The Nitty Gritty

By Matthew Sarrel  |  Posted 2009-02-24 Print this article Print


The Nitty Gritty

Before rack mounting the server, I took a few minutes to check out the hardware itself and was pleased to find that it is very well designed. Perhaps my favorite hardware feature is the operator information panel, which has five LEDs and a power switch on the front face, plus pops out of the server to display the 16 LEDS of Light Path Diagnostics. I could easily tell whether anything had gone wrong, ranging from a hard drive error to a failed fan or RAID controller.

The inside of the unit is well designed to facilitate service while optimizing air flow for cooling. For example, the 12 DIMM sockets are covered with a hard plastic that improves cooling yet can easily be removed for upgrades.

There's plenty of room for storage, with six drive bays that can accommodate 3.5 inch SATA or SAS hard drives in hot-swap brackets. Options for storage abound, and include a conversion kit to hold eight 2.5-inch hard drives or four 3.5-inch drives with an internal tap drive, or you can add an external enclosure. The standard ServeRAID 8K-I controller comes with only 32MB of cache; upgrading the controller adds more cache and a battery backup, plus the ability to run nested RAID such as 10, 50, or 60.

I ran into a little snag in my ThinkServer EasyManage testing. I wanted to install the full console of the management platform, but was unable to on the 64-bit Windows Server 2008 that was pre-installed on the unit. I worked around this by installing it on a separate 32-bit Windows Server 2003 EE machine with .NET Framework 2.3 and Microsoft Web Services Enhancements 2.0 SP3.

Once installed, ThinkServer EasyManage began to shine. Of course, it is essentially the same LANDesk Management Suite 8 that everyone else runs, with the addition of Lenovo-specific data gathering and application triggering. I easily pushed management agents out to my test ThinkServer and ThinkPad X200 and immediately saw value. I was able to gather info for hardware and software inventory, provide tech support via remote control, and access ThinkVantage Technologies (all the Lenovo client management goodies) directly from a central management console, which makes for a strong offering.

For example, I established a policy to verify that ThinkVantage Client Security was running on my laptop to enforce biometric authentication and data encryption. 

The combination of reasonably priced and well-designed hardware coupled with a complete management platform could make life a lot easier for centralized support of branch office environments. How nimble would your business be if you could provide almost a complete (LAN not included) compute environment (server and workstations or laptops) for a branch office that could be quickly and easily deployed and managed?

Matthew D. Sarrel is executive director of Sarrel Group, an IT test lab, editorial services, and consulting firm in New York City.

Matthew Sarrel Matthew D. Sarrel, CISSP, is a network security,product development, and technical marketingconsultant based in New York City. He is also a gamereviewer and technical writer. To read his opinions on games please browse and for more general information on Matt, please see

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