NetApp, Microsoft Commit To Storage-Virtualization Collaboration


The agreement comes at a time when Hyper-V is gaining a foothold in the data center virtualization market against market-leading VMware thanks to the release of Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 R2, which includes integrated support for Hyper-V.

David Greschler, director of virtualization strategy at Microsoft, said his company has invested in virtualization across a number of fronts, especially in storage.

The new agreement with NetApp makes it possible for customers and solution provider partners to better understand how virtualization and storage fit together in NetApp environments, Greschler said. "This is not just a technology integration, but also a sales and marketing agreement," he said.

The new agreement covers virtual infrastructures based on Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2, Microsoft System Center for management of virtual and physical infrastructures, and NetApp storage systems.

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Also included is an agreement between the two vendors to collaborate on storage and data management solutions for Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, and SQL Server.

The agreement ensures that the two vendors' field teams know they work together, and should help assure partners that the collaboration between the two is a long-term one, said Patrick Rogers, NetApp's vice president of solutions alliances.

This is the first formal relationship between the two vendors. NetApp has a similar relationship with Microsoft's arch-rival VMware, while VMware has a similar agreement with NetApp's arch-rival EMC.

"We both support open relationships," Greschler said. "We support best-of-class products. There were probably more questions about the lack of an agreement between Microsoft and NetApp than there are now."

The new agreement does not signify a shift in NetApp's virtualization strategy from VMware to Microsoft, Rogers said.

"What we've done is increase the overall level of investment in Windows Server 2008 R2," he said. "It will become a significant player in the data center. And remember, this is not just focused on the (virtualization) hypervisor. It is also focused on the Microsoft applications."

It is really important that people understand where the data center is heading in the long term, Greschler said.

"With virtualization and cloud computing , everything is completely linked," he said. "As customers consolidate servers, they also need to optimize storage, and look at how to tie storage into the virtual data center. We're making it clear that we're committed to working together, and giving guidance on how others can work together with us. The news is that there is a serious commitment being made here."