Management Strengths

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2010-02-10 Print this article Print


Management Strengths

I tested the ThinkServer RD210 Model 3796 2CU, which includes both the basic and premium IMM (Integrated Management Module) at no extra charge. The IMM provided me with wide-ranging access to hardware subsystems. IT managers who are familiar with BMC (baseboard management controller) and Lenovo Remote Supervisor Adapter II will find the detailed hardware control supplied by these components in the IMM. Among other components, the IMM enabled me to track heat, airflow, disk performance and a variety of system faults. I was also able to use IMM to remotely turn the ThinkServer RD210 on and off and to use remote access tools to troubleshoot the system. 

The implementation of IMM also means a much reduced role for the familiar BIOS and the rise of UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). UEFI is an interface that is active in the preboot environment after the RD210 is turned on and before an operating system (in our case Microsoft Windows Server 2008R2) starts. Using the IMM and UEFI, I was able to see and update firmware for the RD210 and add-in cards used in the system. 

Among the chief benefits of including IMM in the ThinkServer RD210 is that the management capabilities are reduced to a single chip, compared with the multiple hardware components used by the BMC and Remote Supervisor Adapter. This also means management can be handled through a single IP address. 

The Dell PowerEdge R610 and the HP DL360 G6 servers are direct competitors, and they vary in important but not widely different ways. The Dell R610 has 12 DIMM slots (two fewer than the ThinkServer RD210) with a listed maximum of 96GB of RAM. The HP DL360 G6 has 18 DIMM slots (two more than the RD210), for a maximum of 144GB of RAM. Inside the 1U envelope, the competing products jockey within fairly close tolerances of each other. Even the stated maximum configurations are using prohibitively expensive 8GB RAM paired with two fair, but not top-of-the-line Intel processors. More realistic system configurations yield more closely matched prices and capacity. 

The ThinkServer RD210 hosted a Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 environment with the Hyper-V role enabled in eWEEK Labs tests. The system was configured with five Windows 2008 servers and one Windows 2003 server hosting Microsoft Unified Access Gateway implementation. The ThinkServer RD210 was easily able to handle this relatively light workload with the 12GB of RAM supplied in my test unit. 

The RD210 boasts some management features that I haven't seen in competitive systems. A pop-out diagnostic unit on the front bezel made it easy to see at a glance how power, memory, hard drive and other hardware subsystems were performing. This same information can be accessed via the IMM. 

The server also comes with HFP (Hardware Failure Prediction), which uses information about hardware subsystems-including memory and hard drive performance data-that is then combined with logic contained in the RD210 to detect when a component is exhibiting symptoms that indicate imminent failure. This information is relayed through the on-board management system to system managers, alerting them before the fault occurs so that pre-emptive action can be taken.

The combination of compute capacity plus effective and forward-looking management tools places the ThinkServer RD210 squarely in the pack of 1U servers that are worth considering when adding general-purpose workhorse power to a data center. 

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel