Lenovo, Nimble Partner on All-Flash Converged Offerings

The new CX Series systems are part of Lenovo's larger new ThinkAgile portfolio of pre-integrated converged infrastructure appliances.

Lenovo server

Lenovo, the world's top PC vendor, is taking the next step in its effort to grow its presence in the competitive data center space by partnering with all-flash storage vendor Nimble Storage in developing a converged infrastructure offering.

The alliance between the two tech vendors is part of a larger push by Lenovo to offer a series of pre-integrated converged appliances that will make up the company's new ThinkAgile portfolio of products. Lenovo's ThinkAgile CX Series solutions will be the first products from the pairing of Lenovo and Nimble, according to company officials. The first solution will be available Oct. 28.

The converged appliance will include Lenovo servers and networking gear—most of which came to the company via its 2014 $2.3 billion acquisition of IBM's x86 server business—with Nimble's Predictive All Flash storage array and InfoSight predictive analytics software. Lenovo will integrate its XClarity infrastructure management software with Nimble's InfoSight to enable the use of predictive analytics to automate support for the appliances. The goal is to create self-healing system management capabilities in all parts of the data center infrastructure—servers, storage and networking—via early problem identification and automated response, officials said.

The appliances will provide greater efficiency, performance and scale to data center resources while driving down capital and operating expenses, they said. Organizations will be able to shift their IT efforts and dollars more toward innovation and less towards maintenance.

Overall, Lenovo officials expect the new integrated appliances—and the overall ThinkAgility lineup—to be used for a broad range of data center workloads, from private clouds and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to databases, big data, telecommunications and high-performance computing (HPC).

Customers will be able to order the ThinkAgile appliances as single solutions and engineered for their particular needs. They are designed to be quickly installed and deployed, and come with Lenovo services.

"Through this new alliance, we are able to deliver a continuous integration of hardware, software and analytics support, establishing the means to develop the next-generation all-flash data center and drive strategic value for our customers," David Lincoln, executive director and general manager of Lenovo's Server, Storage and Solutions business unit in the Data Center Business Group, said in a statement.

The ThinkAgile offerings with the Nimble storage products fit in with Lenovo's efforts to partner with other tech vendors to build out its data center capabilities. Lenovo and data storage giant EMC in 2012 launched a joint venture—LenovoEMC—to make Lenovo servers for enterprises and midsize companies that worked natively with EMC's storage arrays. Over the next several years, the two vendors expanded their efforts, creating joint systems for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) a year later and in 2015 partnering on converged infrastructure offerings—solutions that offer tightly integrated compute, server, networking, virtualization and management software in a single appliance.

However, that partnership went away when Dell bought EMC for more than $60 billion, a deal that closed in September.

However, Lenovo over the past year has announced several other alliances with companies like Juniper Networks and Nutanix to build offerings for the fast-growing and crowded hyperconverged infrastructure space.

All that is coupled with the 2014 acquisition of IBM's x86 server business, which quickly put Lenovo into the number-three spot of the world's largest server makers.

The converged infrastructure market is a fast-growing one as organizations dealing with such trends as cloud computing, mobility, security, data analytics and the internet of things (IoT) look to make their increasingly complex data centers simpler and more affordable. According to IDC analysts, global revenue in the space in the second quarter hit $2.9 billion, a 12.1 percent increase year-over-year.

The hyperconverged infrastructure space—in which storage and compute functionality are integrated into a single, highly virtualized solution—was the fastest growing segment, with sales increasing 137.5 percent to $480.62 million.

The ThinkAgility systems will help address the growing demand, according to Radhika Krishnan, general manager of the Data Center Group's Converged Infrastructure and Networking business unit.

"Our pre-integrated and pre-validated appliances are ready-to-go coming in the door and easily scale to keep pace with growing workloads," Krishnan said. "Lenovo's end-to-end capabilities, from world-class supply chain to high-octane servers to high-quality support, make deployment a uniquely simple process."

In addition to the CX Series with Nimble, Lenovo also is expanding its HX Series of hyperconverged appliances within the ThinkAgile portfolio and will develop appliances for OpenStack environments—initially for the Chinese market—that will combine Lenovo servers and storage offerings with open-source storage such as Ceph, officials said. The first of these systems, called ThinkCloud AIO, was introduced in September.