Category: Cisco

New Year, New Job.

New Year, New Job.

I’m super excited to be taking on a new role in the NSBU at VMware, as of the 1st of January I’ll officially be joining the team as a Sr. Systems Engineer for the Benelux. I’ll be focused mainly on VMware NSX, including it’s integrations with other solutions (Like vRA and OpenStack for example).

Unofficially I’ve been combining this function with my “real” job for a couple of months now ever since a dear and well respected colleague decided to leave VMware. Recently I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to attend a 2 week training at our Palo Alto campus on NSX-v, NSX-MH, OpenStack, VIO, OVS,…


The experience was face-meltingly good, I definitely learned a lot and got the opportunity to meet many wonderful people. One conclusion is that the NSX team certainly is a very interesting and exciting place to be in the company.

In the last few months I got my feet wet by training some of our partner community on NSX (most are very excited about the possibilities, even the die-hard hardware fanatics), staffing the NSX booth at VMworld Europe, and by having some speaking engagements like my NSX session at the Belgian VMUG.


So why NSX?

In the past I’ve been working on a wide variety of technologies (being in a very small country and working for small system integrators you need to be flexible, and I guess it’s also just the way my mind works #squirrel!) but networking and virtualisation are my two main fields of interest so how convenient that both are colliding!
I’ve been a pure networking consultant in the past, mainly working with Cisco and Foundry/HP ProCurve and then moved more into application networking at Citrix ANG and Riverbed.

The whole network virtualisation and SDN (let’s hold of the discussion of what’s what for another day) field are on fire at the moment and are making the rather tedious and boring (actually I’ve never really felt that, but I’m a bit of a geek) field of networking exciting again. The possibilities and promise of SDN have lot’s of potential to be disruptive and change an industry, and I’d like to wholeheartedly and passionately contribute and be a part of that.

As NSX is an enabling technology for a lot of other technologies it needs to integrate with a wide variety of solutions. 2 solutions from VMware that will have NSX integrated for example are EVO:RACK and VIO. I look forward to also work on those and hopefully find some time to blog about it as wel.

Other fields are also looking to the promise of SDN to enable some new ways of getting things done, like SocketPlane for example, trying to bring together Open vSwitch and Docker to provide pragmatic Software-Defined Networking for container-based clouds. As VMware is taking on a bigger and bigger role in the Cloud Native Apps space it certainly will be interesting to help support all these efforts.

“if you don’t cannibalise yourself, someone else will”
-Steve Jobs

I’m enjoying a few days off with my family and look forward to returning in 2015 to support the network virtualisation revolution!


Horizon Branch Office Desktop Architecture

VMware has a number of virtual desktop architectures that give a prescriptive approach to matching a companies’ specific use case to a validated design. These architectures are not price-list bundles, they include VMware’s own products combined with 3rd party solutions with the goal of bringing customers from the pilot phase all the way into production.

At the moment there a 4 different architectures focussed on different use cases, these are the Mobile Secure Workplace, the AlwaysOn Workplace, the Branch Office Desktop, and the Business Process Desktop.


In this article I wanted to focus in on the Branch Office Desktop but in the interest of completeness please find below the partner solutions around:

Seeing that there are over 11 million branch offices across the globe, a lot of people are working with remote, or distributed, IT infrastructures which potentially have a lot of downsides. (No remote IT staff, slow and unreliable connectivity, no centralised management,…).


With the Horizon Branch Office Desktop you have some options to alleviate those concerns and bring the remote workers into the fold. Depending on your specific needs you could look at several options.

If you have plenty of bandwidth and low latency, using a traditional centralised Horizon View environment is going to be the most cost effective and easy path to pursue. There are of course additional options if you have bandwidth concerns but still want to provide a centralised approach.

Optimized WAN connectivity delivered by F5 Networks.

The F5 solution offers simplified access management, hardened security, and optimized WAN connectivity between the branch locations and the primary datacenter. Using a Virtual Edition of F5’s Traffic Manager in the branch combined with a physical appliance in the datacenter.


The solution provides secure access management via the BIG-IP APM (access policy manager) which is an SSL-VPN solution with integrated AAA services and SSO capabilities. The BIG-IP LTM (local traffic manager) is an Application Delivery Networking solution that provides load-balancing for the Horizon View Security and Connection servers. The solution can also provide WAN optimisation through it’s Wan Optimization Manager (WOM) module, in this case focused on other non PCoIP branch traffic.

If you find that ample bandwidth is not available however you still have other options like the architectures combining Horizon with Riverbed, Cisco, and IBM which I’ll focus on in this article.

Riverbed for the VMware (Horizon) Branch Office Desktop.

With Riverbed’s architecture we essentially take your centralised storage (a LUN from your existing SAN array) and “project” this storage across the WAN towards the branch office. In the branch we have an appliance, called the Granite Edge (steelhead EX + Granite in the picture below) which then presents this “projected” LUN to any server, including itself (the Granite Edge appliance is also a x86 server running VMware ESXi). If we install the virtual desktops on the LUN we have just “projected” out from the central SAN environment then these desktops are now essentially locally available in the branch office. This means that from the POV of the end-user they setup a local (LAN) PCoIP connection toward the virtual desktop and can work with the same local performance one would expect in the datacenter location.


The end-result is that from a management perspective you keep (or gain) centralised control and from an end-user perspective you get the same performance as if you were local. For more details on this architecture you can download a deployment guide here: Deployment Guide: Riverbed for the VMware Branch Office Desktop …

Cisco Office in a Box.

With Cisco’s Office in a Box architecture you take their Integrated Services Routers Generation 2 (ISR G2) platforms (Cisco 2900 and 3900 Series ISRs) and the Cisco UCS E-Series Servers, and combine those into one physical platform that can host up to 50 virtual desktops in a Branch Office.

cisco office in a box

In this case you have essentially built a remote desktop appliance that sits in the branch office, all virtual machines share the direct-attached storage (DAS) of the Cisco UCS E-Series blade. So in this case the management domain is not stretched across the WAN but instead you have a “pod-like” design that includes everything you need to run virtual desktops in the branch.


For more information on Cisco’s architecture please see:

IBM Branch Office Desktop.

IBM has another validated approach that combines VMware Mirage and VMware Horizon View technologies to address the varying requirements within the branch office.

With VMware Mirage you 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 let’s you deliver centrally managed desktops with LAN-like performance and disaster recovery capabilities to locations with robust and reliable as well as well as unreliable wide area networks.

These components run on IBM’s (Lenovo’s) System x and FlexSystems compute nodes, IBM storage and IBM System networking components.


For more information on the IBM architecture please see:

Alternatively (or in conjunction with all the architectures mentioned) we can also independently leverage Horizon Mirage for the Branch Office, specifically if you have to deal with frequently disconnected users (laptop users that are not always on the office for example) or physical devices.

For more information on all these Branch Office architectures please see:  and for the partner extended capabilities.