EMC is to remain the exclusive supplier of storage area network hardware to Dell until at least 2008.
The deal extends a strategic alliance, which Dell and EMC signed in October 2001, by two years. Under this agreement, the two companies have collaborated on the development of EMC's Navisphere and VisualSan management software.
In April this year Dell began manufacturing EMC's low-end CX200 San array.
IDC analyst Robert Gray said the relationship has been a good one. "They are very different companies in that the products they sell are for quite different sections of the market, and with quite different approaches, which is why this works for the two of them."
The deal means that customers need not worry about Dell switching Fibre Channel San suppliers for a few more years, but it does not shed any light on whether Dell will use EMC as the supplier when it begins selling San arrays based on the emerging iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) standard.
Dell's Advanced Systems group vice president Terry Kline declined to say who would be manufacturing Dell's iSCSI arrays. "We're considering the alternatives," he said. "We will do what makes sense for both our companies."
Dell is expected to announce its iSCSI decision within the next 90 days. IDC's Gray admitted he would be "a little surprised" if Dell tried to manufacture iSCSI systems on its own.
"They've tried enough of their storage products themselves," he said.
Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service