Last Friday we announced the acquisition of a company named InMage. I have written a number of times about how successful and impactful the StorSimple acquisition has been – and I believe InMage is going to have a very similar impact.

Backup and DR are two of the most commonly used workloads that organizations move to the cloud, and the chart below reflects research by Forrester* that examines the emphasis enterprise leaders are placing on DR. The priority level is only rising – and this increase is in line with the ease of the offering now available from InMage. The fact that this increased priority matches a decline in projected IT budgets is something solved by the cost-effective nature of making your backup/DR solution cloud-based.

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We have certainly seen this trend with our own partners and customers, and we’re seeing a marked acceleration in the adoption of the cloud services we deliver for Backup and DR. From start to finish, this has been an incredibly interesting acquisition.

During the time we’ve spent building Azure Site Recovery and working with the early adopters, the feedback has been incredibly positive. This is one of the places where there is going to be a lot of cloud adoption – i.e. using the cloud as your disaster recovery tier in Hybrid Cloud scenarios.

In the discussions my team and I have had with organizations all over the word, the most common request we’ve heard is a desire to add the ability to replicate and recover OS instances that are not virtualized or running in VMware environments. A huge number of the requests we get about supporting VMware environments is tied to a broader (and always growing) need to make it simpler to migrate to Azure or a Microsoft private/hosted cloud. It is no exaggeration to say that there are a LOT of customers doing this right now.

With this customer request in mind, we looked across the industry at what others were doing in this space. As we dug into what InMage had built, we really liked what we saw. When I saw the first demo of the InMage Disaster Recovery solution a few months ago, I was impressed. I really liked the fact that I could look in the Admin UI and see the exact number of minutes/seconds that the replica is behind the primary (that is the RPO in the screenshots below).

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And check this out: As a DRaaS administrator at a hosting service provider, I can see every tenant’s last seven days historical RPO and change rate.

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Then we started digging into how the technology actually worked. Again, we loved what we saw.

One of the things that I liked the most was the how the technology operated when you set up a DR relationship between a VMware and a Microsoft cloud. Here the underlying technology actually provided both a DR solution from VMware to a Microsoft Cloud, and it also did a migration. This really hammered home the fact that migration is a subset of DR.

The way the solution actually works is straightforward: As the VMware VM is being replicated for DR to a Microsoft Cloud, it does the migration from a VMDK (VMware’s VM format) to a VHD (Hyper-V’s VM format).

Once we saw this, InMage was super, super interesting to us. We already had a small mountain of customer requests for a DR solution that was simpler to setup and use than what VWware offered with Site Recovery Manager (SRM) – and now we saw that solution right in front of us! We also had a lot of customer requests for simplified migration tools that would enable migration from VMware to Microsoft clouds. InMage represented a solution that could do both things.

As great as this acquisition is for Microsoft, the real winners are the end-users. Consider for a moment all the ways you’ll be able to use this in the future: You can setup a DR relationship to a Microsoft Cloud from a VMware environment (and from a physical environment) – for both Windows and Linux. There is huge value in having such a great DR solution.

Once this is up and running, you can simply turn off the physical or VMware primary and the workload/service will have been migrated to a Microsoft cloud that is fully up and running! It could not be simpler!

During our examination of InMage, we went out and talked to a number of their customers (representing enterprises across verticals, as well as hosters and OEM’s) to hear about their real-life user experiences, to see if the product did what it said it would do (and do it easily), and we wanted to know if there were any persistent and/or problematic issues. Over and over again, we met with customers who were delighted with what they were using.

With all this in mind, the InMage acquisition just made sense. This is a great new addition to the Microsoft Cloud OS (more details on that concept here), and now you are empowered with a backup and DR solution for your physical environment, as well as for your virtual environment (across both VMware and Hyper-V) in both Windows and Linux environments. You are going to love this!

This acquisition has also attracted some attention from the analyst community. Analyst firm IDC** noted:

Microsoft's move to strengthen its position in DRaaS is a smart one, particularly as enterprises continue to look for ways to shift compute, networking and storage CapEx cost structures to more OpEx oriented service structures. […]

Bolstering the capabilities puts Microsoft up against the likes of IBM, Sungard, iLand, EVault, HP, CenturyLink, Verizon/Terremark, and a host of others, but considering the existing tie-in it has with the typical enterprise running Microsoft-based applications like SharePoint, Office apps, SQL server and others.

The InMage Scout product will be integrated into the Azure Site Recovery service to give our customers a very simple, cost-effective way to ensure business continuity – combined with the power and scale of the Azure global cloud.

You don’t need to wait to start using this, however; you can get your hands on this product and try it out for yourself right now. Simply download and install InMage Scout from the Azure Site Recovery portal via the instructions in this post from the Azure blog.

I hope you love the simplicity and ease of use of InMage Scout and Azure Site Recovery as much as I do.

 

* “The Forrester Wave™: Disaster-Recovery-As-A-Service Providers, Q1 2014”, Forrester Research, Inc., January 17, 2014

** IDC Link, Microsoft Bolsters Its Disaster Recovery Service Offerings with InMage Acquisition, July 2014