How Lenovo’s Strategic Partnerships Help Data Center Customers Evolve

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  October 10, 2018

Strategic partnerships between IT vendors have existed for decades, and mostly followed conventional synergistic pitches: By combining the products/expertise of vendors A and B, you can get C, or even D or E.

Twenty years ago, those relationships mainly consisted of system vendors and specialty ISVs of various sizes and kinds. But the continuing rise of Intel x86-based servers changed the balance due to customers adopting Intel x86-based servers and their corresponding moves from proprietary operating environments, like HP’s HP-UX and Sun Microsystems’ Solaris to Microsoft Windows Server and Linux distributions.

Further shifts occurred with the appearance of once unimaginable (or, at least, unimaginably expensive), increasingly available and affordable technologies. Those included in-memory applications, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions, and hybrid cloud computing operating environments, like Nutanix’s Enterprise Cloud OS.

Those changes required and inspired strategic partnerships to evolve, as well. Recent announcements by Lenovo about its longstanding relationships with Microsoft and SAP show how one vendor is pursuing those developments to its own, its partners’ and its customers’ betterment.

The news from Ignite 2018

First, let’s consider Lenovo’s announcements at the recent Microsoft Ignite 2018 conference in Orlando. Broadly speaking, these new and updated Lenovo offerings underscore a coming generational shift in Windows system platforms – the launch of the new Windows Server 2019 and, coming next year, the end of support for long-popular Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 solutions.

What do Lenovo’s announcements at Ignite say about the current state of data center trends and solutions? Two things. First, and unsurprisingly, the company and Microsoft are pitching Windows Server 2018 as a spark that should light a fire under companies that have long-delayed modernizing their data centers.

Wintel servers and how they are used by businesses has matured significantly in the decade+ since Server 2008 entered the world. In short, along with being considerably less robust and less reliable than new systems, aging servers lack the ability to make the most of emerging applications and workloads, such as software-defined and hyperconverged solutions. The second point relates to how companies are increasingly adopting hybrid cloud solutions that blend their on-premises computing assets with the workloads and data they deploy on public cloud platforms.

To address these issues Lenovo introduced offerings, including new ThinkAgile MX Certified Nodes – scalable, economically-priced systems that are designed to work seamlessly with Microsoft’s Windows Server Software-Defined (WSSD) solutions. Lenovo also joined Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Solution Provider Program, meaning that the company can resell Azure services, with or without the purchase of hardware—the first step of what Lenovo anticipates will be a broader as-a-service initiative.

Lenovo also announced a data center equipment buyback program in which the company will offer customers cash back for competitors’ hardware at fair market value, along with free shipping, ecological salvage and NAID-certified data sanitization services. Plus, the company highlighted the performance and value of its SQL Server solutions for OLTP, and its Windows Admin Center with XClarity solutions for simplified data center management.

Lenovo and SAP HANA

How about Lenovo’s SAP announcement? That can be looked at in two ways. In the most literal sense, the company has become one of the first vendors certified by SAP to deploy SAP HANA in hyperconverged infrastructure solutions and environments. The certification also uses Nutanix’s AHV, the first hypervisor certified for production SAP HANA on hyperconverged infrastructures.

The ThinkAgile HX7820 four socket system used in the certification is one of the mission-critical solutions in Lenovo’s hyperconverged HX portfolio. According to a company-sponsored white paper by ESG, incorporating Nutanix’s Enterprise Cloud OS enables customers to deploy HCI solutions with nearly 3X lower total cost of ownership (TCO), 57% lower data center facilities costs and over 300% return on investment (ROI).

That’s all to the good but it should also be considered in the context of Lenovo and SAP’s extended partnership around SAP HANA. Along with being a leading supplier of SAP HANA solutions, Lenovo has for years provided the reference architecture that SAP uses for developing the HANA platform and new solutions. In fact, when SAP decided to deploy its own in-house HANA-based cloud computing environment, it chose Lenovo systems as the core compute platform.

Final analysis

In other words, Lenovo’s new certified solution for HCI-based SAP HANA solutions should provide both companies (as well as Nutanix) significant opportunities for commercial engagements. But at the same time, the new offering casts considerable light on how Lenovo and SAP’s strategic partnership has evolved to keep up with new developments.

The same can be said for Lenovo’s announcements at Ignite 2018. The company’s central focus on Intel Xeon-powered data center hardware makes Microsoft an obvious ally for go to market initiatives. But these new offerings suggest the pair is more closely attuned—stepping up to underscore and materially support one another’s strengths and objectives.

These qualities can and do bolster the strategic and practical efforts of Lenovo and its partners. More importantly, they also offer significant benefits for the companies’ data center customers.

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