Lenovo-IBM Deal Includes M5 Servers for Mission-Critical Apps

Credit : Darryl K. Taft

Among the product lines Lenovo acquired this week from IBM is the new M5 portfolio of x86 servers designed to deliver innovations in security, efficiency and reliability for mission-critical apps. The new M5 servers support a range of enterprise workloads and computing environments—from infrastructure basics to cloud computing to big data and analytics. The line includes highly configurable models of rack and tower servers, dense systems, blades and integrated systems to help clients address business challenges in the data center and the office. The System x M5 servers include the System x3650 M5, the System x3550 M5, the System x3500 M5, the Flex System x240 M5, the NeXtScale nx360 M5 and the NeXtScale System with Water Cool Technology. "Clients need to support more demanding workloads with limited budgets while dealing with increasingly sophisticated attacks on their infrastructure," said Adalio Sanchez, general manager for IBM x86 and PureSystems Solutions. The new servers come with Intel's new Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors and up to 1.5 terabytes of faster, energy-saving DDR4 memory. The servers' built-in diagnostic tools are designed for easy serviceability and reduced labor costs. Take a look at the new servers in the following slides. (Note: Lenovo is expected to use the IBM brand on System x products for about a year.)

Dell PowerEdge R430 review (3)

Dell PowerEdge R430 offers an impressive compute power for space-constrained racks

Deployment and power

Dell’s embedded LifeCycle Controller makes light work of OS deployment as we used it to install Windows Server 2012 R2 with all the right drivers inside 30 minutes. It provides firmware upgrades tools, hardware diagnostics and facilities for configuring remote access and storage.

Dell’s iDRAC8 provides a wealth of remote management features. Along with power controls, we could monitor graphs of power consumption and temperatures but if you want full remote control, you’ll must upgrade to the Enterprise version – we’ve included this in the price shown.

The server was supplied with dual 1.6GHz E5-2603 Xeons and redundant 550W Platinum PSUs which proved to be easy on the power supply. With the OS in idle we measured a draw of 85W which peaked at only 132W with the CPUs under extreme load from the SiSoft Sandra benchmarking app.



Dell’s OMM iOS app allowed us to keep a close eye on the server from our iPad 


HP ProLiant ML150 Gen9 review (2)

A compact but powerful tower that’s ideal for SMBs and remote offices

Internal design and storage choices

Build-wise, the HP Proliant ML150 Gen9 is a winner as inside the solid, lockable metal chassis is a well-designed interior. All the important bits are easy to get at for upgrades, and the memory and CPU sockets are covered by a sturdy transparent plastic air shroud that’s simple to remove.

For the review, HP fitted four 500GB SATA drives for us to play with but you can choose from a big selection of storage configurations although the sheer range can make it confusing. An extra four-drive cold-swap bay can be added and the server’s embedded Dynamic Smart Array B140i RAID controller has a spare connector for it.

If you don’t mind losing the 5.25-inch bays up above, the B140i also lets you add two more LFF SATA drives for a total of 10. If you want more, you can add HP’s H240 PCI-e RAID card which supports 8 hot-swap 12Gbps SAS SFF drives – or go for a P840 card and max out at 16 drives.

For hard disks, you’re spoilt for choice as HP offers a huge range of LFF and SFF drives plus SSDs. SATA, Midline-SAS and SAS are available and HP has now certified 6TB and 8TB LFF SAS helium drives for this server.

HP’s embedded Active Intelligent Provisioning makes light work of OS installation

HP ProLiant ML150 Gen9 review (1)

HP ProLiant ML150 Gen9 review

A compact but powerful tower that’s ideal for SMBs and remote offices

SMBs looking to upgrade to a purpose-built tower server will find HP’s new HP Proliant ML150 Gen9 has everything they could possibly want and at a price that’ll suit their budget. Measuring a modest 200 x 630 x 432mm (WDH), it supports dual Xeon E5-2600 v3 CPUs, can handle up to 512GB of fast DDR4 memory and has room for 64TB of storage.

Of course, all that doesn’t come as standard. HP’s Gen9 mantra is buy now, upgrade later so you can add extra components as the need arises.

We review the most basic preconfigured system which costs a shade over £900. This includes a single 1.6GHz E5-2603 v3 Xeon, 4GB of memory and one unpopulated quad LFF cold-swap drive bay.

