Lenovo and Juniper Networks are the latest entrants into what is a fast-growing and increasingly competitive market for hyperconverged and other emerging data center infrastructure solutions.
Officials with the two companies on March 9 announced a partnership in which they will take advantage of Lenovo’s strengths in x86 servers and Juniper’s expertise in next-generation networking to create converged, hyperconverged and hyperscale offerings for enterprises and Web-scale companies looking for simple, integrated infrastructure products that will enable them to accelerate time to market and to drive down costs.
The tech vendors also are looking to jointly develop go-to-market and tailor-made resale plans for the Chinese market, a particular strength for Lenovo, a Chinese company with U.S. headquarters in North Carolina. The large Chinese market is an attractive target for most U.S. tech companies, which are looking for ways to gain greater traction there as the Chinese government pushes to grow local tech companies.
Lenovo and Juniper officials in a statement said their plans will “address unique localization requirements in China.”
The converged and hyperconverged market is getting a lot of attention and is expected to grow rapidly over the next several years. IDC analysts expect the hyperconverged infrastructure market to increase to almost $2 billion this year and to almost $5 billion by 2019. The systems offers compute, networking, storage, virtualization and software in a tightly-integrated appliance.
With demand for such systems increasing, OEMs are making strong moves to get into the space. Cisco Systems earlier this month announced a partnership with startup SpringPath to build hyperconverged offerings called HyperFlex Systems that build on what the company has done with its Unified Computing System (UCS) integrated systems. In addition, Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, said during a conference call days later to discuss the vendor’s latest quarterly financial numbers that her company will release its own offering for the market.
“Later this month, we will announce a new market-changing hyperconverged offering based on our industry-leading ProLiant virtualization server,” Whitman said March 4, according to a transcript on Seeking Alpha. “Our new solution will offer customers installation in minutes, a consumer-inspired simple mobile array user experience, and automated IT operations, all at 20 percent lower cost than Nutanix.”
Nutanix and SimpliVity are fast-growing startups in the space.
The Juniper partnership also isn’t Lenovo’s first push into the market. The company—which became a major player in the worldwide server market when it bought IBM’s x86 server business for $2.3 billion in 2014—in November 2015 announced it was teaming up with Nutanix to build Lenovo-branded hyperconverged appliances.
There are a number of parts to the Lenovo-Juniper partnership. Lenovo will bring its x86 servers and xClarity management software into the equation while Juniper will come with its lineup of routers, switches, Network Director network management software, network security products and software-defined networking (SDN) expertise, in particular its Contrail technologies. The products also will tilt toward being open systems that use the Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) model developed within the Facebook-led Open Compute Project (OCP) to enable third-party software to easily run on the solutions.
Lenovo, Juniper Partner to Build Hyperconverged Systems
In addition, Lenovo will resell Juniper’s networking products.
“We will continue to invest in the development and delivery of disruptive IT solutions to shape next-generation data centers,” Gerry Smith, executive vice president and COO for Lenovo’s PC and Enterprise Business Group, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Juniper Networks provides Lenovo access to an industry-leading portfolio of products that include software-defined networking solutions—essential for state-of-the-art data center offerings.”
The Lenovo-Juniper partnership got a good response from some analysts. Charles King, principle analyst with Pund-IT, noted that the move makes sense, given that converged and hyperconverged systems are continuing to outsell general-purpose servers, and that Lenovo has shown through alliances with Nutanix, SAP, Microsoft, VMware and Red Hat that it knows how to use strategic partnerships.
“Given that history, the focus on high value, next generation solutions and business opportunities in China, the new partnership between Lenovo and Juniper Networks looks like a rightly-defined effort with a high potential for success,” King wrote in a research note.
Rob Enderle, principle analyst with the Enderle Group, also pointed to Lenovo’s strong history of partnerships, and wrote in his own research note that the alliance with Juniper makes sense.
“While there is no obvious common standard between the firms, they are both strongly committed to creating open offerings which should make the integration path far easier,” Enderle wrote. “In short, while Lenovo and Juniper are substantially different companies, their structure and history should allow them to form a partnership that matches or exceeds those provided by more integrated vendors, and delivers more flexible solutions than integrated firms can likely provide.”