NetApp looks to expand front-end VDI presence with CloudJumper acquisition

NetApp sees its acquisition of a Workspace-as-a-Service provider and Citrix competitor as a logical complement to its own back-end presence in the space, which will create new synergies for customers.

Vikram Bhatia, VP of Go-To-Market for NetApp’s Cloud Data Services

NetApp has made a significant move to bolster their cloud data services portfolio with the acquisition of North Carolina-based Workspace as a Service [WaaS] provider CloudJumper. The CloudJumper business will be integrated into NetApp as the NetApp Virtual Desktop Service [VDS], led by former CloudJumper leader JD Helms.

So why exactly is a storage company getting into the WaaS market, you might ask.

“We see it through the customer lens,” said Vikram Bhatia, VP of Go-To-Market for NetApp’s Cloud Data Services. “What is the customer doing? What are CloudJumper customers doing? Most customers have been moving VDI infrastructure to the cloud. They look at cloud, especially the hyperscalers, to deploy virtual desktops. One of the critical elements VDI in the cloud requires is high performance, durable storage. We are a leader in that space, the back-end infrastructure.”

CloudJumper is at the other end of this continuum, and NetApp sees being to address the front-end customer challenges of virtual desktop services and application management to be a complement to their back-end infrastructure.

“They offer customers the ability to manage VDI deployments in a centralized location, so as a combined offering, it makes a lot of sense,” Bhatia said. “Our strategy is that we want to be in a position to address everything that impacts cloud storage. VDI is a perfect fit for that. It requires performance. Our infrastructure delivers performance. It gives us a complete story for this critical use case.”

J.D. Helms, formerly CloudJumper and now VP, Modern Workplace Solutions at NetApp

“From an integration perspective it’s a better together story,” said, J.D. Helms, CloudJumper’s President, who will move to NetApp and run its business there as VP, Modern Workplace Solutions. “NetApp has the number one storage for VDI workloads. Analytics is a general weakness in our space, but NetApp has analytics and we can tie into that. In addition, one of the beauties of our platform is that we are API driven, as is NetApp in cloud service. There are things that make sense to make things even more seamless.”

CloudJumper was once a Citrix partner of the year, but evolved from that to the point where Citrix became their principal competitor. Bhatia doesn’t, however, see the CloudJumper acquisition having any real disruptive impact on NetApp’s strategic partnerships and relationships.

“I don’t think it changes anything for us,” he said. “Much of what we do is co-opetition. I don’t think this is a critical issue because we have such a wide range of solutions. It will give more offerings to our end customers and to our partners. Everything we do in terms of business model is now based on solving specific customer problems. It’s all use cases.”

Bhatia said that the acquisition will be a real game-changer for partners of both companies because of the synergies.

“This brings on board a set of new partners that will drive business across offerings,” he said. “It gives CloudJumper a bigger partner space, and increases synergies with what they are already trying to sell. Customers don’t deploy infrastructures. They deploy workloads in the cloud. With this we can offer everything that they need, and have more use cases now available for the customer to choose from.”

Workspace as-a-Service has been one of the IT sectors that has benefited from the pandemic because of its ability to support remote workers, but Helms indicated that the timing is somewhat coincidental, and that this wasn’t a causal factor in bringing the deal together.

“It’s tertiary,” he said.

NetApp VDS is available now on NetApp Cloud Central and integrated with Azure NetApp Files and Cloud Volumes. NetApp also says it will add significant resources to the existing CloudJumper channel partner program.

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