Wondering About Huawei Symantec and Force10

I’m catching up on a few fronts today, one of which involves the ever-changing machinations of Huawei in its various forms and incarnations.

Huawei’s joint venture with Symantec, aptly named Huawei Symantec, made news a few weeks ago when it signaled that it might target converged data-center infrastructure.  Although it was apparent for a while that Huawei had the potential to assemble and integrate most of the pieces of the data-center puzzle, the announcement was further evidence of Huawei’s far-reaching aspirations, which now extend into enterprises and the cloud and well beyond its original remit covering telecommunications gear.

Puzzling Partnership

I’ve written about where I think Huawei is going with its Symantec joint venture, so that’s not the point of this post. Instead, I’d like to point to a relationship that Huawei Symantec established earlier this year, one that seems never to have gotten off the ground and probably never will. In retrospect, given what’s happened in the interim, I’m not sure why the partnership was pursued in the first place.  We can speculate, of course — and we will.

The alliance in question was actually a “strategic partnership” between Huawei Symantec and Force10 Networks. It involved the combination of “Huawei Symantec’s expertise in storage hardware and software with Force10 Networks’ best-in-class Ethernet switches to create high performance solutions aimed at strategic vertical markets.”

In the press release announcing the partnership, Jane Li, general manager for Huawei Symantec Technologies Co. Ltd. (Huawei Symantec), said she was “confident and excited about the winning combination of our respective capabilities and look forward to a long-lasting partnership.”

Well, unless Jane’s definition of “long-lasting” is a few months, I don’t think Huawei Symantec’s dalliance with Force10 will qualify.

Questions and Speculation

As we know, Dell has since announced that it will acquire Force10 Networks and Huawei Symantec has signaled that it will incorporate Huawei’s high-end Ethernet switches and servers into its converged data-center infrastructure. In just a few months, the “strategic partnership” between Huawei Symantec and Force10 seems to have been rendered null and void. (If somebody has information to the contrary, I am more than willing to admit it into evidence.)

So, we’re left with the obvious question: Why? What was it all about? Did circumstances change that fast for both companies, or did each of them have short-term motives, perhaps ulterior, for announcing a tie-up?

Perhaps Force10 saw Huawei as a potential acquirer, or maybe Force10 wanted to give the appearance that Huawei (or Huawei Symantec) might be a potential acquirer. Huawei clearly had the ability to design and build switches of its own, but it might have wanted some intellectual property that Force10 owned. There are various scenarios one could imagine.

From Strategic to Abandoned

Now that Dell owns Force10, I can’t see the Round Rock crowd wanting to provide converged-infrastructure succor to Huawei, nor can I envision Huawei needing Dell. I just don’t see an alliance forming there.

It’s hard to say what was behind the partnership between Huawei Symantec and Force10, but I suspect strongly that it has gone from “strategic” to abandoned in near-record time.

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