Visiting two conferences in the US brought home the desirability of enterprise status. Or should that be enterprise envy? The vendors in question were NetApp and Dell. There are actually two aspects to these aspirations: system vendor status & enterprise status.

System vendor status is the desire to rank as an HP or IBM. It relates to size and broad portfolio, but also to reputation which is of course more subjective. It applies more to Dell than it does to NetApp given NetAppís storage focus.

Enterprise status means supporting the mission critical workloads at customers. Both vendors can claim to sell to big Fortune xxx companies, but misses the enterprise attribute unless those customers base their vital applications on your IT.

To Dell both statuses count. Dell is on a quest to tick off as many boxes as possible to claim full system vendor status. Building up its own IP in its storage business is one example. Investing in Cloud IT centres is another. Both examples demonstrate that Dell is boosting its portfolio of services which is a necessary foundation when engaging in strategic discussions.

NetApp has also got designs on getting recognition beyond its past role as a NAS storage vendor. It may not realistically see itself as a contender for top 5 status, but its desire for enterprise vendor status is very clear.

For both vendors, the consequence of aspiring to greatness means that the new Dell and the new NetApp are both articulating their propositions in order to pave the way into the boardrooms. Customer CxOs are increasingly being targeted to forge long term relationships. The hurdle to participate in the strategic decisions is not dissimilar to getting into the data centre in the first place. Both vendors are in the process of nudging up yet more customer case stories in order to demonstrate calibre and credentials. The nature of strategic relationships means that these are traditionally only bestowed on a small number of vendors at each customer site. Dell and NetApp both need to invest in these efforts and it can be frustrating to discover that reaping the rewards take time. The trend to adopt vertically integrated solutions favours both vendors.
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