NetApp doubles down on Microsoft Azure partnership

After announcing a stronger collaboration with Google Cloud in August, NetApp says it has renewed its partnership with Microsoft in a bid to grow public cloud revenues.

NetApp is less successful in the cloud than it might be. Though public cloud revenues of $154 million in its latest quarter are a fraction of its hybrid cloud revenues of $1.28 billion, they are growing, while hybrid cloud has been declining for three quarters in a row.

NetApp spent around $149 million buying various CloudOps startups when Anthony Lye ran the public cloud business up to July 2022. Now it’s not earning much more than that in total public cloud business revenues and its in-house ONTAP products will be responsible for much of that. Actual CloudOps revenues have not been revealed.

The company has introduced lower cost all-flash arrays and a new reseller deal with Fujitsu in a bid for growth. It’s also improving public cloud products and operational services to help that part of its business to grow, and this Microsoft pact is part of that.

There are four software products involved: Azure NetAppFiles (ANF), Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the Blue XP data management facility, and cloud operations cost monitor/manager Spot.

ANF now provides:

  • Datastores for Azure VMware Solution  
  • Application volume group for SAP HANA 
  • Smaller 2 TiB capacity pool size 
  • Large volumes (Up to 500 TiB) 
  • Customer-managed keys  
  • Availability zone volume placement and cross-zone replication  
  • New regions: South Africa North, Sweden Central, Qatar (Central), Korea South 

NetApp says ANF is fast because of the integration of ONTAP all-flash arrays into the Azure Data Center networking infrastructure. Applications running within the Azure Virtual Network (VNET) can get sub-millisecond latency access to ONTAP data.

SVP and GM for NetApp cloud storage Ronen Schwartz said: “Through our collaboration with Microsoft, we can deliver market-leading cloud storage and cloud infrastructure operations to our customers and partners that nobody else in the industry offers.” Qumulo might have a view on that point.

The Spot offering for CloudOps on Azure now includes integrated support for Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) environments, and a fully managed, open source service that integrates with Azure NetApp Files, BlueXP and Cloud Volumes ONTAP. Spot for Azure uses AI/ML-driven automation to deliver continuous optimization of all Azure compute with, NetApp says, increased efficiency and vastly reduced operational complexity, helping make Azure compute less onerous to manage.

As an indication of this complexity, Spot for Azure has recently gained:

  • Spot Eco support for Azure Savings Plans and all Azure account types including Pay-as-You-Go, multi-currency account (MCA), enterprise agreement (EA), and cloud solution provider (CSP) 
  • Spot Elastigroup Stateful Node for Azure 
  • Spot Security support for Azure 
  • Spot Ocean for AKS enterprise-grade serverless engine for Azure  
  • Spot Ocean for Apache Spark Azure support 
  • Instaclustr Managed PostgreSQL on Azure NetApp Files 

NetApp’s Haiyan Song, EVP and GM of CloudOps at NetApp, said in a statement: “Our expanded Spot by NetApp portfolio on Microsoft Azure and partnership with Microsoft provides customers with what they need to continuously automate and optimize application infrastructure in the cloud and drive the cloud operation and cost efficiency their businesses demand while delivering the digital experience customers expect.” 

We think Spot may well become a NetApp copilot for Azure CloudOps. Blue XP looks like potential copilot material as well.

Spot by NetApp CloudOps products are available from the Azure Marketplace, Microsoft Azure channel partners, and NetApp, and Azure NetApp Files is available through the Microsoft Azure portal as a native Azure service.