Keeping pace with evolving business needs in the remote work era

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Businesses around the world have spent the last few months preparing for a future in which their employees can easily and secure work from home. As part of this transition to either part-time or permanent remote working, organizations will need to adapt their hybrid cloud strategy as well as modernize their data infrastructure. To help address this, Lenovo is delivering an open platform of hyperconverged infrastructure solutions.

In order to learn more about how Lenovo’s Data Center Group (DCG) is enabling customers to deploy and manage a full edge-to-cloud environment, TechRadar Pro spoke with the company’s UK General Manager Ian Jeffs.

What is the simplest definition of HCI and what are the biggest obstacles when it comes to adoption?

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a software-defined, unified IT infrastructure which combines local data center hardware with intelligent software. It combines all the elements of a traditional data center, including storage, compute, networking and management – but uses software to replace expensive, purpose-built hardware.

When it comes to adoption, new HCI infrastructure brings new skill requirements. Companies usually have teams split between storage, network and server, but HCI solutions combine all these elements, meaning this siloed approach can fast become outdated. As a result, training IT teams to focus on all three and marry them together is one of the biggest challenges when introducing HCI. In order to set themselves up for success, companies must evaluate existing technical skills with their IT function to ensure the new HCI infrastructure is properly implemented.

What are the benefits of HCI compared to legacy platforms?

HCI saves companies time by simplifying management and reduces costs by combining compute, storage and networking into a single system. Unlike legacy platforms hyperconverged infrastructure can reduce operational costs by consolidating storage and virtual compute management into a single management console. The virtualised nature of HCI also makes it much easier to automate and therefore manage. This means that automation of routine operations is achievable when centralised management tools are implemented, such as scheduling. By contrast, most legacy IT infrastructures are so varied and complex that automation is almost impossible.

Hyperconvergence also provides superior levels of flexibility and agility to businesses when compared to legacy infrastructure. It scales better than traditional infrastructure and subsequently enables a future-proof IT environment that allows teams to scale up and down according to specific applications needs.

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How will Lenovo’s new ThinkAgile HX HCI solutions make it easier for organisations to run virtual desktop workloads?

Our new ThinkAgile HX HCI solutions will allow customers to reach new levels of performance and efficiency. The solutions will enable customers to run their virtual desktop workloads and maintain consistent performance, with up to fifty percent fewer servers. The Lenovo ThinkAgile HX AMD two-socket delivers a wide range of core counts to match application needs, two GPUs per one unit and forty-five percent more memory bandwidth, all of which enable excellent performance for virtualisation and VDI consolidation.

The solutions also incorporate Nutanix software which provides simplified operations, increased workload density, stronger data protection and seamless application across clouds to enable hybrid architecture.

Can you tell us a bit more about ThinkAgile MX and how it enables customers to rapidly deploy hybrid cloud infrastructure?

We have collaborated with Microsoft to offer customers a one-stop shop for Azure Stack HCI with the new ThinkAgile MX appliances, providing easy deployment, management and scalability of Azure services from edge-to-cloud.

ThinkAgile MX has a single, simplified console for lifecycle management and delivers an enhanced customer experience, so customers can easily modernise and scale their on-premise infrastructure from edge solutions to cloud.

Can you tell us more about your company’s OEM ON DEMAND program and how businesses are using it to modernise their IT infrastructure?

Our OEM ON DEMAND program enables ISV partners to offer turnkey, integrated IT infrastructure solutions to market through their respective brands. Lenovo provides the open, reliable, and secure ThinkSystem platform coupled with its deep engineering, manufacturing and supply chain expertise to integrate and deliver these solutions on behalf of the ISV.

What are the benefits of a consumption-based delivery model and was this requested by many of your customers?

Our consumption-based delivery model enables customers to pay for exactly what they use and therefore gives them the highest level of cost-efficiency. We are constantly speaking with our customers to optimise our services to match their needs and the consumption-based model is available thanks to our ongoing two-way dialogue with customers.

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What are the greatest challenges organisations face when instituting a remote work policy and what steps should businesses be taking to prepare for the possibility that remote work is becoming the new normal?

As remote work continues across the world businesses need to modernise their data center infrastructure. Hyperconverged infrastructure solutions are uniquely suited to provide virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), therefore supporting the need for people to work remotely.

Business must also adapt their hybrid cloud strategy and increase their cloud capabilities. This is because cloud data storage better enables metadata collection and enables scalable data storage, making it possible for businesses to adopt globalised data storage plans, which ensures data can be accessed in real time from anyone in the organisation wherever they are in the world.

What's the future of HCI and how does Lenovo plan to differentiate itself from the competition?

This new category of HCI is built on Data Fabric technology that gives IT the freedom to choose any compute and developer ecosystem, in any combination, across hybrid multicloud environments. An HCI solution that enables hybrid multi-cloud experience will be hugely beneficial to IT functions as they can take advantage of innovations in both cloud services and on-premises infrastructure at the same time.

At Lenovo we want to continue collaborating with all companies that have solutions within the HCI space and continue to refresh our range of solutions to meet customer requirements. Innovation will be at the heart of our strategy.