Until now the relationship between the two has been almost exclusively focused on interoperability engineering although the two have also been competing in the CDP backup software sector, and on other fronts have sometimes indulged in mutual public backslapping.
Under the new deal the two companies will set up a worldwide network of partner account managers and direct customer engagement personnel, although they would not say how many staff this will involve.
The joint work between the two will cover the three processes of product development, service and consultancy support, and sales and marketing. Initially the two companies will focus on Exchange 2003 and SQL Server 2005.
Microsoft’s general manager for global systems and services partners stressed that the arrangement is not exclusive. But on a strategic level Microsoft there are no other large storage hardware suppliers to become chummy with, as the other big players in mid-range storage market are its rivals IBM Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co.