Today, Lenovo and Nimble Storage announced a joint partnership, furthering the capabilities and the reach of both companies. The near–term product offering that results from the partnership will be Lenovo’s ThinkAgile CX converged system available on October 28th, with Nimble providing the storage element. From a business perspective, the deal makes so much sense for both companies; the real question may be what took them so long.
First, let’s start with the obvious benefits. Lenovo gets access to Nimble’s Predictive Flash technology for its converged offering, rounding out its storage portfolio and adding a larger scale converged offering to pair with its existing hyperconverged solutions from the partnership with Nutanix. Nimble Storage gains access to Lenovo’s substantial enterprise sales channel. While the immediate impact will likely be a boost in revenue for both companies, this partnership looks like it goes beyond the simple reselling of technology.
According to the announcement, “Lenovo plans to integrate its XClarity infrastructure management software with Nimble InfoSight which leverages predictive analytics to automate the support experience. The two companies will work together in creating 'self-healing' system management capabilities across the entire data center infrastructure, including storage, compute, and networking.” Those two sentences likely contain countless hours of joint engineering development. Investing development resources often, but not always, implies there is a longer term plan in the works. Additionally, the announcement went on to refer to the ThinkAgile CX Series solution as “the first” offering that will benefit from the partnership, further implying there may be a second already in mind. In other words, it is easy to speculate that this announcement may simply be the first of many to come.
At a more strategic level, this move extends Lenovo’s list of storage portfolio additions this year. Over the summer, Lenovo announced a couple of software-defined-storage-enabled solutions via partnerships with Nexenta and Cloudian. The emerging theme in Lenovo’s strategy seems to be one of partnerships. Each new partnership expands Lenovo storage and IT solution portfolio, opening up new opportunities. Additionally, leveraging a partnership model enables Lenovo to pick and choose the optimal storage vendors as it sees opportunities emerge. And in an era of rapid innovation in storage, a strategy that enables Lenovo to remain agile in what types of products it can offer may in fact be the most prudent. Only time will tell if Lenovo plans to stick with the partnership theme and continue to add more partners as innovations emerge or demands change, or if it decides to deepen its relationship with one or more of the partners it already has. In the meantime, Lenovo and Nimble, as well as their customers, will be the beneficiaries of this newly formed union.