Partners Cheer Lenovo's DataCore Deal, Ponder Its Long-Term Storage Strategy

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Lenovo, stung by the loss of two data center storage technology partners thanks to acquisitions by rival Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), is reinforcing its software-defined storage strategy as a way to advance its data center business.

However, Lenovo channel partners, while remaining big fans of Lenovo's extensive server business, are not sure the vendor has a viable data center storage strategy.

Lenovo, with one of its headquarters locations in Research Park, N.C., this week unveiled a new OEM agreement with Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based DataCore Software to integrate DataCore's SANsymphony software-defined storage with Lenovo servers.

[Related: Lenovo's Storage Strategy: Plotting A Path To Data Center Relevance]

The new product comes after two of Lenovo's close storage technology partners were acquired by HPE.

The first was hyper-converged infrastructure technology developer SimpliVity, which HPE acquired in February. Lenovo and SimpliVity in 2015 started joint development and marketing of hyper-converged infrastructure solutions based on Lenovo servers and SimpliVity software and had already been shipping them to channel partners.

The second was all-flash and hybrid-flash storage vendor Nimble Storage, which HPE said last week it plans to acquire. Lenovo and Nimble Storage in October unveiled plans for Lenovo to build converged infrastructure solutions based on Lenovo servers and Nimble Storage's all-flash arrays, and eventually incorporate Nimble Storage arrays in the Lenovo product line.

Lenovo channel partners praised Lenovo for its servers, and for partnering with DataCore, but feel the company still has work to do to be ready for the data center, especially after losing the SimpliVity and Nimble Storage relationships.

Lenovo needs to pay attention to the storage business before HPE buys everyone, said Chris Pyle, president of Champion Solutions Group, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based solution provider and channel partner to both Lenovo and DataCore.

The DataCore SANsymphony software is a good offering for Lenovo, Pyle told CRN. "They need it to beat the drum about business heterogeneous storage," he said. "But it's hard to see what Lenovo will do long-term for the data center. The company needs storage."

Pyle said Champion sells a lot of Lenovo servers into data centers and multi-site retail customers. "There are still a lot of SANs in place out there, and a lot of iSCSI," he said. Many customers do not need a new storage solution to buy new servers. But in the long term, as we see customers pull the trigger on things like hyper-converged infrastructure, Lenovo will need storage to grow."

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