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At a time when most major platform vendors are trying to get customers to standardize on their products across the data center, Extreme Networks is looking to play nice with others. The enterprise network equipment provider has entered into a reseller alliance with Lenovo that enables Lenovo channel partners to resell Extreme Networks’ products and services.

The move is significant because Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and IBM are all pushing integrated systems that include networking components. Lenovo has been rapidly gaining share in the server market, which recently emboldened the company to make a bid for IBM’s x86 server business. But Lenovo lacks access to networking gear that is at the core of many of the rival integrated server offerings.

Although Lenovo has not yet brought an integrated server to market, the alliance with Extreme Networks gives it access to a portfolio of networking equipment.

Integrated servers appeal to customers concerned about the cost of acquiring equipment and managing data centers, but Jake Howering, director of marketing for data center solutions at Extreme Networks, noted that tightly integrated servers present some unique challenges in terms of scaling. It’s unlikely, for example, that an organization’s server, storage and networking requirements are going to grow in tandem, meaning that investments in each area generally have to be made separately over an extended period of time.

For that reason, Extreme Networks also has an existing relationship with EMC, which just certified that the EMC VSPEX storage systems are now compatible with networking equipment from Extreme Networks.

As part of the effort to extend the number of environments that Extreme Networks can support, the company has also announced that its offerings are now certified to work with the emerging OpenStack standard for managing cloud application environments.

At a time when many vendors are trying to leverage the trend toward consolidation in the data center to seize market share in adjacent areas, Extreme Networks is looking to extend its reach by working with vendors that have similar vested interests.

“We want to amplify our total opportunity within the industry,” said Howering. “We want to not only create opportunities for new channel partners, but also to increase the size of the deal for our existing partners.”

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.