EMC eyes lucrative NT market

An e-commerce joint venture backed by Microsoft Corp. and Accenture Ltd. has set up EMC Corp. to provide storage services for Windows 2000, SQL Server and Exchange customers.

Avanade Inc. said last week that the deal would allow it 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, vice-president of global alliances at Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC, said his company has made inroads into the NT environment during the past two years and 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 The Enterprise Storage Group Inc., a market research firm in Milford, Mass., said the partnership could be a boon for EMC, which recently announced layoffs and big drops in sales and earnings. Earlier this month, EMC announced its second profit warning in four months, indicating that second-quarter profits will likely be only approximately 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.

Seattle-based Avanade, which was formed in April 2000 as a nearly US$1 billion joint venture between Microsoft and Chicago-based Accenture, designs, builds and deploys customized IT architectures for Windows customers. Avanade 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 customers already have IT architectures.

“Over time, storage hardware can be commoditized,” said Kevin Adams, director of technology alliances at Avanade. “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.”

Adams noted that the deal will also offer some money-saving advantages to customers using EMC’s 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.”

Microsoft Canada Co. is at http://www.microsoft.ca. EMC Corp. is at http://www.emc.com.