Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Johnnie Konstantas, Cloud Best Practices Network, Sarah Patrick

Blog Feed Post

Part II: What I did with Lenovo TS140 in my Server and Storage I/O Review

Part II: What I did with Lenovo TS140 in my Server and Storage I/O Review

By Greg Schulz

Storage I/O trends

Part II: Lenovo TS140 Server and Storage I/O Review

This is the second of a two part post series on my recent experiences with a Lenovo TS140 server, you can read part I here.

What Did I do with the TS140

After initial check out in an office type environment, I moved the TS140 into the lab area where it joined other servers to be used for various things.

Some of those activities included using the Windows Server 2012 Essentials along with associated admin activities. In addition I also installed VMware ESXi 5.5 and ran into a few surprises. One of those was that I needed to apply an update to VMware drivers to support the onboard Intel NIC, as well as enable VT and EP modes for virtualization assist via the BIOS. The biggest surprise was that I discovered I could not install VMware onto an internal drive attached via one of the internal SATA ports which turns out to be a BIOS firmware issue.

Lenovo confirmed this when I brought it to their attention and the workaround is to use USB to install VMware onto a USB flash SSD thumb drive, or other USB attached drive or to use external storage via an adapter. As of this time Lenovo is aware of the VMware issue however no date for new BIOS or firmware is available. Speaking of BIOS, I did notice that there was some newer BIOS and firmware available (FBKT70AUS December 2013) than what was installed (FB48A August of 2013). So I went ahead and did this upgrade which was smooth, quick and easy process. The process included going to the Lenovo site (see resource links below), selecting the applicable download, and then installing it following the directions.

Since I was going to install various PCIe SAS adapters into the TS140 attached to external SAS and SATA storage, this was not a big issue, more of an inconvenience Likewise for using storage mounted internally the workaround is to use a SAS or SATA adapter with internal ports (or cable). Speaking of USB workarounds, have a HDD, HHDD, SSHD or SSD that is a SATA device and need to attach it to USB, then get one of these cables. Note that there are USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 cables (see below) available so choose wisely.

USB to SATA cable
USB to SATA adapter cable

In addition to running various VMware based workloads with different guest VMs.

I also ran FUTREMARK PCmark (btw, if you do not have this in your server storage I/O toolbox it should be) to gauge the systems performance. As mentioned the TS140 is quiet, however it also has good performance depending on what processor you select. Note that while the TS140 has a list price as of the time of this post under $400 USD, that will change depending on which processor, amount of memory, software and other options you choose.

Futuremark PCmark
PCmark

PCmark test Results
Composite score 2274
Compute 11530
System Storage 2429
Secondary Storage 2428
Productivity 1682
Lightweight 2137

PCmark results are shown above for the Windows Server 2012 system (non virtualized) configured as shipped and received from Lenovo.

What I liked

Unbelievably quiet which may not seem like a big deal, however if you are looking to deploy a server or system into an small office workspace, this becomes an important considerations. Otoh, if you are a power user and want a robust server that can be installed into a home media entertainment system, well, this might be a nice to have consideration ;).

Something else that I liked is that the TS140 with the E3-1220 v3 family of processor supports PCIe G3 adapters which is useful if you are going to be using 10GbE cards or 12Gbs SAS and faster cards to move lots of data, support more IOPs or reduce response time latency.

In addition, while only 4 DIMM slots is not very much, its more than what some other similar focused systems have, plus with large capacity DIMMs, you can still get a nice system, or two, or three or four for a cluster at a good price or value (Hmm, VSAN anybody?). Also while not a big item, the TS140 did not require ordering a HDD or SSD if you are not also ordering software the system for a diskless system and have your own.

Speaking of IO slots, naturally I'm interested in Server Storage I/O so having multiple slots is a must have, along with the processor that is quad core (pretty much standard these days) along with VT and EP for supporting VMware (these were disabled in the BIOS however that was an easy fix).

Then there is the price as of this posting starting at $379 USD which is for a bare bones system (e.g. minimal memory, basic processor, no software) whose price increases as you add more items. What I like about this price is that it has the PCIe G3 slot as well as other PCIe G2 slots for expansion meaning I can install 12Gbps (or 6Gbps) SAS storage I/O adapters, or other PCIe cards including SSD, RAID, 10GbE CNA or other cards to meet various needs including software defined storage.

What I did not like

I would like to have had at least six vs. four DIMM slots, however keeping in mind the price point of where this system is positioned, not to mention what you could do with it thinking outside of the box, I'm fine with only 4 x DIMM. Space for more internal storage would be nice, however if that is what you need, then there are the larger Lenovo models to look at. By the way, thinking outside of the box, could you do something like a Hadoop, OpenStack, Object Storage, VMware VSAN or other cluster with these in addition to using as a Windows Server?

