A few days ago EMC and Intel announced a deal for Intel to resell EMC's low-end AX drive arays. IBM crowed that this deal was the beginning of the end for the EMC-Dell relationship. It wasn't working. EMC was looking for a better low-end channel to market. But then IBM would say that. Since then Intel has added a business PC brand to its portfolio and is putting together its business PC and storage offer.

Now we hear that Engenio, the drive controller/array business division of LSI Logic, is talking to Dell about supplying it with, quel surprise, low-end disk arrays. A recent analyst's note from Merrill Lynch suggested that Engenio was working on a low-end drive array win with Dell. This follows on from other analyst suggestions last year.

Engenio was recently taken back in house by LSI Logic, after a new CEO arrived at LSI. It supplies drive arrays to Sun and IBM.

To add another aspect to this the four companies: EMC; Engenio (LSI); Dell; and Intel; are the founder members of the Storage Bridge Bay working group. Its aim is to drive standardisation in low-end storage, which will make it easier for OEMs to switch drive array suppliers.

EMC has had a stronger focus on entry-level storage and the SME market recently. As well as refreshing the AX line it has also refreshed its Isignia SME storage operation.

An interesting aspect of this is channel competition. Engenio does not compete with Dell whereas EMC does, at least in general. Both Insignia and the Intel storage connection supply EMC storage to smaller businesses as Dell does. Dell may not like this and may also fell that a stronger Dell storage identity, one undiluted with EMC brand equity, may suit it better.

This assumes, of course, that any Engenio deal can come up with the supply terms and financial numbers Dell needs as well as the longer-term product direction. For example, we might see Dell-branded iSCSI SAN kit.

Interesting times.