EMC Partners With Lenovo to Create 'Virtual Company'

Rather than pay lip service to its partners, EMC actually works with them, in effect creating a virtual company of sorts. The company's most recent partnership, with Lenovo, points to a consortium that's just as powerful, but friendlier, than the IBM of yore, CIO.com columnist Rob Enderle says.

By Rob Enderle
Fri, August 03, 2012

CIO — EMC just expanded its unique and powerful partner model to include Lenovo. I think the result represents a fifth age of computing that will be led by EMC.

Currently, we are living in what Steve Jobs and others have called the post-PC world. With Hewlett-Packard pressured to divest its PC business, IBM exiting it over a decade ago and Apple driving an iPad stake into it, there is a lot of support for this concept.

One of the leading companies driving the counter-trend is Lenovo, which merged from the components of the most powerful Chinese technology company and the division of IBM that created the PC. The result of the merger is the fastest growing PC company in the world, thanks to its ThinkPad brand, and the only pure-play PC company that is dominant in China and has both solid consumer and business offerings.

EMC, on the other hand, has been driving unique and powerful partnerships in what I'm arguing is the fifth age of computing—one built around the model of a virtual company made up of independent, market-leading firms. (As I see it, IBM, Sun, Microsoft and Google defined the first four.) The most powerful example of this new model is the Virtual Computing Environment, or VCE, which is made up of Cisco, EMC, VMware and Intel and has subordinate partners such as BMC. Together the companies complete a solution set that is in the class of solutions from more traditional companies such as HP and IBM.

Commentary: BMC, VCE Partnership Shows Consortium Is Gaining Power

Add Lenovo and you suddenly have the virtual capability that closely maps to what IBM had in the late 1990s and may be unmatched today. Interestingly, it may be the ThinkPad that gives the consortium the edge.

Examining EMC's Class of Partnership

EMC is pioneering a different class of partnership, one in which the vendors behave more like divisions within a company. In a traditional relationship, like the partnership HP and Oracle used to have, there are commitments and expectations between the partners suggesting that they will behave in each other's best interests—but as that partnership showcased, things can come apart in an ugly way. Plus, they often seem to be a dime a dozen, with the majority of the effort focused on the announcement and very little effort actually put into assuring and maintaining the result—like how a marriage based on the desire for a great honeymoon night probably won't last long.

On the other hand, EMC's massive focus on customer loyalty has taken it down a different path showcased by partnerships such as VCE and VSPEX, with the first targeted at large enterprises and the second at the mid-market (as well as bringing resellers such as Ingram Micro into the mix.) Most recently, EMC created a unique variant around SAP HANA, utilizing much of the VCE partnership.

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