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Cisco VDI Blitz Includes Tighter Citrix Relationship

Cisco is looking to carve a bigger slice out of the desktop virtualization market with new products, services and an expanded relationship with VDI powerhouse Citrix Systems. The networking company says that hundreds of customers have rolled out Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View deployments based on Cisco data center solutions. However, after just over a year of working together, that is barely scratching the surface of a hosted virtual desktop market expected to reach 70 million units, or 15% of enterprise desktops and laptops, by 2014 (Gartner Forecast: Hosted Virtual Desktops, Worldwide, 2010-2014).

A recent Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Dimension Data found that the number of virtual desktop deployments will grow from 27% to 46% in the next two years. According to the study, most organizations’ existing deployments touch less than 500 employees today, but they have plans to scale these deployments to thousands--and ultimately tens of thousands--of users during the next two years.

Under the new terms of the Cisco/Citrix alliance, the companies will simplify the deployment of high-definition virtual desktops and applications and improve end user experiences over Citrix HDX-enabled Cisco networks. They also plan to partner on data center solutions that make it easier to deliver IT as a service across multiple networks and geographies. First up on their agenda is a new release of Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) optimized for Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix HDX technology in the fourth quarter of this year. Cisco says this will help customers reduce bandwidth necessary to deploy desktops virtually over WANs, enabling better scalability and optimal end user collaboration experiences.

Cisco also unveiled the next evolution of its Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI), which was released initially last November. The company announced thin client (VXC 6215) and software appliance (VXC 4000) endpoints for high-quality voice and video in virtual desktop environments. The Linux-based 6215, expected to ship in quantity in early 2012, supports VDI, voice and video services in conjunction with Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View. Targeted at the installed PC base, the 4000 works in conjunction with Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View on either Windows XP or Windows 7 desktops; a voice-supported version is targeted for general availability during the fourth quarter of 2011.

The company is also leveraging Identity Services Engine (ISE), which knows what type of devices are accessing the network, what information those devices can obtain and where they are, to support virtualized environments. Cisco adds that recent innovations of its Unified Computing System (UCS) platform improve virtual desktop scalability and performance. The enhancements include doubling the fabric capacity, quadrupling bandwidth to the server, reducing latency by 40% and expanding the number of virtual desktops supported in a single UCS management domain by more than 500%.

The company is also extending its Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs)--which provide a blueprint of how to design workspace solutions end-to-end and have been tested to work with vendor solutions--to Citrix XenDesktop 5.5, VMware View 5 and partners. Two new services ended to provide a single point of contact for VXI support (Cisco Allied Services for VXI), and make moving to VDI easier (Cisco Optimization for VXI Service).

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