Microsoft jumps into DC hardware fray

Tim Stammers/Ovum
22 Oct 2012

Microsoft has announced its intention to buy StorSimple, a startup seller of enterprise storage systems, for an undisclosed price.

The move reflects Microsoft’s determination to be a cloud leader, and shows that its promise to become a “devices and services company” extends well beyond its forthcoming Surface tablet, and into data center hardware.

StorSimple sells sophisticated midrange storage systems, which store data in public clouds, such as Microsoft’s own Azure cloud, as well as on customers’ premises.

This is a new style of storage that is being pioneered by a handful of suppliers, most of which are startups, and none of which has yet seen spectacular sales growth. Microsoft, however, clearly agrees with Ovum that wider enterprise use of public storage clouds will happen in time. It has taken the plunge into data center hardware so that it can direct the resulting flow of data toward its own Azure cloud. In doing so it has presented a challenge to giant suppliers of conventional storage systems, such as EMC, IBM, HP, and NetApp.

The strength of the challenge will depend in part on Microsoft’s ability to convince enterprise storage buyers that a software supplier with limited storage experience can truly replace the incumbents.

Gateway to public cloud

Public cloud data storage has much promise. Unlike conventional on-premise storage, it is elastic and infinitely scalable, and carries highly predictable costs. As data volumes balloon, these will become increasingly appealing qualities. Public cloud storage also eliminates the major overhead of data backup, which continues to be one of the biggest difficulties for IT storage teams.

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