Lenovo, EMC Partner on Converged Infrastructure

The vendors are combining Lenovo's Flex Systems with EMC's VSPEX storage hardware to create solutions for private cloud and VDI environments.

data center

Lenovo, in its first significant step since acquiring IBM's x86 storage business in the fall, is partnering with storage giant EMC to offer reference architectures aimed at making it easier for businesses to build private clouds and virtual desktop infrastructures.

The two vendors announced Jan. 22 that Lenovo's Flex System servers can be used with EMC's VSPEX storage appliances for reference architectures for two EMC-validated offerings, the VSPEX by Flex System for Private Cloud and VSPEX by Flex System for VDI.

The two vendors are targeting enterprises and midsize businesses that are looking for such converged systems for easier and less expensive ways to build out their data center infrastructures. The solutions are pre-validated and can be custom-configured by channel partners to address the particular needs of the end users, according to David Tareen, senior director of Flex System product marketing at Lenovo. System utilization is higher and capital costs driven down when solutions can be right-sized to the needs of the users.

In addition, IT staffs are not forced to pull together disparate parts and bring them together themselves, Tareen told eWEEK.

"Putting together some of these complex architectures is still difficult," he said, adding that such converged infrastructures save businesses from having to wrestle with sizing needs and then with building the solutions themselves.

Instead, EMC partners can build an infrastructure that fits their needs, according to Gary Garcia, director of global VSPEX marketing at EMC.

"It allows customers to have a custom-built cloud … that can scale to your needs later on," Garcia told eWEEK.

EMC will be the single point of contact for support, he said.

The new reference architectures illustrate the growing interest among businesses in converged infrastructures for their data centers to address particular applications, and how tech vendors are partnering with a wider range of other vendors to expand their portfolios. For example, EMC has had a long relationship with Cisco Systems, both with Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) and through the VCE joint venture. However, EMC recently bought out most of Cisco's stake in VCE, and two years ago started a partnership with Lenovo. Cisco has since expanded its partnerships with the likes of NetApp and Pure Storage.

The work by the vendors in this space isn't surprising, given the demand for such solutions. IDC analysts in December 2014 said that revenue in the worldwide integrated systems and platform space grew 28.1 percent—to $2.3 billion—during the third quarter 2014, and is among the fastest-growing segments in the infrastructure space.

"These results speak to the ability of integrated systems to address core data center infrastructure challenges," Eric Sheppard, research director for storage at IDC, said in a statement at the time. "Those that are deploying integrated systems tell IDC of real gains in the form of increased productivity, reduced downtime, and improved utilization rates."

The solution for private clouds is designed to support 200 to 1,000 virtual machines, while the VDI offering includes VMware virtualization technology and can be deployed in hours. In addition, the two companies also unveiled VSPEX reference architectures for both cloud and VDI environments that leverage Lenovo's ThinkServer systems that officials said gives SMBs an enterprise-level infrastructure.

Lenovo last fall closed its $2.1 billion deal to buy IBM's x86 server business, as well as BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches, x86-based Flex integrated systems, NeXtScale and iDataPlex servers. The deal immediately made Lenovo—already the top PC vendor in the world—the third-largest global server vendor.