IBM and Hitachi announced yesterday several data storage R&D (research and development) initiatives that could affect hard drive firm Seagate and corporate storage company EMC.

The two companies will collaborate on an as yet unnamed disk drive venture. Hitachi will own 70 percent of the company and use IBM's hard drive technology. While details are still fuzzy, the two companies have signed a Memo of Understanding.

The venture will probably compete with Seagate, from whom IBM presently buys a portion of its disk drives. The market has been rife with sharp price competition and decreased demand.

Recently IBM started to ship drives using its high-capacity 'pixie dust' technology, while Hitachi has climbed into bed with a host of other drive makers to put together standards that will allow corporate-style RAID swappable, removable disk storage in a small form factor for consumers and smaller firms.

Hitachi and IBM will also partner on 'storage virtualisation'. IBM will share parts of its Storage Tank strategy with Hitachi. Though the companies will share technology, they will still market the resulting products separately.

Further, Hitachi and IBM will work on an unidentified high-performance storage system technology, which they will both market separately.