Lenovo Announces Simplified Solutions for EMC’s VSPEX

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  January 23, 2015

Lenovo announced two new and two updated solutions for EMC’s VSPEX that expand the company’s support for that architecture and extend the two companies’ partnership:

  • EMC VSPEX by Flex System for Private Cloud is a new tested combination of EMC storage with Lenovo’s Flex System compute, networking, and virtualization components that provides a comprehensive enterprise-ready private cloud solution that Lenovo says greatly reduces the time needed to set up and deploy cloud workloads. The new solution has been designed to support Virtual Machine (VM) environments from 200 to 1,000 VMs, making it an ideal platform for numerous cloud-bound businesses. Additionally, Lenovo’s Flex System chassis supports “in place” upgrades, giving customers the ability to easily adopt the latest technologies.
  • EMC VSPEX by Flex System for VDI is a virtual desktop infrastructure solution that allows IT managers to deploy, manage and maintain thousands of employee desktops from a single user interface. This solution – specified with Lenovo’s Flex System compute and networking, EMC storage, and VMware virtualization – can be deployed in hours, reducing IT costs and improving efficiencies.
  • EMC VSPEX for ThinkServer for Private Cloud and VDI solutions offer the powerful capabilities of Lenovo’s new Flex Systems in offerings sized for SMBs, supporting up to 125 VMs and up to 500 virtual desktops. These solutions feature Lenovo ThinkServer systems with the latest Intel processors, RackSwitch networking, EMC storage and VMware virtualization, providing SMB customers with benefits typically available only to enterprise businesses.

According to Lenovo, these new and updated solutions together provide a complete portfolio of Lenovo x86 server-based, EMC VSPEX reference architectures for private cloud and VDI. Additionally, the new solutions are delivered by EMC and Lenovo channel partners and backed by EMC which supplies a single point of technical support, consolidating IT support processes.

The pitch

The value of Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM’s System x impacts its VSPEX solutions and portfolio.

Final analysis

The practical value of strategic acquisitions and partnerships is not always easily discernable. In fact, the lack of longevity of such efforts among a choice handful of IT vendors is something of a tech industry inside joke. But there are exceptions to the norm, including Lenovo’s purchase of IBM’s System x assets and organization, and the company efforts with EMC to support the VSPEX reference architecture. This announcement casts light both on where the two vendors have been and where they will likely be going.

Let’s consider Lenovo first. Prior to the deal with IBM, the company was mainly known as a leader in Intel-based PCs, laptops (including the ThinkPad line it acquired from IBM in 2005), tablets and smart phones, though it had also developed a portfolio of servers aimed largely at SMBs. While Lenovo is a global vendor, with headquarters in Bejing and the U.S., and sales and operations in scores of countries, the company is particularly recognized as a major player in China and other markets in Asia.

The company’s System x acquisition was strategically interesting for two reasons. First, it provided Lenovo a wide range of enterprise-class servers and technologies, including solutions for cloud, converged systems (the Flex Systems in this announcement) and high performance computing. But it also signaled that Lenovo was ready, willing and able to stand as an end-to-end systems vendor on the world stage.

EMC has been successfully ambitious in its own right. The company has retained its long held leadership position in traditional enterprise storage. But it has also developed and acquired a host of innovative new solutions and services that have allowed it to keep pace and accelerate technology and market evolution. Those include the VMAX and VNX product lines, and deals for companies such as VMware, RSA, Data Domain, Isilon, Greenplum, XtremIO and Pivotal.

VSPEX is another good example of EMC’s innovative go-to-market efforts; a reference architecture for converged and cloud infrastructure solutions based on its server vendor partners’ platforms and EMC storage hardware and software solutions. Equally important is EMC’s and its partners’ channel efforts which have helped to make VSPEX the clear leader in its category.

VSPEX isn’t the first or only converged system technology that EMC has developed. It was also a founding partner (with Cisco, VMware and Intel) in VCE which became part of EMC last November. But VSPEX is unique both in its focus on channel partners (who lead go-to-market and sales efforts for the solutions) and in EMC supplying customers a single point for technical support.

Why are Lenovo and EMC collaborating on these new VSPEX solutions? It’s important to remember two things; 1) that the pair has been working together since August 2012 when they announced a partnership that included x86 server development, a reseller and OEM relationship and a joint venture focused on creating NAS solutions for SMBs, and 2) that prior to the System x deal, both Lenovo and IBM offered solutions supporting EMC’s VSPEX reference architecture.

In other words, while Lenovo’s EMC VSPEX by Flex Systems may qualify as new solutions, they also reflect successful relationship building and pursuit of common goals that have been years in the making. Additionally, given the striking innovation and technical excellence of Lenovo’s x86 solutions portfolio and EMC’s own continuing development efforts, we expect there to be additional, new areas for successful collaboration in the future.

Overall, there is much to admire in Lenovo and EMC’s new and improved VSPEX offerings. While they certainly leverage the companies’ mutually complementary technologies to good effect, they do so in ways that should deliver substantial benefits to their mutual customers. But a larger story and greater benefits lies ahead as Lenovo and EMC’s partnership continues to grow and evolve.

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