Volume 17, Number 36 -- September 22, 2008

Lenovo ThinkServer: The Sales Pitch Sounds Familiar

Published: September 22, 2008

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

As expected, Chinese PC and server maker Lenovo Group last week launched its first X64 servers that it is selling outside of its home market. The five new ThinkServers, as the machines are called to mirror the ThinkPad laptop brand Lenovo got when it acquired IBM's PC business in late 2004, are ironically based on Big Blue's own xSeries (now Modular Systems) rack and tower servers.

Lenovo is launching two rack servers and three tower servers, which it says it will sell to small and medium businesses directly and through its own (and non-IBM) channel on a global basis. The machines are not available until September 30, so pricing information is not yet available except that the lowest priced, base configuration will cost $749.

Check out this description from the Lenovo site in the United States and tell me if it sounds familiar:

"Purchasing is easy through your Lenovo Business Partner, installing is a breeze with EasyStartup, maintenance is effortless with EasyManage, updating is painless with EasyUpdate, and productivity is enhanced with ThinkPlus Productivity. With proven technology, innovative software solutions, and services that can be optimized to meet your specific needs, ThinkServer systems help you get rid of IT hassles and get back to building your business. Think performance. Think service. Think Lenovo."

I would think that IBM's ornery founder Tom Watson--you must have seen the picture of Watson sitting underneath his "THINK" sign in his office with that stern, granite face--is not just rolling over in his grave, but up and about and looking for an ass to kick somewhere in Armonk, New York. It is bad enough for IBM to cede the desktop business to Hewlett-Packard and Dell, but helping Lenovo take on the SMB server space at the same time that the Business Systems division is trying to get Power and X64 machines to market as the "Blue for Business" platform seems a bit silly. Counterintuitive. A repeat of bad history.

The ThinkServer RS110 is a 1U rack-mounted server with a single processor socket that uses Intel's 3210 chipset that supports the E7200 Core 2 and Xeon E3100 series of processors; it offers up to 8 GB of main memory and two 3.5-inch disk drives in a base config and up to four 2.5-inch drives in a better configuration. The ThinkServer RD120 is a 2U rack server that has two Xeon 5000 series processor sockets and is based on Intel's 5000P chipset; the machine supports up to 48 GB of main memory and up to six 3.5-inch disks.

On the tower side of the ThinkServer product line from Lenovo is the TS100, which is basically a tower configuration of the entry Core 2 duo and Xeon E3100 processors. This tower box supports up to 8 GB of main memory and has room for four 3.5-inch disks. The TD100 comes in the same tower box, but supports the Xeon 5000 series chips and up to 48 GB of main memory, just like the 2U rack ThinkServer above. However, the tower box has room for eight disks instead of six. And finally the TD100x is a variant of this tower box that only supports the 3 GHz version of Intel's quad-core X5400 processors. The regular TD100 use box the slower "Harpertown" Xeons, which run cooler.

All of the ThinkServers are certified to run Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 and Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10. Red Hat's Enterprise Linux 5 was not certified on the machines at launch, but it is hard to believe it won't be soon.

When pricing information goes live later this month, I will take a look and see how the Lenovo boxes stack up to their IBM equivalents in terms of pricing and warranties. I will also be watching very carefully to see what channel partners Lenovo gets. Maybe, if Lenovo gets aggressive about pricing and channels, we can talk the company into peddling a clone of the Power Systems i? Someone actually has to chase SMB shops aggressively with the i platform. I know, this seems unlikely. But, then again, it was also pretty unlikely that IBM would allow a Chinese manufacturer buy its PC business and then allow it to sell clones of IBM's own X64 servers in Big Blue's home markets.


After Olympics Success, Lenovo to Go Global with Servers

IBM Loses Two Key Executives to Retirement--Really

Lenovo Licenses X64 Server Designs from IBM to Build Boxes

Lenovo Preloads SUSE Linux on ThinkPad Laptops

Mad Dog 21/21: Technical Fowl

Is the iSeries Next, After PCs?

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik, Brian Kelly, Shannon O'Donnell,
Mary Lou Roberts, Victor Rozek, Kevin Vandever, Hesh Wiener, Alex Woodie
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
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