Network Appliance (NASDAQ:NTAP) is a very sensible company, happy to leave the heavy lifting to somebody else.

That's particularly true in its marketing efforts and brand-building, where NetApp has enlisted an impressive roster of business partners through whom its various forms of networked storage solutions can get some serious market exposure. Listen to this quote from last night's earnings call, courtesy of CEO Dan Warmenhoven:

We continue to develop very good traction with our broader partner ecosystem. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) are strong advocates for combining our solutions with theirs. And SAP (NYSE:SAP) is now doing the same for us, particularly in Europe. The characteristics of VMware (NYSE:VMW) server virtualization solution is very complementary with NetApp solutions and we are working together more closely and more often. Our investments in these relationships are paying off and should keep growing [in] a positive way going forward.

My tennis coach would cry something like "Look at this guy, he's all over the place!" NetApp is drawing on some of the biggest names in software, including bitter rivals on both sides of the Atlantic, and then throwing in perhaps the hottest newcomer of all, EMC (NYSE:EMC) spinoff VMware.

The VMware connection is particularly curious, considering the direct competition between NetApp and the virtualization specialist's corporate parent. What's more, NetApp puts a lot of weight behind this partnership, and its own home page almost looks like a VMware property, what with a large VM logo and three prominently placed articles on how to integrate virtual servers with networked storage.

It's hard to go wrong when you have essentially the entire IT industry pulling for you, from cagey veterans to rising stars. It's going to be fun watching the three-way storage rivalry play out between EMC, NetApp, and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) over the next few quarters, as virtualization gains traction and consolidated storage with central management becomes more important. Maybe everybody wins.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here, but he does have a mean one-handed backhand. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure always has room for you.