By Kevin Komiega
—EMC and Intel joined forces this week at the Storage Networking World conference in San Diego, surprising the crowd with an announcement of a new OEM partnership under which Intel will sell entry-level disk arrays based on EMC's recently launched Clariion AX150 systems.
As part of the multi-year deal, Intel will market and sell its own version of the AX150, called the Intel SSR212PP Storage System, to its huge roster of about 160,000 resellers and distributors worldwide. The Intel storage array will be exactly like the AX150 with the exception of exterior cosmetic changes that will allow Intel's resellers to slap their own logo on the box.
EMC inked this deal based, in part, on the strength of Intel's partner network in the Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, and South America regions.
"More than half of Intel's resellers are outside of the US. EMC knows how to reach US resellers. This is about emerging markets overseas," says Hans Geyer, vice president and general manager of Intel's Storage Group.
But Intel didn't agree to OEM storage arrays just to stuff its coffers with cash. Another part of the deal hinges on the co-development of new storage processors. EMC has promised to help Intel "enhance" its storage architectures and identify future market requirements.
"New silicon shows up in storage before it does in servers," says Geyer. "This deal will help expand our product offering into storage and help define future CPUs and chipsets for storage to help us [provide] better servers."
EMC recently unveiled the AX150 and AX150i networked storage systems with an eye on the small to medium-sized business (SMB) and branch office markets.
The AX150 has Fibre Channel host connectivity, while the AX150i supports iSCSI connectivity. Both models are based on EMC's Clariion RAID architecture, support up to 10 host servers, scale from 750GB to 6TB of capacity, and can be installed by customers.
EMC has added support for up to eight concurrent array-based snapshots for backup-and-recovery purposes, a dual-controller option, and redundant power supplies to the AX150, as well as support for Serial ATA (SATA) II disk drives and an iSCSI Installation Wizard.
Intel's version is expected to be available from its participating channel partners worldwide beginning in May. The Intel SSR212PP will feature up to 12 SATA II disk drives in a 2U rack-mountable enclosure.
Intel has not released pricing details for its version of the system, but EMC-branded AX150 systems are available now through EMC and partners such as Dell and Tech Data with pricing expected to start at about $5,600.
The EMC and Intel OEM deal has caused some in the industry to question the health of EMC's five-year old relationship with Dell, which Dell currently sells co-branded versions of various EMC Clariion products as part of a deal that runs through December 2008. But EMC says its relationship with Dell has never been better.
"[EMC] believes this relationship with Intel is complementary to the one we have with Dell. There is opportunity for Intel, EMC, and Dell to play in this market," says Mitch Breen, EMC's senior vice president of global channel sales and marketing.
The AX150 is part of EMC's Insignia line of hardware and software products for smaller companies. The Insignia family, announced in February, comprises existing EMC products that have been engineered to fit lower price points required by SMBs and includes the Clariion AX systems, EMC's Storage Administrator for management of Microsoft Exchange Server data, Retrospect for backup and recovery, RepliStor for data replication, VisualSRM storage resource management (SRM) software, and eRoom collaboration software.
Intel customers who want to buy more software than is included with the AX150 system will "have access" to EMC's software portfolio, but not through Intel, according to Breen.