IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Lenovo and Cloudian Roll Out Software-Defined Storage Appliance

The new pre-integrated system combines Lenovo hardware with Cloudian software in a bid to simplify storage for companies with large volumes of data. By Rich Freeman

Morrisville, N.C.-based hardware vendor Lenovo has unveiled a new factory-integrated storage appliance designed to help businesses with growing data requirements tap into the availability and flexibility advantages of software-defined storage (SDS) cost-effectively.

Called the Lenovo DX8200C and expected to begin shipping early in August, the new system combines Lenovo server hardware with software-defined storage software from Cloudian Inc., of San Mateo, Calif.

Paul TurnerWith businesses of every size accumulating data in massive and accelerating quantities, analyst firm Technavio expects the global SDS market to expand at a 31 percent CAGR between 2016 and 2020. According to Cloudian CMO Paul Turner (pictured), the Lenovo DX8200C makes capitalizing on that opportunity easier for solution providers by enabling them to implement SDS solutions more quickly and easily.

“The difficulty with software-defined anything is you need to do integration,” he says. “This really takes away a lot of those barriers.”

In doing so, Turner adds, the new solution drives down the cost of deploying SDS solutions as well. Cloudian estimates the total cost of ownership for the Lenovo DX8200C—including hardware, software, and support—to be about a penny per gigabyte per month over a three-year timeframe.

Turner positions the Lenovo DX8200C as an ideal fit for organizations with large amounts of data to manage, including midsize businesses with substantial backup and archiving requirements and healthcare or media and entertainment companies with heavy volumes of images, videos, and other big files to store. Service providers looking for an affordable platform on which to build cloud-based disaster recovery or backup services are a third potential market segment.

Though Lenovo is making the DX8200C available to its entire channel, Turner expects partners that provide professional services as well as fulfill hardware orders to have the most success with the new offering, which will give such firms access to an entirely new and potentially lucrative revenue source.

“It really opens up a new market for them,” he says. “You can go after petabyte-scale opportunities now with a cost-effective solution.”

Lenovo and Cloudian are currently training partners to find and qualify customers likely to benefit from the DX8200C. Anticipating a potentially complex sales process, the two vendors are advising resellers to bring them in early on pending opportunities.

“We’ll be there to actually assist them through it as we get into more detail on the sale,” Turner says.

A 2U device featuring 14 hard drives, the DX8200C is capable of storing up to 112 TB of data. The solution is designed for use in scale-out environments, so partners can tack on additional units as a customer’s capacity needs increase.

Cloudian’s HyperStore object storage platform is the solution’s core software component. Equipped with a centralized management console, HyperStore is also fully compatible with Amazon’s S3 hosted storage environment, so it supports any application that runs on S3 and can also use Amazon’s cloud as a supplemental repository for overflow data.

“We see appliance-izing the world as very important for software-defined,” Turner says. “We’ve got to make storage simple, reliable, easy to use, [and] easy to manage.”

That’s a vision Cloudian has been pursuing since it first rolled out HyperStore in 2011. The solution has been selling well, says Turner, who adds that Cloudian doubled its HyperStore customer base in 2015. Partnering with Lenovo, however, gives the company access to resources a young vendor can’t easily match.

“We don’t have the feet on the street, the coverage, the channel model, [and] the field support and service model that lets us really get to the opportunity. You don’t get that as a startup from Silicon Valley,” says Turner, who notes that Lenovo is a much better known company with a more established reputation as well.

As for Lenovo, bundling Cloudian’s software together with its own hardware provides a rapid, affordable means of meeting rising partner and end user demand for SDS solutions. The two companies collaborated on an SDS reference architecture roughly a year ago, in fact. The DX8200C is designed to make deploying solutions based on that architecture even simpler for their partners. Today’s announcement also comes just weeks after Lenovo introduced a similarly pre-engineered hyperconverged infrastructure solution jointly developed with Nutanix.

Though Cloudian has allied with data center infrastructure provider Quanta Computer Inc. in the past, it views Lenovo as its primary go-to-market hardware partner going forward and plans to contribute to future refinements of the DX8200C.

“We will continue to evolve this product with Lenovo,” Turners says.

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