StorSimple–The Answer I Thought I’d Never Give

Lately I’ve found myself recommending StorSimple for customers on a frequent basis. That’s a complete reversal since February 28th, and I’ll explain why.


Microsoft acquired StorSimple, a physical appliance that is made in Mexico by a subsidiary of Seagate called Xyratex, several years ago. This physical appliance sucked for several reasons:

  • It shared storage via iSCSI only so it didn’t fit well into a virtualization stack, especially Hyper-V which has moved more to SMB 3.0.
  • The tiering engine was as dumb as a pile of bricks, working on a first in-first out basis with no measure of access frequency.
  • This was a physical appliance, requiring more rackspace, in an era when we’re virtualizing as much as possible.
  • The cost was, in theory, zero to acquire the box, but you did require a massive enterprise agreement (large enterprise only) and there were sneaky costs (transport and import duties).
  • StorSimple wasn’t Windows, so Windows concepts were just not there.


As usual, Microsoft has Microsoft-ized StorSimple over the years. The product has improved. And thanks to Microsoft’s urge to sell more via MS partners, the biggest improvement came on March 1st.

  • Storage is shared by either SMB 3.0 or iSCSI. SMB 3.0 is the focus because you can share much larger volumes with it.
  • The tiering engine is now based on a heat map. Frequently accessed blocks are kept locally. Colder blocks are deduped, compressed, encrypted and sent to an Azure storage account, which can be cool blob storage (ultra cheap disk).
  • StorSimple is available as a virtual appliance, with up to 64 TB (hot + cold, with between 500 GB and 8 TB of that kept locally) per appliance.
  • The cost is very low …
  • … because StorSimple is available on a per-day + per GB in the cloud basis via the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partner program since March 1st.

You can run a StorSimple on your Hyper-V or VMware hosts for just €3.466 (RRP) per appliance per day. The storage can be as little as €0.0085 per GB per month.

FYI, StorSimple:

  • Backs itself up automatically to the cloud with 13 years of retention.
  • Has it’s own patented DR system based on those backups. You drop in a new appliance, connect it to the storage in the cloud, the volume metadata is downloaded, and people/systems can start accessing the data within 2 minutes.
  • Requires 5 Mbps data per virtual appliance for normal usage.

Why Use StorSimple

It’s a simple thing really:

  • Archive: You need to store a lot of data that is not accessed very frequently. The scenarios I repeatedly encounter are CCTV and medical scans.
  • File storage: You can use a StorSimple appliance as a file server, instead of a classic Windows Server. The shares are the same – the appliance runs Windows Server – and you manage share permissions the same way. This is ideal for small businesses and branch offices.
  • Backup target: Veeam and Veritas support using StorSimple as a backup target. You get the benefit of automatically storing backups in the cloud with lots of long term retention.
  • It’s really easy to set up! Download the VHDX/VHD/VMDK, create the VM, attach the disk, configure networking, provision shares/LUNs from the Azure Portal, and just use the storage.


So if you have one of those scenarios, and the cost of storage, complexities of backup and DR are questions, then StorSimple might just be the answer.

I still can’t believe that I just wrote that!

13 thoughts on “StorSimple–The Answer I Thought I’d Never Give”

  1. How is the StorSimple virtual Appliance protected from Ransomware attacks that want to encrypt the data over SMB? I guess it is not possible/supported to install any agents from 3rd Parties (e.g. Trend Micro Deep Security) on the Appliance to prevent such attacks?

    1. Such attacks actually come from the PCs. Install security on the PCs. And stop this crap getting in in the first place by deploying advanced threat protection, not AV solutions from the 1990s.

  2. Hi Aidan, you mentioned that the StorSimple physical appliance sucked for several reasons including the support only for iSCSI. But you’re saying it has recently improved to where it has been updated to support SMB 3.0, do you have a reference you can point out? I know that the Virtual Appliance support SMB 3.0 but I missed the update/news about the Physical Appliance now supporting it. Thanks.

  3. Should have been rolled in to the File Server role in Windows Server 2016 as standard? Didn’t know they’d opened up a per day pricing method, thanks for the info Aidan. As you say, perfect for the Branch Office and Small Business server scenario’s, where they have 10+ years of files on fast filling up HDD’s, that no one ever accesses.

  4. Ah ok – sorry didn’t realize the post was about the Virtual Appliance — in the post it mentioned the following which led us to believe you were also talking about the Physical Appliance….

    “Microsoft acquired StorSimple, a physical appliance that is made in Mexico by a subsidiary of Seagate called Xyratex, several years ago. This physical appliance sucked for several reasons:”

    1. That’s the history, setting context, and part of my reasoning why I did not like the product as it was.

  5. Hey Aidan, thanks for the update on this tech. Is store simple designed to share the same data across multiple remote offices? If so, how does it handle file locking?

  6. Also, you said that you can store between 500GB – 8TB locally. Is there any reason you can’t store more then 8TB locally? It would be nice to be able to store the entire dataset locally in some locations. For instance, say we want to take a local backup of this data and not trust it all in the cloud.

  7. In your opinion, would the Virtual Array suffice as a backup target for larger enterprises as well? I keep seeing the terms ‘branch office’ and ‘small business’ when reading up on the virtual array making it seem it might not be suitable for a larger enterprise.

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