Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

IBM is shaking up its storage distribution lineup by appointing Tech Data for its N series NAS products, and speculation is rife that it may also appoint Ingram Micro for the same range.

The N series consists of high-end, enterprise-class network-attached storage hardware and software that IBM self-brands and resells from Network Appliance. The products will ship through Tech Data’s AIS (Advanced Infrastructure Solutions) division.

Amy Belcher, director of product marketing for AIS, said Tech Data’s reseller partners were looking forward to adding the N series products to their line cards, and that the distributor already had two N series-certified systems engineers and a dedicated IBM product manager on staff to assist resellers.

The N series products are configured and built to order based on end-customer needs, Belcher said, so while technically the products are currently available through AIS, actual delivery time will depend on customers’ customization requests.

The channel rumor mill is working overtime on whether IBM will also appoint Ingram Micro. Sources have told The Channel Insider the deal is done, but both companies refused to confirm or deny the speculation.

However, rival distributors of the N-Series claimed they were not threatened by IBM’s move to expand its distribution.

Tony Madden, senior vice president and general manager of the IBM solutions division of Avnet, a value-added distributor, told The Channel Insider that his company had sourced IBM’s N series for about 18 months. He added that Avnet has official distribution relationships with IBM for the N series products and Network Appliance for its version of the solutions.

Madden said IBM’s move to Tech Data was part of IBM’s broader strategy of increasing its presence in the midmarket and taking on rivals such as Dell that are also aggressively pursuing the storage area. “We’re not threatened, though,” Madden said, adding that he felt IBM’s addition of another distributor would only increase awareness of the product. “The N series is targeted for the midmarket and SMBs [small and midsize businesses], and that’s where IBM wants to increase its focus,” he said.

To boost its product portfolio, IBM also announced Jan. 2 that it will acquire XIV, a storage technology company based in Tel Aviv, Israel, for a reported $300 million.

Click here to read more about IBM’s acquisition of both XIV and a key storage industry luminary.

Belcher said the acquisition and the distribution deal signaled IBM’s move toward a more software-focused approach to data security and management. “There’s an industry mind shift away from huge boxes stuffed with data to a more software-oriented play,” she said.

Belcher said it was “too soon to tell” whether IBM would also offer XIV’s Nextra storage products through distribution.