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IBM+EMC = win-win or dog's dinner?

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A merger between IBM and EMC would be an occasion for rejoicing for customers, according to industry analysts Aberdeen Group - but not us.

Aberdeen reasons that IBM server customers turn to EMC for network storage because of EMC's "advanced storage management functionality and world-class service and support". That's not to say IBM customers are not happy with IBM Global Services, because Aberdeen reckons IBM's users value its help in integrating complex IT infrastructure components (such as EMC Symmetrix arrays with IBM servers, presumably).

From these points, Aberdeen concludes (in a research note entitled "An IBM/EMC Merger Would Be a Win-Win for IBM Customers") that a merger between the firms would give customers the best of both companies from a single source.

Aberdeen knows more about storage than we'd ever care to learn but this conclusion strikes a wrong chord with us for a couple of reasons.

Firstly from a competitive perspective, the merger of two of the main players in the storage market (the others being Compaq and HDS) would leave customers with fewer potential suppliers. It would seem to be a step back towards the bad old days when EMC cornered the storage market with its expensive (and proprietary) boxes.

The other point is that we don't think there's a good fit between IBM and EMC's product portfolio and strategic development plans, a point which recent interviews with senior IBM execs would appear to back up.

Dietmar Wendt, IBM's vice president of storage solutions in EMEA, told IT-Analysis that IBM wasn't interested in buying EMC, and even with EMC's lowered share price we don't see the logic of such a move, or believe it would benefit customers. ®

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