Worried EMC partners are turning to IBM over uncertainty surrounding Dell's takeover, according to IBM storage vice president Eric Herzog.
Herzog claimed to CRN that EMC storage partners are worried about Dell's channel track record and as a result are looking for "backups" as they await details of the Dell EMC partner programme, which is due to come into force in February.
To capitalise on this, IBM has expanded its "Flash In" storage migration programme which allows Dell and EMC customers to migrate to an IBM flash solution.
The programme has been available with IBM's A9000 flash product since April, but can now be used for IBM's other flash products.
"Given Dell's pedigree in North America, Europe and Africa, those partners in all those regions are very concerned about this takeover – there is a lot of angst." said Herzog.
"A lot of the bigger end users are concerned about support and service, and partners are concerned about disenfranchisement and what the margin profile is going to look like.
"Dell survives on thinner margins and when they use the channel they usually don't have good margins for their customers," he claimed.
Herzog went on to refer to a US-based reseller which does "hundreds of millions of dollars" with EMC that recently approached him and asked for training in IBM's storage solutions.
He said that although the firm was already an IBM partner, it did far more work with EMC but the takeover had let to a decision to increase its business with IBM.
IBM went on to train 475 staff at the firm's 31 US offices.
He also referred to four large European EMC resellers who never sold IBM, but are now IBM partners.
"They're people who are coming to us," he said.
"Given Dell's pedigree in North America, Europe and Africa, those partners in all those regions are very concerned about this takeover – there is a lot of angst."
"Since I've done this for so long, I do know people are the other competitors besides EMC and they've told me that they're having EMC partners come to them too."
When contacted by CRN Dell declined to comment and an EMC spokesperson was not available.
In response to IBM's claims that the Dell takeover could be disruptive, Ian Parslow, vice president at EMC partner MTI, claimed that migration would actually cause greater inconveniences, branding IBM's initiative "hollow" and "immaterial".
"It's largely ironic because one of the biggest disruptions that someone can face is to migrate from one platform to another platform, with a new management interface," he told CRN.
"If you look at the crossover between the solutions of Dell and EMC there's very little in terms of crossover, in fact they dovetail with each other rather well, so actually I don't think there's going to be any disruption with the Dell EMC acquisition."
Parslow went on to explain that there is a chance some products will be discontinued or phased out, but if this is the case it is likely these products will still be supported for a number of years.
Herzog did admit that disruption comes along with any migration, but said that is why IBM offers a migration service along with the products.
As part of the programme IBM is offering 40 hours of free migration services, which he claims benefits partners because they can use it as an incentive when making the sale.
"If they [partners] want to learn how to do all this stuff, they can come with us and get trained up so they'll know how to do it," he said.
"If a partner uses this programme, we sell them the programme and they resell it, so if we teach them they can do it on their own and all the money goes to them – it can be used as a training programme for them.
"Obviously if you're a partner [the 40 free hours] are a good sales tool because if someone's migration service is three weeks, you've just saved them one week."
Eamon Moore, managing director of Dell partner EMIT, told CRN that he expects rival vendors to take advantage of the takeover while there is still uncertainty about how the new product portfolio and partner programme will look.
"Naturally, when any sort of merger takes place it's opportunistic of other vendors to look at things and cause a bit of disruption, so I can appreciate it from that point of view," he said.
"But when you're bringing two powerhouses like Dell and EMC together, I see it as a massive opportunity for us as a partner and for the industry as well.
"No doubt there will be some consolidation in storage applications when they bring the two portfolios together, but you're talking about bringing the best-of-breed stuff from both companies."
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