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Summary

Lenovo DCG is at the edge of a big opportunity and it does not want to mess it up. From candid conversations at an analyst event in December, Lenovo delved into the future direction of the group, and their search to open up and deliver the hardware solution for the coming edge revolution.

Open forums, open partnerships, open solutions

"We're betting on a horse race that's five years down the line. Half the horses are going to be dead." That is how Tikiri Wanduragala, Senior Consultant for Server Systems, introduces the challenge Lenovo is facing: Anticipate the market, and make sure Lenovo's horse is still in the running by the time the edge benefits can be accounted for in a few years' time. The trade-off they see from their candid monthly partner and client feedback "Study Tours" is a desire for nodes roughly the size and flexibility of PCs and gateways, but with the capabilities of full-fledged data center services. For its hardware to stay relevant, Lenovo needs to cater to as wide an ecosystem of software and component vendors as possible. The company needs an ecosystem of standards and open frameworks that support seamless interoperability. Without collaborative dialogue with its clients, suppliers, and partners, it is unlikely that Lenovo will succeed. Fortunately for the company, its clients and suppliers seem to be onboard, with Intel also present at the analyst day, Microsoft Azure frequently signposted, and a wealth of promising use cases from industry verticals.

The successful collaboration with enterprise verticals is particularly worthy of note. The rise of vertical-specific associations, such as the 5G-ACIA for industry, 5G-AA for automotive, and the presence of enterprises like John Deere in study groups hosted by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), clearly show that the telecoms industry believes there is a growth opportunity in vertical markets. The range of forums show they are actively looking for fresh ways to engage and innovate for these markets.

Lenovo appear to have a successful formula. The company is showcasing a compact new box, the SE350, for on-premises edge computing that seeks to strike the right balance between PC/gateway node and data center capabilities. This new offering, as big as a powerful laptop, and only marginally thicker, looks to offer the basis for a successful range of more customizable edge boxes. The showcase offered meaningful resolutions to many of today's most cited edge challenges such as the need to fit anywhere, the ability to connect with wireless networks, and the ability to manage the box remotely. Furthermore, with its monthly feedback roundtables, Lenovo has strong mechanisms in place to continue to develop its product capabilities in line with end user-priorities and vertical-specific solutions. If this new product family can be married to a successful set of edge standards, then Lenovo will be able to rest assured that its horse will place in the edge race in a few years' time. However, in an edge ecosystem fractured by more than 20 different consortiums, standards bodies, and open source initiatives, picking the right horse will be far from easy.

Appendix

Further reading

2020 Trends to Watch: Data Center Technologies, INT003-000405 (November 2019)

"Defining the market for edge and edge cloud," INT003-000396 (September 2019)

Author

Chris Silberberg, Research Analyst, Service Provider Technology

chris.silberberg@ovum.com

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