A pitched battle in Asia's enterprise storage arena is developing as rivals EMC and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) step up strategic new channels to sell their products across the region. Senior executives from the two companies expect this initiative to boost regional demand and swell their respective revenue streams. Fresh from expanding its alliance with personal computer maker Dell in May, Massachusetts-based EMC quietly sealed deals last month with new partners Samsung Electronics and the mainland's Langchao Electronic Information Industry corporation. But HDS, a unit of Japanese electronics giant Hitachi, has moved to keep the competition close by recently forming ties with Taiwan's Acer just weeks after it struck a partnership with Hong Kong-listed Lenovo Group. The new relationships forged by EMC and HDS are expected to help them achieve closer customer contacts and deepen understanding on the storage hardware, software and services requirements of more Asian enterprises. Expanding market reach is also vital for EMC and HDS to keep pace with the steady growth in demand for corporate data storage systems in the region. International Data Corp forecasts enterprise disk storage system sales in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, will reach US$3 billion in 2007, up from about $2.6 billion at the end of this year. EMC executive vice-president Mark Lewis said: 'We see a lot of upside in Asia and we expect to take share in all the major markets. Both Samsung and Langchao have the expertise to reach markets in the region with greater depth than we could manage.' Samsung will sell EMC's line of Clariion systems, used at the core of many enterprises' high-speed internet-linked storage area networks (SANs), under its own StorageMax brand. The firms aimed to jointly develop new products in the next few years. Langchao's deal with EMC allows the mainland server computer maker to manufacture and sell the Clariion line under its own brand. Under this partnership, EMC extended revenue-sharing arrangements to the more than 100 resellers used by Langchao in the mainland. 'We expect these new partners to make a meaningful contribution to our revenues within the next 12 months,' Mr Lewis said. Despite stiff competition from HDS, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, EMC led the US$12.9 billion global information storage systems industry last year, Gartner said. The research firm said EMC had a 20.6 per cent market share of external controller-based disk storage system sales worldwide. Total second-quarter revenues of EMC in Asia reached US$222 million, up 34 per cent year on year. Its worldwide revenues for the same period reached $1.97 billion, a 33 per cent increase year on year. The alliance between HDS and Acer, one of the world's largest PC suppliers, granted the Taiwanese firm the right to market, sell and support its Thunder 9500 V Series modular storage devices as part of a total SAN infrastructure. This package included Acer's own Altos servers and certain third-party products. HDS senior director of channels in Asia-Pacific and Latin America Martin Darling said this would help Acer gain entry to the mid-level SAN market in Asia and give HDS a strong marketing programme in the storage-attached server solutions favoured by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 'We see tremendous opportunity for growth within the SME market,' he said. The Acer deal will complement the alliance between HDS and Lenovo.