Lenovo announces joint hybrid and edge solutions with VMware at Explore event

Lenovo announced enhanced collaborations with VMware around their ThinkAgile VX, TruScale Hybrid Cloud and the VMware Edge Compute Stack, as well as a partnership with Micron which uses their NVME SSDs, vSAN ESA and  Lenovo ThinkAgile VX to provide all NVMe storage.

Mike McDonough, Global Product and Marketing Leader Software and Solutions, Lenovo

At last week’s VMware Explore event in San Francisco, Lenovo, one of their key strategic OEM partners, announced multiple enhanced hybrid multi-cloud and edge solutions involving collaborations with VMware to drive business transformation from the edge to the cloud. They include new preconfigured and pre-validated solutions to support traditional and modern cloud native applications like Tanzu through  Lenovo ThinkAgile VX leveraging VMware Cloud Foundation, an integrated TruScale Hybrid Cloud integration with VMware, and being first to market with the new VMware Edge Compute Stack [ECS], which leverages vSAN HCI and VMware Tanzu with Lenovo’s ThinkEdge edge computer portfolio. Also announced, through a partnership with Micron, was the industry’s first certified vSAN ESA which uses Micron’s NVMe SSDs, vSAN ESA and  Lenovo ThinkAgile VX to provide all NVMe storage.

Mike McDonough, Global Product and Marketing Leader Software and Solutions at Lenovo, who leads strategy for software for partners in organic development efforts, including all the product managers and product marketing managers and executives covering strategic relationships, said that the VMware relationship is extremely important to Lenovo.

“Lenovo is the number one PC manufacturer in the world, and a large player in PC services as well as storage,” he stated. “We have an amazing global logistics system, and we can serve any resale model, and we also have a marketplace. From the VMware perspective, a lot of our customers are their customers. We collaborate really closely with them. We talk weekly. They fund people in our company. It’s not just a reseller relationship. It’s software development as well.”

VMware also provides Lenovo with important strategic direction.

“VMware is incumbent in many customers, and customers are asking us to find the right path,” McDonough said. “This has focused lately on hybrid, but now includes the edge cloud as well. We have responded with the TruScale edge cloud, and VMware is a key component in it. VMware has a very customer-first attitude, which gives us direction. They ask a lot of us in the  mid to upper market, and around containers as a new vision of virtualization, which is something that customers are driving.”

The new announcements begin with Lenovo ThinkAgile VX leveraging VMware Cloud Foundation to seamlessly modernize data centers with preconfigured and pre-validated solutions that support traditional and modern cloud native applications, such as Tanzu. ThinkAgile began in 2016 as a portfolio of preconfigured, pre-validated appliance solutions, and has since expanded their reach into the cloud.

“ThinkAgile is all about reducing complexity in driving operational complexity,” McDonough said. “We can use multiple layers of VMware software, and add our own IP to it. With vSphere 8, which was just announced, we are one of two companies that had early access to the software before it was announced, so we have been able to precertify and are comfortable that our hardware and their software will work together well. With this, and all our other VMware announcements here, we see VMware becoming much more flexible and adding  technical flexibility to different pricing models.”

Lenovo also announced the TruScale Hybrid Cloud with VMware, which provides on-premise infrastructure with the simplicity of cloud operations. A key factor here is that in the integrated TruScale solution, customers are supported by a single, integrated billing, pay-as-you-grow model, which Lenovo says can help achieve up to 30 percent total cost of ownership savings.

“I and our lead product managers constantly talk with VMware, and we bring out something new every single quarter through our agile development methodology,” McDonough noted, indicating the importance of this to this type of product.

On the edge computing front, Lenovo has announced it is the first-to-market with the new VMware Edge Compute Stack. It leverages vSAN HCI and VMware Tanzu with Lenovo’s ThinkEdge portfolio, for deployment across a large range of verticals which need processing power at the edge, including retail and manufacturing.

“You can see innovation of our edge physical products,” McDonough said. “Compared to our competitors, we recognized the value of the edge early. We invested in both AMD and Intel and understood quickly the value proposition of each. We then figured out how to move them effectively to an OPEX model because there are a lot of edges and making a mistake there is very costly. We have a dedicated GM just for edge, and have just done a reorganization to lean in and invest deeper on edge.”

Lenovo and Micron have also collaborated with VMware on an industry-first certification of vSAN ESA on Lenovo ThinkAgile VX, using Micron’s 7450 NVMe SSDs to provide all NVMe storage. As the industry’s first single-tier HCI storage solution, vSAN ESA eliminates the cache layer to deliver optimized performance and efficiency. It is designed for demanding data center workloads or for customers requiring high endurance, next-generation server architecture.