Q&A: Dell storage chief on EMC’s reseller affairs

Dell’s Praveen Asthana says the EMC-Intel deal doesn’t spell divorce -- or even a cheatin’ heart

EMC Corp. earlier this month announced a multiyear agreement with Intel Corp. that allows the chip maker to resell EMC’s latest low-end storage arrays. The two companies also signed an expanded technology development agreement (see “Intel to distribute EMC arrays”). At the same time, Dell is saying its 4-year-old reseller partnership with EMC has garnered 15,000 joint customers. But as EMC continues to drive more of its products into the low-end space -- until now, Dell’s bailiwick -- some analysts see a coming conflict. And at least one said the EMC and Intel partnership could send Dell packing. Praveen Asthana, director of Dell’s enterprise storage unit, spoke to Computerworld today about EMC, Intel and its own technology road map. The following are excerpts from the interview.

Earlier this month, EMC and Intel penned a resale partnership. How do you feel about that? Will that affect your relationship with EMC? EMC has a number of partnerships with other resellers, so every time they add one doesn’t mean we’re headed for a divorce. We believe the relationship between Dell and EMC is extremely healthy. We’re serving the customers very well jointly, and the momentum, as far as I can see, is actually increasing.

Who goes after which customer. Have you split the market? Absolutely not.

So when you compete, do you ever find your salespeople in the same room with an EMC sales rep? It’s certainly possible, but I don’t have information on that. One thing that’s important to understand is where we primarily have success is with the Dell server installed base. The rep who has a relationship with the customer says, "Let me tell you about this storage we have." Now there are other operating systems, like Unix, and other server customers, but I think we do very well sticking to our Dell server installed base.

Do you see Dell branching off into storage area network technology in the future? Our main goal here is to meet the needs of the customer, and we continue to focus on doing that in the best possible way. We have a very strong relationship with EMC that gives us the products we need to meet those needs.

So it sounds like that’s a no. I can’t speculate on the future, but I can tell you right now we have a good relationship with EMC to meet the needs of the customers.

Network-attached storage is a hot market right now. Currently you’re doing NAS with Microsoft’s platform. Where is Dell’s future in that market? Do you see yourselves getting into enterprise-class products with multiple protocols, such as iSCSI, Fibre Channel? I’m not going to comment on future product directions. As our customers demand certain products, we’ll see how we can meet their needs.

We continue to see a migration upward in capabilities and capacity by you and a migration downward by EMC. Do you see friction in the future between you and EMC? I think we’re serving the needs of the customer jointly. The customer’s needs are changing in many dimensions. Customers today are having more and more storage needs, no matter the size of the customer. The higher-end customers really want the simplicity afforded by storage consolidation. The midrange customers, when you look at their data needs today, it’s like what large customers needed five years ago. So they’re actually looking for more sophisticated storage products also. When we’re increasing our product capabilities, it’s not necessarily that we’re only going after higher-end customers. The customer needs are increasing in lockstep, and we’re trying to meet those needs.

From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies