Sidebar

Lenovo's Secure Managed Client Solution Breaks New Ground

Analysis of News Events
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

A creative blending of unique technologies has resulted in simplifying the administration of desktop clients.

 

While there has been widespread resistance in the corporate world to upgrading from Windows XP to Vista, eventually XP is going to be long of tooth, and business will move to Windows 7. The cost of that move, with the implication of having to purchase all new PC hardware to support a more resource-intensive operating system, is looming like a scene out of the TV show Fear Factor, in which contestants are forced to eat a handful of squirmy bugs in order to remain in the game.

 

Those implications of having to upgrade all the productivity software onboard is what IBM is counting on as it deploys Lotus Notes and Symphony on Linux and UNIX platforms. There are other companies too planning for when that move takes place, and they have various interests in how it plays out because it means a lot of new PCs will be sold in the market during that transition.

 

One company that has its eye on the ebb and flow of the market is Lenovo Group Ltd., the firm that bought IBM's PC-making business in 2004 for $1.25 billion. The sale was intended to free IBM to focus on higher-margin businesses, such as computer services and software, though some have since said that it had the unintended effect of closing a door into the offices of small and medium businesses. In any case, it has helped raise Lenovo's image worldwide. Recently, however, Lenovo's stock has dropped like a stone, losing 47 percent on the HK stock market in a period of only five trading days. The loss in investor confidence follows an announcement by the company that it would cut its ranks by 2,500 employees, a planned cost reduction that normally results in a jump in stock prices. The continued drop in share price is believed to be from the belief, or Lenovo's announced plans, to refocus its market from corporations to the common consumer. A plan to sell low-cost computers does not, apparently, impress investors. The irony here is that Lenovo has some highly advanced technology that could save corporations billions of dollars while improving security and control--if only they would buy into it. Unlike IBM, which spends a lot of time researching names and catchy phrases to identify what essentially is normal software and standard architecture designs, Lenovo has a very slick concept for deploying desktops called Secure Managed Client (SMC), a solution that no one seems to understand. Lenovo's SMC platform works to centralize and simplify the administration of desktop clients.

 

"I've had the opportunity last year to take over 600 customers through the SMC story, and only three of them got the value of iSCSI booting," says Rich Cheston, Lenovo executive director and distinguished engineer, who used to work for IBM and is an expert on improving PC manageability.

 

"Most of the time, it went over their heads, but three customers got excited about it." After one presentation, he says, "four guys in the back of the room jump up and yell, 'Damn, we already manage servers like that! This makes so much sense to us. We had no idea that anyone could do this on a client!' "

 

What the excitement was all about is that Lenovo has figured out a way to iSCSI boot a diskless device. What this accomplishes from the standpoint of PC management is that if you can run it on a normal PC, you can run it on an SMC.

 

What Lenovo has been working on is in the arena of what IBM calls "server-hosted desktop." As a class, Gartner calls it server-based computing. The spin on the SMC concept from Lenovo, however, is that the solution is not server-based, it's storage-based. The user's desktop experience is the same as if the operating system and applications were running on the client, but in fact, they aren't. The client machine either has no hard drive or it's been shut down. So the action must be on the server, right? Not true, says Cheston; it's on a SCSI storage area network (SAN). The solution consists of a specially configured Lenovo desktop client PC, the Lenovo SMC Storage Array built on an iSCSI SAN tuned for SMC, and the SMC software stack that includes the SMC Management Console and SMC Connection Manager.

 

"Ninety-five percent of customers do imaging the same way," says Cheston. They buy a system from a major vendor, wipe clean the pre-load, develop their own common operating environment image for their company, sys-prep it, ghost it, and deploy it. "Well, that image can run on SMC without modification. It's just running from the SAN because, essentially, what we did was replace the PxE [Pre-boot Execution Environment] in our system with this iSCSI initiator. The benefit is huge."

 

Cheston says that the total cost of ownership (TCO) per PC desktop per month for a company is around $100. He says he has met only a couple of customers in North America and Europe where the TCO is less than $80. With SMC deployed, he believes companies can achieve TCO rates of under $60 per month. The benefit of SMC is that it's simpler and it doesn't create duplicate images; it's a single desktop image, it runs on an iSCSI SAN, and the SAN can be anywhere. Since there is no data or "personality" to the PC, there is no reason ever to visit it. If it goes down, you ship a new one to the remote location and plug it in. The only caveat is that you do have to have a network connection, and if the network is down, the PC goes with it. Lenovo, however, is looking at a cached version of SMC to bridge such eventualities.

