IBM Introduces a Linux-Based Virtual Desktop

IBM and Business Partners Introduce a Linux-Based, Virtual Desktop

Customers Significantly Lower Costs by Combining the Power of IBM, Virtual Bridges and Canonical for a Linux-Based, Security-Rich, Microsoft-Desktop Alternative

ARMONK, NY--(Marketwire - December 4, 2008) - IBM (NYSE: IBM), Virtual Bridges and Canonical today announced general availability of a Linux-desktop solution designed to drive significant savings compared with Microsoft-desktop software by amplifying Lotus collaboration software and Ubuntu to a larger user base through virtualization.

This solution runs open standards-based email, word processing, spreadsheets, unified communication, social networking and other software to any laptop, browser, or mobile device from a virtual desktop login on a Linux-based server configuration.

A virtual desktop looks like a traditional desktop but is not limited to a single physical computer. Instead, many virtual Linux desktops are hosted on a server. The combined solution includes:

  • Virtual desktop provided by Virtual Bridges called Virtual Enterprise Remote Desktop Environment (VERDE);
  • Ubuntu, the worldwide leading Linux desktop operating system, from Canonical; and
  • IBM Open Collaboration Client Solution software (OCCS) based on IBM Lotus Symphony, IBM Lotus Notes and Lotus applications. IBM Lotus Symphony is built on the Open Document Format (ODF).

Today's news builds on announcements throughout 2008 around delivering Microsoft-alternative desktops in conjunction with our partners. This solution is now a key component of IBM's financial services front office transformation offering as well as part of the IBM public sector industry solution framework.

"When we look back several years from now, I think we'll see this time as an inflection point when the economic climate pushed the virtual Linux desktop from theory to practice," said Inna Kuznetsova, director, IBM Linux Strategy. "The financial pressures on organizations are staggering and the management of PCs is unwieldy. Today's virtual desktop is delivering superior collaborative software, an innovative delivery method, and an open-source operating system that is demanding clients' consideration."

Compared to Microsoft-based desktops, this virtual desktop solution, including industry-leading components from IBM, Virtual Bridges and Canonical, is estimated on average to deliver cost savings from:

  • Licensing: cost avoidance of $500 to $800 per user on software license for Microsoft Office, Windows and all related products (1);
  • Hardware: cost avoidance of around $258 per user since there is no need to upgrade hardware to support Windows Vista and Office 2007 (2);
  • Power consumption: cost avoidance of $40 to $145 per user from reduced power to run the configuration and $20 to $73 per user from reduced air conditioning requirements from lower powered desktop devices annually (3); and
  • IT services: 90 percent savings of deskside PC support; 75 percent of security/user administration; 50 percent of help desk services such as password resets, and 50 percent for software installations, which are replaced by software publishing (4)

"With the benefits of open standards over a proprietary platform come the freedom to select software in a heterogeneous environment," said Malcolm Yates, vice president, Canonical. "Combining Ubuntu with IBM's Open Client software applications we can break out of Microsoft dependencies completely and significantly reduce total cost of ownership."

Two Views of the Virtual Desktop

From the end user's point of view, the virtual desktop combining solution from IBM, Virtual Bridges and Canonical looks like a traditional desktop but is not limited to a single physical computer. Instead of the software and data being saved on a user's desktop, the hosted applications permit the user to access the screen data. That means users can access their computers on any network-connected device anywhere they happen to be. Software fixes are automatically inherited to the user sessions without anyone having to visit the decentralized access point. All the applications that a user might need -- such as email, calendaring, word processing and team collaboration -- are available.

From the IT department's view, the difference between virtual and physical desktop is significant. For this virtual system, all administrative intervention is done on consolidated virtual machines in the data center through deployment of standard images. When there is a software update required, the IT manager can do it centrally. The IT manager can run concurrent Linux desktop sessions from any x86 Linux server, such as a blade server. Users can access their Linux desktop sessions from not only endpoints running Linux, but Windows and Mac as well, which is critical as users seek standard application environments across heterogeneous physical desktops. The solution includes a seamless remote printing capability without the need to maintain drivers.

"The wave of virtualization has hit the datacenter but bypassed the front office," said Jim Curtin, president and CEO of Virtual Bridges. "Protecting the security of each desktop individually is a Herculean task for most organizations. Today, understaffed IT departments can't afford deskside visits and the help desk requests that accompany traditional desktop maintenance. With a virtual desktop, centralized control means the loss or theft of a laptop is no longer a corporate crisis. The IT staff can instead focus on ramping up capacity and services as the business demands."

IBM Global Technology Services

IBM services can help roll out this offering, as well as other customized virtual desktops. IBM Virtual Infrastructure Access service helps customers transform their distributed IT architectures into virtualized, open-standards-based frameworks. It provides centralized IT services, and robust application and desktop delivery. It combines hardware, software and services to connect customers' authorized users to platform-independent, centrally managed applications and full client images running in virtual machines.

The IBM Open Collaboration Client Solution

The Open Collaboration Client Solution provides email, calendaring, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, unified communication, social networking, team collaboration and portals, based on IBM Lotus Notes 8 and IBM Lotus Symphony. The software is built on open standards, based on the open-source Eclipse Rich Client Platform and supports Open Document Format (ODF). For more information visit,

Virtual Bridges' VERDE

VERDE is the first true Linux-only (host, guest and client) virtual desktop infrastructure solution offering integrated connection broker, robust KVM-based VM technology, multimedia and sound support, local printing support and many other features typical only found in Windows-based solutions. VERDE surpasses Windows-based VDI systems with lower cost-of-ownership, ease-of-use, security, flexibility as well as easier deployment and ongoing management.

Availability and Pricing

The virtual desktop is generally available now in most geographies and many languages by contacting IBM or Virtual Bridges. Standard pricing for a 1,000-user VERDE deployment is $49 per user. Additional volume discounts are available by contacting Virtual Bridges at


(1) Comparison based on information and pricing as listed on, and as of announcement date.

(2) Comparison based on information and pricing as listed on, as of announcement date.

(3) This is based on customer experience from delivering desktop virtualization solutions. Estimates for this range are between a 10 hours/240 day year and a 24/7/365 day year. This is estimated at 50 percent of operating cost savings. Actuals may vary based on location, weather and efficiency of cooling equipment. This does not include the savings due to server consolidation on System z Linux.

(4) Based on IBM, market research and customer experience from delivering desktop virtualization solutions.