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Lenovo SMB Servers Priced Like PCs

Latest ThinkServer models include $499 model aimed at smaller businesses taking the first-server plunge.

Lenovo ThinkServer TS430
(click image for larger view)
Lenovo ThinkServer TS430
Lenovo on Tuesday introduced two new ThinkServer models for small and midsize businesses, hoping to appeal to both value-oriented buyers as well as growth-minded companies wanting to expand their server capacity.

The entry-level TS130 tower replaces the previous TS200v model. Its $499 starting price tag is intended to attract smaller businesses taking the first-server plunge, particularly those firms that have previously tried repurposing a desktop as a server. Two hard disk drives offer up to 4 TB of SATA capacity.

It also features Intel's AMT 7.0 remote management functionality, likewise aimed at SMBs with limited IT resources. Andrew Jeffries, Lenovo's product marketing manager for ThinkServer, stressed remote management as the must-have feature for smaller firms, particularly those that outsource IT to a managed service provider (MSP) or other third party.

"The TS130 now allows the MSP to bring in the server as part of the manageability solution," Jeffries said in an interview. "That allows the business partner to really take the offerings and really ramp those up a bit."

The TS430, on the other hand, is an all-new tower unit geared for growing businesses that want to hedge between budget consciousness and the possibility of rapid expansion. The server's eight hot-swap drives expand to 16-TB SATA or 4.8-TB SAS storage. Like the TS130, it also includes remote management features, though its are based on IP-KVM. The TS430 starts at $699.

Jeffries said growth-minded SMBs are asking not just for expandability but for increasing performance; he points to hardware-based SAS RAID technology as an example. "I've been able to grow my company from a dozen to 50 to 100 to 400 employees," Jeffries said. "I need a very sophisticated server now." Both new ThinkServer units run on Intel Xeon processors and support either Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Small Business Server 2011. Both towers are rack-able.

The value play for the TS130 could be particularly timely. Recent IDC research on SMB technology spending showed that server adoption, though static among midsize companies, is growing among small businesses. That has been driven in part by an increasing number of inexpensive servers on the market.

"So many small businesses over the years might have been saying: 'You know what, I don't have the money,'" Jeffries said, noting that those companies would often retrofit a desktop to act like a server--a potentially risky move. "Now, you're getting true server-grade features for around the same price as a desktop."

In fact, the TS130 actually beats some desktops on price: Lenovo also launched the ThinkCentre M71e desktop on Tuesday that starts at $529. Though aimed more at larger enterprises, it's an entry-level PC that may likewise find its way into smaller office environments. Lenovo typically defines SMB as up to 500 employees.

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