IBM Goes BYOD With VDI
July 9, 2012 Alex Woodie
As business computing workloads are being moved from on-premise locations into the “cloud,” it begs the question: What happens to the personal computing environments that people rely on to access legacy client/server applications? Many cloud apps can be accessed directly from a Web browser, but some apps still require a full client running under a Windows or Linux operating system. In June, IBM announced a new virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution aimed at bridging the gap between client/server apps and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) revolution.
Organizations today face a two-pronged challenge of meeting the modern BYOD mandate while simultaneously keeping a grip on the security of data and devices and controlling the costs of administration. Employees want to bring their iOS and Android devices into the workplace and use them for work, and organizations want to let them–but only if they can do so without compromising security or creating an administrative mess.
IBM has addressed these needs with a new bundle of hardware, software, and services called the SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure. The solution enables organizations to run hundreds or thousands of Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X desktop images on a single server, and to allow employees to access their virtual desktops from (virtually) any supported PC, thin client, smartphone, or tablet.
The solution includes a mix of X86 servers, storage arrays, and desktop virtualization software from Citrix Systems, Virtual Bridges, or VMware. On top of this, IBM adds a single sign-on (SSO) authentication utility, Tivoli endpoint management software, and enough IBM Global Services to get the thing up and running.
The combined IBM-Virtual Bridges offering, dubbed the Virtual Desktop for Smart Business (VDSB), is based on Virtual Bridges’ Verde hypervisor that supports both Windows and Linux (SUSE Linux, Red Hat, and Ubuntu) desktop environments. The VDSB offers support for offline VDI, which is handy for disconnected and mobile users. It supports a variety of protocols, including Microsoft RDP (remote desktop protocol), SPICE (controlled by Red Hat), and RX.
Citrix, which has been a leader in the VDI market for as long as VDI has been around, has two entries for the SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure bundle, including the entry-level VDI-in-a-Box product and its enterprise-strength XenDesktop offering. The Citrix offerings use the company’s ICA/HDX (independent computing architecture/high definition user experience) technology, and support only Windows desktops.
The third SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure is based on VMware View, which is the company’s VDI offering for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS desktops. Based on its vSphere virtualization stack and Teradici‘s proprietary PCoIP (PC over IP) desktop virtualization protocol, VMware View customers can access desktops from just about anywhere, including mobile devices.
These solutions have been certified to run on a selection of IBM’s X86 servers, including the 2U System x3650 M3, the BladeCenter HS22 and HS23, and the PureSystem Flex node servers. The SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure servers have the latest Intel Xeon processors and are equipped with solid-state drives, which IBM says can boost performance of virtualized environments by up to 40 percent. IBM is also promoting its Storwize V7000 storage array for use in SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure bundles.
IBM has touted the results of several early adopters of the VDI solution, including the Gilmer County, Texas, Independent School District, which selected the Virtual Bridges offering. IBM says the 2,000-student school district has realized standard benefits of a VDI solution, including lower desktop management costs and improved disaster recovery and security. On top of this, school district employees can access their OS and application environments from any electronic device, which is surely a boon to teachers and administrators.