Microsoft Corp’s focus on storage as a long-term priority has seen it “significantly” extend its relationship with EMC Corp, the company has announced.
Until now the relationship between the two has been almost exclusively focused on interoperability engineering although the two have also been competing in the CDP backup software sector, and on other fronts have sometimes indulged in mutual public backslapping.
Under the new deal the two companies will set up a worldwide network of partner account managers and direct customer engagement personnel, although they would not say how many staff this will involve.
The joint work between the two will cover the three processes of product development, service and consultancy support, and sales and marketing. Initially the two companies will focus on Exchange 2003 and SQL Server 2005.
Microsoft’s general manager for global systems and services partners stressed that the arrangement is not exclusive. But on a strategic level Microsoft there are no other large storage hardware suppliers to become chummy with, as the other big players in mid-range storage market are its rivals IBM Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co.
The Redmond giant and EMC have been moving closer together for some while, driven by Microsoft’s ambition to become a major data center supplier, and EMC’s desire to tap the fastest growing sectors of the storage market, which are at the low end and mid-range.
In 2003 EMC dipped into the low-end NAS market by launching file-level disk arrays powered by the NAS-specific version of Windows 2003 a platform that EMC described as the most storage-friendly OS on the planet.
EMC last year however canned those Windows-powered products. It had been struggling with three problems – slim margins for this type of product, fierce competition from HP and Dell Corp’s Windows-powered NAS boxes, and a need to pitch its own Win-NAS boxes up-market, in order not compete with Dell, which is its major reselling partner.