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Business Continuity Technologies, a Las Vegas-based solution provider, started selling Lenovo servers just a few months ago but has had some good traction, said CEO Lester Keizer. "They're very aggressive. Being the No. 2 company, they want to be No. 1, so they're very hungry," he said.
Customers unfamiliar with Lenovo servers quickly drop their apprehension when they're reminded that the technology was once IBM's, Keizer added.
"We had a school district looking at a server upgrade. They had no idea who Lenovo was. As soon as the superintendent heard IBM, it was 'Yeah, OK. We're fine with them. You're the trusted business advisor. Does the stuff work? Is it OK?' They went with our recommendation," Keizer said.
Paul Benson, president of Virtual Communication Specialists, an Athens, Texas-based solution provider, said his company needs Lenovo as much as Lenovo needs them.
"With all the consolidation in the last 10 to 15 years, we need new players in the market to give more competition, more variety," Benson said. "I'm not sure they're going to be a huge player for us, but they're definitely going to be in our portfolio."
To attract server customers, Lenovo plans to leverage an agreement it signed with EMC to resell some EMC products through the channel, probably by next year, and to leverage some of the Iomega portfolio it now jointly owns with EMC.
"The first question I get when I meet with partners is 'What's your storage strategy? All customers want to ask me about storage. We are opening some design centers around the world together [with EMC]," Lenovo's Nelson said.
As part of the agreement, EMC pledged to buy servers from Lenovo. "They used to buy $800 million in servers from Dell a year ago. They're going to integrate them and sell them to the market. Dell bought two storage brands, so that didn't sit too well with EMC," Nelson said. "We're probably going to sell EMC products next year. I want to get the server business a little bigger before we focus on storage."