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"As long as this is good for customers, it's good for me," Clifford said. "They asked me what I think. After I explained the situation, they said, ah, I see. My whole approach is, if the customer wins, it's good for me. When I look at how Dell acquired EqualLogic, everything got better. Dell committed itself to the channel, and Compellent is all-channel."
Dell moved toward the channel in a very smart way in the last couple of years, Clifford said. "They proved it with EqualLogic," he said. "And if they do the same with Compellent, I'm going to be a very happy man."
Clifford said he is very positive about the proposed acquisition, and that he does not expect Dell to do anything that might impact Compellent customers or channel partners.
"I can't see Phil Soran (Compellent president, CEO, and chairman) doing anything against the channel," he said. "Soran doesn’t need the money. His focus is on the channel. And if this is not in the long-term interest of customers, he won't do it."
Dell can be expected to provide the resources to help Compellent grow, Clifford said, especially after the bruising it took in its fight with HP over 3PAR.
"Dell wanted 3PAR to go after the enterprise market," he said. "They don't need another EqualLogic. With Compellent, they can take on HP, Hitachi, and EMC in the enterprise storage market."
The proposed acquisition by Dell might be positive for solution providers who are not Dell EqualLogic partners, but it could be a disaster for other partners, said Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at Chi, a Cleveland, Ohio-based solution provider and partner to both EqualLogic and Compellent.
There is a lot of overlap between the Compellent and EqualLogic product lines, especially in terms of their midmarket capabilities, Knieriemen said. "Dell can't really absorb Compellent in the same way that it did EqualLogic," he said. "Compellent would be in direct competition with EqualLogic."
Dell-EqualLogic is a low-cost storage line, while Compellent has always had a small premium in its pricing, Knieriemen said.
"Compellent has always held on to its margins," he said. "If Dell starts selling it, the price will fall. But that would still give Dell higher margins because it no longer would resell EMC storage."
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