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EMC Kisses Microsoft's NAS

Under an expanded partnership with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) will introduce a midrange NAS box based on Microsoft's Windows-Powered NAS -- a tacit admission by EMC that it couldn't break into the middle tier of the NAS market on its own.

EMC's Windows-based NetWin 200, to be available in the third quarter of 2003, combines a Windows server front-end with an EMC Clariion CX200 storage array. EMC says the new product will provide "an attractive price/performance entry point" for NAS customers in Windows environments. The system will use Microsoft's Windows-Powered NAS 3.0, which is based on Windows Server 2003 (see EMC Cozies Up to Microsoft, Microsoft Gets NASty, and Windows Soaks Up Storage).

Industry observers speculate that EMC is mainly hoping to stop leaving money on the table in situations where customers don't have a need for its higher-end NAS systems. However, EMC didn't divulge any details about the system's price/performance capabilities, except that the Windows NAS box would have a starting price of $50,000 for 1 Tbyte.

And how does the expanded EMC/Microsoft fit in with EMC's partnership with Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL)? Dell, which is EMC's single biggest reseller, already sells a line of its own Windows-powered NAS boxes (see EMC, Dell Keep Dancing).

Chuck Hollis, VP of platform marketing at EMC, says the NetWin 200 will probably be built using Dell PC servers, although EMC expects to also build versions using other partners' PC platforms, including Fujitsu Siemens Computers. He asserts that there will be minimal conflict between the NAS products of EMC's partners -- including Dell -- and the NetWin line because EMC's Windows-based NAS systems will be priced for a different segment. "Dell is very strong in the sub-$50K market," he says.

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