Details are pretty high level at this stage, and a Chinese cloud solutions venture will be China-focused -- at least in the short term. There are, however, other elements which Lenovo channel partners will find of interest.
Lenovo and SAP have announced an expansion of their existing alliance, which will take effect on several fronts. The two companies will develop innovative cloud solutions in China, which will initially be focused on that market, but will likely branch out eventually. They will engage in new joint development to address the needs of the digital economy. And they will bring new global go-to-market programs out to address the needs of both Systems Integrators and Lenovo resellers.
“The existing Lenovo-SAP relationship has been primarily around Lenovo servers, with more than 5000 servers being optimized for SAP HANA,” said Tag Robertson, Alliance and Solution Manager for Lenovo, who has responsibility for the SAP relationship, which he ran at IBM before coming to Lenovo with the x86 systems that were and are at the core of the partnership. “However, HANA drives additional professional services for us, so there is a professional services relationship. We also have a managed service offering for those who don’t want to manage the HANA systems themselves.”
The extension of the Lenovo-SAP partnership takes the relationship to a new level.
“This announcement is quite exciting,” Robertson said. “We’ve had very good success teaming with SAP. These additional joint innovations with SAP will both enable new innovations for customers, and expand go-to-market focus around these solutions. This will impact both Lenovo partners that resell System x and Systems Integrator partners. Both Lenovo business partners and SIs are key routes to market for HANA solutions.”
At this stage, all that the companies are willing to discuss about the details are at a fairly high level, although Robertson did say that the initiatives will be pertinent to the mid-market as well as the enterprise.
First, Lenovo and SAP have said that they will further strengthen their joint execution, including developing innovative cloud solutions in China. Exactly what those solutions will be is rather cryptic. Robertson did indicate, however, that their initial priority will be on developing solutions specifically for China.
“These solutions will be initially focused on the Chinese market, which has distinct requirements, although we will probably evaluate expansion beyond that,” he said.
Recent SAP history suggests that the Chinese incubation period may be short. Last spring SAP announced SAP Anywhere, an SMB-focused CRM solution that was to launch in the Chinese market, and with no plans to move it beyond that. By late fall, however, demand had already led it into pilot stage in the U.S., with general availability in both the U.S. and Canada scheduled for 2016.
Secondly, the companies say they will engage in new innovations between SAP HANA and Lenovo to explore and define new technologies that address the needs of the digital economy. That’s REALLY high level, and specifics at this time aren’t being disclosed, but Robertson did give a glimmer of what’s coming.
“We have a number of resources focused on optimizing solutions, and a team of developers based in Germany working with SAP developers,” he said. “They are working on several initiatives, with a primary focus being the enablement and support of HANA, and we will be expanding this to broaden to some new solutions.” These include opportunities building smart devices for the Internet of Things, expanding on what Lenovo showcased at last years SAP SAPPHIRE event. Robertson also said this will encompass some longer term things on the road map over the next 1-2 years, which will fit with transforming technologies in areas like memory.
Finally, Lenovo and SAP say they will jointly execute global go-to-market programs for system integrators, resellers and technology partners, to bring these new technologies to their joint customers. This will include showcasing joint differentiated solutions in Lenovo Enterprise Innovation Centers in Stuttgart, Germany; Morrisville, North Carolina and the soon-to-be-opened centre in Beijing, China.
“We expect these programs to start to roll out at the beginning of the next quarter,” Robertson said. “SIs are a key route to market and a key influencer, and we are making sure they have hands-on experience with the server platform.
“Resellers are also critical here. The majority of our HANA business is through the channel, and we have to make sure they are enabled to sell it as well, sometimes by connecting them with an appropriate integrator. Bundles will be defined as part of this. We are also looking at how to create higher level thought leadership that is focused on various vertical industries.”