Yup.

Granted you wont have as much internal storage, as the TS140 only has two fixed drive slots (for more storage there is the model TD340 among others).

However it is not that difficult to add more (not Lenovo endorsed) by adding a StarTech enclosure like I did with my other systems (see here). Oh and those extra PCIe slots, that’s where a 12Gbs (or 6Gbps) adapter comes into play while leaving room for GbE cards and PCIe SSD cards. Btw not sure what to do with that PCIe x1 slot, that's a good place for a dual GbE NIC to add more networking ports, or a SATA adapter for attaching to larger capacity slower drives.

StarTech 2.5" SAS and SATA drive enclosure on Amazon.com
StarTech 2.5" SAS SATA drive enclosure via Amazon.com

If VMware is not a requirement and you need a good entry level server for a large SOHO or small SMB environment, or, if you are looking to add a flexible server to a lab or for other things the TS140 is good (see disclosure below) and quiet.

Otoh as mentioned, there is a current issue with the BIOS/firmware with the TS140 involving VMware (tried ESXi 5 & 5.5).

However I did find a work around which is that the current TS140 BIOS/Firmware does work with VMware if you install onto a USB drive, and then use external SAS, SATA or other accessible storage which is how I ended up using it.

Lenovo TS140 resources include

  • TS140 Lenovo ordering website
  • TS140 Data and Spec Sheet (PDF here)
  • Lenovo ThinkServer TS140 Manual (PDF here)
  • Intel E3-1200 v3 processors capabilities (Web page here)
  • Lenovo Drivers and Software (Web page here)
  • Lenovo BIOS and Drivers (Web page here)
  • Enabling Virtualization Technology (VT) in TS140 BIOS (Press F1) (Read here)
  • Enabling Intel NIC (82579LM) GbE with VMware (Link to user forum and a blog site here)
  • My experience from a couple years ago dealing with Lenovo support for a laptop issue
  • Summary

    Disclosure: Lenovo loaned the TS140 to me for just under two months including covering shipping costs at no charge (to them or to me) hence this is not a sponsored post or review. On the other hand I have placed an order for a new TS140 similar to the one tested that I bought on-line from Lenovo.

    This new TS140 server that I bought joins the Dell Inspiron I added late last year (read more about that here) as well as other HP and Dell systems.

    Overall I give the Lenovo TS140 an provisional "A" which would be a solid "A" once the BIOS/firmware issue mentioned above is resolved for VMware. Otoh, if you are not concerned about using the TS140 for VMware (or can do a work around), then consider it as an "A".

    As mentioned above, I liked it so much I actually bought one to add to my collection.

    Ok, nuff said (for now)

    Cheers
    Gs

    Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
    twitter @storageio

    All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2014 StorageIO All Rights Reserved

    Read the original blog entry...

    More Stories By Greg Schulz

    Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

    In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

    @CloudExpo Stories
    Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
    When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it’s important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. “Fly two mistakes high” is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee...
    With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
    Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
    There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
    As someone who has been dedicated to automation and Application Release Automation (ARA) technology for almost six years now, one of the most common questions I get asked regards Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Specifically, people want to know whether release automation is still needed when a PaaS is in place, and why. Isn't that what a PaaS provides? A solution to the deployment and runtime challenges of an application? Why would anyone using a PaaS then need an automation engine with workflow ...
    With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
    Recognizing the need to identify and validate information security professionals’ competency in securing cloud services, the two leading membership organizations focused on cloud and information security, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and (ISC)^2, joined together to develop an international cloud security credential that reflects the most current and comprehensive best practices for securing and optimizing cloud computing environments.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that FalconStor Software® Inc., a 15-year innovator of software-defined storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FalconStor Software®, Inc. (NASDAQ: FALC) is a leading software-defined storage company offering a converged, hardware-agnostic, software-defined storage and data services platform. Its flagship solution FreeStor®, utilizes a horizonta...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
    In most cases, it is convenient to have some human interaction with a web (micro-)service, no matter how small it is. A traditional approach would be to create an HTTP interface, where user requests will be dispatched and HTML/CSS pages must be served. This approach is indeed very traditional for a web site, but not really convenient for a web service, which is not intended to be good looking, 24x7 up and running and UX-optimized. Instead, talking to a web service in a chat-bot mode would be muc...
    More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that AppNeta, the leader in performance insight for business-critical web applications, will exhibit and present at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AppNeta is the only application performance monitoring (APM) company to provide solutions for all applications – applications you develop internally, business-critical SaaS applications you use and the networks that deli...
    Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that (ISC)²® (“ISC-squared”) will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Two leading non-profits focused on cloud and information security, (ISC)² and Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), developed the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification to address the increased demand for cloud security expertise due to rapid growth in cloud. Recently named “The Next...