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Taking VDI to the Edge: A Cisco-Nimble Smart Stack Bundle for Remote or Branch Offices

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Taking VDI to the Edge: A Cisco-Nimble Smart Stack Bundle for Remote or Branch Offices

IT has always been challenged as to how to support remote or branch offices (ROBO) with the same kind of excellent user experiences that the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) delivers from centralized data centers.

Up until now, there simply hasn’t been a ROBO compute and storage platform that made economical sense. But with the help of Nimble Storage and VMware virtual desktops, locations with up to 750 to 900 users can have the power of Cisco UCS at an economical price point.

How does this work? The key is Cisco UCS Mini, an edge-scale solution that is optimized specifically for remote or branch offices. This offering—which includes the robust management capabilities provided by Cisco UCS Manager—delivers servers, storage, and 10 Gigabit networking in an easy-to-deploy, compact form factor. Combine this powerful system with a Nimble Storage system and VMware Horizon 6 with View virtual desktops, and you now have a Cisco UCS Mini Smart stack performance bundle.

Performance remotely delivered, centrally controlled

Not only does this bundle deliver excellent end-user performance, but it is also cost-effective, making it an ideal solution for remote or branch offices. And it can be easily controlled and managed from a main data center using Cisco UCS Central software along with Cisco Fabric InterConnect technology in the Cisco UCS Mini chassis. So whether there is a need for a solution in one location or many, they can all be managed through a single plane of glass as if they were part of a central data center.

And for added flexibility, this self-contained desktop virtualization solution can support hundreds of users in a mixed workload virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that best fits their organizations. For instance, companies can run both full virtual desktops for users that need power and flexibility, as well as lighter-weight Remote Desktop Session Hosts (RDSH) on the same server. Add in the Nimble Storage CS300 array and customers now get a powerful, agile storage platform too.

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Configured to perform in a variety of remote scenarios

To illustration the power of this solution, Cisco tested various configurations, all of which delivered excellent end-user performance and demonstrated the flexibility that this bundle provides (click here for the full results).

One of the most significant configurations used a mixed workload. In this scenario, up to 350 mixed-use-case virtual desktop users can be included, with non-persistent linked clone-based virtual desktops and newly supported VMware Horizon View  based RDSH–server desktops. This was the first time this configuration, which ran on a four-blade Cisco UCS Mini using Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Servers with a Nimble Storage system, was tested – and the results were impressive. We discover that, based on a single server linked clone and RDSH recommended workload data, this solution could easily scale to 750 to 900 users, depending on the mix using the same blade server configuration.

We also configured RDSH sessions with 150 VMware Horizon 6 with View RDSH desktops on two Cisco UCS B200 M3 Infrastructure Blade Servers that hosted all infrastructure services as well. In addition, we tested a configuration of only non-persistent desktops to show multiple-server scalability for 250 Microsoft Windows 7 virtual desktops on two Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Servers. And finally, we used a single Cisco UCS B200 M3 blade server running VMware Horizon 6 with View RDSH virtual machines to show a configuration that can support 140 user sessions.

And there’s more to come!


Cisco UCS Mini and Nimble Storage together are an excellent solution for remote or branch offices hosting VMware Horizon–based virtual desktops. And we’re going to keep making this a better offering for you.


As we speak, there are new enhancements for the Cisco UCS Mini in the works and soon to be released. And in the upcoming months, you’ll see support for Cisco UCS B200 M4 server, N-Port virtualization (NPV), HTML5 interface, and for different storage providers. In addition, there will be chassis expansion to support more servers in the architecture.


To learn more and find out the full test results, download the configuration guide: Cisco UCS Mini, Nimble Storage, and VMware Horizon 6 with View Mixed Workload on Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Servers. Besides extensive graphs of the performance tests, it shows hybrid logical and physical diagrams of the various configurations with step-by-step guidance for deploying this solution in a remote or branch office. And you can learn more about the Cisco UCS Mini here.

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