Lenovo, which has been expanding its line of notebooks and desktops since the beginning of the year, will now try to carve out a piece of the x86 server market for itself with a line of systems called ThinkServer.
At the 2008 Interop conference in New York, which starts Sept. 16, Lenovo will preview five new ThinkServer servers. While Lenovo is new to the worldwide x86 server market, it plans to concentrate its first efforts on selling servers to small and midsize businesses and midmarket companies.
The first of these ThinkServer systems, whose starting price begins at $749, will go on sale Sept. 30, according to Lenovo.
In order to design and create these ThinkServer systems, Lenovo signed a licensing agreement with IBM in January that gave Lenovo engineers access to Big Blue’s intellectual property. Lenovo and IBM have a close working relationship since IBM sold Lenovo its Personal Computer Division, which included the ThinkPad and ThinkCentre brands, in 2005 for a total of $1.75 billion. While Lenovo has sold servers in its home base of China, some analysts believe that IBM’s intellectual property will held reassure customers that these new systems can handle specific workloads.
The move into the x86 server market is a way for Lenovo to round out its hardware offering beyond its ThinkPad notebooks and ThinkCentre desktops for the enterprise. Since the start of 2008, Lenovo has expanded into the consumer notebook and desktop market with a new line of PCs. In the last month, the company also began offering a low-cost laptop, or “netbook.”
While the ThinkServer line will help round out Lenovo’s offering, especially in the SMB and midmarket space, the company is entering a field that is already heavily saturated with servers from the likes of Hewlett-Packard and Dell. To an extent, Lenovo is also now competing with IBM, which offers SMB servers within its System x line.
Management Software to Distinguish Line
While x86 servers are a commodity in the IT market, Lenovo believes that it can help distinguish its ThinkServer line with new management software that will help SMBs with limited IT budgets set up, configure and update these systems.
“ThinkServers are easy to install through Lenovo’s ThinkServer EasySetup software, which gets servers provisioned fast,” Tom Tobul, the executive director of Lenovo’s Enterprise Business Unit, wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK.
“In addition, business partners will be able to offer an installation service to help SMBs every step of the way,” Tobul added. “ThinkServer EasyManage provides comprehensive server management capability, and ThinkServer EasyUpdate will automatically update your servers with the latest hardware drivers and firmware to keep your server running optimally.”
While saturated, the x86 server market is still worth billions of dollars in revenue each quarter for vendors. In the second quarter of 2008, the worldwide x86 server market topped $7.2 billion in revenue, an increase of 3.4 percent from the second quarter of 2007, according to a recent survey by Gartner.
“There is great market opportunity for Lenovo, which has a strong SMB strategy through its established business partner network and recent SMB-focused notebook and services offerings,” Tobul wrote in an e-mail.
The Lenovo ThinkServer line will include two systems for SMBs:
- The ThinkServer TS100, a single-socket tower server that will support Intel’s 7200 series Core 2 Duo processors and support up to 8GB of memory and 160GB of data storage with four SATA (Serial ATA) hard disk drives.
- The ThinkServer RS110, a single-socket, rack-mount system with the same configuration as the TS100.
Lenovo is also launching three x86 server systems for the midmarket:
- The ThinkServer RD120, a rack-mount, dual-socket server that will support Intel’s dual-core E5200 series Xeon processors and 46GB of memory and 500GB of data storage with six SATA drives.
- The ThinkServer TD100, a dual-socket tower system that supports Intel’s quad-core E5400 series Xeon processors, 46GB of memory and 160GB of data storage with eight SATA drives.
- The ThinkServer TD100x, a dual-socket tower system that offers similar configurations to the TD100 server.
All five of the new ThinkServer systems will run either Microsoft Windows 2008 or SUSE Linux. Lenovo did not announce any systems that will use Advanced Micro Devices processors.