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Amazon cloud gobbles Microsoft data

Storage Gateway sucks up Hyper-V info

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Admins of data centers virtualized using Hyper-V can now mirror data up into the AWS cloud, making Bezos & Co.'s big yellow repository a more tempting proposition for Microsoft shops.

This new feature means that Amazon's "Storage Gateway" technology can now speak to Windows-virtualized systems as well as ones based on VMware's ESXi hypervisor – a move that sees Amazon go up against Microsoft on that company's traditional turf of on-premise infrastructure management.

"You can use the Storage Gateway to marry your existing on-premises storage systems with the AWS cloud for backup, departmental file share storage, or disaster recovery," Amazon wrote in a blog post announcing the move on Thursday.

Storage Gateway consists of a VM-based software appliance installed on a local server, combined with storage in the Amazon S3 cloud. The appliance is typically mounted as an iSCSI device, with stored data accessible to client devices via CIFS or NFS.

It provides a way of quickly linking one or many on-premise datastores with the Amazon cloud – though as with all remote technologies, the usefulness of the tech depends on the bandwidth available to it.

Since its launch in January, 2012, Storage Gateway has become something of a chameleon, able to work as a scalable cache, a snapshot-to-cloud service, and even a long-term storage ramp via S3-Glacier compatibility.

By adding Hyper-V support, Amazon has taken another step into territory occupied by Microsoft, and it also serves to illustrate the two companies' different cloud strategies. When Amazon launched in 2006 it positioned itself as a base service that companies could use to build additional web-connected services, with companies able to rent virtual storage and compute resources from US-based data centers. Over time, the company expanded its tech to embrace both higher-order systems such as remote databases (SimpleDB, DynamoDB) and platform-as-a-service technologies (Elastic Beanstalk), and on-premise tech via the Storage Gateway and a partnership with cloud control layer developers Eucalyptus.

Microsoft, meanwhile, expanded into the cloud from the bottom, via enhanced capabilities in Windows Server and System Center, and from on high via Azure, which was originally launched as a platform-as-a-service, and then downshifted to AWS-style IaaS. In Microsoft's world, everything works better together, whereas in Amazon's world, everything is designed to be modular and independent.

Hyper-V data centers can already offload data into Azure via the use of features within Systems Center. But Amazon's announcement means developers can now easily access the yellow cloud's large selection of rentable components, as well.

The announcement was made to coincide with the week of Microsoft's Management Summit, and follows Amazon's expansion of .NET capabilities for its PaaS Elastic Beanstalk, and the lowering of Windows prices on EC2.

We understand that Microsoft is due to make its own Azure announcements next week, and these are likely to be based around its fundamental compute services. With Amazon creating this many features this quickly, it feels a lot like its competitors are being forced to run to stay in the same place, while it gobbles up the ground beneath them. ®

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