VMware Edge Compute Stack on Lenovo’s ThinkSystem SE 350

December 10, 2021

Simple hardware and software solution for your ROBO workloads

Organizations with lots of small branches and retail sites seek to find the best option for their users’ applications on-premises. Ease of management, security, and low cost of investment are of crucial importance when it comes to edge solution purchases for small remote sites. At VMworld 2021, VMware announced the VMware Edge Compute Stack on Lenovo’s ThinkSystem SE 350 solution, which was previously announced at Lenovo TechWorld. A bundle that helps companies with multiple Remote offices/Branch offices (ROBO) overcome many of the challenges related to their specific business model and enable them to process data closer to where the data is generated.

What does VMware Edge Compute stack on Lenovo’s ThinkSystem SE 350 offer?

VMware Edge Compute stack is a converged hardware and software stack that runs the full VMware vSphere and VMware vSAN in a low-cost, small Lenovo physical volume appliance - ThinkSystem SE350, that provides "just enough" to run 25 to 30 virtual machines at a remote (Edge) location. VMware Edge Compute stack 2+1 vSAN ROBO provides two physical servers to host VMs and the third instance is used to store the vSAN Witness appliance. It offers high data availability, so in case of a node failure, the applications running on the problematic node will be moved to the alternate site where a complete replica of each data component is available. This way the applications will remain running without interruption. vSAN 2 Node cluster configuration achieves this level of redundancy by applying a storage policy containing RAID 1 and Failures to tolerate of 1, Mirroring, in other words – one host failure can be supported without an impact on the application’s running state.

Lenovo ThinkSystem SE350 is the server used for this solution architecture. It is a relatively small server, lightweight, withstands shocks, vibrations, and supports an extended operating temperature range. It also offers a variety of mounting options to fit at every Edge location. ThinkSystem SE350 is a certified vSAN Ready Node for vSphere version 6.7 and version 7. It is fully enabled and Ethernet-connected for a vSAN stretched cluster configuration since it supports a variety of connectivity options like wired 10Gb or 1Gb Ethernet, SFP+ or RJ45 connections, Wi-Fi (endpoint or Access Point), and Cellular (e.g.4G LTE) connection. 

The 2 Node cluster configuration requires a vSAN ROBO license. That license provides the right to run up to 25 VMs in a 2-node cluster, independently of the number of two-node clusters deployed. Meaning that you can have more than one 2-node clusters deployed in your datacenter, but you’ll be able to run a maximum of 25VMs with one ROBO license.

VMware Edge Compute stack

How VMware Edge Compute Stack helps companies overcome their Remote offices/Branch offices challenges

Let’s examine how the joint solution by VMware and Lenovo is answering the hardware and software needs of a chain of gas stations, as an example. Often, the budget for IT infrastructure at the edge is very limited and a chain of gas stations would most probably be evaluating a small, cost-efficient configuration of no more than 4 nodes in a cluster. VMware Edge Compute Stack requires only 2 nodes with a direct connection between each other, located at the edge location, and a third node where the witness host or appliance will be running, often located at the main datacenter of the gas company. Usually, there’s no IT staff at the gas station, so the perfect bundle should be easy to manage remotely with high resistance to unpredicted environmental threats. Lenovo ThinkSystem SE350 is the perfect solution architecture because of its resistance to extreme environmental conditions and its flexible mounting options. VMware Edge Compute stack eases the remote healthcare monitoring and lifecycle management operations by providing secure software access to the edge from anywhere, thanks to features like the vSAN capacity consumption monitoring option, vSAN Skyline Health Service, vSphere update manager (VUM), vSphere Lifecycle manager (vLCM), Lenovo XClarity Controller, Lenovo XClarity Administrator, and many more.

Edge computing is often deployed without thinking through the security implication. Usually, the physical security at the Edge location is not very strict, since there are no specific restrictions in terms of physical access like there are in a datacenter. To answer these challenges, vSAN enables data encryption on two different levels, while ThinkAgile SE 350 supports Integrated Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0, Seczure Boot, Industry-standard Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), and Intel Trusted Execution Technology features.

Lastly, a gas station’s location might have limited access to a high-speed network which might impact its IT infrastructure. VMware Edge Compute stack offers variety of network connectivity options, so the customer can select the one that is most suitable for their branch office.

ROBO challenges


VMware Edge Compute stack is a rugged, flexible, and economic option for Edge environments and Remote Office Branch/Office deployments. It tackles all challenges that might occur at a remote location, especially when there’s a lack of local IT support. Companies can start at a low scale and easily upgrade to a large scale as their business increases.


Additional resources :

  1. Lenovo TechWorld session
  2. White paper “VMware Edge Compute Stack on Lenovo’s ThinkSystem SE 350”


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