Lenovo acquisition extends company's cloud computing

The PC maker is buying Stoneware, a software company, to extend its cloud computing offerings and stand out from the competition.

dranii@newsobserver.comSeptember 18, 2012 

Lenovo IdeaPad U410

LENOVO

PC maker Lenovo is looking to extend its cloud computing offerings and distinguish itself from the competition by acquiring an Indiana software company.

Lenovo, which is the world’s second-largest computer maker, plans to announce today that it has agreed to acquire Stoneware, a privately held company with 67 employees. Financial details weren’t disclosed, but Lenovo said the deal, which it expects to be completed before the end of the year, won’t have a material effect on its earnings.

“We think this will help us significantly to expand into the cloud and enhance our relationship with customers,” said Mark Cohen, vice president at Lenovo, who will oversee Stoneware after the deal is completed. Lenovo is based in China but has about 2,000 workers at its executive headquarters in Morrisville, which is where Cohen is based.

Lenovo’s first-ever acquisition of a software company feeds into its “four-screen strategy” – selling PCs, tablets, smartphones and TVs and linking them together. Lenovo sells all four of those types of devices in the China market, but in North America its offerings are limited to PCs and tablets.

Cohen said Lenovo is working with Stoneware’s software engineers to adapt Stoneware’s webNetwork product – which makes it easier for large organizations to deliver computer services across multiple devices – for consumers and small and mid-sized businesses who are Lenovo customers. The new service is expected to be launched by early 2013.

WebNetwork enables a user to access applications over the Internet through a common “desktop” regardless of whether he or she logs in from a PC, a tablet, a smartphone or even a smart TV, Cohen said.

“Whenever I do any work,” Cohen added, “it’s synchronized to the cloud and almost instantly, within minutes, it’s available on all my devices.”

Lenovo and Stoneware have been collaborating together for about two years and Lenovo’s Secure Cloud Access is a re-branded version of webNetwork for large organizations.

Lenovo plans to maintain the Stoneware brand “for the foreseeable future” and will retain its existing product lineup, Cohen said. That lineup includes LanSchool, which helps teachers, professors and corporate trainers teach in a computer-based classroom.

Becoming part of Lenovo “opens up a worldwide sales force and a worldwide channel that we can access and grow the distribution of these products significantly,” said Stoneware CEO Rick German.

In addition, German said, leveraging the capabilities of specific devices offers an opportunity to develop a new set of products.

“It makes a lot of sense, if you believe in that, that you would partner up with a hardware company like Lenovo,” German said.

Founded in 2000, privately held Stoneware doesn’t disclose its revenue but German said that its partnership with Lenovo helped the company double its sales from 2010 to 2012.

“They’ve been profitable for each of the 12 years of their existence,” Cohen said. “I think that’s a tremendous feat in these times.”

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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