Lenovo and SAP are expanding their longstanding alliance by partnering to develop cloud product offerings that will bring the software maker's SAP HANA in-memory database to the Chinese market.
Officials with the two tech vendors announced a multi-pronged initiative that will bring together SAP HANA and Lenovo's x86 servers to create cloud solutions for businesses in China, a market that SAP has yet to really break into. The alliance calls for not only creating these cloud offerings, but also jointly developing other products based on HANA and Lenovo's data center systems and to work together on go-to-market programs that will touch regions throughout the world.
That will include demonstrating various solutions in Lenovo's Enterprise Innovation Centers in Stuttgart, Germany—SAP's home country—Morrisville, N.C., and in Beijing, where the systems OEM will soon be opening a new center.
The partnership, announced Jan. 26, will enable customers to embrace the growing digital economy that is driven by such trends as mobility, big data, security, hyper-connectivity and the cloud, according to Tag Robertson, SAP alliance and solution offerings manager at Lenovo.
"By combining SAP solutions with Lenovo enterprise data center offerings, we will provide customers with technology that can help them become agile digital enterprises," Robertson wrote in a post on the Lenovo blog site. "These plans will focus on delivering next-generation technologies—deployed by two industry leaders widely recognized for mission-critical, trusted and reliable solutions—to businesses of all sizes that will help them become agile digital enterprises."
Lenovo almost overnight became a significant player in the global server market in 2014 when it bought IBM's x86 server business for $2.1 billion. The move not only put Lenovo into the number-three spot among server vendors worldwide, but also made the company even more attractive to other tech vendors as a partner that could give them a greater presence in the China market, particularly as Chinese government officials have pushed businesses in the country to buy products from Chinese vendors when possible.
That fact probably was not lost on SAP, according to Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT.
"This latest partnership expansion also underscores a point that arose during the System x acquisition process—how Lenovo's strong position in Asia could eventually enhance its own and partners' fortunes in those markets, particularly China," King wrote in a research note. "Lenovo's planned Innovation Center in Beijing should provide a popular stage for spotlighting its solutions, including those leveraging SAP HANA. In fact, Lenovo's Innovation Center investment is likely to deliver broadly positive returns for the company and myriad partners, including SAP."
Kevin Ichhpurani, executive vice president and head of business development and global ecosystem for SAP, said in a statement that the two companies "are bolstering the development of innovative cloud solutions for customers in China, and exploring new technologies based on SAP HANA and Lenovo systems that will help address the needs of the digital economy."
The partnership between the two vendors extends even before Lenovo bought IBM's Intel-based server business, King wrote. Before the deal, IBM's System x servers helped drive the evolution of HANA, thanks in part to IBM's eX memory technologies.
"Since then, Lenovo has extended the innovative qualities of System x offerings with its own X6 mission-critical solutions, its preferred platform for SAP HANA and other big data and analytics technologies," the analyst wrote.
The alliance between Lenovo and SAP also can be seen inside their own data centers. SAP's application development environment and its HANA Enterprise Cloud both run on Lenovo servers, according to SAP's Robertson. In addition, SAP is Lenovo's preferred enterprise resources planning (ERP) provider, and the system maker uses HANA running on its x86 systems in a scale-out cluster that Lenovo officials said is showing a 45-fold improvement in reporting performance and a 50-times improvement in data loading, he said.
Pund-IT's King applauded the expanded partnership between Lenovo and SAP, saying that it "offers proof that imaginative vendors can continue to grow and enhance strategic partnerships years after they were originally established. Things change, constantly and inevitably, and the companies that succeed are those which fully embrace the evolutionary process. In that way, Lenovo and SAP reflect the value found in many other parts of the larger IT industry which gains as much or more through incremental progression as it does from breakthrough developments."