Partners central to Lenovo India’s data centre strategy

As Managing Director of Lenovo’s Data Centre Group in India, Vivek Sharma has a clear vision for the company’s push to be the provider of choice for next generation data centres.

Lenovo Apr 23rd 2018

IBM had a formidable track record in the x86 market. What has changed since Lenovo acquired that business? 

We have maintained the track record for solid reliability and performance built by IBM over many years, while extending the product lines to be stronger and broader. 

We formed the Lenovo Data Centre Group to address the needs we were hearing from our enterprise customers, integrating IBM System x in 2014 to create an industry-leading portfolio of server capabilities, networking and storage offerings

Building on that, we recently launched the most comprehensive DCG portfolio, including 14 server platforms, seven storage offerings and five network switches. We now have two new brands —ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile, and they’ve already achieved 88 benchmark records across the portfolio – the highest in the industry.

What are some of the achievements you’re most proud of?

I’m incredibly proud that Lenovo has ranked #1 in ITIC Reliability Survey for x86 for five years running, as well as #1 in BW/4HANA performance.

We’ve also strengthened our position in the high-performance computing (HPC) space by becoming the #2 vendor in the world in terms of total systems included on the TOP500 list. 

Of the TOP500 supercomputing installations worldwide, Lenovo now powers nearly 100 of the largest super computers on the planet making us a large and fast growing supercomputing supplier on the world stage and a key partner in the growing marketplace of artificial intelligence.

What trends in data centres are you are seeing in India?

Deploying storage solutions for HPC, Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics and cloud environments are some of the key technology trends dramatically reshaping the data center market globally.

As a result, we’re seeing truly huge growth – according to IDC, worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies is expected to reach US$1.3 trillion in 2018. 

Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) is the second largest spender, with spending expected to reach US$412 billion in 2018. 

Why is Lenovo a channel first company? 

Channel has always been a key enabler from a Lenovo perspective. We have been and will continue to be a channel-first company. 

As we transform and introduce our new data centre group, we’re paving the way to a new era for Lenovo and our partners. Almost 90% of our business is growing through the channel in the Asia Pacific and that will continue to be so. 

We have recently announced a slew of GTMs and channel-enabling initiatives designed to strengthen our channel further. We see partners as being key for both distribution and customer-facing solution design across India and the Asia Pacific.

What are some of Lenovo’s recent initiatives to support the channel?

To primarily support the strategy from a channel perspective, we have introduced support and customised solutions from both incentives and rebates for marketing. We launched Lenovo AP Partner Portal to streamline all our engagements with our partners through one single platform. 

In just one month, we had almost 700 signups from India alone. The Portal provides sales and management tools along with marketing content and training to our partners.

How can Lenovo enable its channel partners to deliver transformational technology better?

We understand that digital transformation is a journey and our trusted solution providers are best positioned to help our customers navigate this and stay ahead of their competition. 

Continuing the dialogue with our partners is of utmost priority. We are 100% committed to the growth and future of our channel partnerships and as part of that commitment, we are focused on listening and taking on board feedback from our partners. 

We recently kicked off a quarterly survey to better understand what our partners would like to see on our Lenovo Partner Portal. We also created the Lenovo Partner Community to gain insights from partners on three broad areas—channel insights, products and solutions, and marketing. 

At the same time, Lenovo looks at each customer and their trigger to implement customised customer-centric applications quickly. Lenovo enables partners to see that the customer is benefitting with a transparent true solution which makes sense. 

As a vendor, Lenovo comes with no legacy and with no agenda. We are open and focused entirely on our customer needs. Right now customers need agility. 

What kind of support does Lenovo give to its authorised partners? And how is that different from what competitors offer the same partners? 

Firstly, choice. We have an open ecosystem of partnerships that enables us to offer the best end-to-end solutions.

In terms of competition, we innovate with leading industry partners and work with to enable our partners to strengthen our joint offerings

We don’t have heavy legacy ties; we don’t lock our customers into rigid proprietary architecture or software and we don’t have a legacy business to protect. 

We have a globally recognised data center supply chain that ensures quality for our customers. In fact we have been recognised for our supply chain leadership and best practices by Gartner, in its annual Global Supply Chain Top 25 ranking. Our high-velocity data center supply chain and manufacturing in our global factories equate to better quality and supply chain security for customers

Reliability and Performance: We are committed to innovation that drives superior customer experience with an intense focus on increasing performance, reliability and sustainability.

We’re very focused on providing responsive support. Lenovo India has a unique escalation policy: any issues that aren’t resolved within 72 hours are raised to Sumir Bhatia, President, AP DCG, who personally steps in to remove any bottlenecks on our end. 

We launched the Premier Support for data center products as a new customer service troubleshooting and management model for the India market, tailored for our ThinkAgile and ThinkSystem solutions.

As one of the world’s top tier data center specialist suppliers, you must have a very clear sense of what’s important to customers. Can you talk a bit about that? 

Sure. Every customer has a trigger. Lenovo looks at implementing customer-centric applications for our customers quickly – efficiency is everything. 

Customers need to see they are benefiting from a solution which makes sense and that as a vendor we are being completely transparent with them. 

We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. We enable our customers’ success by going above and beyond to deliver the highest standards of solutions and services.

What’s the customer’s advantage when choosing to go with Lenovo for their business over competitors like Dell and HPE? 

As I mentioned earlier, I think the fact that Lenovo Data Centre Group is a young organization is a huge advantage: we don’t have a legacy business to protect from new advancements in technology that might be lower cost or higher efficiency. We don’t lock customers into rigid proprietary architecture or software – we’re simply focused on showing customers what can provide them with a competitive edge. 

Increasingly, customers are not just interested in cloud but also areas like AI and machine learning, and this is where Lenovo really help customers. 

And of course – Lenovo technology leads the market in reliability, ranking number one for the past five years based on an independent study.
 

Find out how ThinkSystem helps these partners.