Dell CEO on EMC ties, storage standards

Dell CEO on EMC ties, storage standards

Since 2002, Dell has had a solid partnership with EMC as a reseller and manufacturer of its low-end and midrange arrays. As that partnership continues to grow, and Dell's annual storage revenue exceeds the US$1.5 billion mark, Dell CEO Kevin Rollins is faced with clearly defining his company's role as an independent storage vendor that's not at odds with EMC.

At Storage Networking World Tuesday, Rollins spoke about his company's relationship with EMC and the development of standards to help users manage increasingly complex storage-area networks.

You talked a lot about standards in your presentation. Other than being a member of standards bodies, how is Dell working toward standards?

We're not only on them, but we're trying to drive them. It's clear that as we do that, there are two or three major players that don't want that to happen very fast.

What's their reason for that?

They have their own proprietary technology, and it'll force them to give that up on behalf of an industry standard, which will mean customers will have more choice and can shift from vendor to vendor or bring (multiple) vendors into their shop.

Can you name those companies?

Well, I probably shouldn't. That's because its a sensitive realm of the (Storage Networking Industry Association's) discussions. But I think it's moving positively. There are some who block certain things at certain times, but I think generally the industry is moving forward.

ISCSI. How does that play into Dell's plans?

Well, our plans are to introduce a product in our fourth quarter.

What will that be? An array or a network device?

I really can't say yet.

Do you think iSCSI will overtake Fibre Channel for storage networking?

Not right away, but over time, iSCSI is going to pose a big challenge to Fibre Channel.

It seems that as you creep up the storage stack and EMC creeps down the stack, you're beginning to compete against each other.

Well, not too much, because most of our business will be in the small-to-medium business space. And so that's why we did the partnership.

Is there a time when you begin manufacturing EMC's higher-end systems?

Probably. Well, I don't know. Maybe. It's so problematic, because if they sell them through any channel partners, it hard for those channel partners to buy from us. Up until this point and time, it doesn't make any sense.

Do you see a time when you and EMC may merge to become one company?

I don't think so. The partnership came about because we've got the access to markets, and (they've) got the technology but can't ramp it. We haven't stated (a merger) as a goal. And I think EMC is very happy staying independent. We don't need to join each other, and if we did, I'm not sure what the benefit would be.

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