Lenovo is offering a try-and-buy program for its entry-level servers through an exclusive arrangement with Synnex.
The program was unveiled at the VARnex solution provider meeting, held this week in Huntington Beach, Calif.
The program is aimed at eliminating the risk of trying out the Lenovo servers for small and midsize businesses and their solution providers, said Sammy Kinlaw, Lenovo's director of distribution.
The servers are manufactured by Lenovo using IBM System x server technology licensed from IBM in a deal the two signed in January.
The move by Synnex to focus on bringing Lenovo servers to its solution provider base comes in the wake of IBM's decision last month to end its relationship with Synnex.
Under the program, end-user customers of one of five entry-level Lenovo servers can return their servers to their solution providers for a full refund, and the solution providers can return them to Synnex for a full refund, no questions asked, Kinlaw said.
"Synnex is able to offer resellers an opportunity to sell this new product without penalties," he said.
The program is expected to continue for at least one year so Synnex can get its partners used to the technology, Kinlaw said.
While Lenovo also has distributor relationships with Ingram Micro, Tech Data and D&H, it is offering the program exclusively through Synnex because of the speed at which it can reach its channel community and the focus it has on the small and midsize business market, he said.
Lenovo is also offering its ThinkPlus priority support service program on a 90-day trial basis through Synnex, Kinlaw said. The program includes next-business-day warranty service, 24x7 hardware and software support, and priority routing to level-2 support, he said.
Bob Stegner, Synnex's senior vice president of marketing for North America, said the 60-day server trial program was put in place to let solution providers try the Lenovo servers without risk.
"It's a great way to get these servers into the hands of their customers," Stegner said. "Lenovo is stepping up to help VARs with no strings attached. It provides the incentive for resellers to try the new servers. It's very unusual for a vendor to do this."
Stegner said it is too soon to tell if the program will expand to Lenovo desktops and laptops.
"We have a lot riding on this program," he said. "We'll see how it goes before expanding it."
The 60-day trial period for Lenovo servers could be a good opportunity to try them, said Tom Templin, director of advanced technologies in the Technology Solutions practice of Ciber, a Greenwood Village, Colo.-based solution provider.
However, such trial periods usually work better for products such as Internet acceleration appliances, where it takes more time to help a customer believe the products will perform as expected, Templin said.
"I'm not so sure it will work the same with servers, where there's no mystery," he said.
Ciber sells both IBM and Lenovo servers, and typically leads with IBM, Templin said. His company will lead with Lenovo when there's a price difference, but IBM usually comes through on pricing anyway, he said.
Templin said that the good news about Lenovo servers is that the quality is the same as IBM servers because they seem to be nearly identical.
"We installed VMware ESXi on a couple of Lenovo RD120 servers, and they came up and said on the home page that they were installed on an IBM System x3650," he said. "If you take the covers off of the RD120 and x3650, they look the same, down to the part numbers on the label. Only the box and CD, and the Lenovo hard drive vents, are different."