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Lenovo Is ‘Absolutely Doubling Down With VMware’ Post-Dell

“I personally will get involved because I know the VMware team pretty well. So that is something that I’m going to make sure that we take advantage of and capitalize on as they’ve spun off from Dell,” says Vladimir Rozanovich, Lenovo’s senior vice president and president of North America.

With VMware now officially an independent company following its spin-off from Dell Technologies this month, Lenovo is beginning to tighten its technology partnership with VMware while also searching for new joint customer opportunities to drive growth for both companies and their channel partners.

“You are going to see us absolutely doubling down with VMware,” said Vladimir Rozanovich, Lenovo’s senior vice president and president of North America. “You’re going to start seeing us working more opportunities together. In the past, they were always working on opportunities with us, but there was always that thing in the back of everybody’s mind of, ‘Hey, are they engaging just to get them more customer information so that they give it over to their server counterparts?’ I think it’s going to be a level of trust that’s going to up-level now between how we work together moving forward.”

In fact, Lenovo has already started talks with VMware executives to get the ball rolling, less than two weeks after Dell Technologies spun out its 81 percent stake in VMware to Dell Technologies shareholders on Nov. 1.

“VMware’s Bill Swales [vice president and channel chief of VMware’s Americas Partner Organization] and I were just talking and he invited me over to his partner conference that’s going to be in the December time frame. I’ve known Bill for many years. So it was actually one of the things he told me, he said, ‘Vlad, as we spin out of Dell, I need to make sure I have a better relationship with Lenovo across the board.’ So I love that,” said Rozanovich, who worked for AMD for the past 24 years before joining Lenovo in 2021.

[Related: Dell Spins Off VMware To Shareholders: 5 Things Investors Should Know]

“To me, it means that they are looking for revenue streams outside of where they traditionally were, where they were really focused in on kind of partnering with Dell with themselves in many cases,” he added. “That’s an area that you’re going to see us put more effort into. I personally will get involved because I know the VMware team pretty well. So that is something that I’m going to make sure that we take advantage of and capitalize on as they’ve spun off from Dell.”

Drew Clark, director of sales at Huber & Associates, a Jefferson City, Mo.-based solution provider who partners with Lenovo and VMware, said it’s the “right move” for Lenovo to immediately start forming a tighter partnership with VMware.

“The more they partner, the better it is for us and the better it is for our clients,” said Clark. “We’d like just a tighter-knit integration between them to make it simpler to do business with both of them.”

Clark said it’s helpful when two vendors have a close go-to-market and channel sales strategy so vendor reps are working on a common compensation plan.

“When the VMware reps and the Lenovo reps are working well together and they’re working off of a common comp plan—so they’re all driving towards the same end goal—that’s what we find to be most helpful,” said Clark.

Clark said Lenovo is more channel-friendly than Dell, which bodes well for his company if Lenovo and VMware create net-new opportunities or potential future offerings.

“Lenovo is really focused on partners. They really want to deliver a great service for us. When the technology itself is a commodity, the ability to actually have a true partner and a teammate is incredible,” said Clark. “They really walk an appropriate balance of being a good OEM, assisting on the sales side, assisting on the technology side as we need it, but not overstepping those bounds. We have not seen that from any of the other major players out there.”

Lenovo’s Rozanovich said while he sees Dell “defocusing on the channel,” his company is leaning more heavily toward partners.

“When we look at how our competitors like Dell are defocusing on the channel, it means they’re taking a lot of this business direct in many cases. They might be doing it to boost their profit margins in some areas, but the reality is it’s taking away revenue opportunities for the channel, and in many cases taking customers away from the channel. We are making sure that we are putting product into the channel to service these customers,” said Rozanovich.

When contacted about the matter, Dell issued a statement to CRN, saying Dell and VMware will retain a “strong commercial agreement that is unique and differentiated.”

“Dell and VMware will retain a strong commercial agreement that is unique and differentiated, and it preserves the most valuable parts of our relationship while allowing strategic flexibility for both companies,” said Dell in a statement. “The two companies have the benefit of a long and successful relationship to build upon. It includes strong technical and GTM experience that is unmatched in the industry, represented by existing solutions such as VxRail, VMware Cloud on Dell EMC and SD-WAN. In addition, we have already aligned on 10 areas of joint interest and innovation including edge, telecom and 5G.”

On Nov. 1, Dell shed its 81 percent stake in VMware to Dell Technologies shareholders, making VMware an independent software company for the first time since 2004.Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell is currently the largest VMware stakeholder, owning a more than 40 percent stake in VMware. Michael Dell is also VMware’s chairman of the board.

VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram told CRN earlier this year that his company will form tighter partnerships with other vendors as an independent company.

“[The spin-off] will allow partners that previously were competitors of Dell to now look at VMware with new life and say, ‘Hey, we can do strategic things with VMware,’” said Raghuram.

Last week, Hong Kong-based Lenovo—whose U.S. headquarters is in Morrisville, N.C.—reported second fiscal quarter total revenue of $17.9 billion, representing an increase of 23 percent year over year.

Lenovo’s Infrastructure Solutions Group, which includes servers, storage and software, delivered record revenue of nearly $2 billion, up nearly 34 percent year over year.

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