Microsoft snags StorSimple to pack more stuff onto Azure

Well, lookie here — a storage company is acquired and EMC(s emc) is not the buyer. Rather it’s Microsoft(s msft) that’s snarfing up StorSimple, a cloud storage gateway company founded three years ago by Cisco veteran Ursheet Parihk and Guru Pangal.

The move makes sense. Businesses use StorSimple to pump their data into public cloud storage so it’s a handy on-ramp to Microsoft’s Azure storage system — which some see as a viable contender to Amazon storage. The technology helps companies manage their data both on-premises and in the cloud. Santa Clara, Calif.-based StorSimple — which competes with companies like Nasuni and TwinStrata — already partnered with Microsoft, but it’s partnered with Amazon itself so it will be interesting to see if that continues.

Update: According to Microsoft, there are no plans to change StorSimple’s integration with other cloud providers as a result of this acquisition.

The news comes — coincidentally or not — during the OpenStack Summit — at which companies ranging from Cloudscaling, Dell, Cisco and Dreamhost are unveiling their take on public (and private) clouds based on the open-source OpenStack foundation.

In a statement, Michael Park, corporate VP of Microsoft’s server and tools explained the deal, the terms of which were not disclosed:

“Customers faced with explosive growth in data are looking to the cloud to help them store, manage and archive that data. But, to be effective, cloud storage needs to integrate with IT’s current investments. StorSimple’s approach helps customers seamlessly integrate on-premises storage with cloud storage through intelligent automation and management.”

StorSimple was already a Microsoft partner and Microsoft has made a habit of buying top ISV partners — Great Plains Software, Navision — to build up its software stack or fill in gaps. That track record also makes Microsoft’s relationships with other partners in that same field a tad complicated.

One thing’s for sure: It’s open season as Amazon, Microsoft, the OpenStack crew and Google(s goog) rush to get customer data on board their respective clouds.