A week after Dell added high end storage to its range, arch rival Compaq has announced a licensing and funding deal with Storage Technology.
According to sources close to the companies, Compaq will plough $30 million a year into the enterprise storage maker to fund development of future products to run with NT servers.
Like Dell - which last week agreed to OEM mainframe-class storage subsystems for NT servers from Data General unit Clariion - Compaq needs a credible storage offering to add weight to its aim of selling Intel-NT boxes as heavyweight enterprise servers.
Vic Mahadevan, head of Compaq's enterprise storage division, said this would enable the company to compete effectively for the first time against high end storage specialists such as EMC and even IBM - which also resells Storagetek products.
The first products from the funding deal are likely to appear within a year. They will be jointly sold and marketed by Compaq but will also be available to be OEMd by other vendors, sources hinted, with revenues divided between the partners.
The first products will be a hardware device to link large servers to multiple storage units, and a set of data management software. The first will be available by the end of this year, the software a year later.
The software product will be called Virtual Storage, and will automatically allocate data to different forms of storage - disk, tape or optical - according to the frequency of access. Subsequent releases will sit on NT servers but handle storage attached to all types of computers.
In the nearer term, Compaq also has the option to resell any Storagetek drives, but has not confirmed whether it will do so.
For Storagetek, the deal is a welcome shot in the arm, coming on top of licensing agreements with IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sequent. The IBM reseller deal grosses about $500 million a year for Storagetek, and has been a major factor in its recent financial turnaround, analysts estimate.
With NT servers seen by many observers as the growth market of the future, the Compaq alliance may prove even more important long term, giving Storagetek a firm foothold in this area as its traditional mainframe-attached market declines. It will need such partners to fight off newer challengers such as Clariion for the plum OEM deals.
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