Lenovo unveils new NetApp entry-level all-flash arrays

Lenovo has announced two entry-level all-flash arrays, one with NVMe drives and the other SAS, with a sub-$15,000 starting price.

Update: 6 Aug 20321. Justification for Lenovo first to market claim ahead of NetApp added. Efficiency point explained.

The DM5000 is a capacity-optimised 2Ux24 small form factor slot box scaling up to 2.2PB of raw capacity using 144x 15.36TB SAS SSDs, spread across a base enclosure and 5x 2Ux24 expansion cabinets. The faster but lower-capacity DM5100F uses NVMe SSDs, supports NVMe/FC, and can only have a single expansion cab. And it has faster Ethernet or Fibre Channel ports as a basic speeds’n’feeds table shows:

Marco Pozzoni, Director, EMEA Storage Sales at Lenovo ISG, said: “Traditional storage solution packages come with all capabilities built-in, raising the costs and making storage expensive for all businesses. We’ve decided to address this issue and offer solutions that help companies, irrespectively of the growth stage they are at.” 

The systems include deduplication and compression, and Pozzoni explained: ”Our tests have achieved efficiency rates of up to 20:1 when running virtual machines, and up to 3:1 in other more data-intensive environments. These ratings dramatically lower the total cost of ownership of data storage.” (See bootnote below.)

Lenovo DM5000F.

We think the two Lenovo arrays are based on OEM NetApp AFF A250 hardware and ONTAP software.

First to market

The arrays can be purchased as block-access-only and then upgraded to add file and object (S3) access, with Lenovo claiming it is “the first to market with complete upgrade paths from block-only to Unified (block, file and object) storage”.

Lenovo told us: “The Lenovo DM storage system is based on the NetApp ONTAP operating systems. NetApp AFF and FAS models are only offered using a unified bundle that includes SAN and NAS functions, like Lenovo’s premium bundle. NetApp do also offer an ASA, All SAN array, NetApp do not support upgrading ASA models to include file services.

“The Lenovo SAN only software offering is not the same as NetApp AFA which uses a modified version of ONTAP that can’t be upgraded. So the Lenovo SAN only version is unique to Lenovo and unique in its ability to be it can be upgraded, whilst Lenovo utilise ONTAP, our SAN only and fundamentals solutions, are not available to NetApp customers.”

Primary features

Lenovo says the primary capabilities of its new arrays include:

  • Performance Consistent low-latency controls via adaptive Quality of Service (QoS) and service level provisioning to cater for additional workloads like AI and Data Analytics;
  • Cloud integration facilities for backup, Disaster Recovery (DR), automated data tiering and burst workload management; 
  • ThinkSystem Intelligent Monitoring Predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms to uncover risk factors and opportunities to improve system health, availability, and security; 
  • Data protection Built-in backup/restore and disaster recovery, integrated with third-party software including Veeam and Commvault;
  • SnapMirror Business Continuity Non-disruptive failover active-active cross site clusters, ensuring data continuity;  
  • System availability Six 9s or better system availability, including for planned activities and unplanned events; 
  • Security Regulatory compliance and protection against unauthorised data access including in-flight and at-rest encryption.

Lenovo’s channel now has a neat pair of entry-level all-flash arrays designed for capacity or performance, and can pitch datasheets at prospective customers. Read the DM5000F one here and the DM5100F one here.


On the efficiency point Lenovo said the 20:1 ratio is typically seen in environments like virtual desktops. Unlike all of our closest competitors, the Lenovo 3:1 All Flash Storage Efficiency Guarantee does not include all of our storage efficiency software so customers can expect to see vastly improved efficiencies if they use them. 3:1 is guaranteed for the actual data savings in a virtual server environment. 

An example would be that if we add Thin Provisioning, this doubles the efficiency so 3:1 becomes 6:1.  If we then include our Snapshots then this would increase the efficiency by a factor of ten so 60:1.  Lenovo’s 3:1 all flash guarantee can be offered in writing so that if the sold system falls below this level, Lenovo will give the customer the additional required capacity free of charge.