IBM To OEM NetApp Appliances To Take On EMC


Pumping iron to prepare for its next battle against EMC, IBM inked a deal to OEM NAS and SAN appliances from Network Appliance.

Under the agreement, Big Blue will OEM NetApp's entire product line of unified and open NAS and iSCSI/IP SAN solutions, including its NearStore and NetApp V-Series systems, as well as associated software offerings, the two companies said Wednesday. NetApp also will make IBM's Tivoli software its preferred backup solution for NetApp customers and position IBM as its preferred tape supplier, although the company won't resell any of IBM's products.

NetApp leads the NAS space with roughly a 40 percent market share, compared with 0.3 percent for IBM, according to research firm IDC.

Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM Storage, said clients seek open, integrated solutions and that the NetApp deal gives IBM the industry's broadest range of storage solutions--as well as a new set of tools to take on rival EMC.

"This puts IBM in a stronger position to take share from our competitors, particularly EMC," Monshaw said. "Make no mistake. This is clearly aimed at EMC."

Dan Warmenhoven, CEO of NetApp, called the deal a win-win for both vendors, saying that IBM now can offer the industry's most complete storage portfolio while NetApp extends its OEM relationships. The deal will help IBM's channel partners compete against EMC but will have little effect on NetApp's solution providers, he said.

"There's very little overlap on the channel," Warmenhoven said. "We are not overdistributed."

Making Tivoli NetApp's preferred backup software supplier won't affect the company's relationship with Veritas Software, Warmenhoven added. Instead, Tivoli and Veritas will have the same relationship with NetApp, making the deal a competitive threat for EMC.

"I wouldn't worry about Veritas and Tivoli. I'd worry about Veritas and Tivoli vs. EMC," Warmenhoven said.

With the OEM relationship, IBM will assess the future of its 500G NAS appliance, which stands to be phased out over time, according to Bob Mahoney, business line executive for storage networking at IBM, who helped work out the IBM/NetApp agreement. The deal also will nudge IBM to re-evaluate its iSCSI SAN appliance line, including the DS400, as well as how it positions its iSCSI SAN products vs. its Fibre Channel products, he said.

Mahoney expects the first fruits of the OEM deal to be available to IBM channel partners in the third quarter. "It will be a staged introduction, depending on our internal testing and interoperability testing," he said.

IBM plans to OEM NetApp's entire product line with only one or two exceptions, possibly NetApp's NetCache line of Internet content caching appliances, Mahoney said.

The new products will be available to all IBM partners via current distribution channels, Mahoney said. Solution providers will go through IBM's standard certification process, which includes requirements for a certain number of sales and technical personnel to be certified for a specified level of expertise. "But it won't be too strict," he said.

IBM solution providers will get more details about the new OEM deal via two conferences scheduled for Wednesday.