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A year after introducing an enterprise-oriented storage-based, desktop computing solution that was available only direct, Lenovo is announcing an enhanced version that will be available in February 2010 and will be sold through the channel. Eventually it will be available as a managed service offering for SMBs, says Goran Wibrand, director for secure client management.

According to Lenovo, Secure Managed Client can help businesses reduce IT costs and security risks by turning off hard drives and storing all data in a non-server remote location solution. The company estimates that it can reduce the average $120 a month enterprises spend to fully manage a PC to as low as $70 per PC.

The SMC solution consists of a client, a hard drive-less ThinkCentre desktop PC Intel vPro technology, a Lenovo co-developed software stack and a centralized Lenovo Storage Array, powered by Intel and offers a number of benefits over server-based computing options such as blade PCs, thin clients or desktop virtualization. They include: preserves PC fidelity by giving the end user a full Windows experience; avoids IT complexity by working with and enhancing current IT process and tools; provides a safe and flexible investment with the option of converting a ThinkCentre back to a traditional desktop PC by re-enabling the hard drives; uses less energy than a traditional desktop PC; and increases security by storing information from all desktops in an SMC fleet in a safe, single location.

Lenovo has done a lot of improvement based on customer feedback, says Wibrand. The main focus for Version 2.0 was on adding different kinds of image support. Other improvements include better redundancy, the option of binding the image to a device instead of the user, and making it easier to manage, with new tools for monitoring and measuring performance.

The company started off with large enterprises, but has branched out recently to government and education, he says. The first two versions, 1.0 and 1.2, were really focused on Lenovo customers, and were not really channel ready. "2.0 is channel ready." Partners can sell the parts and they can add skill and some other services around it to enhance Lenovo’s offerings, says Wibrand.

 Lenovo is also looking at broadening SMC out as a service, mainly through subscription, to address much smaller customers in the 20-30-seat range. The channel will be essential for reaching this market. "That’s where we’re going from now on."

Enhancements in Version 2.0 include:

Pristine Image Support1 – An SMC 2.0 enabled PC will return to its original state with each time a user turns off the PC. During this process, SMC 2.0 resets the image on the array to pristine states by removing viruses or malware, temporarily saved information such as files, passwords, and user unique information. This feature makes SMC 2.0 ideal for work settings such as kiosks, libraries and for task workers and software test environments. 

Enhanced Redundancy – In addition to the asynchronous redundancy available in SMC 1.2, SMC 2.0 offers IT managers improved data access by creating duplicate connection managers, allowing end users to continue logging into their desktop PCs even if the original client connection to the SMC Connection Manager in the data center is not available.  SMC 2.0 also allows for array synchronous replication2 – a process that instantly backs up user data on separate, redundant storage arrays as soon as user data is saved.

Assigned Seating – IT managers will now be able to choose between assigning an image to a user or a particular SMC client such as a PC located in an office, classroom, hotel lobby or school library.  By assigning an image to a specific PC, the PC will always boot directly to a defined Windows image.

Storage Array Auto Detection – Designed for even the most novice administrator, SMC 2.0 makes managing storage arrays on the network easy with Auto Detect. Once a new storage array has been installed, the SMC 2.0 console automatically detects its presence on the network, minimizing the need to notify the administrator that a new array has been installed. 

Expanded Language Support – On SMC 2.0, Lenovo’s user login interface will support additional languages including Scandinavian as well as double byte character set (DBCS) languages such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean. 

Enhanced User Experience – ThinkCentre desktop PCs operating on the SMC 2.0 network can support additional PC add-in cards such as quad monitor graphics, providing users with expandability options. In addition, SMC 2.0 hypervisor automatically delivers higher quality of service for VoIP applications, ideal for call centers or large enterprises that rely heavily on VoIP for phone communications.