NetApp extends Microsoft partnership with NFS service for Azure powered by NetApp

NetApp indicated no plans to extend this service capability to AWS, although from a functionality purpose it is the logical extension of this deal.


NetApp CEO George Kurian onstage at INSIGHT 2017

LAS VEGAS – Tuesday morning, in the opening keynote at the NetApp INSIGHT event here, NetApp announced a major extension of their partnership with Microsoft, with an industry-first enterprise Network File System [NFS] service in the cloud, delivered natively in Azure and powered by NetApp.

“This morning’s release announces one of the most significant product announcements we have made in our 25-year history,” George Kurian, NetApp’s CEO, told NetApp’s customers in the keynote. “It’s a cornerstone of how we see the next decade evolving.”

This partnering extends the agreement that the two companies made in June, where they expanded their collaboration to include hybrid cloud data services built on NetApp ONTAP software for customers moving to Microsoft Azure.

“This builds on our June announcement, with the industry’s first Azure enterprise NFS service,” an enthused Kurian said. “This is the world’s best enterprise NFS technology integrated natively into Microsoft technology and powered by NetApp. Together, we will deliver enterprise data services that are needed to transition applications into the cloud. It will be the world’s best NFS for everyone – for both NetApp customers and non-NetApp customers.”

Users will be able to access this service directly through the Azure console. It is not, however, a marketplace service, something that NetApp strongly emphasized.

“Microsoft selected us to build NFS as a service for Azure,” said Brett Roscoe NetApp’s VP of product and solutions marketing. “It’s an Azure-native capability, not a marketplace product. This is the first full NFS in the public cloud, and we are excited to be a part of that, to be the engine behind that.”

The new service is in private preview right now, and customers can sign up here

“We will continue to add capabilities to this,” Roscoe said. “A lot of the initial joint effort has been  getting the service launched.”

NetApp thinks the new service will bring them new customers.

“This is very different from the ONTAP cloud because this is native Azure, Roscoe noted. “That will help us in going after non-NetApp users. We expect a whole new set of buyers out there that have not used NetApp before.”

Chris Maki, Vancouver-based Senior Solutions Architect and National NetApp advisor at Scalar Decisions, agreed that the extension of the partnership around NFS  will bring NetApp new customers, but thought the announcement was also of significant value to Microsoft.

“Microsoft has never been known for NFS, so if NetApp can help them with that, it will be a mutually beneficial relationship,” he said.

So when is something similar likely to come for AWS?

“We are not not talking to other cloud providers, but Microsoft is a strategic provider for us, so that’s where we started first,” Roscoe said.

Ultimately, however, realizing the multi-cloud potential of this will be necessary to take it to its true potential, said Ian Rae, Founder and CEO of CloudOps, a Montreal-based NetApp partner that helps people get to the cloud and manage it.

“I’ve been waiting eight years for this announcement, on the ability to deliver NFS as a service in the cloud,” Rae said. “The market has been very slow to deliver on that. Moving to a multi-cloud environment is a critical extension, and I’m looking forward to when they get to that. I know joint customers of Microsoft and NetApp have been demanding this particular move, and it’s a great place to start, and we can evolve it from there.”

Jeff McCullough, NetApp’s VP of Channel Sales for the Americas, also thinks the NFS announcement is something partners should be looking forward to.

“The NFS announcement with Microsoft is exciting because it unlocks a lot of opportunities in how partners can utilize cloud services,” he said. “It’s another way to monetarize our IP. They can spin up the OnTAP cloud and not sell any hardware.”

NetApp made a number of other announcements around the Microsoft partnership.

NetApp Cloud Control for Microsoft Office 365 now supports Azure Storage. Cloud Control for Office 365 is also adding availability for EMEA and APAC for customers who want to store data there.

NetApp AltaVault is adding support for the new Azure Archive Storage, enabling customers to select the cold storage tier in the Azure cloud as well as hot and cool.

NetApp also announced a new cloud backup bundle for CDW which is made up of NetApp AltaVault, Veritas Backup Exec, and Microsoft Azure. It will be available through CDW.