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Lenovo Launches Cloud Version of Its Unified Workspace

More known for its PC, laptop and server products, Lenovo is making inroads in the digital workspace market dominated by Citrix and VMware.

Lenovo last week announced its new Unified Workspace Cloud, a managed service based on its on-premises Unified Workspace technology. Similar to the on-premises Workspace Cloud, a platform that Lenovo has offered since its acquisition of Stoneware four years ago, Unified Workspace Cloud is HTML5-based and uses Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to access applications in a consistent manner on any PC or mobile device.

Sal Patalano, Lenovo's chief revenue officer, said in an interview that unlike the digital workspace offerings Citrix and VMware have recently rolled out, Lenovo's Unified Workspace doesn't require an agent or plug-ins.

"The big thing is being able to do it via browser. We don't deal with any desktop agents," Patalano said, adding it also doesn't require VPN connections. "The ability to negotiate and get into my corporate environment without having to deal with a VPN log-on is huge."

The on-premises Unified Workspace front-ends a secure proxy, and users can log in to it via their Active Directory credentials to access applications in a datacenter -- internally hosted apps, Web apps and SaaS apps. With the current on-premises version, the customer runs two servers. One is for interacting with Active Directory and connecting into any of those internal private applications they need to access, while the second server is deployed in the DMZ functioning as a relay, said Dan Ver Wolf, a Lenovo senior sales engineer.

"Users that are remote, using personal devices, whatever it might be, access everything through that external relay, so they get secure access, remain physically separated from the datacenter, but still get access to internal resources," Ver Wolf said.

The new Unified Workspace Cloud uses a similar approach, though it's a managed service hosted via Amazon Web Services (AWS) and administered by Lenovo's professional services team. "When a customer wants a new application added to the service, they just call to have it deployed," he said.

In addition to no longer requiring the infrastructure associated with the on-premises version, the Unified Workspace Cloud is half the price. The MSRP for one user access to the on-premises offering is $50 and $100 per user per month for concurrent access, versus $25 and $50 respectively for the new cloud offering. Granted, no one pays MSRP, but pricing will vary based on the number of employees.

Lenovo also announced it has inked a partnership with Nimble Storage, a rapidly growing provider of flash storage systems. The two companies will look to deliver a "self-healing" converged solution with Nimble's InfoSight. Lenovo said the first product based on that solution, the ThinkAgile CX Series, is set for release at the end of the month.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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