Lenovo and startup Nutanix will develop and sell a new line of hyperconverged appliances that will be aimed at organizations looking to bring the agility and scalability of public clouds into their own environments.
Officials with the two companies announced the partnership Nov. 4, saying they will not only build the Lenovo-branded appliances, but also are promising to invest heavily in platform engineering and development and in go-to-market efforts. In addition, Lenovo is creating a sales team of more than 200 people dedicated to the effort.
The hyperconverged systems—based on Lenovo's x86 server products and powered by Intel processors—will integrate compute, storage and virtualizations technologies into a scale-out appliance that will run software from Nutanix, a small company with more than $300 million in funding. Lenovo will be building on the technologies it inherited last year when it bought IBM's x86 server business for $2.1 billion.
The partnership comes at a time of transition in data centers, as organizations look for solutions that are manageable, cost-effective and innovative, and offer alternatives to public clouds for their workloads, according to Brian Connors, vice president of strategic alliances and high-performance computing (HPC) at Lenovo.
"The rise of converged infrastructure—integrated server, storage and networking systems that are easy to purchase, implement and manage—is a direct response to these demands," Connors wrote in a post on the company blog. "This trend continues to accelerate in the form of hyperconverged infrastructure as customers ask even more of their converged systems, adding software-defined capabilities to their integrated systems."
He noted that IDC analysts said the hyperconverged systems market grew 162 percent in 2014 and will expand more than 100 percent this year, with expectations of 60 percent-a-year growth through 2019.
Nutanix has taken advantage of the market demand to rapidly become a key player in hyperconverged software. The company's products are showing up in other vendors' products—such as Dell's XC family of data center systems—and the company is planning to go public in the future. The partnership with Lenovo is another step in Nutanix's evolution.
"The worldwide server business is going through a history-making fork in the road, owing to two powerful parallel movements in enterprise computing: the public cloud and hyperconvergence in private cloud," Nutanix founder and CEO Dheeraj Pandey wrote in a post on his company's blog. "The former is owned by ODMs [original design manufacturers] doing direct business with Amazon, Azure, and Alibaba. The latter will be dominated by those server OEMs who have an uncluttered mind about (a) selling both rack-mount and blade servers, and (b) letting the value move up, even above the hypervisor, into a new data center operating system that implements web-scale control and data plane software."
Lenovo is one of those OEMs, Pandey wrote, noting such criteria as using open APIs, having no legacy storage or hypervisor business to protect, and have a strong understanding of the China market. He said that over the next three years, China will overtake all of Europe in market power.
Pandey also said that the supply-chain strength that comes with having a PC business also will help. That is good for the likes of Dell and Lenovo, but bad for Hewlett-Packard, which separated its enterprise and PC businesses when it split into two companies, which became official this week.
"Server manufacturers who also manufacture PCs will have an easier time navigating these shifting sands in IT, as they flex their supply chain muscle with Intel, DRAM suppliers, and flash manufacturers," he wrote. "Dell and Lenovo seem to have the right long-term strategy on this. HP could suffer, as did IBM after selling its PC business. Cisco is too focused on gross margins to continue down the path of high-volume."
The two companies will announce the new offerings at the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure and Operations Event in Las Vegas Dec. 7-9, with the new systems becoming available in the first quarter next year.
Pandey wrote that—as with Dell's XC series—the new Lenovo lineup will start with 1U (1.75-inch) and 2U (3.5-inch) rack systems and will expand into other form factors later.