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VMware spin-off, EMC acquisition rumors don't rattle partners

Solution providers say they have too much going on to worry about the potential future owners of EMC or VMware.

Renewed rumors that EMC Corp. may spin off VMware Inc. or be acquired by Cisco Systems Inc. have Wall Street abuzz, but some of the vendors' channel partners don't see any effects on their businesses.

During EMC's quarterly earnings call last week, CEO Joe Tucci said his company would be open to spinning off VMware if it made sense for shareholders. (EMC has had a nearly 90% stake in VMware since 2004.)

Just a day earlier, the volume of EMC options traded on Wall Street suddenly tripled, prompting speculation that an acquisition by Cisco is imminent. Despite the buzz, solution providers said it's not a distraction to them or their customers.

"I don't think people put a lot of stock in these rumors," said Marvin MacKay, sales and client relationships director for William Ives Consulting, a VMware partner in Charlotte, N.C. "EMC has been rumored to be taken over for years now."

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Jack Kaiser, vice president of sales and marketing for International Computerware, an EMC and VMware partner in Marlborough, Mass., agreed.

"The EMC-Cisco rumor seems to have been around for a long, long time, but I don't think it's going to have any impact," he said. "Customers are talking a little bit about Diane Greene and the changes, but … it's mostly conversational. I don't think it's affecting business."

VMware fired CEO and co-founder Diane Greene last month, citing her lack of operational experience. That move, as well as Cisco CEO John Chambers' comments that he's looking to make acquisitions, have further fueled the speculation about the future of EMC and VMware. (However, just yesterday, Chambers said Cisco isn't eyeing any big-name acquisitions -- a comment that sent EMC stock downwards.)

If another vendor were to buy EMC -- and not spin off VMware -- MacKay said it still wouldn't make that much of a difference to VMware partners.

"I don't see how it would," he said. "[EMC and VMware] operate pretty independently now. It obviously depends on who takes over, but even if it was Cisco, I don't see any major effect."

MacKay and Kaiser said both EMC and VMware have new products and technologies out on the market, and those are what partners should really be paying attention to -- not rumors of an EMC acquisition or VMware spin-off. On the VMware front, Virtual Rights Management (VRM), Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and server consolidation are all in high demand among customers.

"There's so much else going on with the products, it's a nonissue," MacKay said.

And just this week, EMC unveiled its new Clariion CX4 family, which brings solid-state disk (SSD) and other advanced storage features into its midrange array.

"Even if they were bought or spun off, it's not like the products or technologies are going away," Kaiser said.

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