EMC Lenovo Deal Raises Questions For EMC-Cisco VCE Partnership

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EMC’s landmark joint server/storage pact with Lenovo this week raises questions for the EMC-Cisco VCE partnership, according to solution providers and industry watchers.

Under the terms of the new EMC-Lenovo relationship, Lenovo servers will be the preferred server platform in EMC's VSPEX reference architecture for building converged infrastructures.

Some partners and analysts say the deal raises the specter that EMC is trying to distance itself from VCE partner Cisco.

[Related: Dell Kicks EMC Off Its Line Card, Turns To Its Own Storage Tech]

Jamie Shepard, executive vice president of technology solutions at ICI, a Marlborough, Mass.-based solution provider and long-term EMC partner, said the deal opens the door for EMC to take control in the server space, without having to rely solely on Cisco. “What EMC has been trying to do is separate themselves from the VCE correlation,” he said.

"EMC is not VCE,” added Shepard. “It's its own company. That's why it came out with VSPEX. So, now it's better for EMC to move with Lenovo on VSPEX than it is with other servers."

Aaron Rakers, an analyst with St. Louis-based Stifel Nicolaus, wrote in a research brief on Wednesday that he expects the move to "again raise questions over the VMware/Cisco/EMC (VCE) partnership; following VMware’s announced acquisition of Nicira for Software-Defined Networking (SDN), which looks to compete with Cisco spin-in Insieme."

Brian Alexander, an analyst with St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Raymond James Financial Center, on Wednesday wrote that the EMC-Lenovo partnership might "suggest that the relationship between EMC and Cisco has become more tenuous as Cisco offers servers that are sold in conjunction with EMC storage as part of Vblock."

But, Rod Mathews, senior director of new business development for EMC, said Cisco and Lenovo servers offer different types of use cases. "Cisco focuses on data center infrastructures," Mathews said. "Lenovo is more focused on the volume side. They are complementary partnerships. There are great use cases for both. Customers at the end of the day will choose what server platforms to use. But in our view, Cisco and Lenovo have two different focuses."

Cisco agrees, according to a Cisco spokesperson who emailed CRN with a statement that read, "Lenovo and Cisco play in completely different segments of the server market. The announcement will not impact our close partnership with EMC.”

NEXT: How EMC, Lenovo Will Partner In VSPEX

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