Lenovo revamps data center portfolio with ThinkSystem, ThinkAgile

The ThinkSystem brand will include servers, storage and networking. ThinkAgile is focused on software-defined data centers and integrated and converged systems.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Lenovo revamped its data center portfolio with the launch of the ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile brands as well as a set of server, storage, networking and software defined systems.

The launch, taking place at Lenovo's Transform conference in New York, is designed to give Lenovo a beachhead in big data, high performance computing, artificial intelligence and hybrid cloud workloads. Lenovo's largest data center expansion also combines the acquired technology and intellectual property from IBM and its own infrastructure know-how.

In New York, Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang said the data center group has been building out its portfolio and is now positioned to be more of a strategic partner for businesses. The focus is on enabling enterprises to better use artificial intelligence. Lenovo is showcasing its data center gear as well as PCs, augmented reality and virtual reality devices on the edge.

Yang said there's a fourth industrial revolution that will revolve around "intelligent transformation" and artificial intelligence. He was referring to every device being smart. Lenovo's aim is to carry out a two-prong strategy called "device + cloud" and "infrastructure + cloud".

"Every industrial revolution has its leaders and its heroes," said Yang, who noted that businesses will be the "master transformers." Lenovo plans to be a supplier to these enterprises with infrastructure that's smart with its expanded portfolio.

The catch is that Lenovo is going to run into competition from Dell Technologies, which also has an end-to-end approach. HP Inc. and HPE have split up because the companies believe the end-to-end approach doesn't work.

Lenovo acquired IBM's x86 business in 2014 to build out its enterprise technology footprint, but the data center business hasn't scaled. Kirk Skaugen, president of Lenovo's data center unit, said the company's data center portfolio can be disruptive because it isn't hampered by an established storage or networking business. Skaugen joined Lenovo in March from Intel. Lenovo also hired Kim Stevenson, Intel's former CIO, to be general manager of the data center unit.

Lenovo's data center group saw sales fall more than 10 percent for the fiscal year, but is hoping to reverse that trend with a broad portfolio expansion.

The ThinkSystem brand will include servers, storage and networking. ThinkAgile is focused on software-defined data centers and integrated and converged systems. When you add it up, Lenovo launched 14 server platforms, 7 storage offerings and 5 network switches.

Also: Lenovo launches ThinkStation P320 Tiny, a mini workstation

Skaugen said during his New York talk:

  • Lenovo hopes to be the No. 1 supercomputer company in the years ahead and is investing with that goal in mind.
  • The company will move quickly to go software defined. "We don't have a huge router or huge SAN business to protect," he said. "Our growth in data center will be tied to innovation."
  • Lenovo has built out its end-to-end architecture and sales and support group.
  • Lenovo will make software-defined data center acquisitions as well as more partnerships.
  • The company also renegotiated a bevy of global contracts.
  • Premier customer support services are being launched with a focus on customer satisfaction and reliability. Lenovo wants to be the No. 1 x86 server vendor in reliability and customer satisfaction.

The key product points:

  • ThinkSystem is designed to plug into existing infrastructure and adapt to workloads.
  • ThinkAgile is a series of integrated, pre-built and pre-tested systems that are automated. ThinkAgile SX is for the Microsoft Azure Stack and there are ThinkAgile SX rack systems.

Lenovo ThinkAgile CX2200 system for Microsoft Azure Stack in a 25U Rack.

  • Lenovo's ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile systems are also designed to be flexible as an enterprise's workloads change.
  • The company is launching the ThinkSystem DS2200, DS4200 and DS6200. The three systems run on the latest Intel Xeon processors. Lenovo's DS2200 is a SAN array for small to mid-sized businesses. The DS4200 is a SAN array for branch offices. The DS6200 is a SAN array for I/O intensive applications.
  • On the networking front, Lenovo also launched a series of switches, the ThinkSystem NE1032T, NE1072T, NE2572T and NE10032.


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