Friday, 06 November 2020 16:36

Lenovo looks towards a post-COVID world

Lenovo data centre group Asia Pacific president Sumir Bhatia Lenovo data centre group Asia Pacific president Sumir Bhatia

2020 has shown the importance of thinking in terms of 'smart normal' rather than 'new normal,' suggested Lenovo data centre group Asia Pacific president Sumir Bhatia.

The need to adapt very quickly to pandemic conditions has tested organisations' technical capabilities. Those that could do so have thrived; those that couldn't have struggled, he observed.

Lenovo started on this course a few years ago, Bhatia said, but the pandemic accelerated progress. Technology allowed organisations to move forward and find stability in chaos, and Lenovo's data centre group (DCG) has been helping customers, suppliers and even other parts of Lenovo.

Data is more important than ever, he said, and organisations need to focus on edge, cloud and data centre systems.

Retail, manufacturing, transportation and health are among the sectors showing particular interest in edge computing, and Bhatia thinks this interest will only grow with the rollout of 5G, as increased connectivity will lead to more data.

Recent Lenovo products such as the ThinkSystem SE350 provide "all the horsepower [needed] at the edge," he told iTWire.

For multi-cloud deployments, the company's ThinkAgile appliances are available for Microsoft Azure Stack, VMware and Nutanix.

And the ThinkAgile and ThinkSystems series are suitable for conventional data centre deployment.

"This is resonating with our customers," said Bhatia.

A significant number of Lenovo's Australian enterprise and SME customers have already migrated to the cloud, eg for VDI, said Lenovo data centre group ANZ general manager Nathan Knight.

Now, they want to increase their efficiency and productivity – and gain greater insights – by adopting multi-cloud and edge technologies.

There's lots of talk about 'pivoting', he said, and that typically involved deploying technology to enable new moves.

Consequently, customers are upskilling in order to optimise their use of resources.

The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously had an effect.

Initially, organisations looked for short-term fixes to support working from home, said Bhatia. That involved buying notebooks, setting up VDI, creating additional virtual instances, and addressing licensing, security and connectivity issues,

In some cases, that was done remarkably quickly: one customer was able to do all this in about four days with the help of Lenovo's service team, he said.

Organisations are now taking a longer term view. Some expect working from home to continue for another year, so they are looking to optimise their hybrid environments.

It's a bit like dealing with a hole in the roof, Bhatia suggested. You start by patching it so the rain stops coming in, then you move on to a more permanent repair.

A major attraction of cloud systems is the combination of elasticity and a pay-as-you-go financial model. Lenovo offers a true opex model for on-premises equipment, and "this is something that's resonating [with customers]," he said.

The combination of consumption-based pricing with on-premises deployment provides the benefits of both public and private clouds, observed Knight.

Another challenge facing organisations is to make sense of all the data they are collecting, perhaps by applying AI.

Lenovo is the world's number one high-performance computing vendor, said Bhatia, and midrange organisations are starting to take advantage of such capabilities.

Making better use of data is part of the transformation into a post-COVID world which is likely to involve higher levels of automation. Concepts such as checkout-free stores means more processing is carried out at the edge, and as workplaces become increasingly decentralised it is less appropriate to have all the infrastructure at the core.

Mining is another industry that's increasingly using edge computing, said Knight, so some of Lenovo's edge devices are both 5G enabled and ruggedised.

IoT is about getting insights from data, said Bhatia, and the technology is spreading from logistics to retail and healthcare. Lenovo is investing in IoT, and helping customers generate insights from data locally and then making them available across the organisation are among the company's key focuses, he said.

"You need invisible infrastructure," which means it has to be very reliable. An independent organisation has rated Lenovo number one for reliability five years running, he said.

Speed to market is another important consideration, and Lenovo has a strong supply chain, Bhatia claimed. A related issue is speed to solution, and the company addresses that by working with partners such as VMware, Microsoft and Nutanix in order to release appliances quickly even though they are tuned to run particular software. Lenovo holds more than 150 benchmark records across Intel and AMD processors and a variety of applications, he added.

"We're making sure we provide these solutions to our customers."

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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