Virtualization is the common thread connecting cloud computing, hybrid cloud, integrated systems and hyperconverged appliances. From its first appearance in the late 1960s (in IBM’s S/360 mainframes) to massive deployments of commoditized servers today, virtualization addressed a still-common problem—the wide disparity between system performance and application requirements.
In short, servers had (and have) far more compute capacity than applications demand. Virtualization enables compute resources to be logically divided into virtual machines capable of simultaneously supporting numerous individual applications and workloads. That makes great good sense technologically and economically.
So, it’s no surprise virtualization technologies like those from VMware are also at the heart of cloud computing, including hybrid cloud solutions like Lenovo’s new ThinkAgile VX Series of hyperconverged appliances. Let’s consider that further.
Virtualization and the cloud
Remember that “cloud computing” is essentially a rebranding of Internet-delivered, hosted data center solutions. In 2008, VMware’s then-CEO Paul Maritz launched the company’s vCloud initiative by comparing centrally managed virtualization extending across the data center “the big mainframe or big computer.”
Nearly a decade later, Amazon, IBM, Google, Facebook and others helped make cloud computing a reality. But virtualization also incorporates significant costs, especially in terms of complexity and the skills required to efficiently manage hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of virtual machines and their underlying hardware. To help address that, vendors including IBM, Lenovo, Dell, Cisco and HPE have developed solutions, including integrated converged and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions.
Those products are pre-integrated and optimized at the factory with necessary software and virtualization tools, and delivered ready for deployment at customers’ data centers. Most all are designed to ease owners’ data center modernization efforts and adoption of private cloud. To that end, they offer simplified, often automated management and maintenance technologies that also pave the way for hybrid environments blending companies’ on-premises private cloud assets and offsite public cloud infrastructures.
Lenovo’s ThinkAgile VX Series
Lenovo’s new ThinkAgile VX Series is a great example of this sort of solution and how vendors are adapting to marketplace realities. The VX Series’ launch at VMworld 2017 in Las Vegas was hardly a surprise given that the new platform features VMware’s latest vSAN ReadyNodes. The new platform also joins other Lenovo ThinkAgile solutions, including the HX Series (for Nutanix-based HCI with multi-hypervisor support) and SX Series (for both Nutanix and Microsoft’s Azure).
In addition, Lenovo is certified to offer VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) ReadyNodes, which integrates VMware’s vSphere, vSAN, and NSX as a native stack for on-premises deployment or as-a-service public cloud offerings. Lenovo notes that the VX Series can be configured to support numerous business use cases and environments, including remote office/branch office (ROBO) and retail stores, as well as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and enterprise applications.
In fact, the ThinkAgile VX Series is available in three models that support configure-to-order flexibility, and are available with either all-flash or hybrid storage options:
- VX 3000 Series: General-purpose 1U and 2U 1-node solutions optimized for VDI and other compute-heavy applications.
- VX 5000 Series: Storage-dense 2U 1-node solutions optimized for fast, high-capacity storage applications, like analytics, big data and email.
- VX 7000 Series: 2U 1-node solutions optimized for databases, collaboration and other workloads requiring the highest levels of performance.
The new VX Series is deployed with Lenovo’s ThinkAgile Advantage, a unique support service that offers deployment, configuration and training assistance designed to decrease customers’ time to value from days or weeks to just hours. Customers enjoy a direct line of communication to ThinkAgile support technicians who act as a customer’s single-point-of contact throughout the support process to streamline hardware and software troubleshooting.
Lenovo’s new ThinkAgile VX Series offerings will be available on November 17, 2017.
Given the deep historical and technical connections between virtualization and cloud computing, the steady evolution of optimized hyperconverged infrastructure solutions shouldn’t surprise anyone. These solutions simplify complex integration and management processes, and also allow vendors to shine a bright light on their own innovative capabilities and best practices.
That’s certainly the case with Lenovo and its new ThinkAgile VX Series. These offerings make the most of the company’s highly robust and reliable data center solutions, and also complement VMware’s vSAN technologies. As a result, new VX Series solutions will offer considerable value to the sizable portion of Lenovo customers who depend on VMware for their virtualization and cloud requirements. In addition, the VX Series adds additional formidable new HCI options to Lenovo’s ThinkAgile portfolio.
The new solutions also highlight the points that Lenovo’s Data Center Group (DCG) made at its TRANSFORM launch in late-June which focused attention on the company’s refreshed and expanded data center portfolio. The new ThinkAgile VX Series underscores how Lenovo DCG’s transformation continues apace, and is widening to encompass the best efforts of the company’s key strategic partners, including VMware.
That’s excellent news for cloud-bound Lenovo customers today, and evidence of further innovations to come.