 

There are several very specific features to the solution that Lenovo uses that make it possible. One is an iSCSI SAN that had a lot of connections but transferred a small amount of data versus the more conventional ones that had a few connections and transfer terabytes of data. They found a provider in Intel and have been partners ever since.

 

"We just about gave up in our search for a SAN manufacturer when we discovered that Intel is a SAN manufacturer, and they had the perfect SAN," says Cheston. The result gave Lenovo an edge on cost, and now its solution is equal to or less than the cost of an existing desktop. The benefits come with the reduced cost of ownership, better security, easier deployment, and better control. Because the SMC solution is a fully functional Windows PC with remote storage, IT employs the traditional Windows management processes, but SMC's centralized management structure eliminates desk-side visits. Because Lenovo is providing the PCs, it can offer the complete SMC solution--including the client, storage array, and software--for the same price as or less than a traditional desktop.

 

The enabling development in Lenovo's SMC solution was Intel's development of its vPro technology that allowed a type 1 hypervisor to run on a client. Lenovo invested a lot into its Client Virtualization Platform, a type 1 hypervisor that runs on the client rather than the server. So far, only two solutions have been announced that use the Client Virtualization Platform, and SMC is one of them. The other is a secure e-banking solution in China. More announcements are expected from Lenovo in the future that will leverage its Client Virtualization Platform.

 

"With this SMC solution enabled by our hypervisor, we have already won a tremendous number of accounts away from our competition because we'll go in and match them with the cost of our desktop, but the ability of this SMC to reduce their total cost of ownership or more overcomes that cost very quickly.

 

"If you were to come to Raleigh [North Carolina], and you wanted to see SMC running, we'd put you at a desk and ask you which of two PCs is the one running SMC," says Cheston." But you can't tell. There's no difference."

 

Lenovo has included several key security features in the SMC solution that make it attractive in today's environment of increased threats. Each user's "hard drive" is stored in a secure section of the storage array. Because SMC works just like a standard Windows PC, security can be upgraded through products such as Utimaco hard-drive encryption. Lenovo also provides a set of tools that include the SMC Security Advisor, which allows the central management of security policies for SMC desktops as well as standard Windows PCs. The SMC Management Console is designed to reduce the time IT administrators spend managing PCs by allowing for centralized management of the SMC platform. With the console, an administrator can centrally and remotely manage users and their desktop images.

 

The bottom line, according to Lenovo and based on calculations the company has made, is that over a three-year period, a customer can deploy SMC and save up to 40 percent in overall implementation costs--including deployment and ongoing management--compared to what a standard set of desktop PCs would cost. SMC would cost a customer up to 15 percent less than alternative desktop solutions, such as streaming technologies, according to Lenovo.

 

With a new spin on the desktop PC market, technology that can significantly lower costs for corporations by centrally managing remote PCs, and plans for deploying unique and proprietary hypervisor technology in new and different ways, investors who have suddenly become scared of Lenovo's future may eventually wish they had ridden out the storm.

Chris Smith

Chris Smith was the Senior News Editor at MC Press Online from 2007 to 2012 and was responsible for the news content on the company's Web site. Chris has been writing about the IBM midrange industry since 1992 when he signed on with Duke Communications as West Coast Editor of News 3X/400. With a bachelor's from the University of California at Berkeley, where he majored in English and minored in Journalism, and a master's in Journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Chris later studied computer programming and AS/400 operations at Long Beach City College. An award-winning writer with two Maggie Awards, four business books, and a collection of poetry to his credit, Chris began his newspaper career as a reporter in northern California, later worked as night city editor for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and went on to edit a national cable television trade magazine. He was Communications Manager for McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Long Beach, Calif., before it merged with Boeing, and oversaw implementation of the company's first IBM desktop publishing system there. An editor for MC Press Online since 2007, Chris has authored some 300 articles on a broad range of topics surrounding the IBM midrange platform that have appeared in the company's eight industry-leading newsletters. He can be reached at chriswriting@cs.com.

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

LATEST COMMENTS

Support MC Press Online

RESOURCE CENTER

  • WHITE PAPERS

  • WEBCAST

  • TRIAL SOFTWARE

  • White Paper: Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization

    SB Profound WP 5539

    If your business is thinking about modernizing your legacy IBM i (also known as AS/400 or iSeries) applications, you will want to read this white paper first!

