Lenovo's Storage Strategy Takes 'Another Dart' From HPE's Nimble Acquisition

The list of vendors that have technology partnerships with Lenovo has again become shorter, as Hewlett Packard Enterprise is now set to scoop up Nimble Storage.

HPE's prospective $1 billion acquisition of Nimble Storage effectively ends Lenovo's relationship with the flash technology startup, and leaves the Beijing, China-based data center newcomer without a key partner as it forges ahead with plans to introduce all-flash storage offerings this year.

"Customers want a one-stop shop, but in Lenovo's case, their storage solutions aren't as high end as some other solutions, and Nimble going to HPE throws another dart at them," said Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., solution provider that works with Lenovo and other major vendors.

[RelatedCRN Exclusive: HPE's Antonio Neri Discusses Nimble Storage Acquisition And Nimble's Lenovo And Cisco Relationships]

"It's a challenge," Goldstein said. "They have to come up with something. We don't see too many built-from-scratch things. Most customers are looking for server matched to storage. They still have the option of maybe forming a relationship with NetApp; they seem to be the only independent storage manufacturer left in that top tier. You have to have some offering. Clients will stick with their brands unless they have a reason not to, so a Lenovo customer is going to take whatever recommendations are coming from Lenovo."

Lenovo declined to comment to CRN on the impact of the Nimble acquisition.

When Lenovo's Nimble relationship was announced in October, the company said it would start shipping its ThinkAgile converged infrastructure including Nimble storage technology the same month. It also said it planned to introduce additional flash storage systems based on Nimble technology in the first half of this year.

This week, Lenovo said that the Nimble partnership is ending before it really started. "The relationship was in its early stages. As such, there is virtually no impact on either our customers or product portfolio," a Lenovo spokesman said in a statement.

While the barely four-month-old Nimble partnership had not yet begun to bear fruit, Lenovo nevertheless said in the statement that its agility and ability to "adapt quickly to any market developments" would allow the company remain on track to introduce flash storage products this year.

The Nimble acquisition is just the latest in a series of moves initiated by its biggest competitors -- HPE and Dell EMC -- that have impacted Lenovo.

Most recently HPE closed its acquisition of SimpliVity, and put Lenovo – along with Huawei and Cisco – on notice that their respective relationships with the darling of the burgeoning hyper-convergence market would end.

The Lenovo-SimpliVity relationship had been in place since August 2015 and allowed Lenovo to offer SimpliVity's software-defined, hyper-converged infrastructure on Lenovo's x3650 server with the two firms splitting go-to-market and marketing responsibilities.

Only about a month before it signed its agreement with Nimble, Lenovo's four-year-old strategic partnership with EMC effectively came to an end when the data storage giant was acquired by Dell. Under their partnership, EMC and Lenovo jointly developed reference architectures for converged infrastructure and Lenovo was able to OEM certain EMC storage products.

Lenovo also has storage relationships with hyper-convergence heavy-hitter Nutanix, Pivot3, StorMagic, Cloudian and Nexenta Systems.

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