Lenovo launches entry-level block storage arrays

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Lenovo has launched four new hybrid and flash DE arrays, bringing all-NVMe storage to the entry-level market.

At its ThinkInnovation event last week, Lenovo showcased more than 50 products, including new ThinkSystem DE arrays — two hybrid and two all-flash that retail for less than $20,000. The company has also unified its hardware management across its portfolio, cloud and on-premises, bringing it all together under the new XClarity One banner.

Despite the growth of the cloud, very few organizations are divesting their data centers, according to Scott Sinclair, practice director at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), a division of TechTarget. On-premises spending continues to grow, and the entry-level market is no longer a small business with small needs.

“[An SMB] could be a small company with a few employees doing something like animation, and it’s going to need huge capabilities,” Sinclair said. “Small businesses might also need all-flash storage to varying degrees.

Hybrid flash arrays for the entry level

According to Kamran Amini, vice president and general manager of infrastructure solutions at Lenovo, the four new ThinkSystem DE storage arrays unveiled last Wednesday aim to deliver the highest dollar per IOPS to customers. The vendor showcased the DE6400 and DE6600 in flash and hybrid models at the event.

Customers, from entry-level to large enterprise, are all looking for faster insights, Amini said. The new all-flash DE series delivers 2 million IOPS, twice the performance of its predecessor. For capacity, all-flash versions scale up to 1.8 petabytes, and hybrid models scale up to 8PB.

Every organization and almost every application can benefit from NVMe-based flash and the low latencies that come with it.

Scott SinclairPractice Director, Corporate Strategy Group

The all-flash versions of the arrays are all NVMe, an important upgrade for the entry-level market, according to Dave Raffo, principal analyst at Evaluator Group.

“All-NVMe storage is not that important on the low end of the market,” he said.

ESG’s Sinclair said it’s good to see a vendor like Lenovo bring down the price of all-NVMe flash for smaller markets.

“Every organization and almost every application can benefit from NVMe-based flash and the low latencies that come with it,” Sinclair said.

The entire Lenovo line has seen a hardware refresh in anticipation of new AMD and Intel processors. While the storage arrays won’t get the latest generation of processors, more release details will be released at Lenovo’s Tech World event on October 18. Lenovo has not announced when the arrays will be available for purchase.

The entry-level SMB storage market is a rapidly growing storage segment, Raffo said. Lenovo mainly competes with Dell in this market and has gained ground on the other vendor.

“It’s a big market for Lenovo, and it’s growing fast for the vendor – faster than for Dell,” Raffo said.

Unified management

Lenovo has taken its XClarity management-as-a-service offering and unified several types of management under XClarity One, including storage management, Amini said. XClarity was originally designed as a cloud-native service and can now be deployed on-premises.

“Customers don’t want to have multiple management tools based on where devices reside,” Amini said.

In addition to remote management and deployment, XClarity One enables greater automation at edge locations and better customer support through predictive customer notification and remediation, Amini said. XClarity One monitors the hardware, keeping an eye out for issues like low capacity or a failing disk.

Continuous co-development

The high-end ThinkSystem DM and DE series are co-developed by Lenovo and NetApp, Raffo said. The DE series is a combination of Lenovo’s hardware and NetApp’s SANtricity operating system, with XClarity for monitoring.

Raffo highlighted Lenovo’s success with IBM’s x86 server extension. “They’re doing similar work in storage with NetApp,” he said.

Lenovo has a broad reach in certain markets, especially China, where NetApp simply can’t go, Raffo said. It takes proven software from NetApp and delivers it to new customers.

The disadvantage for Lenovo is that it does not control the software. Instead, it sells disparate pieces: its hardware and NetApp’s software, Raffo said. For software innovation, Lenovo would depend on NetApp.

Adam Armstrong is a TechTarget Editorial news writer covering file and block storage hardware and private clouds. He previously worked at StorageReview.com.

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