EMC signs deal with Microsoft joint venture Avanade

An e-commerce joint venture backed by Microsoft and Accenture said it has signed a deal with EMC to provide storage services for Windows 2000, SQL Server and Exchange customers.

Avanade said on Monday that the deal will allow the company to expand its offerings from mainframe to networked storage technologies. For storage market leader EMC, the deal provides a foothold in the Windows NT server market, one of the fastest-growing sectors in the storage industry.

Don Swatik, EMC's vice president of global alliances, said his company has made significant in-roads into the NT environment during the past two years, but he added that the partnership with Avanade will greatly advance that effort. "We're obviously seeing NT as a very significant growth area," he said.

Tony Prigmore, an analyst at market research firm Enterprise Storage Group, said the partnership is potentially a boon for EMC, which has recently announced layoffs and dramatic drops in sales and earnings. Last week, EMC announced its second profit warning in four months, indicating that second-quarter profits will likely be only about one-third of what was expected.

"Being selected as the storage building block for Avanade means that you'll be recommended to Microsoft's premier NT client base as the de facto enterprise class infrastructure," Prigmore said.

"The combination of Avanade's expertise and EMC's offerings will allow customers to better capitalize on Microsoft solutions in the data center," said Frank Hauck, EMC's executive vice president of global sales and services, in a statement on the company's Web site.

Avanade, which formed in April 2000 as a nearly US$1 billion joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture, designs, builds and deploys customized IT architectures for Windows customers. In the past, it has relied on direct-attached, mainframe storage architectures, but its alliance with EMC will now place it in the storage-area network (SAN) arena, where many of its enterprise-class customers already have IT architectures.

"Over time, storage hardware can be commoditized. It's truly the software that can bring out the unique characteristics of the hardware, and clearly EMC is years ahead with the capability of hardware and software working together," said Kevin Adams, Avanade's director of technology alliances.

Adams said the deal will also offer some money-saving advantages to customers already using EMC Symmetrics and Clariion product lines because they won't have to retrain IT professionals and "in many instances, you can plug [our Microsoft NT servers] into the same SAN."