NetApp, Accenture Expand Relationship

The first agreement is related to joint development around data center transformation where storage is a major component, said Patrick Rogers, vice president of corporate alliances at NetApp.

Those transformations include the adoption of new platforms like SAP and Oracle, new virtualization or cloud engagements, and any major data center project requiring sizing, configuration, best practices, and setting up run books, Rogers said.

"NetApp has the experience to handle the storage," he said. "But Accenture has the entire data center portfolio."

The new joint solution development will impact joint NetApp and Accenture customers, said Dean Anderson, a partner with Accenture, a New York-based IT consulting company. This will include some customers that NetApp will bring to Accenture, Anderson said.

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Rogers said the expanded relationship will be focused on the approximately 5,000 largest data center customers worldwide, and will not impact NetApp's other solution provider partners.

"We have a strong partner community," he said. "Some, but not all, can deal with such large customers. But Accenture is a huge company worldwide. We can't pass up the opportunity to work with Accenture."

Many of the deals which NetApp does in conjunction with Accenture will involve other NetApp partners, Rogers said. "Accenture doesn't do the installation and configuration with all these. We do two-level and three-level partnerships all the time."

Anderson said that it is common for Accenture, as a systems integrator, to partner with other organizations. "We work with multiple technologies, vendors, and service providers to bring a holistic base to a project," he said.

The second agreement between the two involves adding Accenture as one of NetApp's partners for delivering professional services to customers, Rogers said. "Accenture represents an extension of our services capability, just like any other partner," he said.

Indeed, Rogers said that the joint solution NetApp and Accenture delivered to Phoenix-based mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, which was used to illustration their expanded relationship, actually involved another NetApp partner as well. However, both Rogers and Anderson said they could not release that partner's company name without getting its permission.

Rolf Strasheim, director of client solutions at Peak UpTime, a Tulsa, Okla.-based solution provider and long-term NetApp partner, said he sees little potential impact on other solution providers' business from the enhanced NetApp-Accenture relationship.

"If we're is going to see a partnership announced, I'm glad it's with a consulting house like Accenture rather than one related to selling products through CDW or Zones or insert-Internet-retailer-name-here," Strasheim said.

The only potential issue Strasheim said he sees is when Peak UpTime and Accenture have a common account. "But that's what deal registration is designed to handle," he said. "And NetApp is good with its deal registration program."