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.
- 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!