The Data Centre is a treasure where servers, routers, switches and firewalls along with other supporting components reside. It is the central zone for an organization’s IT operations.
Further, there have been many talks about Data Centre Migration and debate about build and buy – Data Centre. So, here we have Vivek Sharma, Managing Director, Data Center Group, Lenovo, India to talk about Lenovo’s DCG Business and their expectations from the Indian Market.
1: What is Lenovo India’s plans for its DCG Business? What would be the focus area and strategy?
In April 2017, Lenovo carved out a separate unit for data centre business. It primarily gave a separate enterprise focus from a data centre perspective. So we have a dedicated digital marketing, dedicated supply chain quality, customer-centric segment, and local channel program.
The same year, in New York, we held a big Transform event which we have followed up with annual events across the globe including in India; The India event happened in Mumbai to introduce Lenovo DCG. Now what we did here is we divided into two parts, one is we have focused on the market from a customer-centric segment overall so the DCG market segment is hyperscale, software-defined, HPC, AI and solution based data centre infrastructure, for example, SAP.
There is a services team – consulting, implementation, services etc. We also launched the largest data centre portfolio with – 26 new platforms, 14 new server platforms, 7 storage platforms were introduced in the form of ThinkSystems and ThinkAgile. Think System is what gives the data centre infrastructure and ThinkAgile is what is available primarily for the hyper-converged and software-defined and Hybrid cloud. For example, solutions with our partners like Nutanix, Vmware, Azure Stack and software-defined storage platforms. That is primarily how Lenovo is structured.
On talking about the strategy used for DCG Business Vivek said, ‘The strategy primarily comes out from Global but it changes from country to country. From a strategy perspective and a market perspective, we position ourselves as a disrupter in the market. We are a brand without a legacy which is why a lot of customers and vendors work with us. We are now positioned as a strategic partner to create a strong technology foundation which can support in the areas of data analytics hyper-performance computing, hyper cloud, AI and Machine learning. That would primarily be our focus and strategy as we go further into 2018 building upon what we launched in 2017’.
2: What is your channel strategy for the Indian market?
Vivek also discussed the Channel strategy of Lenovo. He stated, ‘Channel has always been a key enabler from a Lenovo perspective. We have been and will continue to be a channel-first company. As we transform and introduce a new transformed DCG, it is also paving the way to a new era. For example, almost 90% of our business is growing through the channel in the Asia Pacific and that will continue to be so. We have recently announced a slew of GTMs and channel enabling initiatives from a perspective to strengthen them further. We can then leverage on a channel network from a distribution perspective and as a customer facing partner across India and the Asia Pacific perspective.
‘To primarily support the strategy from a channel perspective, we have introduced support and customised solutions from both incentives and rebates for marketing. We launched Lenovo AP Partner Portal to streamline all our engagements with our partners through one single platform. In the month of May, we had almost 700 signups from India alone. This comes as a sales and management tool along with marketing content and training to our partners. Further, it becomes an incentive for them as it shows how Lenovo adds value to partnerships’.
3: What are your expectations from the Indian Market?
Vivek said that Lenovo has high expectations from the Indian Market. He remarked, ‘From a DCG perspective, we are more inclined to B2B enterprises, from PC and mobile group they make a separate play on the consumer side. Though, the expectation from overall is high, taking into consideration the digitalisation program by the government of India with the cashless societies. The push that the government is putting on digitalisation and how the enterprises want to grow. There are opportunities from a perspective of how this all plays out overall’.
4: How Lenovo is performing when compared to its competitors and what were the developments that took place in the last year?
When asked about performance and development, this is what Vivek said, ‘Lenovo does not report separate country numbers but if we go back and look at it from the perspective of the launch of the DCG; we had focused on enterprise and I think it is staying on. Our wins are more from the perspectives of solutions, be it in the hyper-converged or hybrid cloud. We have had good successes from HPC and SAP perspective in the country on infrastructure rollouts. I think the strategy that was put in rollout has fallen into place’.
5: What technical advantages make Lenovo stand ahead in the line when compared to its competitors?
According to Vivek, the technology of Lenovo and the fact that it has no legacy makes it unique and stand ahead.
He said, ‘We provide an end-to-end solution and When I say end-to-end solution delivering performance and agility, we call it future proofing solution. We now have a portfolio that spans over storage converged, hyper-converged networking, and hyper-scale software services and coupled with ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile. We now have everything from an entry-level server to the highest end from an HPC and AI.
‘The second thing is that the Think System series that we have launched, we hold 88 performance world records and the most awarded on the Intel processors launched to any data centre business and these are in areas of business processing, areas of data analytics, technical computing etc.
‘The other part of this is taking the data centre infrastructure and giving a client based solution on a ThinkAgile platform for the hybrid cloud. For example – Azure stack or Nutanix on the HCI. The other part of it is that our focus from a perspective of R&D, for example, we are investing 1.2 billion dollars in AI over the next five years. This will include 3 AI innovation centres in North Carolina, Germany and China. So that primarily comes from the perspective of technical advantages that makes us stand apart.
‘Lenovo DCG has no legacy. From a perspective of customer satisfaction, for example, we have been ranked by TBR, which is an independent organisation and does an independent survey as the No.1 vendor in customer satisfaction for 6 consecutive years. We also received the highest score in 22 attributes including hardware reliability, hardware quality, cost efficiency etc. during the survey.
‘Also what differentiates us is, of course, technology and supply chain, we are amongst the top 25 supply chain companies, this is not just supplied chains for IT companies, this is supply chain for companies across verticals. This gives us a huge advantage on how we deliver to customers.
‘ITIC carried out a reliability survey on servers and we have been in the top for 4 years consecutively’.
6: What can be expected from Lenovo in the year- 2018?
In 2018, Lenovo would be more on HPC and AI. Vivek said, ‘With the money that we have committed in AI perspective, you would see us more and more in the areas of data transformation. What we find is that the days when you refresh a data centre from end-to-end are pretty much over. The data centres are slowly but surely moving workload by workload. You would see us a lot more from the perspective of marrying the hybrid cloud solutions and the data centres. As we go along in the coming months, we will be focusing on more and more on the above areas. We will play across hyper-converged, hyper cloud, hybrid cloud, HPC and AI’.