IBM and Network Appliance have joined forces to take on EMC in the storage market. We know this because a release on the announcement was headlined unambiguously "IBM and Network Appliance Team to Take on EMC".

IBM will resell IBM-branded systems based on NetApp network attached storage (NAS) and iSCSI/IP SAN solutions, including the NearStore and NetApp V-Series systems and NetApp software products. For its part, NetApp will improve integration between NetApp applications and IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager.

All this will "offer a lifeline to clients locked in by EMC", the two shouted in full battle regalia.

NetApp is the market leader in NAS storage, a market that is growing at 14.7 percent and is expected to be worth $3 billion by 2008. IBM has products in the NAS space, including its recently introduced IBM TotalStorage NAS Gateway 500, but Big Blue will slowly phase those products out in favour of NetApp products.

"The IBM relationship with Network Appliance is a prime example of how two industry-leading companies, both of whom actively support open standards, can team to offer information on demand solutions," said Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM Storage Systems.

"This relationship is really about pairing innovative NetApp storage solutions with IBM's global market reach, service organisation and technology portfolio," said Dan Warmenhoven, CEO at Network Appliance. "We expect this relationship to be mutually beneficial long-term as we roll out our joint solutions over the coming year," he said.

NetApp has a relationship with other storage companies, such as Hitachi Data Systems, but Hitachi last week unveiled its own NAS products, though it will continue to resell NetApp's products.

EMC's NAS product line is the Celerra system. EMC lowered the price of the Celerra last year to bump up competition with NetApp.