The ML150 Gen9 offers plenty of room inside for essential upgrades and easy access for maintenance


HP ProLiant ML150 Gen9 review (3)

A compact but powerful tower that’s ideal for SMBs and remote offices

Deployment and monitoring

Whichever storage package you opt for, you’ll find deployment a doddle with HP’s Active Intelligent Provisioning tool on the case. We selected this from the boot-up menu, ran through the quick deploy wizard and had Windows Server 2012 R2 loaded up in 30 minutes.

HP Proliant ML150 Gen9 Server monitoring tools are in abundance with the System Management HomePage browser interface furnishing us with a local server status screen. HP’s Insight Control offers complete network systems management and we also used HP’s iOS Insight Online app with our Passport account to view registered systems, monitor support cases and check support contracts.

The jewel in this server’s crown is its embedded iLO4 controller which shares access with the first Gigabit port and offers some of the best remote monitoring tools around. The inclusive iLO4 Standard license provides agentless server monitoring with heaps of data on critical components and access to remote power controls.

It also has direct access to HP support for fault logging. However, an Essentials or Advanced license is required for features such as OS remote control, advanced power monitoring and the Federation feature which allows multiple ProLiant servers to be viewed from one console.

Bear in mind that you must have a valid warranty or support contract with HP to get access to regular ROM BIOS firmware updates. However, it will provide open access to critical firmware updates regardless of support agreements.


HP’s Smart Storage Administrator provides direct access to its RAID controller for array management


Dell PowerEdge R430 review (1)


Dell PowerEdge R430 offers an impressive compute power for space-constrained racks

SMBs looking to maximise their precious rack space will like Dell’s new PowerEdge R430. This 1U rack server may only be 24in. deep but it squeezes in a big hardware package that includes dual E5-2600 v3 CPUs, a high memory capacity and plenty of storage options.

Dell supplied us with the base model kitted out with four LFF drive bays serviced by the embedded PERC S130 RAID controller. Ordered at the point of sale, the R430 can be specified with up to 10 SFF drives and choice selection of PCI-Express RAID cards although, as we found, the process is far from simple.

The R430 exhibits very good internal design and whisper-quiet cooling



Dell’s iDRAC8 controller provides quality server monitoring tools and handy power consumption graphs

Dell T20 review (4)

Intel AMT

Credit : itpro.co.uk

Dell’s preferred remote management solution for the T20 is Intel’s AMT (active management technology) which is only available on the vPro Xeon model. You’ll need to configure the Intel Management Engine BIOS Extension (MEBx) which is accessed on the Dell PowerEdge T20 by selecting F12 from the one-time boot menu.
AMT provides basic browser access to the server where you can monitor critical hardware and directly control power. If you want more you’ll need to source a compatible app – we use Intel’s Manageability Developer Tool Kit and its Commander Tool.
Dell’s free OpenManage Essentials is far too heavy for this server. Its list of installation prerequisites is excessive and we found the current v1.2 doesn’t support installation on Windows Server 2012 R2.
If you want a simpler means of monitoring the T20 then try Dell’s free OpenManage Server Administrator. It’s easy to install, works with Server 2012 R2 and provides reasonable levels of system information plus a basic fault alerting system.

Not the easiest to configure, but Intel’s AMT lets you remotely manage the T20


HP’s ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 might not have the processing power over the PowerEdge T20 but it does have the better remote management tools. This aside, the T20 is worth considering as a first server for a small business as it’s good value, can be upgraded with a range of customer kits and is quiet.

Dell T20 review (3)

Features and noise levels

Credit : ItPro.co.uk

The server sprouts plenty of USB ports with a total of eight USB 2 and four USB 3. These are separated into four groups and a useful security feature is the ability to enable or disable any or all groups in BIOS.

General build quality is good and the removable steel side panel can be padlocked shut. The hole is large enough to slip a security cable through it so the server can be tethered to a desk.

Cooling is handled by an active heatsink on the CPU plus a 9cms diameter chassis fan behind it and noise levels are extremely low making the T20 a fine choice for small offices. Power usage is minimal as well and we measured the review server sipping 30W in idle and peaking at only 42W under heavy load.

The Dell PowerEdge T20 has a greater storage potential and a more powerful CPU than HP’s MicroServer Gen8 but it’s beaten soundly for remote management. The MicroServer has HP’s standard setting iLO4 embedded controller and its Intelligent Provisioning tool for swift OS installation.

