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Microsoft Azure taps NetApp Ontap for native NFS storage

NetApp Ontap will become available in Microsoft public cloud as the Azure Enterprise NFS Service. Will we see NetApp do the same for Amazon Web Services?

LAS VEGAS -- NetApp this week previewed NFS storage as a consumable service available within the Microsoft Azure cloud stack. The move comes after a recent series of partnerships with Microsoft, and it forms a key piece of NetApp's cloud storage strategy.

The Azure Enterprise NFS Service is based on the NetApp Ontap operating system. Microsoft will sell NetApp file-storage services to enterprise users, and the vendors will share the revenue.

The Azure Enterprise NFS Service is separate from the NetApp Cloud Ontap virtual storage appliance. Microsoft Windows Server already supports NFS. Adding NetApp Ontap allows users to implement the vendor's Data Fabric data migration and protection tools.

NetApp Ontap for Azure Enterprise NFS is designed to make it easier to move NFS workloads across multiple cloud environments, said Jennifer Meyer, a NetApp senior director of cloud product marketing.

"This is not NetApp Ontap running on top of Azure. We are embedded in the Microsoft Azure stack. You would use it just like any other service in the Azure console, but it would be powered by NetApp storage," Meyer said.

The Azure NFS service extends a string of recent partnerships for Microsoft and NetApp. It includes NetApp Fabric Pools to tier cold data to Microsoft Blob storage and NetApp Cloud Control data service SaaS-based compliance archiving of Microsoft Office 365 data.

NetApp declined to say if it plans to offer a similar Ontap integration in Amazon Web Services, but that seems like a logical next step. NetApp has been performing better than its counterparts in networked storage, but executives at its Insight user conference this week stressed that sustainable success will hinge on offering multiple cloud storage options.

"It's not that we're not talking to other cloud providers [about doing this], but Microsoft asked NetApp to build NFS in Azure. That's why we're starting with Microsoft," said Brett Roscoe, a NetApp vice president of products, solutions and services marketing.

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