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Microsoft debuts cloud storage service for enterprises

Microsoft is including a new service for its storage appliances to back up data on its Azure cloud

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Enterprises looking to cut costs of storing data can soon investigate a new service from Microsoft designed to save money by backing up information in the cloud.

The service is available for a new set of storage appliances that the company will start selling Aug. 1.

"StorSimple brings together the high-performance of on-premise storage, with the bottomless storage benefits of the cloud," said Mike Schutz, Microsoft general manager of cloud platform product marketing.

Using the new Microsoft StorSimple servers and associated cloud services could cut storage costs by up to 60 percent, Microsoft estimates, because they'll reduce the work that IT staff will have to do, and companies won't need to purchase additional hardware.

The cloud services can be used as part of a disaster recovery operation, or to help offload to the cloud computationally intensive tasks such as data analysis.

The offering builds on Microsoft's 2012 acquisition of storage appliance vendor StorSimple.

The new StorSimple appliances can store data on the Microsoft Azure storage service in the same manner as they would store the data on their own disks. To allow the appliances to do this, Microsoft developed software that runs the StorSimple technology on Azure.

The StorSimple 8000 series of arrays is designed to coordinate operations with Azure without any intervention from storage system managers.

In this setup, Azure can provide backup services or be used as a second platform for computing tasks.

By duplicating data in Azure, StorSimple eliminates the need for an organization to maintain an additional on-site tape or disk backup system. An organization's system can be designed so that if the primary repository of data fails, operations can switch over to Azure backup and resume operations. Any new data gathered in Azure can be transferred back to the primary site, once normal operations are restored.

Duplicating the data in Azure will also allows organizations to reuse that information for other tasks, such as analysis, that can be conducted within Azure.

With this release, Microsoft has also provided new software to let administrators manage from a single interface both the StorSimple data repositories running in Azure and the in-house StorSimple appliances.

Prior generations of StorSimple appliances have already been used by a number of organizations, including Mazda, SK Telecom, the Sundance Film Festival, GF Health Products, and the city of San Jose, California, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft will demonstrate StorSimple's new features at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference, to be held next week in Washington, D.C.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com



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