Lenovo Unveils Automated System Management Software

The vendor also is growing its enterprise portfolio with two new networking switches and a low-cost interconnect module.

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Lenovo, now armed with IBM's x86 server business, is building out its enterprise business with new automated systems management software and two top-of-rack network switches designed to drive performance in the company's server and storage offerings.

Lenovo officials this week unveiled XClarity, a software solution aimed at enterprises, service providers and government agencies that centralizes hardware resource management and accelerates deployments of infrastructures for data centers and the cloud. IT professionals get better visibility and control of physical resources via external management tools, according to company officials.

XClarity comes in two versions, Administrator and Pro. XClarity Administrator offers an agent-less virtual appliance architecture that supports some System x servers and the Flex System converged infrastructure platform inherited when Lenovo closed the $2.1 billion deal to buy IBM's x86 server business last year. With such systems, it can take IT professionals using traditional management solutions hours to configure the hardware. However, with XClarity Administrator, the time is reduced to minutes, officials said.

The user interface is tablet-friendly and designed to make finding information easy. In addition, such core infrastructure tasks as firmware updates, configuration management and operating system deployments are automated, and open REST APIs make it easier for developers to integrate the software through external tools for cloud orchestration or IT service management, such as Microsoft's System Center and VMware's vRealize.

XClarity Pro builds on that with the XClarity Integrator for VMware vCenter and System Center. The Pro edition is aimed at more highly virtualized and clustered environments, where workloads can be dynamically moved from affected hosts to reduce application downtime, according to Lenovo officials.

Along with the automated management software, Lenovo also announced new top-of-rack switches, the RackSwitch G8296 and G88272, both of which are optimized for the vendor's server and storage products. They offer 10 Gigabit Ethernet and 40GbE connectivity, support the OpenFlow protocol for software-defined networking (SDN) environments and the Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN) protocol.

In addition, Lenovo's Flex System S14091 is a low-cost interconnect module for 10GbE or Fibre Channel-over-Ethernet (FCoE) for easier network configuration and interoperability. The module includes preconfigured setting, eliminating the need for network administrators to configure each device or individual port. In addition, between a low price—starting at $7,999 when it's released at the end of the month—fewer cables and power savings of up to 30 percent, the Flex System S14091 offers a total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) that's as much as 18 percent less than offerings from competitors, according to Lenovo officials.

The new offerings are part of Lenovo's effort to broaden its enterprise solutions offerings, according to Darrel Ward, vice president of enterprise systems marketing and enterprise storage business unit.

"Lenovo XClarity dramatically simplifies system management, helping organizations do more with less, while the networking solutions deliver great performance, optimized for Lenovo server and storage solutions," Ward said in a statement.

XClarity Administrator and XClarity Pro will be available this quarter, starting at $200 per managed server and $350 per managed server, respectively. RackSwitch G8272 will be available at the end of the month, starting at $19,999, while the RackSwitch G8296 will be released in August, with a list price of $29,999.

Lenovo rapidly expanded its enterprise and consumer businesses last year, spending about $5 billion to buy IBM's industry-standard server business and Motorola Mobility from Google. In discussing financial numbers from the last three months of 2014—the first time the IBM server business and Motorola could be counted on Lenovo's fiscal sheets—company officials in February said they were pleased with the results.

Lenovo's Enterprise Business Group said x86 server revenues reached $986 million, and executives said it will be a $5 billion business for the company—with better profit margins than the PC business—in a year. Combined, the System x business and Lenovo's ThinkServer unit had a 10.4 percent share of the global server market, putting it third behind Hewlett-Packard and Dell.