IBM x86 sale will disrupt customers and the channel, shrieks Fujitsu

FEAR, UNCERTAINTY and DOUBT lies ahead... unless you come to us, that is

Channel partners and customers of IBM's x86 biz should brace themselves for a period of uncertainty and unpredictability as Lenovo prepares to wolf down the division, rival server maker Fujitsu is warning.

The Chinese firm stumped up $2.3bn for the Intel-based volume server unit last month, although the deal is awaiting regulatory approval from several bodies including the US Committee on Foreign Investment.

Once done, Lenovo will undertake the mammoth task of integrating the business, having already created a distinct enterprise group to house it. It is this time of possible introspection that Fujitsu is talking up.

Michael Keegan, UK boss at Fujitsu's hardware arm Technology Solutions, said that his firm was offering customers and channel types "predictability" and "consistency" at a time when the "market is unstable".

"Even customers are starting to question who is in this business for the long term, and it does matter," he told us, "Lenovo is famous for a lot of things but being strong in servers is not one of them".

Not only would punters feel concerned but partners will pick up on this uncertainty too, "we will go after IBM's reseller base," said Keegan.

A standalone Lenovo had accounted for less than one per cent of volume server shipments in the UK and EMEA, but after the x86 buy it will own some 14 per cent, placing it in third spot ahead of Cisco and Fujitsu.

Closer to home, Fujitsu holds roughly three per cent of the server market in Blighty, where it has remained since 2012 when it ceded the position to Cisco.

IDC research manager for servers, Giorgio Nebuloni, expected "little" to change for channel partners or customers in the "medium term" as Lenovo transacts most of its revenues via distribution, as did Big Blue, so there will be no overhaul in routes to market.

"We recommend IBM partners and customers avoid disruption to day to day work with the vendor, while at the same time using this as a window to assess their longer term strategy in terms of infrastructure consumption as well as supplier framework."

In a statement sent to The Channel, Darren Phelps, Lenovo director of channel and SME, said that while "still small", its server business had doubled every year over the past three years.

"Importantly, our customers are asking us for servers as well as PCs, we already know how to build, sell and support high quality x86 hardware at competitive prices

The intended acquisition of IBM's x86 server business means we will be better able to provide customers with the integrated solutions, the service and support they've been asking for," the statement added. ®

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