New Lenovo, Juniper Networks strategic partnership to have broad channel play

Juniper becomes Lenovo’s strategic networking partner, to build out new data centre solutions and strengthen Lenovo’s growing hyper-converged and converged presence. Lenovo also says the deal will have a strong channel play, and won’t be limited to Lenovo’s highest-end partners.


Radhika Krishnan, General Manager, Converged/Hyper-Converged Infrastructure and Networking at Lenovo

Lenovo and Juniper Networks have announced a significant new global strategic partnership aimed at leveraging the two companies’ respective strengths to build the next generation of converged, hyper-converged, and hyper-scale data centre infrastructure solutions for enterprise and web-scale customers.

“This is a very strategic partnership,” said Radhika Krishnan, General Manager, Converged/Hyper-Converged Infrastructure and Networking at Lenovo. “We are now a fairly prominent datacentre player, and a critical part of that is networking. Our goal really is to become a very prominent player in the converged, hyper-converged and software-defined world, and we believe that we are well positioned to capitalize on those trends.”

Krishnan said that Juniper, with its comprehensive portfolio of routers, switches, network management software, network security products and software-defined networking technology, is an ideal partner for Lenovo and its complementary server strength.

“Our focus is to partner with a pure play networking vendor,” she said. “Cisco is the market leader, but they tend to lead with their own offerings, so were not the type of partner we were looking for.”

Krishnan indicated the Juniper partnership will provide an expanded set of solutions to Lenovo’s customer base. This will include new management orchestration offerings designed for simplicity and fast provisioning. They will leverage both Lenovo’s xClarity management software and Juniper’s Network Director and Contrail SDN software.

“We will also expand in the software-defined datacentre, an area of tremendous potential to Lenovo, where we will work with Juniper around SDN and simplify management orchestration across the stack,” Krishnan said.

“In addition, as the entire networking industry is moving to a disaggregation model, separating hardware and software in the data centre, Lenovo will invest in these backbones, giving customers flexibility to run either our OS or their Junos OS,” Krishnan added.

The two companies will collaborate on their go-to-market model.

“We will make sure our joint offerings are also highly differentiated beyond what either company is focusing on alone,” Krishnan stated.

Lenovo has worked with Juniper before, but in the capacity of local relationships designed to fill local haps.

“We have had had tactical engagements with Juniper before, as we have had tactical partnerships with other networking vendors,” Krishnan said. “Juniper becomes our own strategic networking partner with this agreement.”

The intuitiveness of the partnership is not a no-brainer, because their areas of focus have been quite different historically. Juniper originally built its business among service providers, and while they have moved beyond that, their focus is still on larger customers. Lenovo wants to be a major player in this market, but they aren’t there in the data centre yet, with their strength being more downmarket. Still, Krishnan said that the synergies between the companies – particularly those developing from Lenovo’s growing presence in the hyperconverged and converged markets – make the partnership a strong one in the mid-market as well as the enterprise.

“If we execute right, we will go over all these opportunities – at the high end as well as mid range,” she said. “That is our goal, to increase our presence in both, as well as leverage this partnership in hyperconverged and converged. There is a lot of synergy between those areas.”

While the partnership specifically emphasizes that Lenovo and Juniper will develop joint go-to-market plans and a tailor-made resell model to address unique localization requirements in China, Krishnan said this deal is just as important in North America.

“We are really thinking about it as a worldwide go-to-market,” she said. “North America has a lot of use cases where this will have significant impact, and will create new opportunities which will open up doors.”

Krishnan also stated that the partnership will have Lenovo’s typical strong channel presence going to market, and that the channel here will not be limited to higher-end partners like large system integrators.

“We are definitely not looking to limit our channel in any way,” she said. “We heavily rely on resellers to take our product to market, and we are working on details of how this will work with Juniper.”