IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Lenovo Launches Converged and Hyperconverged Infrastructure Product Family

A line of appliances jointly developed with Nimble Storage will be the new ThinkAgile portfolio’s first members. By Rich Freeman

In the debut of a major addition to its existing server, PC, and mobile device product lines, Lenovo has introduced a new line of converged infrastructure appliances co-developed with San Jose, Calif.-based Nimble Storage.

Called the ThinkAgile CX Series, the joint Lenovo-Nimble Storage offering is the first member of a new ThinkAgile product portfolio that will grow to include additional converged and hyperconverged systems combining Lenovo compute and networking infrastructure with software and hardware from third-party ISVs.

Three ThinkAgile CX Series SKUs will ship on October 28th, including an entry-level model targeted at SMBs. That device, the CX2200, supports between 4 and 8 Lenovo System x3550 M5 rack servers with Intel Xeon E5-2600 v4 processors, and offers up to 21 TB of raw storage capacity. Users can add 42 TB of additional storage via an optional expansion shelf.

Like all ThinkAgile CX Series products, the CX2200 comes with VMware’s vSphere ESXi hypervisor, Nimble’s InfoSight Predictive Analytics software, and Lenovo’s own XClarity management application pre-installed.

ThinkAgile solutions like the CX Series are designed to help businesses adopt converged and hyperconverged infrastructure offerings more rapidly, according to Radhika Krishnan, general manager of converged and hyperconverged infrastructure and networking at Lenovo.

“We’re heavily leveraging our industry-leading supply chain factory integration capabilities to get equipment into customer sites within a very short time period, as low as two weeks,” she says, adding that Lenovo’s high-volume production capabilities will result in cost efficiencies for ThinkAgile buyers too.

“We believe we’re able to offer 33 percent better value, or lower TCO, compared to some of the competing converged vendors,” she says.

Support for all ThinkAgile products, and the components within them, will come from Lenovo itself.

“The value proposition of ThinkAgile is that customers can order it as a single solution ID and they will be able to go to Lenovo as the single throat to choke for support as well,” Krishnan says.

Nimble Storage points to the performance optimization capabilities its InfoSight solution contributes to the CX Series specifically as an additional differentiator.

“Literally half of the problems that arise that may appear to be a storage issue are actually results of issues somewhere else in the data center,” says Dan Leary, vice president of corporate development at Nimble Storage. InfoSight is designed to uncover such problems using predictive analytics functionality.

Nimble Storage is Lenovo’s partner of choice for ThinkAgile solutions featuring traditional storage-area networking technology, but the hardware maker plans to work with other vendors in additional product categories as well. A new hyperconverged appliance developed with Nutanix Inc., of San Jose, Calif.—which will join the existing SMB-oriented HX 2000 system Lenovo and Nutanix introduced in May—is due to arrive before the end of the year.

Lenovo plans to release ThinkAgile solutions featuring OpenStack, the open source private cloud platform, as well. According to Krishnan, that product family will launch initially in China, where OpenStack is popular with Lenovo customers, but will eventually be available globally.

Further joint offerings with Nimble Storage will reach market during the first half of 2017 and beyond too, according to Leary, who looks forward to tapping into Lenovo’s extensive worldwide sales and marketing organization.

“We really feel that Lenovo’s an ideal way for us to accelerate growth,” he says.

Lenovo’s entry into converged and hyperconverged infrastructure comes as demand for such products is rising among businesses generally and SMBs specifically. Some 10 percent of small businesses and 27 percent of midsize businesses have plans to adopt converged infrastructure solutions, according to analyst firm Techaisle LLC.

Data center solutions like the ThinkAgile portfolio are an increased point of emphasis for Lenovo, which has recently assigned a dedicated sales executive to that product category and introduced new incentives for its partners.