IBM Partners Cheer Potential Sale Of x86 Server Business

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Another factor in determining the potential impact of an IBM-Lenovo deal is how much of the IBM x86 server business remains in the U.S., said Andy Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder.

The U.S. government has been adding a requirement to its RFQs (requests for quotes) that anything sold on a GSA schedule be compliant with the Trade Agreements Act, which specifies that products must be manufactured in a country specifically listed on the TAA Designated Country List. China is not on that list.

"If Lenovo moves products to Asia, it's good news for us," Kretzer said.

There is precedence for such a sale.

IBM in 2004 sold its desktop and mobile PC business to Lenovo, which helped IBM exit that low-margin business and helped build Lenovo into one of the world's largest PC manufacturers and a close partner of IBM.

IBM in 2008 followed that up with a deal to license its one-socket and two-socket x86 server technology to Lenovo. Even so, Lenovo remains a second-tier server vendor, with the vast majority of server sales in China and relatively few sales in North America.

For Lenovo, such a deal would be the second major server technology deal in the past year. EMC, which bases its storage hardware on x86-based server platforms, licensed its server technology to Lenovo for the purpose of using Lenovo servers as the new basis for its storage products.

However, that EMC-Lenovo deal could be a stumbling block between IBM and Lenovo. As CRN reported Thursday, IBM views Lenovo as a good buyer for its x86 server business because it does not view Lenovo as a threat to other parts of its business, including storage and converged infrastructure. EMC, in combination with Lenovo servers, is on the other hand a potential threat to IBM's storage business.


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