Lenovo plans to focus on the small to mid-size business (SMB) market and utilise its reseller partners to build its server and storage business in 2014, despite its pending takeover of IBM's x86 server business, announced in January.
The Chinese firm, currently the world leader in PC sales, said it is now looking to grow beyond PCs and sees the SMB server market as the target to aim for in 2014, at least in the UK and EMEA region.
Channel partners will be its key to success here, the firm said, as well as its partnership with EMC, with which it has developed reference platforms for virtualised infrastructure tailored for the SMB market based on EMC's VSPEX.
Thomas Goodwin, Storage and Server sales manager for Lenovo UK and Ireland, said that the SMB to mid-size market is "a perfect fit for our portfolio". He defined this market as comprising companies with 50 up to 1,000 employees.
Although other x86 server vendors have seen revenue and shipments decline as the category becomes commoditised, Goodwin said Lenovo can expand by offering customers solutions rather than products, and this is where its channel partners fit in.
"The channel is the heart of where we are growing demand," said Goodwin. "We don't need to have a very large pre-sales division because we have good channel partners to do that for us," he explained.
As part of this strategy, Lenovo is touting a solutions-based focus whereby channel partners will support SMB customers by installing and configuring common software platforms such as Windows Server, System Center and Exchange Server on its ThinkServer systems, Goodwin said.
Lenovo can also differentiate itself from other x86 server vendors thanks to the fact that it designs and manufactures its own products, and so has greater control over quality, he added. "By owning the production from start to finish, we are masters of that process," he said.
The firm is currently shipping its fourth generation of ThinkServers, based on Intel's Ivy Bridge Xeon processors.
Lenovo is also building on its partnership with EMC, announced in 2012, under which the pair are sharing development of x86 server hardware to go in the ThinkServer product lines and EMC's storage arrays.
One fruit of the partnership is a ThinkServer Private Cloud offering, comprising reference models for SMBs wanting to run virtualised workloads. These use ThinkServers, EMC VNXe storage, and pre-validated network kit from vendors such as Extreme Networks.
Two options are currently available; a Hyper-V ThinkServer Private Cloud supporting up to 50 virtual machines, and a VMware ThinkServer Private Cloud supporting up to 100.
Lenovo declined to answer questions about its plans for IBM's server division, a deal which has yet to close, but said that its SMB plans would proceed anyway. "We will continue to develop new products for the SMB market regardless of what happens with the IBM acquisition," Goodwin said.
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