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Lenovo's server management package starts with its EasyStartup bootable disk which provides help with installing an operating system. Next up is the EasyUpdate Windows utility which keeps your server fully updated by watching Lenovo's support site and applying updates at scheduled intervals.
Lenovo may have teamed up with IBM but you don't get the latter's smart new Systems Director software for general server management and monitoring. Instead, Lenovo has partnered with Avocent and includes its LANDesk software bundled as ThinkServer EasyManage 8. The easiest way to sum this software up is to point out that Lenovo markets it as a solution for remote monitoring of operations of each server in your datacenter.
And that makes it totally unsuitable for a small business running a single server. EasyManage requires a core server which should be dedicated to this task but should not be a domain controller and can't be running Windows Server 2008. The core server is a monster and installing it on our test Windows Server 2003 R2 system took 90 minutes to complete.
EasyManage is really designed to manage an entire network of servers and workstations and this is where it scores better. From the core server you can run network discoveries, automatically install agents to each system and store hardware and software inventories for each one.
There's much, much more as EasyManage offers tools for deploying operating systems and applications, license monitoring and management, plus systems monitoring and alerting. All this is accessed from a single console where you can also pick a system, remotely control it and fire up a web console to keep an eye on the status of all main hardware components.
EasyManage is clearly too much for a small business and for remote management we would recommend taking advantage of Lenovo's ‘ThinkServer ready' options as these include IBM's RSA SlimLine II card. This uses a proprietary slot on the motherboard and provides a dedicated Ethernet management port for full KVM-over-IP services. This allows you to access the server with nothing more than a web browser and monitor the health of critical components, remotely control it and access the power supplies as well.
The ThinkServer TS100 offers a good hardware package which competes well on price against similar servers from HP and Dell. The EasyManage software is of absolutely no use to a small business but Lenovo's support package will prove valuable if you're short on staff with good IT experience.