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Lenovo launches entry-level block storage arrays

Lenovo has released to the entry-level market new all-flash and hybrid arrays, which provide companies with a boost in previous performance, and has unified hardware management.

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

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

As much growth as there is in the cloud, very few organizations are divesting from 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 firm with small needs.

"[An SMB] could be a small firm with a few employees that do something like animation, and it will need tremendous amounts of capacity," Sinclair said. "Smaller firms could also need all-flash storage to varying degrees."

Hybrid, flash arrays for the entry level

The four new ThinkSystem DE storage arrays unveiled last Wednesday are aimed at delivering the highest dollar per IOPS to customers, according to Kamran Amini, vice president and general manager of infrastructure solutions at Lenovo. The vendor introduced the DE6400 and the DE6600 in both flash and hybrid models at the event.

Customers from the entry level to the 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, the all-flash versions scale up to 1.8 petabytes, and the hybrid models can go up to 8 PB.

Every organization and nearly every application can benefit from NVMe-based flash and the low latencies that come with it.
Scott SinclairPractice director, Enterprise Strategy Group

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

"All-NVMe storage is not that prominent on the low end of the market," he said.

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

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

The entire Lenovo lineup saw a hardware refresh in anticipation of the new AMD and Intel CPUs. While the storage arrays won't get the latest generation of processors, more details about the release will come out at Lenovo's Tech World event on Oct. 18. Lenovo has not announced when the arrays will be available to purchase.

Entry level to the SMB storage market is a rapidly growing storage segment, Raffo said. Lenovo primarily competes with Dell in this market and has been gaining ground on the other vendor.

"It is a big market for Lenovo, and it is growing fast for the vendor -- faster than it is for Dell," Raffo said.

Unified management

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

"Customers do not want to have multiple management tools based on where the devices reside," Amini said.

Aside from remote management and deployment, XClarity One enables more 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 such as running out of capacity or a failed disk.

Continuing co-development

The higher-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 OS, with XClarity for monitoring.

Raffo pointed to Lenovo's success with expanding IBM's x86 server. "They are doing a similar job in storage with NetApp," he said.

Lenovo has a large reach into certain markets, specifically in China, where NetApp just can't get to, Raffo said. This takes NetApp's proven software and delivers it to new customers.

The drawback for Lenovo is that it isn't controlling the software. It is instead selling disparate parts: its hardware and NetApp's software, Raffo said. For software innovation, Lenovo would be depending on NetApp.

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

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