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In pursuit of the future data centre

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Kathy Gibson at Lenovo’s MEA Summit, Cape Town – CIOs around the world share a number of challenges: the need to do more with less, a need to perform analytics, and the dilemma of how to move to the cloud.
Wilfredo Sotolongo, vice-president and GM: data centre group and global accounts at Lenovo MEA, points out that the industry has been trying to address the problem of greater agility and performance with less cost for at least 10 years.
“We have addressed it by virtualising everything,” he says. This started with server virtualisation, moved to storage with hyperconvergence; and now embraces the full software-defined data centre.
“Until you virtualise every aspect of the data centre, you don’t get the true value of the cloud model,” Sotolongo says. “Our strategy is to push the envelope, creating SDDC strategies with every platform so the customer can deploy a flexible infrastructure on premise that allows them to burst to the cloud quickly and flexibly.”
Lenovo has shipped 20-million servers. “So we have a long heritage of understanding the heritage of the data centre and understanding your needs,” Sotolongo says.
The company has three factories for data centre products, including one in Europe. “The company is investing in this business; leveraging the infrastructure of the PC business to lower the costs.”
The company focuses on a number of priorities: reliability, performance and high-end technologies, Sotolongo says.
“But we haven’t been doing it only now. We have been doing it forever. This is the team that invented blade serves, that invented in-memory technologies, that invented warm water high-performance computing.
“Going forward, we are going to innovate differently from our competitors,” he says. “Without innovation we cannot add value.”
Lenovo will try to be a solution provider to everything in the data centre, Sotolongo adds. “This doesn’t work if you are invested in layers of technology — it makes it harder to change. Since we don’t have a legacy it is easy to change.
“A data centre is nothing more than building blocks of hardware that you put skins around — skins around compute, storage, networking. Then what matters is the software you put on top of it.”
Lenovo accomplished this by partnering with best of breed suppliers.
“We are challenging the status quo; challenging you to think about the data centre of a few years to come — and start putting the building blocks in place now.”
Lenovo recently added its new Think Systems server, storage and networking building blocks.
They are the foundation for the ThinkAgile family of fully-integrated version cloud business models that can be installed on-premise. They include all the necessary hardware, software and services.
Two ThinkAgile systems will ship iin the next couple of weeks: for Nutanix hyperconvergence and for Microsoft Azure.
Lenovo is also working with VMware on hyperconverged solutions, and will offer vCloud as an appliance within a few months.
ThinkSystem includes 14 new systems with new architecture designed and built for future-defined data centres, from racks, towers, blades, mission-critical servers and dense optimised systems.
They are all managed with the same common framework, XClarity, and are the same building blocks that are used in the ThinkAgile solutions.
Sotolongo summarises, saying Lenovo believes the future of the data centre is software defined.
“We believe that focusing on software, and integrating with best of breed software, we will help customer differentiate the way they run their data centres and achieve economies of scale and agility that can currently only be found in the cloud.”
A recent case study saw the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre deploy 3 200 nodes, creating the world’s largest cluster using the new Intel CPU and running at 11,1 petaflops.
But this is by no mean the only massive Intel deployment from Lenovo — at least two other sites are already underway, Sotolongo says.