Lenovo is entering the server market with products aimed at SME customers, which the company believes are overlooked by other vendors.
The ThinkServer line, available from 30 September, consists of twin-socket and single-socket Intel-based systems backed by a portfolio of services to make it easier for SMEs to purchase, deploy and manage the machines.
Ajoy Philip, director of servers for Lenovo in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, maintained that businesses with fewer than 500 employees represent half of the market but are mostly ignored by the larger vendors.
"SMEs have told us: 'Because we are not big enough, we are not important'," he said.
Lenovo claimed that its research showed that SMEs have limited IT budgets and few IT people trained in managing infrastructure, but that reliability is crucial.
"Servers are risk products: they can fail, and take your data with them. These guys cannot afford downtime. If the server goes down, they're going to lose their email, database and applications," Philip said.
Lenovo is aiming to address these needs by providing a number of "sweet spot " standard configurations that can be delivered within a week. An online Configurator helps customers identify which product meets their needs, while an Easy Setup tool helps customers get up and running after delivery.
The ThinkServer line has redundant power and cooling, and ships with an EasyManage tool that monitors server health and can email alerts to managers warning them of any developing problems.
Some models have hot-swap hard drives and fans that can be replaced without powering down the system.
For peace of mind, customers get 24/7 phone and on-site next business day support free for the first 90 days after purchase.
"This is the most critical period," said Philip, adding that customers can purchase additional support beyond the 90-day period if they wish.
The ThinkServer TS100 and TD100 are single-socket and dual-socket tower systems respectively, while the RS110 and RD120 are rack-mount units. They are based on hardware used in IBM's Intel-based servers, Lenovo said.
Single-socket systems are based on dual- or quad-core Xeon chips and aimed at delivering simple file-and-print services, according to Philip.
The dual-socket models are all quad-core and designed for server virtualisation and line of business applications.
All models can be configured with up to 48GB of memory and up to 4TB of storage. Operating system options cover Windows Server 2008, 2003 and Small Business Server (SBS).
"They have all the bells and whistles you expect, and no compromises," said Philip.
At Lenovo's launch event, Microsoft said that it plans to extend the SBS product line to address the same SME customer needs as the ThinkServer line.
Due in November, the Windows Essential Server solutions family adds Essential Business Server (SBS) 2008 versions aimed at firms with up to 300 PCs. Existing SBS versions are for up to 75 PCs.
A Premium edition of both products will also allow customers to deploy an additional server, while the standard editions are a single-box licence only.
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