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EMC’s battle with NetApp for Data Domain is one of the few real bidding wars the IT industry has seen.

There is always a lot of noise around mergers and acquisitions – with the company being bought trying to push up the price – but we don’t usually see two major vendors slug it out so seriously, for so long.

When they do, everyone in the end user community should ask themselves why. Neither EMC or NetApp are chasing Data Domain for its customer base. They want its technology- and since neither company is an innovation slouch, their target must have something that works, in a field that will shortly become crucial.

Data Domain specialises in data de-duplication. Its technology allows the removal of duplicate data before information is written to back up systems. Storage efficiency goes up, costs come down. If EMC and NetApp think it is the future, so should you.

For me, this deal looks rather like the agreement between Microsoft and Novell back in 2006. While some open source advocates suggested Novel had sold its soul to the devil, the real story was Microsoft’s recognition that in future proprietary and open source software would exist side by side in most IT shops.

For any IT leader that had, until then, been nervous of looking at non-proprietary products, the Microsoft – Novell tie up was a sign that open source was legit. It showed the way the wind was blowing. The same with the Data Domain battle.

Of course, the industry has always talked about the importance of storage management, but survey after survey continues to highlight how inefficient organisations are.

With the recession concentrating minds, IT departments are likely to show any storage hardware vendor the door, unless they first demonstrate that they have the software to run the installed storage vastly more efficiently.

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