NetApp and Microsoft, two companies that have worked together for more than a decade but have never announced a formal partnership, did just that on Dec. 8.
The two companies announced a new three-year working agreement aimed at smoothing out their common product development, service and sales roads in order to improve product collaboration and technical integration.
"The news here is that we're formalizing this relationship, making it a three-year relationship," David Greschler, director of Integrated Virtualization Strategy at Microsoft, told eWEEK.
"We're seeing a very different data center being built now. Virtualization has taken the data center by storm and changed almost every aspect of it-from the infrastructure layer to the management layer to the app layer," Greschler said.
"The No. 1 question we're asking, in regard to the new relationship with NetApp, is this: How can we make it easier for customers to integrate this at all three layers?"
The two companies will expand product collaboration and technical integration activities in the following areas:
- Virtualized infrastructure solutions based on Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2, Microsoft System Center and NetApp storage systems.
- Storage and data management solutions for Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and SQL Server.
- Efficient and flexible cloud computing and hosted services solutions that provide tightly integrated data protection, "always on" data access and a flexible, cost-effective infrastructure.
How exactly does this agreement define "tighter integration"?
"Glad you asked! Tighter integration is integration that drives value. For example, one of the challenging areas [of tighter integration] is backup/recovery in application and virtual machine environments," NetApp Vice President of Solutions and Alliances Patrick Rogers told eWEEK.
"What you'd like to be able to do, from an application or VM administrator point of view, is to be able to do an app or VM-specific snapshot, and to be able to recover from that snapshot. Rather than just backing stuff up and hoping you got it right, you are able to create on-demand-or set-by-policy-snapshot copies. It also allows an application or VM owner to recover individual files or the entire application state.
"That's the power we have with this relationship."
On-demand snapshots of applications, virtual machines and operating systems running on bare metal are an example of a relatively new feature being requested more and more by IT managers. Others include thin provisioning of data stores, and automatic, or "smart," tiering of predetermined data files.
The NetApp-Microsoft agreement will enable customers of both companies to develop joint solutions at the Microsoft Technology Centers around the world. Both companies will participate in engagements with channel partners and industry-leading systems integrators, offering technology solutions that are comprehensive and easy to use, Greschler said.
As another part of the agreement, NetApp will utilize Windows Server platform software to improve its own storage system management to streamline backup, recovery and remote replication in Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V environments.