After getting off to a slow and rocky start about five years ago, Lenovo's data center business appears to be on more solid footing. It remains a small part of the Chinese PC maker's overall business, accounting for just over one-tenth of the company's revenues, according to its last quarterly report. Yet on Monday, Lenovo laid out ambitious plans to scale its data center group -- including plans to become the world's largest hyperscale infrastructure provider.
Lenovo's Data Center Group aspires to "become your most trusted data center partner," empowering "intelligent transformation," Lenovo EVP and Data Center Group President Kirk Skaugen said at the company's Accelerate conference.
While Lenovo is traditionally known as a PC maker, the company built its datacenter group in large part by acquiring IBM's x86 server business in 2014. Two years later, it launched the ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile platforms. However, the business continued to struggle, reporting shrinking sales in early 2017. The company brought in new leadership, created new customer segments, put a new focus on supply chain and continued to introduce new brands and products.
In February, Lenovo's Data Center Group reported a 31 percent year-over-year increase in revenue and its fifth consecutive quarter of profit growth. By comparison, Lenovo's revenue overall grew 8.5 percent. Within the Data Center Group, hyperscale served as a significant contributor with triple-digit revenue growth.
Skaugen said that over the next year, Lenovo would build out its hyperscale capabilities "pretty significantly," starting with an "ODM-plus approach." That approach means working with server manufacturers but also building custom products.
With that approach, Skaugen said, Lenovo "can become the largest hyperscale infrastructure provider in the world."
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Skaugen laid out the rest of Lenovo's plans to grow the Data Center Group over the next year:
- It plans to launch its largest-ever edge-to-cloud portfolio.
- It's deepening relationships with partners SAP. Lenovo recently announced a new data orchestration platform, called Lenovo Intelligent Insights, featuring SAP Data Hub.
- In the traditional data center space, Lenovo plans to lead the Intel Cascade Lake ramp and plans to expand its portfolio with new AMD solutions and FPGA solutions.
- In edge and IoT, Lenovo is launching new products like the ThinkSystem SE350.
- Lenovo plans to announce its largest-ever telco and networking portfolio this year.
- In HPC, the company will roll out new technologies like liquid cooling.
- Lenovo also plans on offering its broadest as-a-service offering.