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Microsoft and CommVault Target Azure for Backup, Archiving

Looking to incent enterprises to use its Windows Azure cloud service to backup and archive their data, Microsoft today launched a discounted plan that lets customers store up to 41 TB of data for one year for $50,000.

At 8.5 cents per GB, that's a healthy discount over the current per-GB rate of about 12.5 cents, said Karl Dittman, a Microsoft business development director. "Normally a customer would have to purchase a petabyte of storage in order to get this pricing model we are providing for  [approximately] 50 TB," Dittman said. That's not the upper limit; pricing will scale for larger amounts of storage.

Microsoft is offering the service with longtime partner CommVault, whose Simpana 9 Express software will allow IT pros to manage their backups and archives. The 41 TB limit covers standard Windows Azure storage. For those using non-geo replicated storage, the limit is 62 TB.

Simpana 9 Express includes a policy engine, supports data de-duplication, encryption and support for application awareness with Microsoft apps, said Randy De Meno, CommVault's chief technologist for Windows products.

Aimed at midsized and large enterprises, Simpana provides backup, recovery and archiving of Microsoft's key software offerings, including file services, SharePoint, Exchange and SQL Server, to premises systems running Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V and to the Windows Azure cloud service.

Customers sign up for the service from Microsoft, which is providing free usage of CommVault's software for the year. By CommVault's estimate, it costs $8,000 per TB for primary disk storage on premises.

Less clear is how much it will cost in subsequent years. In a call with Microsoft's Dittman and CommVault officials, they said it will depend on the customer's configuration, noting the amount of stored data will only increase over time. Dittman did say Microsoft will continue to offer the 8.5-cents-per-GB rate for Windows Azure storage but customers will have to buy licenses for CommVault's full-fledged Simpana 9 package through the vendor or its channel partners.

Both companies see this as an opportunity for enterprises to use Azure for backup and archiving of Microsoft-based data initially and, ultimately, Linux and Unix data, as well. CommVault is not the first vendor to link its software to Windows Azure; Symantec's Backup Exec and CA's ARCserve offerings also allow customers to backup their data to Microsoft's cloud service.

It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will offer similar pricing for bundles with other storage software providers. But the bigger question is how quickly enterprises will turn to Windows Azure for backup and archiving as a replacement for premises-based storage. The less it costs to see how it works at scale, the better.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on April 23, 2012 at 11:59 AM


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