CIOs across the enterprise have begun to realize the immense potential of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). The possibilities unlocked by a software-defined infrastructure has now enabled IT leaders to focus more on driving innovation and business growth, eliminating the necessity to invest time and resource in running IT infra.
In an exclusive interaction with Ashish Taneja, Channel Head, India - Data Center Group at Lenovo, he talks about how the software defined infrastructure, through HCI is seeing rapid uptake in the Indian market, and how innovation will be driven by emerging technologies like AI, IoT and blockchain.
How do you see Lenovo’s datacenter business growth in 2019? Where do you foresee the growth coming from?
For Lenovo DCG, we have seen immense traction for software defined infrastructure (SDI) through hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). The customers today are mature and realize the potential and benefits of HCI. They are now evaluating their datacenter infrastructure as they look to refresh their datacenter from legacy, older infrastructure to more workload-based infrastructure, where they can then take advantage of the benefits of SDI.
The other growth area is HPC/AI where we have seen the increase in smaller deals. We have seen a movement from USD 30-40 million to smaller deals from corporates. Additionally, while AI is still in its nascent stage and corporates are still working on the blueprint for implementation, we see lot of growth in AI this year.
Today, 17 of the top 25 research universities and institutions across the globe use our comprehensive AI and HPC solutions. In India, we have worked with The Liquid Propulsion System Centre under the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), using our Direct to Node warm water-cooling technology.
We have also committed USD 1.2 billion in R&D investment to help bring AI to life for customers, which includes the Lenovo Intelligent Computing Orchestration (LiCO)—a software solution designed to overcome challenges for customers implementing multi-user environments using clusters for both HPC workflows and AI development. We plan to ride the wave and expect to be among the top three players of the world.
What challenges do you anticipate, given the fact that numerous companies in the country are still invested in legacy infra?
We want to be the most trusted datacenter provider in the industry, and are working with customers to solve their most challenging business problems—to be more agile. We understand that it is important to understand the customer’s goals and their need for change.
As for Lenovo DCG, a challenge we might face is that we are a late entrant into an established channel ecosystem and hence we need to pick the right partners for our GTM. At our size and stage of business, our choice of partners and longevity with them will decide our success going forward.
“While AI is still in its nascent stage and corporates are still working on the blueprint for implementation, we see lot of growth in AI this year.”
How does Lenovo plan to engage and assist its channel partners this year?
Our goal is to be the partner of choice. We believe in working closely with our channel partners by providing them with tools to focus on their specialization, be it AI or HPC. We want to help our channels partners succeed by enabling them to stay relevant and future-proof their business via continuous dialogue. Our channel strategy is also curated to make it easy for partners to grow with us through co-marketing, co-selling, and enablement. We are continually improving our infrastructure and processes to promote ease of doing business with channel partners.
Lenovo DCG’s self-service digital marketing tool, Digital Campaign Studio, offers our channel partners access to solution campaigns and co-marketing assets for their marketing efforts on our single platform Lenovo Partner Portal (LPP), in turn enhancing operational efficiency.
The Lenovo Bid Portal, an enhanced tool that will contain useful pricing, quotations and deal registration information all on a single platform, was also recently launched. This tool will bring down the time needed for partners to get their quotes approved.
What are the technology trends that can impact channel partners? How is Lenovo aligning to these trends?
Considering that customers are consolidating their cloud, it translates to how hybrid cloud is going to impact businesses in a positive way. We have also mentioned how SDN, HPC and AI are going to be in vogue in 2019. As part of industry 4.0, new innovative processes and developments will be combined with new technologies such as AI, IoT, and blockchain. This revolution is changing business models and strategies across industries, and the key to success is having a strategy to improve efficiency and competitiveness.
“Channel partners will need to ensure that they are updated and are able to build on their specialization to add value to customers.
There is going to be an overall transition where we will see enterprises replenish their hardware that will help to select their solution application. These trends mean that channel partners will need to ensure that they are updated and are able to build on their specialization to add value to customers.
If there is one key message you have for your partners for 2019, what would it be?
Lenovo DCG is a channel-first company with 90 percent of business coming from our channel partners. As such, we continually review our partner programs as part of our goal of promoting ease of doing business with channel partners. As part of our commitment to the growth and future of our channel partnerships in Asia Pacific, and as part of that commitment, we are focused on listening and taking on feedback from our partners.
To do this, we created the Lenovo Partner Community to gain insights from partners on three broad areas—channel insights, products and solutions, and marketing.