Data-storage firm EMC and personal-computer giant Dell Computer have expanded their partnership to penetrate China's mid-range and enterprise markets with co-branded network storage products. In October, the two market leaders announced a five-year strategic alliance to expand their reach in the storage market, which was expected to reach US$100 billion by 2005. The agreement saw EMC allow Dell to resell its Clariion line of mid-range storage systems to small and medium-sized enterprises on the mainland. The Dell-EMC network attached storage (NAS) and storage area networks (SAN) products were released on the mainland this week. These include EMC's Clariion FC5300 for work-group applications, FC4500 and the 8.7-terabyte FC4700 for mid-range storage and IP4700 for high-end NAS solutions. Dell also will sell EMC software for a range of platforms and operating environments, such as Navisphere, SnapView, MirrorView, ATF and Database Tuner for Clariion. Dell will market software released by EMC. The computer-maker, which operates a customer centre in Xiamen, Fujian, will be responsible for customer service and technical support of hardware and software, after a six-month transition period. Simon Penny, Dell's storage marketing director for Asia-Pacific and the China region, said there was a huge market for NAS and SAN products in China that Dell was well positioned to serve. 'We have built an organisation within Dell to provide enterprise services support and we have built that organisation in China as well, supporting a few cities and expanding in other cities in China over the next couple of months,' Mr Penny said. He said the Hong Kong market was a little flat, blaming slow business on a lack of understanding of NAS among enterprises. 'They do not recognise file-serving as important, and the perception in Hong Kong is that people consider NAS as expensive, proprietary, complicated and specialised, rather than just a file server. But in China, the market is booming. There is a lot of growth in industries in China,' he said. A Gartner report last year predicted 72 per cent of all external storage would be SAN-attached by 2005. 'It is interesting that in other countries in Asia, NAS has been widely understood and accepted,' Mr Penny said. He said that as more mainland companies learned to operate internationally, they would become more likely to install data-intensive solutions such as enterprise-resource planning and look for ways to manage data. EMC has won several high-profile storage deals in recent months, including 18 terabyte systems, which have been bought by banks and telecommunications carriers. However, the firm is looking to expand its reach into the medium-sized sector, where IBM, Sun Microsystems and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) also compete. Wilson Fok, EMC's integrated marketing and sales support director for Greater China, said: 'This alliance is part of our overall strategy that is going to expand our mid-range market. In the past, EMC has been very focused and successful in the enterprise market space. We have not been too far into the mid-range market yet. This alliance enables us to instantly penetrate the market, with leverage on Dell's skills in sales, marketing and customer services.' Mr Fok said the mid-range market accounted for 60 per cent of overall information-technology spending. EMC recently launched its cross-platform Automated Information Storage strategy, which aims to help firms integrate mixed environments of hardware and software storage components from vendors such as Compaq, Dell, HDS, Hewlett-Packard, Sun, IBM and Network Appliances. Graham Penn, International Data Corp's research director for storage, said the Dell-EMC partnership was a win-win situation for both vendors.