Friday, April 16, 2021

Lenovo’s Epyc Hyperconverged Strategy

This week AMD launched their latest EPYC record-breaking enterprise processor, the 7003.  Lenovo stepped out early, embracing the announcement, promising up to a 2x performance increase, and positioned it around the message that their solution would improve security and provide a better return on investment than competing offerings.

Lenovo also wrapped the solution with their TruScale as-a-service offering, allowing it to stand out further and backed up its claims with deployments at Hetzner Online (a large European Cloud Service provider) and the University of Florida.

Let’s talk about Lenovo’s strategy here and why this effort might be worth exploring.

Lenovo and Epyc

Lenovo is relatively new to the Hyperconverged space, and this space is primarily defined by companies that want stability and reliability, making the segment challenging to penetrate.  Performance is essential to the segment as well. AMD is also attempting to penetrate this segment, and they have been more focused on ramping performance than Intel over much of the last decade.

This focus by AMD has resulted in a significant increase in potential performance for their new 7003 line of Epyc processors. Still, this performance can’t be realized without design wins in the targeted market.

With both Lenovo and AMD attempting to penetrate the enterprise server segment, this latest Epyc release provided an opportunity for the vendors to partner. This partnership could deliver to AMD a high-profile path to market. Lenovo could differentiate with a relatively unique offering that, for those firms that valued performance highly, could get Lenovo a critical beachhead in this lucrative market.

Critical to establishing this beachhead are reference accounts that had tested the Lenovo/AMD solution to validate Lenovo and AMD’s performance claims. Universities use Hyperconverged solutions for research, and Cloud providers have Hyperconverged resources they rent out to companies as a service, making both ideals for reference accounts.

Consistent with the claims, Hetzner Online GmbH reported its performance doubled without increasing their related energy costs. This gain is far above the 25% improvement in system performance and 15% gain in computational performance increase that Lenovo promises. Europe is driving a substantial green initiative making energy savings nearly as crucial as performance gains, and Hetzner demonstrated both in production.

And because they run the same loads on competing for the hardware, they were more able than most to showcase these performance and energy efficiency benefits in real-time.  Hetzner reported an overall 35% to 50% decrease in energy costs over similar solutions using different processors.

The University of Florida applied the technology to their Supercomputer HiPerGator 3.0 environment, and this new solution now supports 3,000 users across 400 research groups running 1,400 different applications. These research projects are not only mission-critical to the University of Florida; many generate significant revenue for the school, which expressed a preference for the AMD Epyc’s unique high-speed memory architecture.  Research loads are heavily memory intensive.

Together these two reference accounts validated AMD’s performance and scalability capabilities mainly in the featured SR635 and SR 645 servers Lenovo has wrapped around these new AMD Epyc processors.

Finally, taking into account storage, Lenovo launched their ThinkAgile VX Series of Hyperconverged platforms that combine with Nutanix to create a seamless application platform for cloud or on-premise Hyperconverged hybrid solutions. This last mainly looks interesting for sites planning to virtual desktops centrally or in the cloud due to the expected lower latency and higher performance benefits in this platform.

ThinkShield security is, as expected, provided as part of this solution providing a solid security foundation with NIST-SP800-193 platform resiliency, a discrete security processor, and Root of Trust (RoT) hardware to further harden the platform.

Wrapping Up

When penetrating an established market dominated by competitors, it is critical to stand out with a differentiated solution that can establish an equally important beachhead in the market that you can later build on. That is precisely what Lenovo and AMD are doing with this Hyperconverged solution. By explicitly targeting opportunities with high-performance needs while being energy-constrained, they become potentially a favored, rather than challenging, solution for those buyers where this performance need and energy constraint are highly evident.

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