At a Tech World Transform event this week, Lenovo announced it has revamped its data center portfolio along two primary lines following the introduction of 14 additional servers supported by additional storage systems and switches.
Kamran Amini, executive director for the server and storage business units at Lenovo, says Lenovo will now offer two classes of servers. The first combines the x86 servers it acquired from IBM and the ThinkServers that Lenovo developed into a single ThinkSystem portfolio. The second is a ThinkAgile portfolio on top of which Lenovo is bundling software from Nutanix and Microsoft. This week, Lenovo announced its first instance of ThinkAgile Servers running Microsoft Azure Stack.
Amini says, for now at least, there are two distinct classes of data center customers. Some customers prefer to just acquire a bare-metal server, while others prefer pre-integrated systems. Amini says Lenovo will expand the ThinkAgile portfolio by partnering with other providers of software-defined infrastructure (SDI) platforms in addition to developing its own capabilities. In addition, Lenovo revealed it plans to either partner with providers of software-defined networks (SDNs) or acquire a provider of that technology to fill out the ThinkAgile portfolio.
The rest of the additions to the ThinkSystem portfolio, says Amini, are intended to provide server platforms capable of being upgraded to support next-generation Intel Xeon processors due out later this year. Amini says a big element of that strategy is a “Bay” architecture that Lenovo has developed to make it easier to upgrade processors and storage within the same chassis.
“We’re focused on lifecycle management,” says Amini. “We’re trying to change the economics of servers.”
Lenovo this week also expanded its storage and networking portfolio by adding an all-Flash storage area network (SAN) aimed at the midmarket and range of top-of-rack switches. A recent reorganization of all Lenovo server, storage and networking products and services is being sold through one Lenovo data center organization.
While Lenovo is a dominant provider of PCs in the data center, its presence is nascent at best, even after three years of concerted effort. A new generation of software-defined infrastructure based on NVMe does create another opportunity for Lenovo to gain share. Much of that hope is tied to ThinkAgile systems that make use of the same foundational component used to build ThinkSystem servers. The real difference between the two comes down to what degree IT organizations want to be bothered loading software themselves. Right now, there are a lot more that do prefer to load software themselves. But Lenovo, like most of its rivals, is betting in time there will soon be a lot more that will pay extra to have Lenovo do it for them.