RAID arrays can be managed using Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology Windows utility



Dell T20 review (2)

Upgrades and customer kits

Bear in mind all these prices only include the most basic parts-only one year warranty. If you don’t want to indulge in RTB, carry-in or collect and return games you can upgrade at the time of purchase with, for example, a three-year ProSupport on-site NBD agreement only adding an extra £84 ex VAT.

Apart from the CPU, you can upgrade all three servers by adding various customer kits with Dell offering 4GB and 8GB memory kits and a choice of extra SATA LFF and SFF hard disks or SSDs. The optional slim-line DVD drive costs a further £35 and doesn’t include a SATA cable.

The Dell PowerEdge T20 comes as standard with two internal drive cages each supporting a pair of LFF hard disks. The lower cage is easily accessed as the drives slide out towards you and the upper cage can be released and removed through the front panel.

All power and SATA cables are ready and waiting for extra drives and the cages have plastic carriers and mounting screws installed as well. If you don’t need an optical drive you can use its tray on the upper drive cage to fit two SFF SATA drives.

You can fit a maximum of four LFF and two SFF drives but the motherboard only has four SATA ports so you’ll need an extra controller card plus SATA and power extension cables for two of them. The two lower SATA ports are the 6Gbps variety and the upper pair runs at 3Gbps.

The C226 chipset includes Intel Rapid Storage Controller which supports mirrors and stripes only.

Dell’s OpenManage Server Administrator provides some useful server monitoring tools


Dell PowerEdge T20 review (5)

More powerful and flexible than a NAS, this server is great value for small businesses that want to keep their options open by : Kat Orphanides

More powerful and flexible than a NAS, this server is great value for small businesses that want to keep their options open
by : Kat Orphanides

There are plenty of options for small businesses in need of shared storage, from subscription-based cloud services to all manner of NAS devices. However, when it comes to versatility, ease of upgrading and the ability to add software features, your own server is often the best of all worlds. The Dell PowerEdge T20 is an entry-level model, aimed primarily at small businesses that want to organise and consolidate their data into a single storage location.

The T20 is priced and specified accordingly, and is currently available from as little as £219, excluding VAT and delivery. That’s a low price, but you must think about the components you choose, as the base specification doesn’t include hard disks.


Our review system is specified a little more highly. We specified two hard disks, for instance, so that we could create a RAID array and protect our data. If one drive fails the data will be preserved on the second. When you replace the damaged drive, its contents will be synchronised with the remaining disks in your array. If you're using a server for important data and projects, RAID is a vital element in protecting you against data loss through hardware failure. Our server’s two 1TB hard disks can be combined into a 1TB RAID volume.

We also opted for a quad-core 3.1GHz Intel Xeon E3-1225 processor. A faster processor often produces faster file transfer speeds, and the Xeon E3-1225 opens up a wide range of options for use and the operating systems you can run smoothly. A quad-core processor, for instance, is ideal for virtualisation. If you install VMware ESX on your server, you can then run one or more virtualised operating systems so that you can run multiple virtual servers from a single machine. The ease with which you can move and copy virtual servers, which are hardware independent by definition, has made them increasingly popular.

Our review server is equipped with just 4GB of RAM, though, and we’d prefer more as 4GB isn’t enough memory to run ESX or even Microsoft's Small Business Server comfortably. However, popular Linux server distributions such as Novell OpenSUSE and Ubuntu Server work well with 4GB. You can specify your server at the time of purchase with 4GB or 8GB of ECC RAM, and it can take a maximum of 32GB. Unlike regular desktop memory, ECC (Error Checking & Correction) memory can detect and correct single- and multi-bit errors that could potentially crash a server or corrupt data. ECC RAM is vital if you need your server to work as reliably as possible and stay working, so is probably worth the investment.


The T20's mini tower case looks very smart. It's a free-standing server of essentially the same kind of chassis design as you'd find in a desktop system, but its near-silent rear and CPU cooling fans make it very quiet during most operations. Even the fans' initial spin-up to full speed is just a muted whirr rather than the jet-turbine roar associated with many servers. The case echoes and magnifies the sounds of disk activity, but not to deafening a degree.

The interior is well laid out, but the finish on some of the case’s bare metal innards was a little rough. Instead of a couple of 5 1/4in drive bays at the top, there are two vacant 3 1/2in bays. There are another two 3 1/2in bays, each loaded with a 1TB hard disk, at the bottom. Optional mounting brackets are available if you specify 2 1/2in disks with your server, but not included by default. There's also space for a slimline disc drive at the very top of the front panel.