NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP) is enjoying a 17% share price boost today, while also beating its three-month average volume in the first hour of trading. The fourth-quarter report must have been something special.

And indeed it was: $1.17 billion in revenue and $0.40 of GAAP earnings per share easily bested Wall Street estimates while representing growth of 33% and 90% year-over-year, respectively. Sales of new storage systems saw a 50% annual boost, which should translate into higher sales of software and services in coming quarters. It looks like NetApp is stealing market share from mortal rivals EMC (NYSE: EMC) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) at the moment, and ironically, much of the theft is happening thanks to EMC semisubsidiary VMware (NYSE: VMW).

Unlike Brocade Communications Systems (Nasdaq: BRCD), which wants to go its own way as far as possible, NetApp revels in industry partnerships and the sales opportunities they create. A long-running distribution agreement with IBM (Nasdaq: IBM) once provided more than 10% of NetApp's sales, though that slice of the sales pie has been shrinking as the pie itself expanded. NetApp also sells Brocade networking gear as part of some storage packages and is happy to report that fact as a driver of fresh contracts.

But as I said, VMware is the big kahuna in NetApp's surf. "Roughly 1/3 of our current installed base is supporting virtualized environments," says CEO Tom Georgens. "It was not that long ago when people were questioning whether server virtualization was a potential threat to NetApp, when we were in fact the first to recognize the impact of this trend on storage and are now the acknowledged innovation leader in storage for virtualized infrastructures."

NetApp looks a bit expensive today, thanks to that tremendous overnight rocket launch. But there is no doubt that the company is positioned beautifully to take advantage of a virtualized IT world, and I'm actually surprised that EMC isn't doing more to kick its own business in virtual computing storage into shape. But NetApp is hiring sales staff and moving to make the most of this unique point in storage history.

Is NetApp too expensive now, or did the stock simply get a well-deserved bucket of reality dumped on its head? I'm leaning toward the latter, but please discuss in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. VMware is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.