Dell/EMC partnership will be tested by EqualLogic deal

Dell's acquisition of EqualLogic could put pressure on its partnership with EMC

Dell and EMC are good friends when it comes to selling joint storage products, but Dell's acquisition of IP storage-area- network vendor, EqualLogic, could create some tension in that relationship.

Dell completed the EqualLogic acquisition just a few days ago and on Monday announced the first products resulting from that buy during an event for journalists and analysts at EqualLogic's headquarters.

Dell senior vice-president of commercial products, Brad Anderson, contends that the EqualLogic products are "complementary" to those offered jointly by Dell and EMC, but pointedly said Dell won't use any EqualLogic technology to enhance Dell's EMC product line.

While the Dell/EMC partnership remains lucrative for both companies, Dell can be expected to put more emphasis on EqualLogic's product line, Forrester analyst Andrew Reichman said.

"In the long term, there is the potential for some conflict and some overlap, and maybe rationalizing the product line down into fewer models," Reichman said, following a panel discussion he lead at the Dell-hosted event. "You have to figure the emphasis [for Dell] is going to be on what it owns. I think Dell will have to pick a direction."

Dell on Monday said it began global delivery of Dell EqualLogic PS5000 Series SAN arrays, which are based on iSCSI and have built-in virtualisation features.

"Our intent is to grow our 3,700-customer network into tens of thousands of customers at Dell," the vice-president of marketing at EqualLogic who is now taking on the same role at Dell, John Joseph, said

The Dell/EMC joint product line is composed of the AX series and CX series.

Anderson stressed the differences between the EqualLogic and Dell/EMC product lines, saying EqualLogic is ideal for mid-range customers, particularly those looking to virtualise storage.

The Dell/EMC products provide both Fibre Channel and iSCSI, and may be preferred by customers who have standardized on Fibre, want Fibre at an entry-level price point, or simply prefer the EMC "family values," he said.

"Customers have a broad set of storage needs. One size doesn't fit all," Anderson said.

In September 2006, Dell and EMC extended their storage products marketing partnership for five years.

Significant portions of the AX and CX product lines are sold through Dell, so even if the companies part ways eventually, neither EMC nor Dell is likely to make any public pronouncements that might jeopardize the relationship in the short term, Reichman said.

"In the short term, Dell will be able to sell everything and they'll zero in on which customers need which products," he said. "EMC drives a tremendous amount of volume through Dell. So it's in EMC's best interests that if they are pissed off about it, not to wear it on their sleeve."

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