Microsoft has signalled Windows Server 2019 will offer hybrid storage features that will encourage users to put more data into its Azure public cloud and less onto on-premises storage arrays.
News of the company’s intentions popped up at the end of a post announcing the general availability of Azure File Sync, a new tool that’s easily understood as mashing up sync ‘n’ share services such as Dropbox and OneDrive with a network attached storage device.
Azure File Sync will replicate data from Windows Server to Azure and also to other servers around an organisation's fleet. Once the data is in Azure, Microsoft’s cloud can even start to perform automatic storage tiering so that, in Microsoft’s words, “to store only the hottest and most recently accessed data on-premises”.
That’s the kind of job that dedicated storage arrays or software often performs today.
And Microsoft’s flagged that there’s more to come.
“We have a whole series of new features and incremental improvements to deliver throughout the summer and fall, including support for and tighter integration with Windows Server 2019,” wrote Tad Brockway, Microsoft’s general manager for Azure Storage and Azure Stack.
That last point – tight integration with Windows Server 2019 – delivers on multiple Microsoft promises to make its next server OS more Azure-friendly.
That’s not unexpected, given Wall Street’s keen interest in recurring revenues and past Microsoft acquisitions that show it is very interested in cloud storage: it bought cloud storage gateway outfit StorSimple in 2012 and added cloud NAS concern Avere in early 2018.
Microsoft is also working with partners for cloud storage. It recently announced a preview of another service named 'Azure NetApp Files', which takes NetApp’s ONTAP file system and runs it natively in Azure.
The idea is to give NetApp users a cloudy option that lets them run a single logical pool of storage spanning on-prem and cloud, but that behaves just like a NetApp device.
Among Microsoft’s other cloud storage services is the 'Azure Site Recovery' service that takes snapshots of virtual machines, puts them in Azure, then does failover to the cloud if on-prem servers fall over.
Snapshots have long been NetApp’s party trick. So Microsoft is both supporting the company and challenging it. It’s also signalling that Windows Server will be able to function as a hybrid NAS and talking up improvements to its Storage Spaces software-defined storage for on-prem use in Windows Server 2019.