Lenovo Takes No. 5 Storage Spot, Jumping Past Pure, IBM, Hitachi Vantara
Joseph F. Kovar
‘We grew 138 percent in a storage market that grew only 6 percent total. We hit records in every part of our storage business last, with all-flash sales up over 100 percent, midrange storage up 22 percent and our TruScale Infrastructure-as-a-Service up 600 percent year over year to date,’ says Kirk Skaugen, president of Lenovo’s Infrastructure Solutions Group.
Lenovo Wednesday said that is now the fifth-largest storage manufacturer worldwide and the largest manufacturer in the all-important sub-$25,000 storage market.
Lenovo’s move upward in the ranks of major storage vendors comes as it maintains its channel-first focus, said Kirk Skaugen, president of the Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based company’s Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG).
Lenovo came out of its fiscal third-quarter 2023 with a 48 percent year-over-year rise in sales by its ISG, led by a tripling of its storage sales over last year, Skaugen told CRN.
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“We’re coming off a fiscal quarter where the company grew 48 percent [over last year],” he said. “This is a testament to our channel-first strategy. Our vision is to be the most trusted partner and to be channel-first.”
Skaugen, citing data from research firm IDC, said that Lenovo’s growth in storage enabled it to surpass the revenue of competitors Pure Storage, IBM and Hitachi Vantara during the quarter to vault it into the No. 5 position. The company, he said, is actually just a few million dollars short of crossing NetApp.
“We grew 138 percent in a storage market that grew only 6 percent total,” he said. “We hit records in every part of our storage business, with all-flash sales up over 100 percent, midrange storage up 22 percent, and our TruScale Infrastructure-as-a-Service up 600 percent year-over-year to date.”
IDC Wednesday confirmed in an email to CRN that Lenovo is the top storage vendor for the price bands 1 through 4, which is $25,000 and under and is sometimes referred to as entry-level storage. IDC also said that Lenovo is the No. 5 midrange and larger storage vendor as of third-quarter 2022.
Skaugen said the channel accounted for the vast majority of Lenovo’s storage sales.
“The channel has really embraced us,” he said. “Our sever business grew fast, and the channel recognized the connection between our server and storage business. There’s no need to learn another management system.”
Dave Van Hoy, president of Advanced Systems Group, an Emeryville, Calif.-based solution provider, systems integrator and MSP as well as longtime Lenovo storage partner, said his company has grown to depend on Lenovo storage.
The majority of ASG’s business is with media and entertainment customers, but the company also works with other demanding customers in high-performance computing, biotech and genomics, Van Hoy told CRN.
ASG started working with Lenovo when that vendor formed a strategic relationship with NetApp, which Van Hoy said was and remains a key vendor for his company.
“We were the oddball Lenovo VAR that came to the company through storage, mainly through the NetApp relationship,” he said. “NetApp pioneered a lot of storage and has a significant footprint in [media and entertainment]. We also saw a lot of NetApp people move to Lenovo. [Media and entertainment] is still hardware-centric because it’s all about performance. On-premises is big in this market.”
For Lenovo, a lot of its storage business is tied to hardware, said Stuart McRae, executive director and general manager for Lenovo storage.
“The value we see is delivered by integrated solutions,” he said.
Lenovo views itself not as a software company but as a hardware company, Van Hoy said.
“Lenovo wants software partners,” he said. “This explains its growth. This gives Lenovo an ecosystem that other vendors want to shed. But everything takes hardware. If you want to declare yourself as a top hardware vendor, that gives you major differentiation. We run NetApp Ontap, Quantum StorNext and other storage operating systems on Lenovo hardware. And the thing is, the Lenovo hardware doesn’t care.”
Lenovo Wednesday also introduced two new storage products.
The first, the D4390, is a high-density JBOD (non-RAID, or just a bunch of disks) array for use with software-defined storage. The D4390 replaces an older model to offer up to 6.7 petabytes of capacity in a 16U rack space, compared with 40U of rack space for the previous version.
Also new is the ThinkSystem DM Systems 9.12 storage software release that adds autonomous ransomware protection and tamper-proof snapshots, as well as increases management to help mitigate insider threats with multifactor authentication, requiring authorization from multiple users to make changes, and tamper-proof auditing, he said.