Lenovo’s Software Defined Infrastructure Strategy Comes Together With Red Hat and Nutanix


How Lenovo is Positioning Nutanix Deal (Source: Lenovo)

In January, I spent a few days with the senior leadership team of Lenovo’s enterprise group in Raleigh North Carolina. A lot of the players have changed since then, but what has been consistent is Lenovo’s objective to provide broader enterprise solutions. Most of my questions at Lenovo’s analyst conference were about software and where they were going with Software Defined Infrastructure, or SDI.

SDI is the hottest thing that has hit the enterprise since the web and Moor Insights & Strategy has been covering it for four years before it became cool to do so. The promise of SDI is to convert IT to a more “public cloud-like” model inside the enterprise with the goals to speed up app deployment and make it more flexible, provide a public-cloud like charging mechanism, and reduce costs versus more proprietary solutions. In terms of maturity, I would say we are in the third inning of a nine inning baseball game. New hyper-scale deployments are fully SDI while larger enterprise have completed POCs (proof of concepts) and are beginning their deployments. Small and medium businesses are kicking the tires.

With this latest Nutanix announcement, we’re seeing Lenovo, traditionally seen as a hardware company, partnering with multiple SDI companies to deliver hyperconverged infrastructure solutions to the enterprise market. As a result of this latest announcement, Lenovo and Nutanix will work together to create a new family of Lenovo hyperconverged appliances utilizing Nutanix’s software designed to run virtualized apps and provide a storage platform, too. This is in addition to Lenovo’s cloud announcement with RedHat to deliver new complete OpenStack-based SDI solutions to Lenovo’s customers.

The new family of hyperconverged appliances will be powered through the use of Nutanix’s software, primarily driving the storage solution. Lenovo’s partnership with Red Hat is different from their relationship with Nutanix in that there aren’t any new products that Lenovo is introducing specifically as a result of the partnership. Instead, with the release of a new Private Cloud Solution, Lenovo is enabling the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform on their x3650 M5 and x3550 M5 servers. This means that customers wanting to get SDI solutions from Lenovo without waiting can already do so by simply combining these Lenovo servers with Red Hat software and employing a well-defined reference architecture.

While Lenovo wasn’t first with Red Hat OpenStack Cloud or Nutanix (Dell was), Lenovo, as an enterprise company, is one of the few without any major software groups like Dell, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Company (HPE), Cisco Systems, IBM and EMC. Because Lenovo doesn’t have a major enterprise software group within the company, their prime software mission is crystal clear- to bring in the latest and greatest SDI solutions through partners that make the most sense for their enterprise customers. This means Lenovo is 100% partner-focused on software and doesn’t have to worry about cannibalizing their own software solutions. They want to turn what their competitors would call a weakness into a strength.

What Lenovo hasn’t disclosed yet as these alliances are early and I am eager to learn more about are the details around the software automation, support and financing. I’m also looking forward to more future announcements on SDN (software-defined networking) and SDS (software-defined storage).

This move by Lenovo with Red Hat and Nutanix can only be viewed as a positive one for enterprise customers and an expected one after the January conference. These moves allow Lenovo to offer SDI solutions to their customers that they never could before and do it with a clean sheet of paper after the IBM divestiture. Lenovo knows it needs to continue to invest in SDI to fill out the portfolio geographically and capability-wise to grow their share in the enterprise space. Therefore, I expect many more announcements like this from Lenovo over the next year. Lenovo can also position itself as the most “partner friendly” as well as they don’t sell their own enterprise software like their competitors.