Lenovo’s HX Series and Hyperconverged Market Opportunities

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  December 16, 2015

A week or so ago, Lenovo unveiled its newest business computing solutions – the HX Series appliances. Aimed at a range of virtual application use cases, Lenovo said the HX Series solutions are designed to simplify infrastructure, reduce deployment and management costs, and improve server platform dependability. The new appliances leverage Lenovo’s System x hardware and feature Nutanix’s Acropolis and Prism software, delivering on the partnership the two companies announced early in November.

Lenovo’s HX Series appliances come in three initial configurations:

  1. Lenovo Converged HX3500 which is optimized for VDI (virtual desktop infrastructures) and smaller virtualization workloads, including email, file & print and light database. Middleware, remote/branch office (ROBO) environments and web server.
  2. Lenovo Converged HX5500 which is optimized for server virtualization workloads with larger capacity requirements, including file servers, Hadoop big data, on-cluster backups, Splunk and centralized disaster recovery for ROBO environments.
  3. Lenovo Converged HX7500 is optimized for databases and other I/O intensive workloads, including MS SQL Server, MS Exchange, MS SharePoint and Oracle RAC.

Appliances can be purchased with as few as three nodes, but Lenovo noted that the HX Series is capable of “immense scalability as (customer) needs grow.” The company and Nutanix are also investing in dedicated sales and support personnel with the expertise to help customers architect, size, deploy and maintain their HX Series environments.

Final analysis

This all looks interesting on its face but what are the chances of market success for Lenovo’s HX Series? Generally speaking, very good. Like other solutions purpose built for highly virtualized/hyperconverged use cases, the HX Series hits all the right notes businesses need. These include providing an integrated and optimized virtualization platform that is simple to deploy and easy to use, but is also highly reliable and scalable. In other words, features/functionalities that will make life easier for IT staff in both the short and long term.

Overall, the HX Series looks like a solid platform that should prove capable of meeting the clearest and most stringent customer requirements. But the same could be said of some other Intel-based hyperconverged appliances, most of them configured for similar use cases and workloads. So what does the HX Series offer that is either new or different from those other products?

First and foremost is how Lenovo and Nutanix arrived at this place together. Not surprisingly, the HX Series leans heavily on assets and IP Lenovo acquired in last year’s purchase of the IBM System x organization. That wasn’t simply a matter of server hardware—it also included the good will and credibility IBM had accumulated in years of quality system development and engagements with enterprise customers.

At the end of the day, most any IT vendor can put together an x86-based appliance for virtualization. Many have. But it takes years to build a solid reputation among knowledgeable business customers.

Consider also the partnership between Lenovo and Nutanix that is so central to the HX Series. The hyperconverged space is one where Nutanix enjoys notable success, including being named a leader (for its vision and execution) in a July 2015 Gartner Magic Quadrant report. Nutanix’s solutions have also fared well in IDC surveys comparing vendors in the hyperconverged and software-defined solutions markets.

In addition, hyperconverged solutions are evolving rapidly, particularly in terms of management and integration software. Demand is also ramping quickly, with IDC estimating that sales of hyperconverged solutions will quadruple from their current levels to $4B by 2019. That means the Lenovo HX Series is entering a market primed for just these kinds of appliances. That should substantially benefit Lenovo, but it should also pay dividends to Nutanix given the depth of experience in Intel-based systems that Lenovo brings to the deal and the company’s high profile in China and other fast growing markets.

In essence, it seems safe to say that by working together, Lenovo and Nutanix stand ready to enjoy accomplishments it would have taken them years more to achieve individually. With that in mind, the new HX Series hyperconverged appliances qualify as expressions of a particularly imaginative and likely highly successful IT industry collaboration

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