Rajeev Jain, of Azure Product Marketing (Data and AI) at Microsoft, was part of the business development team for Azure NetApp® Files, watching it grow from an idea into the game-changing solution it is today. When he sat down to talk to us at Microsoft Ignite 2020, he gave us some insight into how Microsoft and NetApp became co-developers and how Azure NetApp Files solved a critical storage problem.
It took us longer to create Azure NetApp Files than we anticipated. It took us more time to solve. But we refused to rush, because customers are betting their businesses on our technology. We took our time to create a game-changing cloud storage solution that is unmatched. There is no other product quite like Azure NetApp Files. —Rajeev Jain, Azure Product Marketing (Data and AI), Microsoft
Q: Why a partnership with Microsoft, specifically? It's the old supply-and-demand story. There was a lot of opportunity with Microsoft. Customers were looking at adopting the Azure cloud, but there were areas where their adoption was getting blocked because of storage. NetApp is one of the best companies for storage—it set the standard. George Kurian, CEO of NetApp, and Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the cloud and AI group in Microsoft, both knew that NetApp was the right company to fulfill the storage demands of customers. Then, together, we looked at how to bring the goodness of NetApp together with the flexibility of cloud: How do we help our customers move more and more workloads to cloud, and so that we eliminate the storage bottleneck?
Q: So, Microsoft and NetApp decided to team up officially? Yes. We had an agreement for joint product development, aimed at bringing about the best that NetApp and Microsoft Azure had to offer. The product—what everyone now knows as Azure NetApp Files—took close to 20 months to build and be made generally available. There was much collaboration across multiple teams. It showed lots of promise, but it took longer to create than anyone anticipated. Azure NetApp Files, like all good recipes, took time to perfect. Because, especially with the cloud, you need to win trust, and we didn't want to deliver a half-baked solution.
Q: It took time, but it was worth it, judging by how successful Azure NetApp Files is. Definitely worth the wait. Azure NetApp Files was finally made available in May 2019. We started slowly rolling it out in different regions. Now, it’s creating awesome experiences all over the world. We are at the stage where we see many Fortune 500 customers—like Repsol, which is using it for a high-performance computing scenario. While there are use cases across many industries, oil and gas, engineering design and automation, manufacturing, and consumer goods are where Azure NetApp Files has been growing in leaps and bounds.
Q: Should we talk about the use cases and benefits? Azure NetApp Files stands out for four attributes: performance, simplicity, rich data management, and security. The customer evidence is out there, and the news is spreading. We don’t need a fancy jingle— give me all your smiles, get on Azure NetApp Files. Honestly, happy customers spreading the word is the best sales pitch. And we keep hearing how Azure NetApp Files is surpassing customer expectations, so there are a lot of smiles out there. And more features and benefits are coming soon. It will continue to be one of the fastest-growing Microsoft services as we roll out more regions—as well as further integrate with other Azure services.
Q: Final thoughts? There was a critical storage problem that nobody had cracked, and Azure NetApp Files solved it. Now it’s possible to have the cloud on your terms. Customers can have on-premises performance in the cloud that equals or surpasses on-premises infrastructure. The ability to scale, the speed, and the agility sell themselves—companies just have to try it. They just need to sign up and onboard.
To learn more about Azure NetApp Files, or to take Rajeev’s advice and sign up, visit https://www.netapp.com/azure/azure-netapp-files/.