Roger Cox, a vice president of research at Gartner who covers data center convergence, said the new Lenovo relationship doesnt mean EMC is looking to enter the saturated server market, where margins are thin. But he agreed with Wang that EMC will likely use Lenovos server technology in appliances, like the Greenplum big data analytics appliance it currently sells.
They can take the Lenovo platform and stick that in theirs, versus buying one from Super Micro, he said.
EMC and Lenovo also plan to bring in products from EMC's Iomega business into a new joint venture that will provide Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems to small and medium businesses (SMB) and distributed enterprise sites.
"The Iomega division hasn't generated much news since EMC acquired it," Wang wrote. "Positioned in the low-end market, there was little synergy to leverage EMC's high-end storage lines. The [EMC-Lenovo joint venture] will not only help Lenovo at the entry level of the market and with 'know-how' in the storage market, but will also help EMC spin off the Iomega division to focus more on key competitors."
Over the past two years, EMC has shifted its focus onto the server market, first through its "Project Lightning", which involved selling PCIe flash cards to accelerate server performance, then by partnering with Cisco to create the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) alliance, which sells Vblock.
Vblock integrates Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) servers and networking switches with EMC storage arrays, as well as virtualization software from its subsidiary VMware, for public and private cloud services.
At its annual users forum last year, then-EMC President and Chief Operating Officer Pat Gelsinger said the company had demonstrated server capability on storage arrays by running VMware-based virtual machines (VMs) on storage arrays.
The technology is enabled through EMC's pervasive use of multicore Intel x86 processors. EMC runs vSphere directly on the storage controllers and then uses vMotion to migrate VMs from application servers onto the storage array.
Where from here?
Paul Mansky, managing director of equity research for financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald, wrote in a report today that China represents 5% to 6% of the storage market, but it is growing fast.