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NetApp acquires VDI vendor CloudJumper

NetApp looks to edge its way deeper into virtual desktop infrastructure territory with its acquisition of CloudJumper.

Data storage and services company NetApp Inc. will acquire VDI vendor CloudJumper in a move the company claimed would ease application management and the delivery of virtual desktops for its customers.

The purchase has resulted in the new NetApp Virtual Desktop Service. That product, which is now available, provides a better-performing virtual desktop experience, the company claimed.

The move is expected to bolster NetApp's transition to the cloud while pairing CloudJumper with an established enterprise brand, industry observers said. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mark Bowker, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said the acquisition made a good deal of sense.

"I think NetApp has a well-known enterprise name and reputation that existing CloudJumper customers will be able to take advantage of," he said.

A path to the cloud

Vikram Bhatia, vice president of cloud strategy and partnerships at NetApp, said the move will strengthen the firm's virtual desktop offerings.

"Virtual desktops is something that NetApp has been deploying for customers for many, many years [through providing the needed storage]," he said. "What we noticed was there was a clear transition happening, moving the infrastructure that runs this to the cloud."

Pairing CloudJumper's desktop management offerings with NetApp's cloud services, Bhatia said, will provide IT admins looking to move their virtualized desktops to the public cloud with an easier and more robust path.

"We can go to the customer and say, 'Not only do you get a complete solution to manage your deployments on the front end, but also the best infrastructure on the back end,'" he said. "It's definitely a very complementary solution for us to go to market with, and a very easy solution for a customer to adopt."

Bhatia said current CloudJumper customers should expect an improved user experience, claiming NetApp's cloud services would deliver better performance for the end user.

NetApp's cloud focus

Like other major storage vendors, NetApp, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., is struggling with enterprises moving more data from on-premises storage into public clouds. Its revenue has declined year-over-year in each of the last four quarters. NetApp's strategy for a turnaround is to offer its storage software as cloud-native services. These subscription services include NetApp Cloud Volumes on AWS and Google Cloud Platform, and Azure NetApp Files. Those services are built on NetApp's flagship OnTap storage operating system.

NetApp also sells Cloud Volumes OnTap through the AWS Marketplace. Cloud Volumes OnTap is an Amazon Machine Instance that uses Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) volumes to serve as the equivalent of an on-premises OnTap storage node.

CloudJumper is NetApp's second acquisition in less than two months to provide cloud file storage services. In March, NetApp bought Talon Storage for its global file caching and data sync capabilities. NetApp already used Talon Storage Fast software in its Cloud Volumes OnTap through a partnership before the acquisition.

NetApp Cloud Volumes, Cloud Volumes OnTap and Azure NetApp Files are available through NetApp's Cloud Central portal. Along with the new Virtual Desktop Service, Cloud Central also includes cloud-based analytics and data services such as backup, caching and tiering.

A play in the Windows Virtual Desktop market

Bowker said, for NetApp, the acquisition is a further step into a VDI market that was gaining steam even before COVID-19 put a premium on remote work products. The purchase of CloudJumper, a Microsoft preferred solution provider for Windows Virtual Desktop, is a timely one, he said; it comes as Microsoft is promoting WVD use within the enterprise.

As WVD was released in fall 2019, Bowker said, the market for the virtual desktop product is not yet fully mature.

"This [move] is two companies working together to take advantage of that market as people start to do larger implementations, beyond kicking the tires with WVD," he said.

With WVD potentially picking up steam, Bowker said, IT pros may appreciate the way CloudJumper simplifies their deployments.

Independent analyst Eric Klein said, although the acquisition negotiations likely began before the coronavirus outbreak, the move positions NetApp well at a time when remote work is burgeoning. "This gives the companies ... a more integrated, broader offering for their customers," he said.

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