IBM and VMware jointly validate Branch Office Solution based on IBM System x and IBM Flex Systems

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Shortly after announcing the IBM SmartCloud Desktop Reference Architecture with VMware View, we are reinforcing our commitment in this space by designing and validating a remote branch office solution that is based on IBM’s latest System x and Flex Systems components.

We are also glad to announce that IBM has joined VMware’s Rapid Desktop program, an initiative that enables the rapid deployment of VDI desktops on a proven configuration with pre-configured components.

The Remote Branch Office architecture was jointly established with global experts from the VMware EUC team and validated in the labs of the IBM Centre of Competence for Desktop Virtualization in Greenock, UK.

What is the problem?

There are obvious challenges managing desktops in regional and branch offices. Distributed locations typically lack local IT skills to support arising issues, central deployment and image management options are restricted and aspects of availability, security and compliance are difficult to manage in these decentralized environments.

We have been using desktop virtualization (VDI) successfully to reduce operational costs associated with these challenges but we often face branch offices with poor network connectivity, varying availability and bandwidth as well as remaining physical desktops that introduce obstacles when deploying VDI solution to them. Simultaneous user access to centralized applications can be unpredictable; availability might require upgrades to the network that would impact the overall cost of the solution and physical desktops remain as unmanaged islands.

Figure 1 – IBM Branch Office Architecture 

How are we solving this problem?

Combining VMware Mirage and VMware View technologies (Figure-1 ) allows us to create an architecture that provides a comprehensive approach to addressing these varying requirements within the branch office.

With VMware Mirage we can centrally manage OS images for both persistent virtual desktops and physical endpoints, while ensuring employees have fast, secure access to applications and data. With centralized images and layered single image management, the same image can be deployed in a server-hosted virtual desktop for remote execution and natively to a physical PC or client hypervisor for local execution.

This approach enables us to deliver centrally managed desktops with LAN-like performance and disaster recovery capabilities to location with robust and reliable as well as well as unreliable wide area networks.

We host these components on IBM’s latest System x and FlexSystems compute nodes, IBM storage and IBM System networking components that provide maximum uptime, performance and I/O flexibility combined with cost efficiency and rock-solid reliability.

What have we validated?

In a joint effort IBM and VMware EUC teams with technical experts from Trend Micro and F5 Networks have completed work on a fully validated Branch Office Desktop solution hosted in the IBM UK labs.

The IBM Branch Office Desktop blueprint features VMware View and VMware Mirage, vCenter Operations Manager for View and vShield technologies and also includes 3rd party components from joint partners F5 networks and Trend Micro. The IBM x3650M4 with its latest Intel processors, advanced memory support, and extreme disk capacity allowing to host a large number of virtual desktops and data within a small footprint has been chosen as branch office appliance.

IBM Flex System x240 Compute Nodes are designed to provide maximum performance for virtualization environments using Intel Xeon E5-2600 processors, contain highly scalable networking and a memory footprint of up to 768GB, ideally suited to provide the heart of the headquarter environment. The IBM Flex System EN4093 10Gb Virtual Fabric Scalable Switch and the IBM RackSwitch G8124E create the ultra-low-latency, high-performance 10 Gb Ethernet network.

The validation testing verified the design goals for user experience, management and security.

As part of these tests lab validation users connected to VMware View desktops with PCoIP as well as physical endpoints managed centrally by the VMware Mirage infrastructure and disaster recovery from a physical endpoint in the branch site onto a persistent View desktop in the HQ site was tested. Role based access was configured to demonstrate delegation of authority over the distributed HQ and Branch infrastructure. VMware Mirage was configured centrally in the HQ site and the Mirage Branch Reflector was leveraged in the Branch. All Mirage configuration and administration took place in the HQ site.  vCloud Networking and Security was implemented to provide the secure infrastructure around intra and inter-VM communications.

Figure 2 – IBM Validation Environment


The IBM Branch Office solution will be launched as validated design and complete with how-to guides that will assist our customers and partners in successfully deploying this solution on IBM system x and Flex Systems infrastructure.

We will continue to integrate IBM software and hardware components to provide further unique management aspects and performance optimization for our virtual desktop solutions.

A special thanks to the VMware EUC team for their outstanding team work and we are looking forward to jointly creating more examples of these business focused solutions that reduce cost, increase productivity and provide a competitive edge for our customers.

For more information on the IBM SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure;

IBM PureSystems;

VMware Branch Office Desktop solution;

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