LenovoEMC Storage Products Come to Channel

Lenovo ServersTen months after a joint venture was first announced, joint storage offerings from Lenovo and EMC are now available through Lenovo’s channel partners.

Network Attached Storage products from LenovoEMC, the joint venture formerly known as Iomega, are also now part of Lenovo’s channel program, giving the PC vendor another arrow in its quiver as it builds its case as a server and storage player.

The company announced that its px desktop and rackmount NAS products will now carry the LenovoEMC brand, while its more consumer-grade EZ Media and ix series desktop NAS will continue to be marketed as Lenovo Iomega. Unlike its consumer brethren, the enterprise-grade products include server-class drives, hot swap, support for volume encryption and snapshot backups.

Lenovo has been building its case on the enterprise side, and particularly around storage, in recent months. North American channel chief Chris Frey made reference to the company’s entrance into the storage market in his presentation at the Spring VentureTech Network Invitational last month, and Kevin Nelson, executive director of enterprise systems, was an even stronger voice for the new business at Varnex two weeks before. And the company was reportedly in talks with IBM to acquire Big Blue’s server business, although thus far nothing has materialized from those talks.

In the server market, Lenovo has been adamant that it’s keen to let its competitors duke it out for the high end with blade servers and converged architecture plays, and that it wishes to make its presence felt in the volume server market, with both tower models and rackmount servers for the SMB market. And that strategy appears to be paying off – although starting from a relatively small base, Lenovo says it grew server shipments through the channel by 76 percent over the course of 2012.

Getting its storage wares into the hands of the channel is an important step in Lenovo’s attempts to build its presence in the market. While the NAS offerings are also available from Lenovo on a direct basis, the company’s target market of SMB companies tend to be served by local solution providers, so recreating its success in building up a large and loyal channel for its PC business in North America is key to its server and storage business continuing to grow.

In its early years, the vendor frequently portrayed itself as an alternative choice for partners of major players like Dell and HP, and enjoyed some success with those efforts. With their comments at VTN and Varnex, respectively, Frey and Nelson seem to be taking a similar tack on their new target market.

Lenovo is a long way from competing with the likes to Dell and HP in the server and storage market in terms of depth and breadth of product offerings. But given its target market in the “volume” server business for SMB, and the fact that it’s starting with a partner base that’s already experienced in selling its PC offerings into that market, the China-based company can probably continue to grow its server business, an important part of its preparation for what it calls the “PC-plus” era in the market.