Dell has just bought iSCSI SAN supplier EqualLogic for $1.4 billion cash. (EqualLogic backers have ordered new trouser pockets.)

Dell just bought its way into iSCSI array production. Obviously it sees a need to make its own iSCSI arrays and can no longer depend on EMC for such things. It is bad news for Left Hand Networks which now has a Dell-energised EqualLogic operation to contend with, as well as for Compellent, NetApp, HP and any other supplier of iSCSI SANs to the SME and mid-enterprise space. And that includes EMC!!

This is Dell's largest-ever acquisition and is indicative of the fact that storage is Dell's fastest-growing business. Organic iSCSI SAN product sales growth is just not enough for Michael Dell, founder, chairman and CEO, who gives every indication of being in a tearing hurry. The company's first iSCSI array, the PowerVault MD3000i, was only launched in August this year.

Sales can't have been that disappointing :-)

Dell said: “Leading the iSCSI revolution will help Dell accelerate IT simplification and virtualization and will drive the Dell value proposition into more areas of the enterprise storage business."

EqualLogic has been shipping product since July, 2003, and has 3,200 customers around the globe. It had filed for an IPO. Unlike Left Hand which has an OEM strategy EqualLogic has only sold its own branded product through the channel. Like many other storage companies it has good integration with EMC's VMware.

Dell plans to grow EqualLogic’s channel-partner programs with current and future EqualLogic-branded products, and also plans to incorporate EqualLogic technology into future generations of its PowerVault storage line available through the channel and direct from Dell.

Building a viable and successful Dell channel programme, given Dell's direct sale heritage, on the back of the EqualLogic channel programme will be challenging as partners will want absolutely no channel conflict with any other part of Dell. If there is then other iSCSI array vendors will be very eager to pick up disgruntled EqualLogic channel partners. Not least EMC.

The fate of EqualLOgic's current senior management is not known but stock-option holders could certainly afford a week or two off on holiday now.