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EMC/Data Domain deal: How should VARs react?

With EMC and Data Domain set to join forces at the end of this month, storage VARs will need to take action. But how you react will depend on your existing relationships with the two companies, as well as NetApp. Get advice on your next best move.

It's now pretty clear that EMC will end up with data deduplication vendor Data Domain. And much has been much written about what EMC should do with Data Domain and what NetApp should do as a result of the loss. But what about VARs? How you react to this situation depends on the nature of your relationship with each of the three companies.

No matter your relationship, though, your first step is to resist panicking. This purchase won't be complete until at least the end of July, and then it will take time for the two companies to be integrated. It will take at least another 60 days for any functional changes to channel programs to be felt.

The second step is to take action. You can't count on things being "business as usual"; they may be, but they may not. Either way, you have to be prepared. Here's advice around how to do that.

Data Domain VAR with an EMC relationship

If you are a Data Domain VAR with an EMC relationship, you're in a pretty good position. You have likely already pushed back on the efforts by EMC to sell its other backup solutions or, even better, have navigated through the process of when to sell which solution. If you have, I strongly suggest that you contact EMC and offer the company your insight -- as a paid consultant -- around how to do this technically and from a sales perspective. EMC will need that knowledge, and there is no better place to get it than from a reseller.

Beyond being a consultant, you should at a minimum start working with your local EMC/Data Domain teams to position your company as the ideal one to go to for integration work.

Data Domain VAR with a NetApp or other supplier relationship

If you are a Data Domain VAR that provides NetApp primarily for storage solutions, you are in the most vulnerable position. Will EMC stand by its business-as-usual stance as it did with VMware, or will it do like it did with Legato resellers and indirectly apply pressure to adopt the other EMC offerings?

For the NetApp-focused VAR, there is another twist to this relationship: People in the storage industry expect there will still be an acquisition in NetApp's future. If NetApp does buy a similar technology, you can expect the company to indirectly apply pressure to adopt its way of doing things -- in other words, use its products. For the Data Domain reseller, this is going to present a problem.

Time will tell, but you need to be prepared for either outcome. That means continuing your Data Domain relationship while you investigate other potential data deduplication solutions. It's important to have an alternative strategy, but don't execute that strategy until you understand what the modified Data Domain relationship looks like.

VARs without a Data Domain relationship

If you provide solutions in the backup space and you are not a Data Domain VAR, your best course of action will depend on who your primary storage provider is. If your primary supplier is EMC, then it obviously makes sense to get real good at Data Domain very quickly. EMC is not going to spend over $2 billion on a company and not expect its channel to help it achieve return on the investment.

If you are not a Data Domain reseller and you provide storage solutions other than those from EMC, I still would not rule Data Domain's products out. There are hundreds of VMware VARs that became VMware VARs after EMC's acquisition of VMware and do not provide EMC storage solutions. While the situation here is different -- EMC did not have products that competed with VMware -- EMC's approach to Data Domain may be similar. Don't overreact but make sure you have a backup strategy.

About the author

George Crump is president and founder of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the United States, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland, George was chief technology officer at one of the nation's largest storage integrators, where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.

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