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Storage Makes Strange Bedfellows

EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) certainly knows how to keep its enemies close. It bought three software companies over the last six months, and all three maintain partnerships with EMCs fiercest rivals.

VMware is the latest to join the EMC fold (see EMC Gobbles VMware). Like other EMC acquisitions, Documentum Inc. and Legato Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: LGTO) (see EMC Swings Into Software Big Leagues), VMware's success was built largely on how well it sells to EMC's competitors.

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), for instance, are major resellers of VMware’s server virtualization software for Intel-based computers. VMware’s CEO Diane Greene makes it clear she intends to keep those partners. So does EMC CEO Joe Tucci, who maintains that VMware will keep the status quo, even as EMC tries to use VMware’s technology to gain competitive edge against IBM's Tivoli and HP's OpenView software.

A tricky situation? Yes, but one EMC is familiar with. EMC also let Documentum and Legato remain intact after acquiring them. On the conference call to announce the VMware deal yesterday, Tucci brought up Documentum’s partnership with Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) and Legato’s relationship with IBM. His message: Our new acquisitions can still go out and play with our competitors.

So what if IBM announced a full-out raid on EMC customers two weeks ago? (See IBM Attacks EMC Customer Base.) That doesn’t make it a bad customer.

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