08/28/2012 - EMC: Cisco Is Preferred Partner, Not Lenovo

By Joseph F. Kovar

EMC (NYSE:EMC) and Cisco (NSDQ:CSCO) Tuesday introduced new Cisco-focused IT infrastructure designs for its VSPEX reference architecture for storage, server and networking, and it said EMC's new strategic relationship with Lenovo will have no impact on the long-term EMC-Cisco alliance.

The introduction of new Cisco Validated Designs, or CVDs, for EMC's VSPEX reference architecturefor building converged infrastructures that integrate storage, server, networking and virtualization technologies comes less than a month after EMC unveiled a strategic agreement with Lenovo that includes making the Beijing-based server vendor a part of its VSPEX blueprints.

The new Lenovo relationship led to industry concerns that the EMC-Cisco relationship might be loosening, concerns that Jeremy Burton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at EMC, brushed off.

"With Lenovo, we were after a low-end commodity x86 server provider," Burton said. "Those words would never be used to describe Cisco. If Cisco had products in that area, we would use Cisco. ... Cisco is our preferred partner. Both EMC and Cisco are putting money into the VSPEX business. Could Lenovo bake success into VSPEX in the future? Yeah. Lenovo is a strategic partner. But, I see no overlap between Cisco and Lenovo. If you ask Lenovo guys if they compete with Cisco, they'll probably laugh at you."

The Lenovo deal was focused on building EMC's China market and on replacing the Dell servers currently used in EMC's storage hardware, Burton said. The long-term partnership between EMC and Dell dissolved, turning the two partners into archrivals.

"First of all, we don't want Dell (NSDQ:Dell) servers in our products," he said. "We want to shift to another vendor."

Jamie Shepard, executive vice president of technology solutions at ICI, a Marlborough, Mass.-based solution provider and partner to EMC and Cisco, agreed with Burton that any concerns about EMC hurting its Cisco relationship by moving closer to Lenovo are overblown.

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