IBM has confirmed that its storage OEM relationship with NetApp has changed, with sales of IBM-branded N-series solutions from NetApp expected to end shortly while sales of storage solutions based on NetApp's E-series are expected to continue.
IBM, in a statement emailed to CRN, confirmed for the most part earlier reports that IBM planned to end its OEM relationship with NetApp.
In the statement attributed to an IBM spokesperson, IBM said its N-series Release 30, which was unveiled in mid-February, is the last IBM enhancement to the N-series product line.
IBM also said it formally withdrew sales for new N-series systems as of Tuesday, although it will accept orders for the solutions for another 90 days.
IBM also plans to make miscellaneous equipment upgrades available for 12 months, and has promised to support current N-series products and configurations through 2018.
However, IBM said it will continue to OEM part of NetApp's E-series arrays based on technology from NetApp's 2011 acquisition of Engenio.
That includes IBM's DCS3700 and DCS3860 high-density storage drawers that integrate with IBM System x, BladeCenter and Power Systems. IBM also may source NetApp storage solutions as part of a reseller agreement through IBM Global Technology Services.
Solution providers said IBM's channel partners had expected the move for some time, and have already shifted to selling NetApp-branded versions of IBM's N-series storage solutions.
"It's not like any of us didn't know this was coming," said Chris Pyle, president of Champion Solutions Group, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based solution provider and longtime IBM channel partner. "I don't think anybody who sells N-series is surprised about this. IBM has been giving hints it prefers to focus on its own products including the V7000 line."
While Champion actually is seeing sales of IBM's storage technology rising, it also is enjoying increasing NetApp sales as well, Pyle said.
"Any partners with substantial N-series sales, and I don't mean one unit, like Champion have become NetApp partners," he said. "So the change is no big deal for us."
Another IBM solution provider, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the move has been expected for a long time, and that N-series sales have been gradually drifting to NetApp.
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