Lenovo’s New TruScale Takes Aim At HPE With Consumption Subscription For Data Centers


Lenovo is changing the way it sells data center solutions with the bold launch of a new consumption-based, infrastructure as-a-service offering aimed at driving channel sales and taking share from competing offers from the likes of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Lenovo TruScale Infrastructure Services is a pay-for-what-you-use subscription offering for data center solutions based on electrical consumption which allows customers to use and pay for on-premise data center hardware and services without having to purchase the equipment. Customers never take capital ownership of the hardware or other IT assets with no minimum capacity requirement for TruScale.

“There’s a lot of models in the industry that tend to be much more leased-based, but this is not a lease,” said Roderick Lappin, senior vice president and chief customer officer for Lenovo’s Data Center Group in an interview with CRN. “When we designed our server infrastructure, we put a chip on the motherboard of every single piece of equipment we sent out there running analytics on electrical consumption. If you talk to a CIO, the No. 1 cost of running a data center these days is electricity. It’s electricity running the infrastructure, running the air condition and cooling solutions. What we’re doing is building a subscription model that allows the CIO to be able to see an electrical consumption model invoiced monthly based on how they’re using the equipment.”

[Related: 10 Cool Scenes Inside Lenovo’s Data Center Executive Briefing Center]

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Laura Laltrello, vice president and general manager of services at Lenovo Data Center Group, emphasized TruScale’s no minimum capacity or utilization requirement on how Lenovo is differentiating itself from HPE’s GreenLake pay per use model. TruScale customers only pay for capacity when their workloads are actively running.

“GreenLake requires about a 70 percent capacity minimum commitment, which we’re not doing,” said Laltrello. “The minimum requirement that HPE and other competitors have is that there’s a utilization model that says, ‘You have to be using at least this much for it to potentially work.’ We’re saying, ‘no we don’t need to do that’. Outside of services fees, which is going to be scoping up front, basically the utilization model is based on electricity. You turn the thing off, we don’t charge you.”

In a statement to CRN, HPE said GreenLake “can offer low commitments” in regard to capacity. “Customers can save more as the level of commitment increases, so most choose a sweet spot of 70 to 80 percent. But unlike most offers, there isn’t an upfront payment,” HPE said. HPE’s consumption-based GreenLake has been on the market for four years and one of the company’s fastest growing offerings. The solution pairs enterprise software offerings that include 3Par, StoreServ and StoreOnce with a five times rebate incentive aimed at giving partners break even compensations on a traditional CapEx deal.

With Lenovo TruScale, partners can sell all of Lenovo’s data center solutions -- including its ThinkAgile software-defined infrastructure and ThinkSystem server portfolios -- on a pay-for-what-you-use subscription model which includes hardware installation, deployment, management, maintenance and removal.

Additionally, capacity can be scaled up or down to ensure infrastructure is correctly sized all the time, which is a market differentiator for Lenovo channel partners, according to Jean-Philippe Couture, director of business development, cloud and managed services for Quebec-based solution provider ProContact.

“No matter what kind of infrastructure or architecture you put behind, it can be fully consumed through TruScale. It is very simple. I’ve had meeting with competitor vendors and their offerings are so complicated that I still don’t get,” said Couture, who has been piloting TruScale to customers. “The other vendors offer hardware-as-a-service, but it’s not as-a-service if you cannot scale down. It’s easy to scale down with TruScale.”

The metering solution is based on power consumption with TruScale remaining outside the customer’s data plane, which produces cloud-like economics with the security of on-premise hardware. TruScale includes a real-time dashboard that provides usage, billing and e-ticketing services to help control and predict costs.

Monthly pricing structures are simple and all-inclusive of associated services, such as maintenance, support and remote monitoring, in one bill. Lenovo said TruScale can be applied to any configuration to meet the customer’s needs.

“When a customer sees $1.5 million in infrastructure that they have to buy to make sure they’re up to date, it’s always a roadblock,” said Couture. “When you can put it into a hardware as-a-service perspective with TruScale, you say, ‘Your IT is going to serve you and follow whatever your business needs are. If you need more capacity, you have it. If you need less capacity, well then you’ll pay for less capacity.’ … We’re not just positioning some technology, but we’re helping customers simplify access to technology and get some great flexibility to match their business model.”

Couture said TruScale is “opening a lot of doors” for ProContact in the commercial and midmarket space while keeping infrastructure on-premise.

Lenovo has created both a customer and partner portal that provides constant visibility through a single pane of glass into a client’s data center consumption.

Laltrello said partners can capture annuity streams by providing services in the application layer. “Our customers don’t have time to think about what hardware do they need and how do they keep it up and running -- they want someone to partner with them to do that,” she said. “Once you get into the application layer that’s where the channel flourishes. We want to go in with the channel. Partners should take their entire solution stack and put it on top of this so that the customer gets one complete solution.”

Lenovo said the market is ready to buy data center equipment based on consumption. According to a recent IDC study, 63 percent of IT buyers stated the availability of flexible payment options or pay-per-use is very important when selecting an infrastructure vendor.

Lappin said the company is investing in subject matter experts globally in order to provide partners with TruScale specialists to help sell the new offering.

“We’ll start with our Platinum partners because they generally have the capability, but we will train all of our partners because we believe it’s very unique,” said Lappin. “There are lots of offerings in the market right now, but none of them is as channel friendly as ours. What Lenovo is bringing to market is an offering that is unique to the customer that enables the end-user a utility-based flexible model that is 100 percent channel friendly. This is a really big deal for us.”

TruScale is currently available for all certified Lenovo Data Center partners.