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EMC, Lenovo, in servers alliance

Iomega cut loose, Lenovo servers to power EMC arrays

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EMC and Lenovo have announced a partnership that will see the pair create “a server technology development program that will accelerate and extend Lenovo’s capabilities in the x86 industry-standard server segment. These servers will be brought to market by Lenovo and embedded into selected EMC storage systems over time.”

The pair also have a new OEM relationship that will see Lenovo sell EMC kit into China, and then global markets. Bits of EMC's Iomega business will will also be folded into a new joint venture that will sell network attached storage devices to small businesses and what the pair's press release calls ”distributed enterprise sites”. Lenovo will own a majority of the new and as-yet-unnamed NAS vendor, which will be formed with the Chinese company's cash and Iomega's IP.

EMC's growing interest in servers has, to date, been confined to its Project Thunder and Project Lightning efforts that bring CPUs closer to arrays. The company also has a stake in VCE, a joint venture with Cisco and VMWare that sells Cisco's UCS servers.

The move into servers makes sense in light of comments from EMC's Vice President and Global Marketing CTO Chuck Hollis, who in conversation with El Reg in Sydney, Australia yesterday rejected our assertions that EMC arrays contain exotic engineering. Hollis's retort was that the innards of today's EMC kit look very familiar to server makers, and the company has consciously moved away from designing its own proprietary hardware.

An alliance with Lenovo takes that logic a step further, as by giving EMC an ally who makes servers the storage company can work on integrating those server designs into machines suitable as the beating hearts of future arrays, further reducing the amount of design work it needs to do when creating new storage products.

Hollis also said EMC is not afraid to re-invent itself and chase new markets, and China certainly represents a big new market. Small business NAS, by contrast, is not the most vigorous of markets, as shown by the fact Iomega never lit up EMC's balance sheet.

The alliance can also be seen as a potential handy replacement for EMC's long-running OEM deal with Dell, which the pair dissolved once the latter's storage ambitions saw it acquire Compellent and take on EMC's high-end Symmetrix product. While its initial focus on China alone will not mean it is a direct replacement for the Dell deal, the pair say they hope to take the OEM relationship into other markets. Whether Lenovo has the enterprise muscle to replace Dell's significant data centre presence remains to be seen.

The Reg has sought comment from EMC and Lenovo, but representatives of both companies are yet to respond. ®

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