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NetApp, Fujitsu and Quantum in product-swapping orgy

EMC aftershocks tip storage players into each others' beds

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Opinion The aftershocks of EMC's earth-shaking Data Domain acquisition are causing the storage industry suppliers' tectonic plates to grind and shift into new positions.

The snatching of Data Domain from NetApp's grasp left the Sunnyvale company with a deep hole in its strategy. It was willing to pay a substantial amount for a deduping virtual tape library (VTL) company and so clearly needed that kind of product. It gave the kiss of death to its own NearStore VTL and seemed to retire from the market.

But NetApp did not go away quietly. It's back, in a small way for now, with Fujitsu, reselling that company's CS800 S2 Data Protection Appliance, a deduping VTL.

It is not taking the CS High End V5 product though - and is only selling the CS800 S2 in 21 EMEA countries. We're told by some people that this is just a starting point and if things go well then the geographic scope of the agreement could widen.

Pity for Quantum though. There it is with its steadily improved and broadened DXi range and NetApp decided not to take it, neither to either OEM or resell the DXi products.

But inside the CS800 S2 is Quantum's DXi deduplication software technology. Marcus Schneider, Fujitsu's director of storage product marketing, admitted this. He said: "We believe the Quantum stack is the most mature on the market. It's a great piece of software."

NetApp knows this. When its VTL team of engineers and marketeers were talking to Fujitsu they must have asked "Where do you get the dedupe technology?" and Fujitsu must have said Quantum, and then possibly, the NetApp team had a conversation with Quantum.

So let's recast the announcement a little: NetApp is indirectly reselling Quantum DXi deduplication technology in Europe and, if things go well, will do so outside Europe as well.

This is a brilliant deal for Quantum. A relationship with NetApp, even at arm's length through an intermediary, is a relationship with NetApp. At last Rick Belluzzo can smile when he thinks of Don Joey and EMC's ejection of Quantum's DXi technology in favour of Frank Slootman's Data Domain.

Here we also have Fujitsu reselling NetApp FAS arrays. We have Fujitsu steadily extending the strength of its in-house Eternus disk brand and we have it reselling EMC storage hardware and software. Where does this NetApp deal put EMC's relationship with Fujitsu? It reminds some people of Princess Diana's marriage and her statement that it was doomed because there were thee people in it.

Why does Fujitsu need EMC disk storage? EMC isn't taking any Fujitsu products or technology as quid pro quo for that firm reselling EMC storage gear. Is the EMC Fujitsu relationship over?

Schneider said: "The partnership with EMC is very much in place."

Sean Haffey, Fujitsu UK's Manager for Large Systems and Storage, said: "I don't think you will find anything in our announcement which even hints at an end to our relationship with EMC. We are strengthening our NetApp partnership and that is in line with what we announced towards the end of 2009."

Another Fujitsu spokesperson said: "The relationship between Fujitsu and EMC is strong and ongoing and the partnership with NetApp does not mark the end of Fujitsu’s relationship with EMC."

What EMC products does Fujitsu take? Schneider said: "We have an installed base of 1,400 Networker customers and we are the biggest reseller of Symmetrix worldwide … We did resell CLARiiON, we didn't formally stop it, but the focus is now ETERNUS."

The ETERNUS brand is for Fujitsu's own storage hardware technology and there are entry-level DX60, 80 and 90 arrays, a mid-range DX400, and a high-end DX8000 with up to eight quad-core controllers, 2,760 disk drives and 5.46PB maximum capacity: this is a Symmetrix-class array in terms of its scalability.

Schneider said: "We introduced [ETERNUS] in Europe as a new brand. We have a very clear strategy of putting ETERNUS first, but there are situations where we are reselling Symmetrix and CLARiiON… We have been reselling Centera, but not in big numbers, and ditto Celerra."

Where does this leave us? It looks to El Reg that Fujitsu's need for EMC storage hardware is coming to an end. Yes, the installed base will be looked after, but the focus is on Eternus and Fujitsu is reselling NetApp's unified storage. This means less need for EMC CLARiiON and Celerra systems. Our opinion is that the Fujitsu-EMC storage hardware relationship has a limited life expectancy.

The OEM'ing of Quantum's DXi software by Fujitsu and the resale of the Fujitsu DXi SW-using CS8000 appliance by NetApp is a tremendous boost to both Quantum and Fujitsu. The three suppliers: Quantum, Fujitsu, and NetApp, have re-positioned themselves to take on EMC and its storage hardware more effectively. ®

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