Datacenter Trends

Lenovo Aims for Hyperscale Supremacy

From edge computing innovations to deeper integrations with SAP, Lenovo's datacenter roadmap aims to position the company as a major hyperscale contender.

Lenovo threw a spotlight on its growing datacenter business this week during its annual Accelerate conference in Orlando, Fla., with several product updates and some ambitious plans for the second half of the year.

"We honestly believe that Lenovo can become, over the next several years, the largest hyperscale infrastructure provider in the world," Kirk Skaugen, president of the company's Data Center Group (DCG), told his keynote audience on Monday.

Lenovo built its datacenter business on its 2014 purchase of IBM's x86-based server business. The datacenter accounts for about a tenth of the Chinese PC maker's overall business, but revenues have been growing at a brisk pace.

According to IDC, at the end of 2018 Lenovo was tied with Inspur Power Systems for fourth place in the worldwide server market (behind Dell, HPE/H3C and IBM), with a market share of 6.2 percent. But it generated $1.46 billion in server revenue in the fourth quarter of last year, which represents 34 percent growth year over year.

And Lenovo has been doubling down on its go-to-market strategy this year, most notably with the February launch of its TruScale Infrastructure Services initiative. Billed as the "pay-for-what-you-use datacenter," TruScale is a consumption-based Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering that allows customers to use and pay for on-prem datacenter hardware and services without having to purchase the equipment. They never buy the gear, which effectively eliminates the risks associated with upfront equipment purchases.

"We believe we're going to outperform the market at 100 percent of the market growth in the traditional server space in every segment [in which] we participate," Skaugen said.

Skaugen outlined the DCG's plans for the rest of the year. Among other things, his group is planning to extend more of its technologies to the edge, leading in such areas as Intel's Cascade Lake processors, accelerators like GPUs and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and rolling out products in the networking and telecommunications areas.

Skaugen also announced plans to deepen the DCG's relationships with its partner, SAP. He was joined onstage by the global head of SAP's technology and innovation group, Franz Faerber. Lenovo recently announced a new data orchestration platform called Lenovo Intelligent Insights with the SAP Data Hub. 

Lenovo is also planning to launch what Skaugen called "the largest edge server and embedded portfolio in our history." He showed off the ThinkSystem SE350, an edge server about the size of two tablets and bristling with six antennae. The device, which is powered by an Intel Xeon-D chip and designed to run outside the datacenter, can be stacked on a shelf or attached to a wall.

The SE350 also features movement-detection capabilities, Skaugen pointed out. "If someone tries to take this off your factory wall, it'll actually take the hardware keys off the drive and basically self-destruct the system," he said.

Skaugen also announced a new initiative aimed at improving partner relationships called Channel First. The initiative will consolidate channel resources, provide partners with incentives across its business units, and provide the support that leads to partner-led sales and growth.

"If we're going to be your most trusted datacenter partner, as a partner you need to know that we're committed to the channel," he said. "So you're going to hear about a channel-first initiative that clearly outlines the framework for how we're going to engage in the channel -- channel-first, every time."

Lenovo recently hired Nicole Roskill as the first global channel chief for the DCG, and the company is making new investments in partner resources to break down the barriers that have inhibited sales across the portfolio.

The Accelerate 2019 partner conference was combined with Lenovo's Transform 3.0 innovation event.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].


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