Microsoft leans on NetApp to run file-based data in Azure

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Microsoft leans on NetApp to run file-based data in Azure

Microsoft is offering its Azure cloud customers the ability to manage their file data thanks to a new strategic partnership with NetApp.

Microsoft late last month unveiled general availability of Azure NetApp Files, Azure's first service for migrating and running enterprise file-based workloads. Azure NetApp Files is based on NetApp's Ontap storage operating system, but is sold and supported exclusively by Microsoft.

Azure NetApp Files is a fully managed cloud service with full Azure portal integration and access via REST APIs and Azure SDKs, or software development kits, said Tad Brockway, corporate vice president for Azure storage, media, and edge.

Azure NetApp Files lets businesses seamlessly migrate and run applications in the Azure cloud without the need to purchase or manage storage infrastructure, Brockway told CRN USA. Customers can acquire the capability and get support via existing Azure agreements, he said.

The new offering gives NetApp clients an easy on-ramp to Azure, Brockway said.

"This is a journey started fairly early on in our cloud relationship with NetApp," he said. "We recognized an opportunity to work with the leading file technology provider to bring their on-premises customers to Azure."

Brockway said to think about Azure NetApp Files as a high-performance, highly-scalable, enterprise-grade file system with all the rich capabilities of NetApp Ontap, Brockway said.

"It's also an opportunity for customers who are not NetApp customers to develop cloud-native services," he said. "The feature set is relevant to NetApp customers and to anyone developing file-based applications for the cloud."

Performance is a key feature of Azure NetApp Files, Brockway said.

"What we're hearing from customers who have tried it is that the performance is dramatically better than on-premises files," he said. "There was a lot of engineering done to develop the network between the Azure cloud and NetApp in data centers. It's very clear: For many cases, performance is better than on-prem. That's pretty cool. As is being able to do that on-demand with cloud economics and cloud elasticity."

Jennifer Meyer, vice president of cloud marketing at NetApp, told CRN USA the partnership between Microsoft and NetApp that led to Azure NetApp Files started about 18 months ago, and the two have created a unique offering.

"Customers who are interested in using the Azure service now can unlock the value of their data," Meyer said. "NetApp's half-century-plus of experience makes Azure that much better."

The channel aspect of Azure NetApp Files starts with Azure's partner community, Meyer said.

"This is an Azure service," she said. "We want to make sure the Azure community is educated on the service, and on how to use it. We are also briefing our partners on the opportunity. We are working together with Azure to make sure customers need come first whether they work direct with Microsoft or NetApp, or via partners."

For customers or partners of Azure which are new to NetApp, Azure NetApp Files is a native cloud service, Meyer said.

"Customers consume the service through Azure with no overhead," she said. "Customers new to NetApp can turn the knobs without the need for a NetApp relationship. We want to make sure customers have the benefits without the administration."

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