"EMC is relatively under-penetrated in the region, particularly vs. IBM and HP, in our view. Lenovo meanwhile has ~15% share of the China server market, which represents a sizable base within which to sell storage...," Mansky wrote. He sees EMC's move to embed servers in a new architectural category as something that could gain traction, but not before 2014.
Mansky believes EMC likely "shopped" for server partners, including its existing VCE partner Cisco. However, given architecture, workload and margin considerations -- along with Lenovo's deeper penetration into the Chinese market -- a Cisco deal "did not make sense."
On the heels of VMware's purchase last week of software-defined networking vendor Nicira for $1.26 billion, EMC's partnership with an alternate server vendor "represents another potential crack in the Cisco/EMC relationship. We view this as beginning to sound like Dell/EMC circa 2009-2010," Mansky wrote.
In 2010, Dell cut short a 10-year, multi-billion-dollar reseller partnership with EMC after competition between the two companies in storage sales reached a boiling point. During a later interview, EMC's Gelsinger said the company had hoped to continue the partnership.
Schultz believes the new EMC/Lenovo partnership is a natural fit, as EMC has the tools for backing up, managing and protecting physical and virtual desktops along with the shared networked storage solutions from entry-level to SMBs and enterprise products. That, he said, complements Lenovo's tablet, laptop, desktop and server strategy.
"What is ironic is that IBM spun off Lenovo in their focus on big enterprise, a place where EMC has done very well with big storage and big data," Schultz said. "However, they have also done well with their acquisitions of Iomega, VMware, Mozy, RSA and others that play to and leverage Lenovo's desktop and edge focus."
Now, said Schultz, the question becomes: Who will Chinese networking and telecommunications company Huawei partner with after its storage partnership breakup with Symantec?
Forrester's Wang wrote that partnerships between multinational vendors and Chinese firms are "works in progress."
"There have been a number of similar partnerships between Chinese and [multinational] vendors before, such as the Huawei/Symantec [one] that ended in November ... after three years. Cultural differences have always been a big challenge for effective communication and execution between partners in cases such as this one," he wrote.