Lenovo Making Steady Push Into x86 Server Market

At IDF, the world’s top PC maker introduces two new smaller tower servers and previews its upcoming higher-end rack server.

Lenovo executives used the Intel Developer Forum this week as another way to push the message that they plan to become a major player in the x86 server market.

The company, which has fought its way to the top of the embattled global PC market, at the IDF show in San Francisco introduced two new affordable tower servers and showed an upcoming two-socket ThinkServer system that will be armed with Intel’s new Xeon E5-2600 v2 processors, which the chip maker introduced at the show.

It’s all part of a larger effort by Lenovo to challenge established x86 server makers like Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM in a market that has become relatively stagnant, according to Michael Kendall, director of product marketing at Lenovo and a former longtime employee at HP.

Lenovo has been selling servers in China for some 17 years, Kendall said in an interview with eWEEK at IDF. However, over the past year, company executives have begun a campaign to sell enterprise servers throughout other regions, including Europe and North America. The effort in North America is the responsibility of the company’s Enterprise System Group, which was created in April 2012, he said. The business unit is still in the process of hiring people to help ramp up the business.

Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo, earlier this year said the initiative to “expand this business more aggressively” outside of China “is part of our PC-Plus strategy,” according to a report last month in the South China Morning Post news site.

The company now must make inroads into a crowded and increasingly commoditized market.

“The challenge is, who we address [the market] differently,” Kendall said.

Some of that will incorporate what the company did so successfully in the PC space—making solid products and pricing them affordably. Kendall also said that most of the top vendors—which now include Cisco Systems, with branded x86 servers as part of it Unified Computing System (UCS) integrated data center solution—are creating software stacks that tightly integrate with their hardware offerings.

Lenovo will forgo building its own software stacks, focusing its money, time and efforts instead on building top-rated servers and leveraging interfaces to work with software from partners such as Microsoft, VMware and Red Hat, Kendall said. That strategy will give customers the software and interoperability they want, and let Lenovo do what it does best, he said.

“We’re just really a good computer company,” he said.