Lenovo’s TruScale Infrastructure Services offering lets companies rent its data center severs and software stacks and only pay for what they use.
While it’s the latest vendor to offer pay-as-you-go infrastructure — Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) GreenLake portfolio is probably the most established while Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently jumped into the fray with AWS Outposts — Rod Lappin, senior vice president and chief customer officer at Lenovo Data Center Group, says his company’s TruScale Infrastructure Services is ready to take them all on. When asked about HPE Greenlake: “I will kill that!”
Lappin is joking. At least kind of. But he says Lenovo’s data center as-a-service offering has some unique characteristics that set it apart.
TruScale Infrastructure Services
As with other consumption-based models, Lenovo TruScale customers pay a monthly fee. It covers data center hardware, some software from partners including Microsoft Azure, VMware, and Nutanix, and related services. The infrastructure can be located either on premises or at a different customer-preferred location. Users only pay for capacity when their workloads are running, and capacity can be scaled up or down. A real-time dashboard shows billing, usage, and metering, which is based on power consumption.
Lenovo’s ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile product portfolios are available through this offering, which also includes hardware installation, deployment, management, maintenance, and removal. The ThinkSystem line include servers, storage, and networking, while ThinkAgile focuses on software-defined data centers and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).
Unlike some of its competitors’ services, there’s no minimum consumption nor upfront costs. That, along with the metering based on power usage, make Lenovo’s offering different.
“The key here is to deliver cloud-like economics but on premises and without having to make a capex purchase and still enjoying full access to the data and the infrastructure,” said Ben Martin, the executive director and general manager of professional services at Lenovo Data Center Group.
Cloud Versus On Prem
And it comes at a time when the market is “hungry for consumption-based compute,” said Matthew Kimball, a senior analyst who covers data center technologies at Moor Insights & Strategy. “It’s what’s fueled the movement to cloud. Reduce complexity, reduce management, reduce cost, increase agility, which in turn should increase productivity and competitiveness in the marketplace.”
But, cloud costs aren’t always as expected, and multi-cloud usage in some cases has increased complexity.
Plus, data sovereignty laws and industry regulations prohibit some data from being stored in the cloud. “And some applications and data cannot be separated by distance due to latency,” said IDC analyst Rob Brothers. “These solutions still allow cloud features and high-speed connectivity needed for time sensitive data.”
At the same time, this consumption-based model recognizes that servers often sit in data centers, highly underutilized, and new technologies — like storage-class memory, for example — can render older infrastructure obsolete. “In the end, this can cost a business,” Kimball said. “I see Lenovo’s launch of TruScale Infrastructure Service as a recognition of these market dynamics. Put infrastructure on prem. Pay only for what is consumed. Leave all of the heavy lifting to Lenovo or one of its partners. Focus on delivering the applications and services that are going to help a business stay competitive through intelligent transformation.”
That said, Lenovo is entering a crowded sector with tough competition from the likes of HPE, Dell Technologies’ Cloud Flex, Cisco’s Open Pay, Oracle Cloud at Customer, and IBM’s Advanced System Placement.
“Lenovo’s offer is very intriguing to me because they base the metering off power usage, which is very different than the other vendors,” Brothers said. “The question will be, will customers see this much differently than a managed service contract? And will they see the value. As-a-service sounds great, but time will tell if customers will adopt on a large scale.”
Kimball also says he likes Lenovo’s no upfront costs and that TruScale essentially covers all of Lenovo’s data center portfolio, which gives customers choices and flexibility. “I will be looking for TruScale adoption over the next couple of quarters,” he said. “I believe Lenovo was very thoughtful in its foray into consumption-based compute. Now it’s about getting the story out there, driving adoption, and demonstrating value.”
Editor’s note: HPE’s Scott Ramsay, global vice president of HPE GreenLake, emailed a rebuttal to Lenovo after this story posted. Here’s what he has to say about HPE’s consumption-based products:
“HPE GreenLake is a true consumption offer, modeled on the experience that customers get from the cloud. We plan an initial capacity with each customer, we meter actual usage, and customer costs go up or down depending on their usage. With active capacity planning customers can grow over time with capacity available ahead of demand. Because of this, customers save about 30 percent on infrastructure cost by eliminating overprovisioning. In stark comparison, typically a ‘subscription’ offer delivers level payments that could increase over time.”
“HPE GreenLake has been established in the global market for many years and is one of HPE’s fastest growing services. It covers all HPE technologies and services as well as some 3rd party considerations, and can be consumed in units of measure aligned closely with the workloads that are being run. There is no upfront payment and as such, customers can choose to balance flexibility and cost to suit their business needs. We can offer 100 percent elasticity but most customers opt for a ‘reserve and save’ philosophy that is the right balance for their business.”