Extreme Makes Converged Solution Plays With Lenovo, EMC

The networking vendor has formed alliances with both Lenovo and EMC as it makes a push into the converged infrastructure market.

Extreme Networks officials are looking to expand the company's presence in the increasingly competitive converged data center infrastructure space through partnerships with Lenovo and EMC.

Extreme on July announced it is entering into a reseller agreement with Lenovo, with the server vendor and its partners selling Extreme's Open Fabric Ethernet switches as part of a converged infrastructure in more than 60 countries. Extreme's switches, which support the OpenStack cloud initiative, will be sold along with Lenovo's ThinkServer systems and storage products from Lenovo partners.

At the same time, Extreme also announced that its Open Fabric switches have been validated to run with EMC's VSPEX storage offering, which is aimed at cloud and virtualized environments. The validation means Extreme is added to a list of top-tier tech vendors named as solution partners—including Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, Dell, IBM, Microsoft and VMware—for EMC's VSPEX offering.

Extreme's efforts to expand into the converged infrastructure space come as that market continues to grow, due in large part to the adoption of cloud computing and the demand for more open technologies and best-of-breed hardware in the data center, according to Jake Howering, Extreme's director of marketing for data center solutions.

"Convergence is the big trend here," Howering told eWEEK. "The world is moving to an open environment."

Most top-tier tech vendors are offering some sort of converged infrastructure, which offers greater interoperability and integration of the compute, storage, networking, virtualization and management software, taking much of the integration work off the hands of IT administrators.

Cisco offers its Unified Computing System (UCS), which includes its own server and networking technologies along with storage from the likes of EMC and virtualization from VMware. Cisco, VMware and EMC also created a company, VCE, which builds converged solutions called Vblocks. HP in May created a business group, the Converged Systems unit, dedicated to converged infrastructure. Dell, IBM and others also offer tightly integrated data center products.

Businesses are beginning to embrace the trend. Extreme officials pointed to numbers from open source consulting firm Wikibon that forecast the converged infrastructure market to grow from $6 billion in 2013 to $74 billion by 2017. In addition, Gartner analysts in November 2012 said revenues in the burgeoning market in 2011 hit $2.9 billion, and predicted more growth over the next few years.

In March, Zenoss, which makes monitoring and management software for IT infrastructures, released a study showing strong adoption and growing interest in converged systems. More than 30 percent of survey respondents have adopted a converged infrastructure, and 75 percent of companies using converged infrastructures indicated they were providing better services to customers.

"There is a consistent 40 to 60 percent year-over-year revenue growth going from now until the end of the decade," Extreme's Howering said.

Converged platforms offer greater energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness and performance, he said. In addition, the trend is toward open environments, which helps with scalability and efficiency. Howering pointed to Extreme's support of OpenStack and OpenFlow as proof points to the company's push for open standards, as well its software-defined networking (SDN) efforts and ExtremeXOS operating system.

Lenovo, the world's top PC maker, and EMC already are partnering to more closely align their server and storage offerings. The companies last year announced an alliance to create x86-based servers that will work closely with EMC's storage products, and in January launched a new company, LenovoEMC, to make servers to work natively with EMC's storage solutions.