NetApp Takes on Citrix, Expands Into Cloud Workspace Market with CloudJumper Buy

By | Managed Services News

Apr 29

“We are going to compete with our good friends at Citrix,” a NetApp senior VP said.

NetApp has signaled it will compete with Citrix in the expanding virtual desktop and cloud workspace market by acquiring CloudJumper.

The acquisition, announced Wednesday for an undisclosed amount, widens NetApp’s push in cloud managed services, specifically the cloud workspace market. It notably aims to extend NetApp’s footprint into the rapidly growing Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) ecosystem.

NetApp's Anthony Lye

NetApp’s Anthony Lye

“Windows Virtual Desktop has become a very big and disruptive change in the VDI space,” said Anthony Lye, senior VP and general manager of NetApp’s cloud data services business. “I think that changes the industry. And I think Microsoft has an advantage now over legacy, RDS and VDI platforms.”

Lye said Azure NetApp Files, a managed native file share service, has helped NetApp partners participate in WVD deals. Microsoft’s WVD became generally available last fall and partners have pointed to growing interest in the service.

“Azure NetApp Files is really the default for all enterprise deployments of WVD,” Lye said. “Honestly, we saw customers buying CloudJumper at the same time they were buying our stuff. And selfishly, I said: ‘Why can’t we just have one salesperson in the meeting, not two?’ And NetApp can leapfrog the legacy vendors and put ourselves in pole position with Microsoft.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated growth of the cloud workspace market to support the spike in people working at home.

“All of the client virtualization vendors have seen good traction towards the end of [the first quarter] and through to the middle of [the second quarter],” said Shannon Kalvar, research manager for IDC’s client virtualization program.  “How long that lasts is anyone’s guess. Companies scrambled to invest in work from home technologies including Windows Virtual Desktop and the associated infrastructure to support them. Whether that is sustainable during the upcoming economic shocks is less clear.”

The launch of Amazon Workspaces in 2017 gave rise to a nascent but growing opportunity to migrate VDI and native Windows desktops to cloud workspace offerings. CloudJumper is among several upstarts in recent years that have launched cloud workspace services. Others include Nerdio and Workspot. Among others, these companies have emerged as alternatives to VDI solutions from Citrix and VMware.

Longstanding Rivalry with Citrix

For its part, CloudJumper had its sights on targeting Citrix partners and customers from the outset. CloudJumper spun out in 2016 from MSP nGenx, a onetime Citrix partner of the year. CloudJumper stepped up that battle in early 2018 with the acquisition of Independence IT, a former Citrix partner. Independence IT’s hypervisor-agnostic cloud workspace software expanded CloudJumper’s workspace-as-a-service (WaaS) offering as Citrix Cloud started rolling out.

CloudJumper decided to run its WaaS offering in Microsoft Azure, which is also the control plane for Citrix Cloud. When Microsoft publicly revealed plans for WVD in 2018, the company said both Citrix and CloudJumper would be early launch partners.

While WVD provides baseline cloud VDI services in Azure, Citrix, CloudJumper and others offer solutions that ease provisioning and management. Many MSPs are …

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