EMC + Dell: It’s not Ozzie and Harriet anymore

January 19, 2011 -- It’s not news that the fissure is getting deeper, and wider, in the once rock-solid reseller relationship between EMC and Dell. And the fissure started looking more like a crevasse this week as the relationship became icy when EMC introduced the VNX and VNXe (entry level) line of unified storage systems as part of a massive rollout of new products (see “EMC announces 41 new products” ).

EMC chairman, CEO and president Joe Tucci made a number of interesting remarks this week, but I think the most strident was in a CRN article where he was quoted as saying: “In this product line [the VNXe] there is no Dell partnership. In any conversations we have had with Dell, Dell will not take up this partnership. They will not resell this product.” (See Joe Kovar’s article on CRN: “EMC’s Tucci: No Dell Partnership With VNX/VNXe.”)

Tucci went on to say: “Obviously some channel partners – maybe all channel partners – would see Dell as a competitor. Here we are saying ‘Don’t worry about it – Dell is not getting this product.’ It sounds like I’m saying ‘You can’t have it, Dell’ [but] basically, it doesn’t fit their strategy. It doesn’t fit our strategy.”

But it’s important to note that those comments related to the low-end VNXe (which has a starting price of less than $10,000), not the VNX line.

Here’s what Dell has to say, courtesy Dell spokesperson David Graves: “Dell is selling VNX through our reseller agreement. A Dell-branded OEM version of VNX is still in discussion. Dell and EMC have mutually agreed not to use Dell as a channel for the VNXe product – either as a reseller or a Dell-branded OEM offering.”

So Dell will not resell the VNXe but will – at least for now – resell the VNX as an EMC-branded product with the (unlikely) possibility of reselling it with the Dell-EMC brand.

A little (probably unnecessary for InfoStor readers) history: The EMC-Dell relationship began 10 years ago and was for some time a wildly successful win-win. The fissure in the relationship probably started to appear when Dell acquired EqualLogic, which put Dell on the storage map. (In its last reporting period, Dell stated that revenue from the EqualLogic line grew 66% over the previous year.)

The fissure widened when Dell made a bid for 3PAR (eventually losing a bidding war with HP) and started looking like a chasm when Dell said it would acquire Compellent, which is still in progress.

The decision (by EMC or Dell or both?) for Dell to not resell the VNXe is a real boon to EMC’s resellers, which otherwise would have had to compete with Dell. But the two companies should do the entire channel a favor and just sever the relationship and move on.

Related articles:

EMC announces 41 new products (InfoStor)

EMC’s Tucci: No Dell Partnership With VNX/VNXe (CRN)


posted by: Dave Simpson