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Symantec and Huawei partner to secure and store China

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Symantec and Huawei have concocted a rather fascinating arrangement to go after the security and storage markets in China. The vendors today revealed that they will, as rumored, create a joint venture to sell appliance-like systems based on Huawei's hardware and Symantec's software.

Symantec tends to stay away from direct hardware touches, preferring to take on a more neutral role as a software seller to a wide variety of OEMs. When its software does get bundled with products from other vendors, Symantec typically stays quiet about the arrangement.

In this case, Symantec will be very direct about going after the security and storage hardware markets via the joint venture.

The Chengdu, China-based firm - creatively named Huawei-Symantec - will sell basic x86 systems for things such as VPN and firewall services and then add Symantec's anti-virus and content scanning software to create intrusion detection and protection systems.

On the storage front, the joint venture plans to tap a new line of NAS (network attached storage) and SAN (storage area network) systems coming from Huawei later this year. It will outfit those systems with Symantec's Storage Foundation software, which includes the volume manager and file system sold for years by Veritas.

Huawei today sells some basic JBOD (just a bunch of disks) storage systems to complement its diverse networking equipment.

Huawei will own 51 per cent of the JV, while Symantec will claim 49 per cent.

"Huawei will contribute its telecommunications storage and security businesses including its integrated supply chain and integrated product development management practices," the companies said. "Additionally, the new company will have access to Huawei’s intellectual property (IP) licenses, research and development capabilities, manufacturing expertise and engineering talent, which includes more than 750 employees."

Symantec will put $150m toward the JV.

Given Huawei's limited experience in the high-end storage game, one might see Symantec as taking a large risk in China. Some bad kit associated with Symantec's software might hurt the company's brand in a key market.

Not so, according to Tad Lebeck, a vice president at Symantec.

"Given Huawei's reputation for building carrier class networking systems, we have pretty high confidence that they will execute on the storage side," he said.

Lebeck noted that the deal might rattle some of Symantec's traditional partners who are used to the software maker staying outside of the hardware game. He, however, stressed that this JV will only aim at China for the time being, leaving the status quo in place elsewhere.

The JV should start operating by the end of the year, if it clears regulatory approvals. ®

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