Lenovo Unveils New ThinkServers in Wake of IBM Deal

The company is expanding its own server portfolio even as it moves toward closing the $2.3 billion deal with IBM within the next nine months.

Lenovo may be in the process of buying IBM's massive x86 server business unit, but that isn't stopping the vendor from building out its current portfolio of systems.

Less than a week after announcing that the company planned to acquire IBM's low-end server business for $2.3 billion, Lenovo is rolling out four new ThinkServer offerings, including its first enterprise-grade two-socket rack server and a direct-attached storage (DAS) enclosure.

Lenovo officials announced the new offerings Jan. 29.

"It really allows us to round out our product portfolio," Jeffrey Jones, director of worldwide product marketing at Lenovo, told eWEEK.

Lenovo, the world's largest PC vendor, has sold servers in China for almost two decades, but over the last two years has made a push to expand its reach into other regions, including Europe and North America. In April 2012, the company established the Enterprise System Group to help push sales of enterprise products in North America.

The group has steadily been adding systems to its portfolio, an effort that will take a significant leap forward when the deal for IBM's server business closes, which is expected to happen in six to nine months.

"What this deal does is accelerate our strategy by about five years," Peter Hortensius, senior vice president at Lenovo and president of its Think Business Group, said during a press conference to discuss the IBM deal. "For us, this was a fast way to do things that we were already planning to do."

The announcement of the IBM deal has generated a lot of headlines, and that could help Lenovo in the months leading up to the closing as it looks to grow its server sales, according to Darrel Ward, vice president of enterprise product marketing at Lenovo. However, until then, both Lenovo and IBM will continue to be separate companies and competitors, and Lenovo will act accordingly, as illustrated by the unveiling of the new systems, Ward told eWEEK.

"It'd be really easy to pull the plug on these [new systems], but that's not we're doing," he said.

Ward also said Lenovo officials are not yet ready to talk in too much detail about what the company will look like after the deal.

"At this point in time, it's way too early to speculate about the integration of the companies and the integration of products," he explained, saying that will come after the deal closes. "Until that time, Lenovo and IBM are still competitors."

Lenovo used its $1.25 billion acquisition of IBM's PC business in 2015 to propel it to the top of the PC market. With IBM's x86 server business, Lenovo will become the world's third-largest server vendor and give it the capabilities to challenge Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

The new systems Lenovo is rolling out—the announcement of the ThinkServer products was delayed a week as the company prepared to announce the deal with IBM—fall in line with the vendor's efforts at targeting small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Lenovo's new ThinkServer 1U (1.75-inch) RD340 and 2U (3.5-inch) RD440 rack servers are aimed at small and midsize retailers, health care companies, educational institutions and local and state governments. Both run on two Xeon E5-2400 v2 processors, which hold up to 10 cores each, and offer a 25 percent performance jump over previous ThinkServer systems.

Both also support up to 192GB of memory, redundant power and cooling, integrated RAID and hot-swappable storage. The RD440 supports up to 48TB of internal storage, twice what previous systems do. The rack servers are available now starting at $1,179.

The TD340 tower server is powered by two Xeon E5-2400 v2 chips is aimed at educational institutions, health care facilities, manufacturing businesses, branch offices and SMBs running such applications as databases and customer relationship management (CRM). The system can support up to 192GB of memory and 32TB of internal storage, and has as many as six PCIe/PCI slots.

The ThinkServer SA120 is a 2U rack-mountable DAS enclosure that can be used in data centers as well as distributed enterprises and SMBs. It offers both 2.5- and 3.5-inch drive bays. The enclosure can be configured for 12 3.5-inch SAS front-panel drives and four optional rear-panel 2.5-inch solid-state drives (SSDs) for expanded direct storage capacity.

Both the tower system and DAS enclosure will be available in February.