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Microsoft, NetApp, Citrix, team for FreeBSD on Hyper-V

Cunning ploy to boost ONTAP-v virtual array?

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NetApp, Microsoft and Citrix have teamed up to let Free BSD run natively in Hyper-V.

The move makes sense for Microsoft: FreeBSD may not be a major OS player, but W3techs says it still has 1.2 per cent of the web server market. If it enjoys even half of that market share for other servers, that almost certainly means plenty of legacy apps that could do with a shift into the more modern environment of a nice, warm, hypervisor.

NetApp's reasons for contributing code, sweat and tears are more obscure, until one considers this interview between the company's Joe CaraDonna, NetApp Technical Director of Core Operating Systems and Anandeep Pannu, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft's Open Source Technical Center.

In their chat, CaraDonna offered the following quote:

“NetApp leverages FreeBSD in its products, one of which is Data ONTAP-v: a Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) delivering our multiprotocol storage management and data protection capabilities to virtualized environments. Given our interests, it made good sense to work together on this project.”

ONTAP-v is a reasonably obscure product, thanks to the fact that until recently it only ran on Fujitsu servers. But as we learned last March, NetApp has now made the virtual array more widely available, possibly in response to the fact VMWare has released a virtual storage appliance and HP's LeftHand range also relies on the technology. LeftHand already runs on Hyper-V.

NetApp's key piece of storage software , Data ONTAP, is a heavily customised variant of FreeBSD. CaraDonna's statement all-but-confirms that ONTAP-v is of the same lineage.

Helping Microsoft to run FreeBSD inside Hyper-V is therefore a neat way for NetApp to create a far, far larger potential market for ONTAP-v, a move which makes a lot of sense given the virtual array has languished in obscurity for years. It also gives NetApp a virtual/physical integration story that EMC can't quite match, no matter how close it is to VMware.

Microsoft gets the chance to go head to head with VMware for customers who like the idea of virtual storage appliances. That may not be entirely good news for Windows Storage Server, but as it has never won staggering numbers of users Microsoft can probably take the competitive hit without too much worry. ®

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