Lenovo sees a future in hybrid cloud
By Dzof Azmi January 15, 2021
- 11% YOY 3Q2020 growth for data centre group
- Sees customers shifting back to hybrid cloud model
Sumir Bhatia (pic), Lenovo Data Center Group President, Asia Pacific, says business has been good. The data centre group saw 11% year-on-year growth for Q3 2020, and there was double-digit growth in Software Defined infrastructure (SDI), as well as solutions like high-performance computing (HPC).
For him, this increased demand is a result of companies preparing for the next big Covid-like event - even if they don't know what it is.
"They have been saying, 'We definitely want to future proof-this, we want to make sure that we continue our transformation'," said Sumir. "That has definitely been on top of the minds of all the CIOs."
Yet, Sumir is adamant that this growth is a continuing trend of the last few years, rather than a sharp uptick in response to the pandemic. "This transformation of providing customers with software defined infrastructure, with multi cloud high performance computing, and edge computing started a few years back. Some of the customers were already on that journey. This (pandemic) actually acted as a catalyst."
Water-cooled High Performance Computers
One such recent customer is animation leader DreamWorks, with whom Lenovo announced a collaboration in Oct 2020. A typical computer-generated movie needs 200 million compute hours to render, and the studio was looking to upgrade its performance.
Lenovo supplied a system equipped with the Lenovo Neptune liquid cooling technology, resulting in HPC that is cooled by water from existing sources.
This is similar to what is now being used by the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MMD) who needed to upgrade its computing power two years ago in order to be able to support new meteorological modeling requirements.
"Not only did the department need to increase their range of weather forecasts to a week, they also needed to get more accurate results," recalled Sumir.
The MMD's old HPC system had reached its end of life, and after consultation, Lenovo proposed a water-cooled HPC system made up of 296 compute nodes with 8,000 cores, which brought its own advantages. "Firstly, being water-cooled saves energy. Secondly, it has a much smaller footprint, which enabled them to save space."
A shift to cloud hybrid
Indeed, Sumir touted Lenovo's capability to offer a "complete end-to-end portfolio" in their data center, but he stressed that firstly, the customer needs to decide what they want. "It starts with mindset. How can I be better in these circumstances? How can I adapt to my customer?"
What Sumir believes companies want now are to move back into a hybrid model. "We are finding a lot of companies repatriating back from the cloud. (But) this doesn't mean that the cloud is not growing," he said.
One reason is because companies are keeping an eye on regulatory changes. For example, he cites a bank whose employees and customers are now more likely to be working from home, but the government wants to make sure that the same level of security is maintained, and companies are beginning to be cautious where data resides.
Another reason is to improve performance. In a recognition of the rising importance of edge computing, Lenovo recently announced that SAP HANA can now be delivered on-premise, giving customers the option of keeping their SAP applications on premise together with their data.
On top of that, Lenovo also offers it as a pay-as-you-use service called TruScale, sometimes referred to as a Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) model. The hardware is installed on site, but users only pay for what they use.
TruScale was launched in 2019 as a proof-of-concept, and since then it has taken off. "You'd be surprised that Southeast Asia is an area where there's immense interest," said Sumir, specifically in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
Sumir is hopeful that this is a harbinger of growth to follow. "You will start doing more and more things online," he said. "This is not a temporary thing."
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