NetApp, EMC link private storage to Microsoft Azure public cloud

NetApp and EMC join the lineup of storage vendors gearing up to support Microsoft Azure by linking private storage to the public cloud.

Microsoft is lining up storage partners as part of its big push into the cloud.

NetApp and EMC this week said they will add their storage to the Microsoft Windows Azure public cloud, and other vendors are validating their technology for Azure.

NetApp added private cloud storage that integrates with Microsoft Azure, mirroring the service it launched in 2013 to support the Amazon Web Services public cloud.

NetApp Private Storage for Microsoft Azure serves as a hybrid cloud platform for enterprises with variable workloads that need to better align computing power to cost.

"It gives you the benefit of using the [Azure] cloud as a flexible compute layer while retaining private storage that you own and manage yourself," said Tom Shields, NetApp's product marketing manager.

NetApp and Microsoft jointly provide on-premises storage to approximately 30,000 customers. NetApp Private Storage for Microsoft Azure works with any NetApp storage array, including the FAS series, E-Series or FlexPod reference architecture. The NetApp storage devices are hosted at Equinix Inc. data centers enabled by Microsoft's dedicated Azure ExpressRoute service, which supports 10 Gigabit Ethernet networking.

Shields said organizations can also use it as a low-cost option for disaster recovery (DR).

"With our solution, plus the compute on demand [through Azure], you can put a NetApp device in the colocation facility, using ExpressRoute only to access resources when you're failing over or testing DR," Shields said.

NetApp isn't the only storage vendor extending support for private storage on the public Azure cloud. EMC this week also rolled out a hybrid cloud service that combines storage on Isilon NAS arrays with applications hosted in the Azure public cloud, and with interconnections from data center provider Equinix.

Customers can keep data on Isilon on-premises or in the cloud while running applications in Azure, and connect through Azure ExpressRoute.

Hyper-convergence vendor Nutanix and NAS vendor Iron Networks also this month said their platforms were tested and validated for Azure under the Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track program. Microsoft will require technology partners and resellers to earn validation of their reference architecture under the program beginning in 2015.

"Validation is one way to ensure customers have a good experience when deploying the Microsoft Cloud OS," said Claude Lorenson, a senior product marketing manager of the Microsoft Cloud Platform.

NetApp's FlexPod reference architecture was validated for Microsoft Private Cloud in 2012. The FlexPod configuration combines NetApp FAS storage components, Cisco Systems Unified Computing System and Cisco Nexus data center switches, and supports Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware ESXi hypervisors.

Microsoft is also assembling its own cloud storage technology by acquisition. Last week it bought InMage Systems for its cloud DR software and upgraded the StorSimple cloud gateways it acquired in 2012.

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