloud fundamentals in the previous post, I’d like to continue with telling you what stands for our Hybrid Storage approach.

As all of you may know, Microsoft has the unique storage offering for hybrid deployments called StorSimple. The hardware part of the solution was historically an appliance produced by Xyratex company from California, bought afterwards by Seagate and now fully serviced by Microsoft. The main thing about StorSimple is obviously it’s software, which allows you to build an enormous storage both on-premises and in the cloud, fully featured with everything we like about storage appliances – compression, deduplication, thin provisioning and tiering. From the 1st of October, 2015, the appliance is shipped fully by Microsoft, so there’s no more need in involving Seagate.

So, basically StorSimple is a 1Gbit/10Gbit iSCSI storage appliance fully packed with 3.5” HDDs and SSDs, currently shipped in two models – 8100 in 2U with 12 disks and 8600 in 4U with 24 disks. The main feature of StorSimple is its ability to automatically tier hot and cold data across local storage and the cloud. So, there’s no need in buying new enclosures for additional storage, neither you need tape drives and cartridges any more. Data placed on StorSimple will be always written on speedy SSDs and then automatically tiered to a lower speed level – HDDs, and after that to the cloud. While you maintain small amounts of data, you have all your volumes on local storage, but once the amount of data has reached the local capacity threshold, StorSimple chooses what is the coldest and send it to the cloud. Your volumes become rubber and span like a natural born hybrid storage. By the way, starting from December, 2015, StorSimple supports the Local Only Volume feature, that stands for provisioning non-migrating volumes. It may be useful for data which is latency sensitive but randomly read, like Exchange database.

Apart from deduplicating, compressing, encoding and automaticaly tiering data into the cloud,  StorSimple has an ability to backup itself both locally and to the cloud. Local backups are stored on the same appliance (and cannot be stored anywhere else) and are the best thing for restoring for the previous state in a short timeframe but with the smallest RPO. While cloud backups stand for long-time retention, and can become the real history. In the Snapshot Manager you’ll actually see no more than five years’ period, but if you make the schedule which contains several policies, you can increase the retention period as you like.

StorSimple can make a great disaster recovery solution together with Azure Site Recovery scenario, especially in the case of iSCSI disks directly attached to virtual machines. As you may know, iSCSI volumes aren’t replicated when you apply ASR to Hyper-V scenarios, but if these are StorSimple iSCSI volumes presented directly to your VMs you may be sure they’ll be backed up to the cloud on a regular basis with StorSimpleCloud Snapshot technology.

Finally, I’d like to add that StorSimple can actually cope not only with Azure, but also with AWS and Open-stack based clouds. Amazing, isn't it?