The modern data center infrastructure market is characterized by the need for improved agility and responsiveness, and to make more strategic use of IT budgets. Cloud computing has introduced the concept of subscription-based IT service delivery, but it lacks on-premises control and introduces new complexity when it comes to managing multiple cloud environments and predicting capacity requirements (and resulting costs). The market for consumption-based IT delivery, whereby enterprises pay for on-premises infrastructure based on their actual usage, is gaining popularity. Not only can infrastructure be right-sized on an ongoing basis as the application landscape fluctuates, but new technologies can be integrated more efficiently and IT can worry less about day-to-day management.
Lenovo has thrown its hat into the consumption-based payment model ring with its new TruScale services. Through TruScale, customers can acquire Lenovo’s ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile infrastructure, including stand-alone server and storage arrays and hyperconverged solutions, on a consumption-based model. Systems are deployed on the customer’s site, but Lenovo retains ownership to avoid requiring the customer to pay an upfront capital expense. At the same time, customers retain control over security policies at the application layer and above.
Lenovo meters usage based on the electricity used per node, with the assumption being that this will gauge when a workload is actually running. Unlike competing offerings, there is no minimum capacity commitment required. Customers have real-time visibility into usage via a designated portal, they may scale resources up and down on demand as workload needs fluctuate, and they are billed monthly.
Customers’ billing is designed to be holistic, and as such includes associated services that are designed to further simplify the customer’s experience, including upfront workload validation, on-site installation, and ongoing remote monitoring. In addition to being able to scale and pay for capacity dynamically as it is needed, Lenovo also allows customers to upgrade hardware during their contract. A dedicated Lenovo Customer Success Manager (CSM) is assigned per account to facilitate a centralized point of contact (and make it that much easier to do business with Lenovo), but customer can still reach out to tech support as well if they desire.
Lenovo works closely with channel partners including managed service providers (MSPs) and systems integrators (SI) to sell TruScale services. Effectively, TruScale makes it easier and more cost-effective for these partners to meet customer needs via the consumption model instead of a CAPEX model. Lenovo provides opportunities for its partners to add their own differentiating services to the TruScale contract.
TruScale joins a crowded market, with vendors including Cisco, Dell EMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) offering competing services. Its biggest differentiator is the fact that there is no minimum capacity commitment required. As companies look to get started with consumption-based IT on a trial basis, this will appeal to organizations of all sizes. This coupled with Lenovo’s entrenchment in the channel and reported quick traction of the solution among its MSP partners will provide an accelerated path to adoption.
Where some consumption-based services remain fairly high-touch, for instance requiring manual intervention and dedicated on-premises teams, Lenovo aims to be more streamlined while still providing the levels of support that customers need, to react more quickly to customers’ changing capacity requirements and also to control costs. For instance, Lenovo’s portal provides self-serve access into real-time usage metrics, and it also provides dedicated CSM support. Additionally, Lenovo has steadily been developing experience with enterprise applications such as SAP HANA that bolster its ability to configure and manage these environments.
Best practices around consumption-based billing are still being formed, vendors are metering and billing based on different metrics, and each data center environment is unique. As a result, storage professionals should closely evaluate how capacity is metered for cost efficiency.