Rock & Roll, Servers And Hyper-Converged: 6 Scenes From Lenovo's Accelerate Partner Forum

Lenovo Does Orlando

It's an interesting time for Lenovo. Its PC business is tops worldwide, but its fledgling data center business trails its competitors' by wide margins. The company's storage/server pact with EMC is also ending after four years.

Lenovo does about 85 percent of its business through the channel, and its recent Accelerate Partner Forum in Orlando, Fla., attracted about 1,200 partners eager to learn about the company's data center strategy and check out some hot new products.

Lenovo execs did all this with a healthy sense of humor, even using a comedian to emcee the conference's general session. Click through to see six eye-catching scenes from the conference.

Introducing Emilio

Emilio Ghilardi was made president of Lenovo North America in April, taking over for Aymar de Lencquesaing, who took over as chairman and president of the company's Motorola Mobility unit and co-president of its mobile business. "We're No. 1 in the world in the PC market, and we've done it with our channel-centric strategy," Ghilardi told partners. "As happy as we are with our success in PCs, and as happy as we are with our success, this is not enough," he said. "We have a bigger vision … to be the only player in the market that can span from mobility to PCs to the infrastructure market."

Cheerleading For The Lenovo/Nutanix Partnership

Chris Morgan, Nutanix vice president of channel and distribution, took the stage during the Accelerate general session to tout Nutanix's partnership with Lenovo. "Every legacy vendor out there has decided that they too are a hyper-converged vendor," Morgan said. But Nutanix was attracted to Lenovo because it has "a natural aggressiveness to change the status quo. Lenovo wants to be leading that change, not trying to slow the customer down," Morgan said, and the two companies share a vision for going to market almost entirely through the channel. "We are both interested in the value the channel provides," Morgan said.

SimpliVity's Presence Is Felt

As if to underscore the hyper-competitive nature of the hyper-converged infrastructure market, SimpliVity, a hyper-converged startup and key Nutanix competitor, also had a presence at Lenovo's Accelerate event. Lenovo and SimpliVity struck a deal last August that allows Lenovo to offer SimpliVity's hyper-converged solutions on SystemX servers, which Lenovo bought from IBM about a year and a half ago. Lenovo also has hyper-converged partnerships with Pivot3 and StorMagic.

Server Strategy Includes Pushing Down Prices

Joshua Jankowsky, a Lenovo senior technology sales engineer, gave channel partners a rundown of the company's server strategy, which includes several discounts and a stress on speed to quote and simplicity as Lenovo phases out older lines in favor of X-series products it acquired from IBM about 18 months ago. "We know the data center isn't about selling products," Jankowsky said. "It's about selling solutions." Jankowsky said Lenovo plans to push prices on certain System X servers down to the level of some existing ThinkServer lines.

Kicking The Tires On Lenovo Laptops

Lenovo's stable of laptops, tablets and 2-in-1s drew crowds to the show floor. The company was busy touting its flagship X1 Carbon line, which includes the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, a Microsoft Surface rival that was updated earlier this year to be thinner and lighter, as well as a line of tablets intended for battle with Apple's iPad Pro.

A Stand-Up Conference

Comedian Rob Schiffmann pulled Lenovo partners out of the audience to play instruments on stage, performed a tune with North America Channel Chief Sammy Kinlaw and replaced the lyrics of well-known rock songs with clever quips like "forget Dell, we sell data center much better," and "She's buying the stairway to Lenovo."