Synnex replaces System X with Lenovo’s technology

Looks like Synnex may have found a way to fill in the gap left by IBM when it de-authorized the distie from selling its System X servers this fall. And it’s an intriguing solution, in that it’s a new approach to selling customers on a product they’re not familiar with.

Last month, Synnex teamed up with Lenovo to offer a try-and-buy program for five of Lenovo’s entry-level servers, based on IBM System X technology (back in January, IBM licensed its x86 server technology to Lenovo, which covers rackmount and pedestal servers, but not blades). Rumour has it the Lenovo servers are almost identical to IBM servers, once the covers come off.

So what does IBM get out of it? Big Blue has been trying to get its server technology into the SMB market, where it doesn’t have a big footprint. Since Lenovo had already purchased IBM’s PC business, this server partnership seemed like a fit (though, let’s be clear, IBM has no intention of getting out of the server business).

For solution providers and their SMB customers, the program allows them to try out Lenovo servers, without risk or penalties. Customers can return the servers to their solution provider for a full refund, and the solution provider can then return the servers to Synnex for a full refund, no questions asked. The program is expected to continue for at least one year.

Lenovo has distribution agreements with Ingram Micro, Tech Data and D&H, but will only be offering this program through Synnex, saying the distie’s focus on the SMB market will help move the technology quickly through the channel.

Lenovo is also offering its ThinkPlus priority support service program through Synnex on a 90-day trial basis, which includes next-business-day warranty service and 24-by-seven support. This is an important component, because some VARs have concerns about Lenovo’s ability to support servers. IBM is much more established in this area and Lenovo will have some catching up to do, even if its products are almost identical.

No doubt, it’s unusual for a vendor to do something like this – especially with servers. But these are strange times. We’re seeing sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas that are typically reserved for Boxing Day. We’re seeing great deals on flights during the holiday season.

It’s entirely possible we’ll see more of these types of programs, particularly from vendors that are trying to bring a new product or solution to market. Customers are much more cautious these days and tend to buy only if they receive incentives. For vendors and their partners, this doesn’t have to involve slashing prices – it may be a matter of taking risk out of the equation, which is exactly how Lenovo’s program works.

And, of course, it should help Synnex VARs who were stuck without a lot of options when IBM pulled the plugged on System X.

Who knows if this type of program will be expanded to include other products or if we’ll see similar programs from other vendors – but if it’s successful, it could alter the way things are done in the channel.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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