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Dell pulls the plug on EMC relationship

Dell today officially ended its 10-year partnership with EMC, saying it would no longer sell EMC products after making a series of storage acquisitions over the past four years.

Customers who purchased EMC storage from Dell will continue to receive support, Dell said in a statement, but it is ending its OEM and reseller deals for EMC Clariion, Celerra, Data Domain and VNX systems.

The move isn’t much of a surprise, considering Dell had already driven a large wedge into the relationship by buying its own storage companies – including several direct competitors to EMC.

Dell has sold EMC storage since 2001, and in late 2008 the vendors said they were extending their OEM agreement through 2013. Dell also widened the deal in March of 2010 by adding EMC Celerra NAS and Data Domain deduplication backup appliances to their OEM arrangement. However, the relationship had already started to deteriorate by then, going back to when Dell acquired EMC competitor EqualLogic in early 2008. The rift became irreparable last year when Dell followed an unsuccessful bid for 3PAR by completing an $820 million acquisition of Compellent in December.

Dell also acquired data reduction vendor Ocarina and the assets of scale-out NAS vendor Exanet in 2010, giving it more storage IP to integrate with its platforms.

Even before Dell bought Compellent, EMC CEO Joe Tucci a year ago said the once tight relationship between the vendors “cooled off” after Dell tried to buy 3PAR. A Dell spokesman responded by saying EMC still played an important role in Dell’s storage strategy.

There has been no OEM deal for EMC’s VNX unified storage system launched last January, although Dell did have an OEM deal for the Clariion and Celerra platforms that VNX replaced. EMC has built up its channel this year, making the SMB VNXe product a channel-only offering that directly competes with Dell products. Last week EMC launched a channel-only Data Domain DD160 SMB system.

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