Lenovo ThinkAgile For Microsoft Azure Stack: 5 Key Points For Partners

ThinkAgile For Microsoft Azure Stack

Lenovo this month is releasing the ThinkAgile for Microsoft Azure Stack, a convergence appliance designed to give customers the convenience of public cloud with the control of on-premise offerings. It pits the Beijing, China-based data center upstart against legacy hardware vendors such as Dell EMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Microsoft recently provided the third technical preview trial of Azure Stack and is expected to offer it as an appliance through Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo beginning in mid-2017. Microsoft is expected to bring Azure Stack to other OEMs as well. Because it's offered as an appliance, the rationale goes, customers are able to focus on deploying cloud services rather than on infrastructure.

Lenovo does the vast majority of its business through the channel and said partners can pitch the ThinkAgile for Microsoft Azure Stack as a way to deploy cloud services from a customer's own data center. Here are five key points for partners about the appliance.

Ready To Deploy

The ThinkAgile infrastructure is a turnkey, rack-scale hybrid cloud offering that comes pre-integrated and pre-engineered. Lenovo said it arrives ready to install with all features and deployment services included. The emphasis on openness and flexibility is part of Lenovo's drive to promote what it calls "legacy-free thinking," its push to convince customers that have traditionally used Dell EMC, HPE and other stalwart infrastructure companies to give Lenovo a shot.

Serving Up The Server

The foundation of the appliance is Lenovo's x3650 M5 2U compute and storage node. The storage-dense x3650 comes with two Intel Xeon E5-2600 v4 series processors, a high-performance caching tier of four Intel SSDs and a data tier of eight HDDs. Two additional data tier HDDs are available, along with two mirrored boot drives. Each node is designed with high-speed, dual-port 10/25GbE Mellanox ConnectX-4 network adapters.

Networking Power

The offering includes Lenovo's RackSwitch G8272 10 GbE enterprise switch. The switch provides line-rate, high-bandwidth switching, filtering and traffic queuing and includes large data center-grade buffers to help keep data moving. The switch includes hot-swap redundant power supplies and fans for resiliency.

The Opportunity For Selling Services

Lenovo offers a full services portfolio for the Lenovo ThinkAgile infrastructure. Last year, the company boosted its incentives for selling servers from 1.5 percent to 5 percent and introduced its "Partner Sold, Partner Delivered" program, which pays partners up front to offer and sell Lenovo services under their own brand.

Riding The DevOps Wave

Lenovo said the ThinkAgile for Microsoft Azure Stack appliance helps customers take a common DevOps approach across the hybrid cloud environment. Using on-premise deployment tools and services, developers can build applications once and deploy them to either public or private environments. Azure Stack uses the same app model, portal APIs and pre-built resource management automation tools as Azure public cloud.