Lego dumps HP to build IBM servers and storage infrastucture

The Lego Company is ripping out its Hewlett-Packard-based server and storage infrastructure and replacing it with IBM products.

The Lego Company is ripping out its Hewlett-Packard-based server and storage infrastructure and replacing it with IBM products.

The Denmark-based toy maker has embarked on a massive migration of its entire server and storage infrastructure. It will remove more than 230 HP servers and replace them with 34 IBM servers, in a migration that is expected to deliver 30% a year savings.

Lego decided to make the switch to take advantage of IBM's "on demand" pricing, which will allow the toy maker to pay for the processing and storage capacity it uses.

"The on demand [arrangement] will give us the ability to have extra computing capacity and infrastructure to support the business demands as they come up," said Hal Yarbrough, Lego's senior director of global IT.

HP also offers similar pay-per-usage arrangements, but IBM's overall package fits Lego's needs better, he said.

Lego's business is cyclical, with a sharp increase in activity between October and December, so the company was very interested in adapting its computing capacity to the changing demand of its business and its clients.

"For a seasonal business, being able to have extra capacity to buy and available instantly for only the amount you need when you need it, is a very good match," he said.

Lego is buying "fully configured" IBM server and storage systems with the ability to turn capacity on and off as needed. "It's a capacity-based arrangement where we're buying capacity as opposed to the traditional way of buying boxes," Yarbrough said.

Lego will also be able to tap into IBM-owned equipment to get extra capacity, said Michael Nelson, director for internet technology and strategy in IBM's server group.

The IBM servers will be on site at Lego locations and owned and operated by Lego staffers. A "significant" part of the migration has already been completed, and the work should be finished before the year is over, Lego's Yarbrough said.

The HP products being replaced include HP 9000, Alpha and ProLiant servers, and StorageWorks ESA storage systems, an IBM spokeswoman said. The IBM replacement products include two eServer pSeries p690, four eServer pSeries p650, 24 eServer xSeries x440, Tivoli's Storage Manager software and four IBM Shark Storage San servers.

IBM's Nelson said IBM did not win the deal by slashing prices. "We won this not because we underbid but because we're providing a better solution," he said.

HP said, "This is one of only a handful of Alpha losses, which is testament to a very successful product transition from Alpha Tru64 Unix to HP UX. We win some, they win some. For example, we just beat IBM on an even bigger enterprise deal with the China State Tax Authority involving 60 Unix servers, of which 40 were [HP 9000] Superdome."

Juan Carlos Perez writes for IDG News Service

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