Microsoft and NetApp up the ante with a three-year collaboration deal

Agreement spans virtualization, private cloud computing, and storage and data management

In a not-so-surprising move, Microsoft and NetApp have announced a new three-year deal that extends beyond the current collaboration that has taken place for years between these two companies.  Under this new agreement, the companies will collaborate to deliver technology that includes virtualization, private cloud computing, as well as storage and data management.

The move comes after EMC, VMware, and Cisco announced a three-way marriage more than a month ago, creating what the group called the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE).  And with it, the three-way partnership wants customers to consolidate private and public cloud datacenters onto VMware virtualization, Cisco networking and servers, and EMC storage.

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What were the folks at Redmond and NetApp supposed to do?  Seeing as the VCE announcement raised the threat level from a competitive standpoint for both of these companies, coming together in the way that they did seems like perfect sense from the outside looking in.  Microsoft was in need of a strong storage vendor partner that wasn't tied to any single brand of server hardware, had plenty of virtualization experience and expertise, and doesn't pose a threat to Microsoft's interests.  On the flip side, after EMC purchased Data Domain away from NetApp, the storage vendor needed to find some breathing room between itself and EMC, and not rely on VMware alone for its virtualization revenue stream.

Coming together in this way, the two companies will build integrated offerings for virtualized infrastructures including Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V Server 2008 R2, Microsoft System Center, and NetApp storage systems.  The strategically paired couple will also offer technology for cloud computing and hosted services with integrated data protection, always-on data access, and a flexible, cost-effective infrastructure.

The partnership is already taking off.  NetApp has introduced SnapManager for Hyper-V, which automated and simplifies backup, restore, and disaster recovery for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V environments.  They also provide a number of best practices guidelines and whitepapers for integrating architectures and implementations of Microsoft server virtualization with NetApp storage solutions.  They even offer customer blueprints on things such as improving efficiency and availability using Hyper-V and NetApp.

Microsoft said it plans to show off the value of the joint solutions at Microsoft Technology Centers around the world and at industry events as well.  Oh, and NetApp was also named the 2009 Microsoft Storage Solutions Partner of the year.  Sorry EMC.

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