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Days before four fighters battle it out at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, two IT heavyweights shook hands and came out smiling in the same event center. In one corner, Joe Tucci, president and CEO of EMC Corp., promised to bring his company's alliance with Microsoft to the next level. In the other corner, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stood in front of a soup-to-nuts EMC storage lineup and proclaimed that, "I'm in the company of people who know storage very well."
EMC will join heavyweights such as Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM as it licenses the Windows-powered network-attached storage operating system to run in its EMC NetWin 200, which should ship by summer's end. EMC threw in the towel on its own commodity-based NAS operating system because customers demanded Windows. NetWin 200 will range in price between $7,000 and $50,000. The storage vendor will continue to sell its Celerra NAS system at the high end and as a gateway to its Symmetrix-based storage area networks.
The new strategy will have the biggest impact on Network Appliance Inc., EMC's archrival, which is now alone among major players now with its own NAS operating system, according to Illuminata industry analyst David Freund. He also says it shakes things up for Hitachi Data Systems, EMC's primary competitor for storage overall, which is planning its own proprietary NAS system inside a bigger system, while partnering with Network Appliance. To customers, Freund says, the deepened EMC-Microsoft alliance lends further credibility to Windows-based network-attached storage environments. "It furthers the concept of the commodity storage platform," Freund says. "And it's a big win for Windows becoming the industry standard storage platform."
In addition to the NetWin 200, EMC and Microsoft will work together on any future storage management APIs. Microsoft is licensing all its storage APIs, such as its Shadow Copy feature, to EMC. In turn, EMC will merge the APIs into its ControlCenter management framework, allowing customers to more tightly manage their Windows-based NAS systems. The vendors will call on customers together and trade off service jobs to each other.