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

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

Jeffrey Schwartz

April 29, 2020

5 Min Read
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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.

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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 …

… using Citrix Cloud and Cloud Jumper’s Cloud Workspace Management Suite, among others for that purpose. CloudJumper’s CWMS aggregates other desktop and app components of the cloud workspace from AWS, Azure, Google and private clouds.

XenTegra, the most recent Citrix partner of the year, said in January it will also offer CloudJumper. During an interview at the time, XenTegra chief marketing and technology officer Pete Downing said CloudJumper offers two key benefits.

“One, I can simplify the rollout of WVD,” Downing said. “But I can also create an MSP offering on top of WVD that has value.”

Focus on Growth

Over the past year, closely held CloudJumper has grown out is ecosystem of OEM, ISV and MSP partners. Besides XenTegra, CloudJumper recently has partnered with Crayon, Igel, Liquidware and NVIDIA.

“With the reputation and resources of NetApp, CloudJumper will be an even more compelling offering for delivering and managing virtual Windows desktops,” said Jason Smith, Liquidware’s VP of marketing. Liquidware, which provides enhanced app layering solutions, is a longtime NetApp partner. Liquidware’s partnership with CloudJumper dates to its Independence IT days.

“NetApp field teams are already very familiar with our user experience, user environment management and layering solutions, as we have many virtual desktop customers in common and have had partner agreements in place for many years,” Smith said. “The CloudJumper deal will give the market more choices, and Liquidware solutions will make it seamless for our joint customers to coexist or onboard users with any other platform.”

CloudJumper has also extended its partner management with the recent hire of Amie Ray, enterprise channel sales manager. Other recent hires include Mike Celayeta, director of MSPs; Jim DeFlumeri, channel sales manager, and sales VP Mark Foust.

Lye said the entire CloudJumper team, led by president J.D. Helms, have joined NetApp. Helms will lead NetApp’s new modern workplace group as VP.

“We’ve given J.D. budget to grow faster his team,” Lye said. “And we have put together some obvious pieces of technology we had into his group that made great sense to expand on the value proposition of Cloud Jumper.”

Those pieces include NetApp’s SaaS backup service for Office 365 and the Talon global file cache for remote office management. NetApp acquired Talon last month to give NetApp Cloud Volumes and Azure NetApp Files a more robust centralized cache.

“We see huge synergy,” Lye said. “Between that technology and VDI, it’s often deployed together.”

Lye acknowledged that the acquisition of CloudJumper will bring NetApp into competition with Citrix.

“Citrix can continue to use Azure NetApp Files,” he said. “But as a brand, I want NetApp to be in the VDI space. It’s too big a market and we have too much intellectual property and credibility. We are going to compete with our good friends at Citrix. And we are going to do so, we hope, with a strong relationship with Microsoft and WVD.”

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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