    Download this paper and learn how Node.js can ensure that you:
    - Modernize on-time and budget - no more lengthy, costly, disruptive app rewrites!
    - Retain your IBM i systems of record
    - Find and hire new development talent
    - Integrate new Node.js applications with your existing RPG, Java, .Net, and PHP apps
    - Extend your IBM i capabilties to include Watson API, Cloud, and Internet of Things


    Read Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization Now!

     

  • Profound Logic Solution Guide

    SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation.
    Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects.
    The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the companyare not aligned with the current IT environment.

    Get your copy of this important guide today!

     

  • 2022 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results

    Fortra2022 marks the eighth edition of the IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, Fortra captures data on how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT and cybersecurity initiatives it supports.

    Over the years, this survey has become a true industry benchmark, revealing to readers the trends that are shaping and driving the market and providing insight into what the future may bring for this technology.

  • Brunswick bowls a perfect 300 with LANSA!

    FortraBrunswick is the leader in bowling products, services, and industry expertise for the development and renovation of new and existing bowling centers and mixed-use recreation facilities across the entertainment industry. However, the lifeblood of Brunswick’s capital equipment business was running on a 15-year-old software application written in Visual Basic 6 (VB6) with a SQL Server back-end. The application was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced.
    With the help of Visual LANSA, they found an easy-to-use, long-term platform that enabled their team to collaborate, innovate, and integrate with existing systems and databases within a single platform.
    Read the case study to learn how they achieved success and increased the speed of development by 30% with Visual LANSA.

     

  • Progressive Web Apps: Create a Universal Experience Across All Devices

    LANSAProgressive Web Apps allow you to reach anyone, anywhere, and on any device with a single unified codebase. This means that your applications—regardless of browser, device, or platform—instantly become more reliable and consistent. They are the present and future of application development, and more and more businesses are catching on.
    Download this whitepaper and learn:

    • How PWAs support fast application development and streamline DevOps
    • How to give your business a competitive edge using PWAs
    • What makes progressive web apps so versatile, both online and offline

     

     

  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks

     

     

  • Why Migrate When You Can Modernize?

    LANSABusiness users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.
    In this white paper, you’ll learn how to think of these issues as opportunities rather than problems. We’ll explore motivations to migrate or modernize, their risks and considerations you should be aware of before embarking on a (migration or modernization) project.
    Lastly, we’ll discuss how modernizing IBM i applications with optimized business workflows, integration with other technologies and new mobile and web user interfaces will enable IT – and the business – to experience time-added value and much more.

     

  • UPDATED: Developer Kit: Making a Business Case for Modernization and Beyond

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Having trouble getting management approval for modernization projects? The problem may be you're not speaking enough "business" to them.

    This Developer Kit provides you study-backed data and a ready-to-use business case template to help get your very next development project approved!

  • What to Do When Your AS/400 Talent Retires

    FortraIT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators is small.

    This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn:

    • Why IBM i skills depletion is a top concern
    • How leading organizations are coping
    • Where automation will make the biggest impact

     

  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using NodeRun.com as a pre-built development environment

     

     

  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.

     

     

  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Encryption on IBM i Simplified

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDB2 Field Procedures (FieldProcs) were introduced in IBM i 7.1 and have greatly simplified encryption, often without requiring any application changes. Now you can quickly encrypt sensitive data on the IBM i including PII, PCI, PHI data in your physical files and tables.
    Watch this webinar to learn how you can quickly implement encryption on the IBM i. During the webinar, security expert Robin Tatam will show you how to:

    • Use Field Procedures to automate encryption and decryption
    • Restrict and mask field level access by user or group
    • Meet compliance requirements with effective key management and audit trails

     

  • Lessons Learned from IBM i Cyber Attacks

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDespite the many options IBM has provided to protect your systems and data, many organizations still struggle to apply appropriate security controls.
    In this webinar, you'll get insight into how the criminals accessed these systems, the fallout from these attacks, and how the incidents could have been avoided by following security best practices.

    • Learn which security gaps cyber criminals love most
    • Find out how other IBM i organizations have fallen victim
    • Get the details on policies and processes you can implement to protect your organization, even when staff works from home

    You will learn the steps you can take to avoid the mistakes made in these examples, as well as other inadequate and misconfigured settings that put businesses at risk.

     

     

  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    SB PowerTech WC GenericWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks

     

     

  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    TRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms.

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    FortraRobot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    FortraRobot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.