Today, Lenovo and NetApp announced a new partnership collaborating to deliver IT data center solutions, which at least for now, is focused on enterprise storage. This new partnership has tremendous potential for both companies. Lenovo gets a partner to co-develop solutions for the robust and growing hybrid/all-flash array storage market; a partner that won’t be going away (or getting bought) any time soon. NetApp gets a possible path into emerging markets in Asia and a partner with a robust X86 server portfolio. It is a win-win.
The newly announced fruits of the collaboration, the Lenovo ThinkSystem DE and DM storage families, are not simple re-brands, though. Lenovo has integrated its own technology with these new arrays via some collaborative development. Both the ThinkSystem DE and DM families are supported by Lenovo’s XClarity Administrator, which consolidates the management of ThinkSystem servers, networking, and storage. The net result is consolidated data center manageability, a central point of management much needed in today’s highly complex IT environments.
How much actual success the two companies achieve, though, will be determined by execution. These types of alliances have arisen multiple times in IT, some more successful than others. Often, it is the day-to-day interaction between the sales and support teams that determines the extent of success achieved. Are both sales teams properly incentivized to cooperate rather than compete? Are the support teams from both companies properly motivated to collaborate and deliver a quality customer experience? From everything I have seen, the answer is yes to both questions. While this will be something to monitor moving forward, it is in both companies’ best interest long-term to make sure this partnership is successful.
Additionally, the cross development present in the new ThinkSystem arrays is not something that either company would undertake unless they both had long-term plans to make the partnership successful.
As much as this partnership is a business decision for both companies, ultimately, it is a win for IT consumers and Lenovo’s customers, as a new portfolio of storage innovations emerges, one with end-to-end manageability.