Diskless wonder: Lenovo boots from the SAN

Lenovo Inc. announced this week its new Secure Managed Client (SMC), a storage-based, hard-drive free solution that will allow IT managers to lower costs and free up their time by storing data in a non-server remote location.

The set-up will include a client — a ThinkCentre desktop sans hard-drive — Lenovo software, and an Intel-powered centralized Lenovo storage array. The solution is scheduled for roll-out in mid-2009. Set-up will be aided by the recently expanded Lenovo Professional Services teams.

Lenovo Canada Inc.’s national sales consultant Jordan Buck said that the company wanted to go outside of the traditional options of thin clients, desktop blades, and virtualization solutions. “Thin clients have a lot of costs up-front, and blades often require a lot of power and cooling,” he said. “Here, all the data is processed on the PC—the image is on the PC, which synchs back to the SAN (storage area network).”

The benefits for IT managers strike all the current chords—security, and costs. “All the data is stored on the SAN, so there is the security factor, while the cost savings come from a management point of view. You just have to drag the image to the new user from the SAN. It eliminates the need for end-user moves, and can cut down on maintenance since upkeep is centralized,” said Buck.

Senior research analyst John Sloane of the Info-Tech Research Group said, “There certainly is a move toward these types of appliances, with the main area for cost savings from the desk-side support aspect. Our research shows that eight to 10 per cent of IT staff’s time is taken up with user support. It also helps that all data and programs are more secure, and you economize by managing all volumes locally.”

The set-up has a low scare factor for users, too, said Buck, as the only difference to them is that they enter an SMC password to boot up instead of a Windows log-in.

And, if the IT department find it a pain, said Buck, they can stick hard drives in the machines.

It could, however, catch on in a large way—especially in the largest of enterprises. Said Sloane: “As the cost of maintaining a fleet of PCs increases exponentially, there’ll be a lot more processing happening remotely.”

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