In this age of Bring Your Own Device to work, employees want mobility, choice of devices, and access to company resources, while IT departments need to provide security, contain costs and manage complexity. To help both sides live together, IBM announced Friday that it was offering a set of workplace solutions.
Called the IBM SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure, the solutions are intended to allow organizations to centrally manage desktops and to provide employees with access to applications from virtually any device.
In a video accompanying the announcement, IBM System x Vice President Roland Hagan said the SmartCloud initiative was designed to "help businesses manage the transition to an 'anywhere, anytime' workplace affordably, while minimizing risk."
Hagan noted that SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure provides a set of IBM-specified reference infrastructures with choices of several virtual desktop solutions, including an IBM solution provided with Verde's Virtual Bridges, as well as ones from Citrix and VMware.
SmartCloud Desktop also offers IBM's Tivoli Endpoint Manager for management of the physical endpoint environment, and IBM Security Access Manager for single sign-on across the enterprise. The overall infrastructure is based on System x servers, and IBM offers consulting to assist organizations with implementation.
Adalio Sanchez, general manager of IBM System x business, said in a statement that the ecosystem of partners and a "robust, open-reference approach" provides a wide range of "time-tested virtual desktop solutions for multiple environments."
'Connecting All the Dots'
The IBM-Verde offering, called IBM Virtual Desktop for Small Business, includes virtual desktop infrastructure, integrated offline VDI for disconnected and mobile use, and support for remote branches. Citrix offers an all-in-one VDI-in-a-Box option for organizations with simple IT needs, as well as XenDesktop for enterprises. The VMware View option provides what that company calls a "personalized high fidelity experience" across sessions and devices.
In announcing the SmartCloud Desktop offering, the company noted its utilization by several clients. The Bank of Toyko-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., for instance, is using IBM System x servers running VMware Vie software to support 3,000 personal computers. The bank noted that the solution had two distinct advantages over its previous virtual environment -- supporting more software types and the ability to prevent an application failure from crashing the entire system.
Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, said the SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure effort is an example of IBM "connecting all the dots" to implement against a well-conceived strategy.
That strategy, she told us, is "total cost of acquisition," adding that it underpins much of IBM's thinking these days. The company is known for its premium solutions, DiDio noted, which includes not only its System x servers, endpoint and sign-on management tools, and packaged virtual desktop solutions, but also its service and support.
She said that, by packaging these within the IBM brand and making them customizable and affordable for a wide range of companies, Big Blue is providing a "very attractive" package that is directly targeting offerings by HP, Dell and others.