Hardware in a Cloudy Environment

Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole spoke with Tom Ribble, director of ThinkServer marketing, Lenovo.

In the age of both virtual/cloud computing and commodity hardware in the data center, it is easy to forget that physical infrastructure can still make or break higher-level data environments. At the very least, integrated approaches between server, storage and networking platforms can have a significant impact on both capital and operation expenses. As Lenovo's Tom Ribble points out, servers, server management performance metrics and a range of other factors can vary across systems and vendors. That's why it's best to do your homework before signing that purchase order.

Cole: So much attention has shifted away from physical layer to the virtual and cloud layers in the data environment. Does hardware really matter anymore? What features and systems should CIOs consider when selecting and deploying new hardware for the cloud era?

Ribble: We do believe hardware will continue to matter for cloud and virtualization workloads. That's why Lenovo has developed servers with open standards that we believe will fit into existing environments being built out for the cloud and virtualized workloads. We also focus on developing hardware that is reliable, runs efficiently, and has robust thermal designs to lower power bills. We also have our Smartgrid technology that allows IT departments to manage and optimize their workloads and power needs.

One of the goals of IT departments that go to virtualized environments and cloud-based computing is to lower costs. Our servers have built-in features and provide more value for the money at time of purchase in order to shorten the ROI.

Cole: It seems most hardware configurations these days are either scale-up or scale-out. What are the trade-offs between the two? Should they be deployed according to workflow and data demands?

Ribble: It certainly depends on customer needs and demands. Lenovo is working to be a solution for [both scale-up and scale-out]. As I said, our servers fit into existing environments and work when customers want to expand up or out. I think we provide a very compelling alternative when choosing to scale up because we are focused on meeting customer needs and not adding unneeded features and costs.

Further, through our recent announcement to partner with EMC, we are adding offerings and developing a joint venture to develop storage solutions that will help address scale out requirements with the same kind of value and reliability.

Cole: Your new RD330 and RD430 machines feature a new anti-vibration design in the drive bay. How has it changed from previous designs?

Ribble: Our new generation of racks, RD330, RD430, RD530 and RD630 all have the new anti-vibration drive bays. Similar to how we design our clients, we know protecting customers' data on their HDDs offers peace of mind and strengthens the overall reliability and uptime of our hardware. The materials used in the brackets and strategically designed rubber pads lower the rotational vibration and stress on the HDDs compared to our previous designs.

We've also made design enhancements to the mounts on the fans and mechanical chassis to lower the stress on the system when in use, which will improve uptime and reliability.

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