LenovoEMC joint venture building up channel partners amid CES 2013

Summary:EMC and Lenovo execs provide an update to their recently-announced joint venture into network storage and servers for small business to enterprise customers.

LAS VEGAS -- The newly formed entity of LenovoEMC, Ltd. is planning to grow considerably this year, starting with a presence at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.

Lenovo and EMC-owned Iomega are veterans of the world's largest consumer technology expo, and this offers a prime opportunity for LenovoEMC to make a small but still somewhat formal debut.

During the show, I was able to sit down with Jay Krone, managing director of product marketing for LenovoEMC, to learn more about how this venture came about and an overview about where it is going this year.

"The thing about CES is the channel is here," said Krone. "We've come here because Lenovo has a big presence, we would be here at CES working with channel partners regardless of who owned us."

Nevertheless, Krone acknowledged, "Lenovo, however, gives us a much bigger platform to stand on. It gets back to that brand recognition."

For reference, while it was initially announced on August 1 , the EMC-Lenovo joint venture just became official in the last two weeks.

Thus, the result is LenovoEMC, Ltd., with Lenovo listed as the majority partner (by one percent by a 51 to 49 ratio). Organizationally, the group falls within the jurisdiction of Lenovo's newly-formed Enterprise Products Group, which formed during the fourth quarter of 2012.

As Krone explained, the motivation for both parties became very clear.

On the Lenovo side, it's mainly about replicating what it has done in the consumer PC segment (it's the number one PC vendor worldwide now) and replicating that in the enterprise world. Essentially, Lenovo Corporation is looking to move up market more into the B2B (rather than the B2C) space.

"Storage is a critical path item," Krone said. "That's why there's the partnership with EMC."

From EMC's perspective, Lenovo offers them a foothold and place in international markets it hasn't been able to completely tap yet. Krone cited Lenovo's dominance in Asia -- namely China as many U.S. companies often have trouble developing business relationships and partners in China.

"It's pretty much in everyone's best interest to cooperate," Krone commented, while admitting that "Lenovo probably has the most to gain in the short term."

Essentially, the EMC-Lenovo partnership is comprised of following three parts:

  • Lenovo will be reselling EMC's core storage products.
  • A joint venture focused on product development capabilities from EMC and its subsidiary, Iomega. One example is the EMC's LifeLine storage operating system and software being brought over to Lenovo.
  • EMC is going to consult with Lenovo on improving their server offerings to develop a more capable and highly-differentiated servers.

"What's really nice about this, from the Lenovo perspective, the server side is focused very much on virtualization," Krone remarked. "There's a good alignment from a solutions perspective."

Coming up for 2013, Krone said we'll be hearing more about the system platforms, which are pretty much brand new. Additionally, LenovoEMC will be honing in software and intellectual property along with more partnerships later this year, although Krone couldn't reveal any of them on Tuesday.

Product pricing starts at approximately $300, ranging up to roughly $15,000 for Iomega servers. Krone noted that the EMC-made ones will retail for much higher.

Topics: Storage, CES, Data Centers, EMC, Laptops, Lenovo

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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