Exec: Lenovo-Nutanix Hyper-Converged Solution For SMBs Leaves Dell, Cisco, HP With 'A Lot Of Work To Do'

Saying Dell, EMC, Cisco and HP are either distracted, inexperienced or incomplete in their hyper-converged offerings, Lenovo has rolled out a $25,000 hyper-converged solution in partnership with Nutanix, and intended for the small and medium-size business market.

Lenovo's new HX2000 series of hyper-converged solutions continues the company's aggressive pricing strategy, and puts Lenovo out ahead of competitors in the SMB space, said Radhika Krishnan, the company's executive director of converged infrastructure and networking.

"Most vendors tend to have relatively new offerings that don't have the level of maturity we can offer through the Lenovo-Nutanix partnership," Krishnan said. "They haven't gone through the level of road testing that we've done. They make trade-offs in reliability and availability."

[Related: Lenovo Not Worried By Death Of EMC Server/Storage Pact, Execs Take Shots At Tucci, Dell As Relationship Ends]

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Lenovo, which has headquarters in Beijing and Morrisville, N.C., has made hyper-converged the cornerstone of its data center strategy, and has said it intends to wage a price battle with the market's top vendors. Hyper-converged represents only a small portion of the market, but is growing at a rate of as much as 60 percent a year, according to some estimates.

When it comes to the SMB market, Krishnan asserted, Dell, EMC, Cisco and HP recognize that the space offers fertile ground for hardware vendors, but the legacy players misunderstand the space, or in the case of Dell and EMC, are distracted by their pending merger.

"The entire world is aware that [Dell is] going through massive churn right now with all the portfolio offerings they're going to be acquiring and integrating. It's not clear that EMC has one cohesive strategy with Nutanix or with anybody," Krishnan said.

"[Cisco's] Springpath is a relatively new startup, and it's only now gaining ground in terms of customers. It's relatively unproven, and I think it's going to take a while for customers to confidently embrace it," Krishnan said.

"HP uses SDS that's been leveraged to perform as a hyper-converged solution," Krishnan said. "For SMBs, management scaling and reliability are key. I suspect HP and Cisco will want to play in this space as well, but they have a lot of work to do."

"It's a crowded marketplace, and many startups have similar offerings, but SMBs don't just want a cheaper solution, they want comprehensive functionality, and we want to make it mindlessly simple for channel partners to offer," Krishnan said.

Dell, which also has a longstanding partnership with Nutanix, declined to comment for this story. The Round Rock, Texas, company is in the midst of acquiring data storage giant EMC for more than $60 billion. In addition to its own hyper-converged solutions, Dell has already begun reselling a number of converged and hyper-converged product lines developed by EMC's VCE unit.

Cisco and HP did not return messages requesting comment.

One Dell partner told CRN that solution providers evaluating hyper-converged solutions are likely to be attracted to the portfolio Dell is amassing with its acquisition of EMC.

Stan Lupkes, vice president of sales at Sterling Computers, a large Dell partner based in Dakota Dunes, S.D., said the market for hyper-converged is very interesting for partners. Until now, Sterling has concentrated mainly on network refresh work for customers including community colleges and other educational institutions.

"It's going to become very interesting with [Dell's] EMC acquisition and their portfolio," Lupkes said. "We're very bullish on our future with this EMC acquisition and how that aligns. Dell's positioned very nicely [in hyper-converged] with this acquisition."

Unveiled Tuesday, Lenovo's new HX2000 series of hyper-converged solutions is based on Nutanix's Xpress software, also announced Tuesday. The solution teams Nutanix Xpress with Lenovo servers, networking and storage in a 2U form factor starting with a two-node offering. Prices will range from $25,000 to $35,000, Krishnan said. The HX2000 line backs up to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure clouds, or on-prem.

Lenovo has had a close partnership with Nutanix since last year, when it launched a series of HX hyper-converged solutions aimed at the enterprise market.

The new SMB-focused products slot between Lenovo's enterprise solutions and its HX1000 line, which is intended for remote- and back-office duty. Krishnan said the HX2000 is aimed at small companies that need flexibility and scalability, but also need simplicity because they don't employ IT staff. It is available through Lenovo certified partners beginning in July.