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Dell has expanded an agreement with VMware to ship more of its software with Dell servers and storage.

Dell will now offer a broad portion of the VMware product line on various pieces of hardware, adding to a previous reselling agreement. This move is an obvious nod to EMC, which recently acquired VMware. And Dell is never one to miss out on an opportunity to aid its favorite storage partner.

In a broader context, EMC's purchase of VMware gives Dell a nice, direct path to server and storage management software. In this case, Dell again looks ready to benefit from the research and development work done elsewhere.

In 2002, Dell quietly started reselling VMware's Workstation, GSX Server and ESX Server products for dividing Windows and Linux servers into different partitions or virtual machines. The ESX Server product has also been popular with IBM and HP for some time.

Dell will step up the VMware program with three new pre-tested bundles. The first includes a Dell PowerEdge 6650 server equipped with the new ESX Server Version 2.0.1, VirtualCenter and VMotion. The latter two products are aimed at making the management of applications on partitioned servers easier. A second bundle will have the VMotion software included with Dell's CX300 and CX500 storage systems. These boxes are just two of several that make up the Dell/EMC storage partnership.

The third bundle includes Dell's PowerEdge 1750 server and VMware VirtualCenter Management Server product.

Close ties

When EMC first acquired VMware, executives from both companies were quick to stress that VMware would cater to the server industry as a whole and not to just EMC's own interests. This was the obvious road to take, given VMware's very close ties to IBM and the decent amount of business the two companies share.

But now Dell has a chance to become VMware's best ally. Without question, Dell has the closest ties to EMC of all the server vendors - a relationship which already includes complex sales agreements. In addition, Dell is the only major vendor not to have a serious management software story of its own to tell.

As a past investor in VMware, Dell must have given a glancing thought to acquiring the company. But such a move would buck Dell tradition. Instead, it's easier and no doubt more effective to see EMC - and its large research and development budget - mature the VMware product line.

Don't forget that EMC has high hopes to quickly push VMware from a limited place on the server to much broader applications managing multivendor servers and storage systems. ®

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