3Par Buyout Puts Dell in Ring Against IBM, HP - Even Partner EMC

With the acquisition of 3Par, Dell is positioning itself against top data center storage providers, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi and even Dell-partner EMC.

By Lucas Mearian
Tue, August 17, 2010

Computerworld — With the acquisition of 3Par, Dell (DELL) is positioning itself against top data center storage providers, including IBM (IBM), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Hitachi and even Dell-partner EMC (EMC).

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But Brad Anderson, senior vice president of Dell 's Enterprise Product Group, said the 3Par acquisition won't affect its reseller agreement with EMC .

Dell has had a reseller agreement with EMC for the past decade, offering EMC's entry-level and midrange Clariion storage arrays as well as its Data Domain deduplication appliances. The partnership represents billions in revenue and, for many years, more than 10% of EMC's earnings.

EMC's a very important partner of ours. Our plan is not to change anything. We've always been a company about choice. We're bringing another choice," Anderson said. He added that Dell never resold EMC's high-end Symmetrix line of arrays, so there'll be no overlap or competition in that category of products with the addition of 3Par.

Over the last few years, Dell has increased its line of storage products mainly through reseller partnerships and acquisitions, with offerings such as entry-level to midrange Fibre Channel and iSCSI arrays, network-attached storage (NAS) and data deduplication devices. With Monday's news of its planned purchase of 3Par, Dell is squarely positioning itself in the enterprise-class data center space, and it will be competing with the likes of longtime partner EMC, as well as IBM , HP and Hitachi Data Systems.

3Par sells storage arrays that can be clustered together to provide petabytes of capacity that can be served up to business units like a utility. The technology is especially well-suited for supporting virtualized server and both private and public cloud computing infrastructures because it can be centrally managed and scales, like building blocks, in capacity and performance.

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, agrees that the 3Par acquisition doesn't necessarily affect the EMC partnership.

Duplessie said 3Par was one of the only independent vendors left that represented serious competition against the likes of EMC's Symmetrix, HDS's Universal Storage Platform (Virtual) and IBM's Enterprise Storage Server high-end storage arrays.

"3Par's product line competes with EMC for sure," Duplessie said. "But there's no overlap at all [with the] ... Dell/EMC relationship because of this acquisition. Will it ultimately become a problem? 3Par will compete just like EqualLogic competed with EMC, but somehow their partnership relationship continues to get bigger."

"There's not a heck of a lot of high-end options, so it will be interesting to see what they end up doing," he said.

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