Rugged, Reliable, and on the Edge – Lenovo’s Dedicated Edge-Ready Hardware
Readers of the business technology press could be forgiven for thinking that edge computing is just another one of those buzzwords that means little. In practical and business terms, edge computing is the specialized IT hardware and software designed for multiple retail outlets, smaller branch offices, as well as industrial, utility, and supply chain units. It’s where companies place technology as close to where it’s used as possible and near where the data used is created or gathered.
However, if a company needs computing muscle deployed in a local environment (perhaps to attenuate machinery in real-time or run surveillance systems more demanding than CCTV), then it’s impractical to pick up an average data center-destined device like a 4U rackmount server and place it in the corner of a warehouse. The chances are high that it will fail quickly because there’s a great deal of difference between an operational facility’s environment and the rarefied, carefully monitored inside of a data center. On a large scale, that will mean calls to IT support staff will flood in, and bodies will need to be dispatched to hand nurse devices back to life.
If a business needs some on-site computing power that’s resilient, powerful, and can be effectively and quickly installed, powered up, and forgotten about, here’s where specialized technology comes in. Alongside those physical necessities, there are also the issues of whether or not the hardware is designed to plug and play and whether there are specific configurations in hardware and software designed with edge use-cases in mind.
§The latest server and storage releases from Lenovo are just such systems — powerful computing, connectivity, and physical reliability, accompanied by control and monitoring systems that have been fine-tuned for edge deployments. Lenovo’s SE350 is a rugged and compact server with multiple mounting options and very smart connectivity out of the box, making it perfect for local high-end data-crunching in various environments. We could envisage this server being ceiling or wall-mounted easily (there are DIN and VESA options, too), and the internal design is such that it’s easily expandable.
Depending on companies’ requirements, the chassis (1U form-factor, H 40mm, W 215mm, D 376mm) can be fitted with multiple options for redundant power supplies, drives, memory, and connectivity (modules for wireless, SFP+ and ethernet are available). The Xeon processor can be specified with up to 16 cores depending on need and software licensing limits, with the base config starting with the Xeon D-2123IT running four cores at 2.20GHz (you can create your own spec here). There’s an option to select hardware that’s designed to cope in environments of up to 55 C (131 Fahrenheit), so ceiling-mounted servers in industrial settings shouldn’t pose any problems.
We suspect most use-cases will be in retail environments, especially for companies with multiple outlets. Here, the Lenovo SE350 will be perfect for high-end smart surveillance systems, managing location beacons, smart shelf pricing, live stock monitoring, and more — the range has enough grunt to handle ePOS, data archiving, and local apps running in discreet VMs, all while ingesting and parsing high-definition video feeds.
The range comes with XClarity embedded management & control software with dedicated modules for edge-specific needs, along with the energy management and plugin infrastructure that’s common to the Lenovo server range and will be familiar to IT departments. There are options for local management (including over wifi from a smartphone app), but at scale, most organizations will want to manage fleets of these devices centrally.
What’s worth mentioning in the context of management and support is Lenovo’s three-tier support schemes, which we touched on in this article on Tech HQ. LenovoPRO offers enterprise-grade personalized consultation and support and includes exclusive pricing (5% discount at the outset), a dedicated account manager for your organization, and access to useful resources like support materials and manuals. The PRO+ and PRO Elite tiers increase discount levels, add SLAs and add Premier Support Center access. In short, the more you invest in your edge infrastructure, the deeper the discounts on hardware and the more comprehensive the backup support.
In our next article in this series, we’ll look at another series of devices specifically suited to edge installation — the mass storage capabilities of the DE range of NAS (network attached storage) that add huge amounts of disk space for use in demanding environments that don’t necessarily have on-site IT staff to provide support. With the SE350 server range, the two create edge compute and storage capabilities that bring the data center’s power to wherever it’s needed most in an agile and distributed business.
In the meantime, to read more about the Lenovo SE350 server range and discuss the support and discount options available today, get in touch with a Lenovo Small Business Specialist here.
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