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Business Management

Nutanix and Lenovo link arms to add nuance to Dell-EMC deal

Nutanix is to team up with Lenovo in a move that highlights the rapidly fluctuating server/storage market. The pair will jointly market the former’s highly regarded hyperconvergence kit in a deal that takes the Chinese giant deep into the new wave of servers, storage and networking.

When I spoke to Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey and Lenovo executive vice president Gerry Smith on Monday you could almost hear the sighs when I raised the ghost of Dell’s cataclysmic pending purchase of EMC… but these things have to be done.

So, Dell has been selling Nutanix-based boxes for about a year and now it’s getting into bed with storage behemoth EMC and VCE you needed a Plan B, perhaps?

Predictably, Pandey disagreed, saying the Dell arrangement was all about increasing the total addressable market and Dell was “the first salvo in that direction”.

The axis has been successful, he added, without providing supporting numbers.

“We wanted to give Dell the opportunity to learn the tips and tricks of the [hyperconvergence] trade and we wanted to learn about how to work with OEMs properly.”

Both parties said their falling into bed together had nothing to do with Dell/EMC and that the agreement had been months in the making. Advantages? Dell gets access to Lenovo’s sales force, global coverage and huge buying power; Lenovo gets in on one of the hottest companies in the datacentre today.

Lenovo’s Smith was bullish, saying the aim is to create the “best partnership in the hyperconvergence space” and adding that he will hire and dedicate (again without hard numbers) a very large sales force.

Pandey said he had talked directly to Michael Dell and both parties had agreed to continue on a ‘business as usual’ basis: “I trust Michael. He’s a very upright and honest business person.”

While Dell’s entry into the EMC world provides a veritable forest of storage implications, Smith pointedly noted that “Lenovo does not have that sort of distraction. We’re not blinded if it doesn’t solve real-world problems for customers. The relationship has no legacy competition that some of the other partnerships have.”

Diplomatically, Pandey said the Lenovo deal would be on a par with that of Dell.

Could this be an axis power to rival that of Oracle and Sun or Intel and Microsoft in the old days?

Smith says it could exceed the success of VCE at least. Only time will tell but this appears a significant partnership rather than the type of “fireworks in the night” agreements derided by Pandey.

I asked whether Lenovo taking an equity stake had been discussed and Pandey said such discussions were “always in the works”. Could Lenovo yet take a position in Nutanix? He doesn’t see why not.

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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