Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) has acquired StorSimple, the California-based cloud storage company announced Tuesday.

StorSimple, founded three years ago by Ursheet Parinhk and Guru Pangal of Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), boosts Microsoft’s cloud-based platform Azure against steep competition from rivals likes Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Rackspace Hosting (NYSE: RAX). Those companies hold the advantage of being first movers in a new market the ever-ambitious tech giant is now trying to enter.

Microsoft already is a partner with StorSimple, and acquiring the specialized company allows Microsoft to poach its top talent as it expands its new service. StorSimple is also currently partnered with Amazon, so the acquisition may help Microsoft lure that same talent away from its competitor.

In both companies’ statements, no details were provided about any future changes to StorSimple’s partnership with Amazon.

“Looking back over the last three and half years, after long nights and days of innovation, and early customer deployments followed by mainstream enterprise adoption, it became clear that the combination of StorSimple and Windows Azure delivers a best in class cloud-integrated storage solution that enables customers to use public cloud services as a seamless extension of their IT infrastructure,” a company blog post from StorSimple said. “The result is that a wide range of customers from non-profit organizations to Fortune 500 companies and government agencies have adopted this solution at an amazing rate.”

Like Microsoft’s recent announcement of its new Xbox Music service, the advantage cloud storage offers a large tech company with so many product lines is that it encourages any potential customer -- be it a potential Windows Phone 8 buyer, someone curious about the new Surface tablet, or just a PC user hoping to upgrade to the new Windows 8 operating system -- to naturalize themselves to Microsoft’s entire ecosystem.  

“Customers faced with explosive growth in data are looking to the cloud to help them store, manage and archive that data,” Microsoft’s corporate vice president of server tools said in a statement. “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.”

Microsoft shares fell slightly on Tuesday, closing at $29.49.