Microsoft sees InMage Scout as a fit for Azure, appliance

Microsoft plans to use InMage Scout software as a piece of its cloud disaster recovery offering and to run on a data protection appliance.

Along with using newly acquired InMage Scout software to enable disaster recovery on its Windows Azure cloud, Microsoft intends to introduce a new branded backup hardware appliance running InMage software.

Microsoft revealed the InMage acquisition last Friday, along with plans to integrate InMage Scout software for continuous data protection and replication in its Azure Site Recovery Service. The blog by Microsoft vice president Takeshi Numoto that disclosed the deal did not mention plans for the InMage 4000 "Magic Box" backup appliance that includes Scout and ScoutCloud software to provide off-site and cloud data protection.

However, Andrea Carl, group commercial communications manager at Microsoft, said "we see a strong value prop for the appliance to accelerate time and value for customers" and Microsoft intends to offer an appliance under its brand. She said the specific timing, architectural approach, and naming have not yet been determined.

InMage Scout for Windows and Linux operating systems will be available with Azure Site Recovery licenses beginning Aug. 1. Users may access a free trial available on the Azure portal now. Carl said customers will purchase Scout on a per-protected instance at Azure Site Recovery prices.

InMage's replication and continuous data protection technology are used by vendors selling disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), including SunGard and Hewlett-Packard. "At its core, DRaaS is a workload and data migration capability, and this tool will allow Microsoft to move more data into its clouds," said Henry Baltazar, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

InMage Scout can also boost adoption of Microsoft Hyper-V because Scout "has the flexibility to protect VMware, Hyper-V and other platforms such as Windows, AIX, Linux," Baltazar said.

Microsoft has offered file-level replication though the Distributed File System (DFS) in Windows Server and added block-level replication through DFS-R in Windows Server 2003 R2. Adding InMage Scout technology gives Microsoft a way to expand block-level replication for Azure cloud services.

"InMage gives Microsoft another funnel to push client data into Azure," Baltazar said.

Microsoft took a similar approach with its acquisition of cloud storage vendor StorSimple in 2012, integrating StorSimple gateways for primary storage into Azure and selling them only to customers that move data to the Azure cloud. Baltazar said Microsoft is amping up its marketing message for the StorSimple gateways, which bridge the gap between on-premises data centers and Microsoft's Azure public cloud.

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Microsoft acquires InMage Scout software

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