The new Lenovo ThinkEdge servers and enhancements to Lenovo Open Cloud Automation and Lenovo XClarity that the company announced at the recent Mobile World Congress (MWC) event are good examples of how a vendor can help customers overcome major challenges. Let’s take a look at the solutions.
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ThinkEdge SE10 and SE10-I: Small and Rugged
Lenovo’s ThinkEdge edge computing portfolio includes numerous solutions and form factors. They range from core data centers to remote or branch office (ROBO) local/closet data centers to far edge servers designed for particular environments.
So far as form factors go, the company’s new ThinkEdge SE10 and SE10-I (industrial) are its most compact far edge servers yet. Clocking in at 0.8 L, for the SE10, and 1.4 L for the SE10-I (industrial), these fanless solutions are designed to securely collect analog data, such as information collected from temperature and air flow sensors, and to support business equipment, like digital signage and kiosks.
The two solutions use the same Intel ATOM Elkhart Lake processors and firmware and share many characteristics. However, the SE10-I solution is more ruggedized for cold/heat (-20C to 60C), supports IP50 dust/water resistance and supports more I/O ports.
During a briefing with analysts, Charles Ferland, Lenovo’s VP and GM of Edge Computing in the company’s Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG) noted the difficulties that enterprises are having with deploying and managing edge computing at scale, due to the complexity of those environments and constraints in human and technical resources. He said that the design of the ThinkEdge SE10 and SE10-I, along with advancements in Lenovo’s Open Cloud Automation (LOC-A 2.6) and XClarity solutions, make them ideal solutions for a range of enterprise retail, manufacturing and smart building applications.
Ferland also described how one Lenovo customer, a retail grocery chain, is using the new servers to better monitor and manage the temperatures in its vegetable, meat/seafood and frozen food departments, thus reducing spoilage and improving energy usage.
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Automation and Cloud Orchestration at the Edge
How will Lenovo’s enhanced LOC-A 2.6 and XClarity offerings impact customers’ edge computing efforts?
LOC-A 2.6 is likely to make the greatest initial impact but requires some context to understand. In many or most edge environments, deployment requires trained IT staff to physically place individual servers and components. They then load firmware and software, and connect the system to the corporate network for final installation and updates. The process requires seamless product delivery, is time consuming and can be easily derailed by operator error.
Lenovo LOC-A 2.6 radically alters this process. First, the company ships blank ThinkEdge servers, without any firmware or software loaded, to the customer’s destination. There, staff unpack and place the servers where they are needed, then connect them to the physical infrastructure. Using a smartphone, tablet or laptop application, staff can securely activate the servers and connect/confirm them with Lenovo.
At that point, LOC-A 2.6 begins an automated download and configuration process and executes all necessary tasks in the right sequence so that the server becomes operational. Any necessary updates and patches are automatically installed so that within a few minutes or hours the server is ready to host its application(s).
Understandably, this remote activation reduces the time and resources that businesses need to put into deployment efforts and can dramatically decrease their carbon footprint. Additionally, the changes to Lenovo XClarity should significantly streamline and simplify edge computing management.
Once available only for Lenovo’s data center systems, the XClarity platform can now support the company’s entire ThinkEdge portfolio, including far edge solutions, like the ThinkEdge SE10 and SE10-I. As a result, businesses can better monitor and manage even the largest edge environments through a single pane of glass interface.
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Along with its new and improved edge computing solutions, Lenovo is also leveraging its AI Innovation Centers to educate and train customers and partners to gain the most from their edge computing investments.
As a result of these and other efforts, Lenovo is helping to substantially extend and expand the practical benefits of edge computing. Over time, we expect that Lenovo will continue delivering new innovations and improvements via its ThinkEdge portfolio and associated solutions and services.