Cisco and partners launch VXI

Cisco and a few friends launch VXI to accelerate adoption of client and desktop virtualization

Cisco and a select number of friends just launched a combination of hardware, software and services they're calling virtualization infrastructure experience (VXI). While server virtualization has surged forward in the world of industry standard systems (having already become a standard way of doing things on mainframes and midrange machines), various forms of virtualization technology for desktop or client systems has lagged far behind. Using this technology can offer significant benefits and yet most organizations are continuing to do what they've done for the last 15 years or so. This move by Cisco and its friends might accelerate that adoption.

What Cisco has to say about VXI

Best-of-Breed Vendors Offer Tested and Validated Solutions for Multiple Cisco VXI Deployment Options

  • Cisco VXI validated design integrates Cisco Collaboration, Cisco Data Center Virtualization, and Cisco Borderless Networks architectures with best-of-breed desktop virtualization software and devices.
  • Among the Cisco technologies validated within VXI are: Cisco Unified Communications applications optimized for virtualized environments and end points including the Cisco Cius tablet; the Cisco QuadTM platform; Cisco ACE load balancing and application delivery; Cisco wide area application acceleration software; Cisco Adaptive Security Appliances; the Cisco AnyConnectTM VPN client; Cisco Unified Computing SystemTM;Cisco Nexus® and Cisco Catalyst® families of  data center switches; Cisco MDS multilayer SAN switches, and Cisco Integrated Services Routers.
  • Cisco VXI utilizes Citrix XenDesktop® 5 and VMware ViewTM 4.5 desktop virtualization software  offerings from industry leading vendors Citrix and VMware. The system also supports management and security applications, storage systems from EMC and NetApp and many Microsoft applications.
  • The VXI system supports a wide variety of endpoint devices including Cisco Unified IP Phones, laptops, business tablets including Cisco Cius, and smart phones. Cisco collaborated with industry leader Wyse around hardware and software technologies to ensure that applications attain high levels of responsiveness when using the Cisco VXI system and associated architecture.  In keeping with Cisco's open ecosystem, devices from DevonIT and IGEL have also been validated within the VXI system.
  • The elements of Cisco VXI are  designed and tested to work together in multiple deployment options that best meet the needs of customers. In addition to being designed for media flexibility, the solutions support a wide array of end user devices and access methods, giving the users choice and flexibility based on specific application needs and business requirements.

Cisco Introduces Desktop Virtualization  Devices Optimized for Rich Media Interactions

Cisco today unveiled two Cisco Virtualization Experience Client (VXC) devices that offer desktop virtualization capabilities  in "zero client" form in tandem with Cisco Unified Communications.

  • The Cisco VXC 2100 is a compact device that is physically integrated with the Cisco Unified IP Phone 8900 or 9900 Series, optimizing desk real-estate. It supports Power-over-Ethernet and connectivity with for up to two monitors, and four USB ports for connecting mouse and keyboard as appropriate for a virtual desktop environment.
  • The Cisco VXC 2200 is a sleek, stand-alone, small footprint zero client device which  also provides users with access to a virtual desktop and business applications running in a virtualized desktop environment. Designed with the green workspace in mind, the VXC 2200 can be powered via Power over Ethernet or an optional power supply, and is equipped with four USB ports and two video ports to support the appropriate peripherals for a virtual desktop environment.

Cisco Collaboration Applications Extend Capabilities of  Virtual Desktop Devices

  • Available today, the Cisco family of Unified Communications clients brings  instant messaging, visual voicemail, employee directory, communication history, video, Web conferencing and enhanced presence-enabled collaboration to virtual desktops. Cisco Unified Communications clients include the Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, Cisco Unified Presence, and the Cisco Quad enterprise collaboration platform.
  • When running on Cisco Cius or Cisco Virtualization Experience Clients these applications, virtualized in the data center, extend access to communications applications to virtual desktops.

Services and Availability

  • Cisco VXI is available immediately from Cisco and select Cisco Data Center and Unified Communications Authorized Technology Provider Partners.
  • Cisco will additionally provide VXI professional services including strategy, planning and design. Strategy services help enable IT leaders to build a comprehensive, financially viable business case and understand operational readiness for a virtual desktop infrastructure implementation.  Planning and design services will help IT professionals design an end-to-end desktop virtualization solution and develop a plan for rapid migration with minimal business risk.
  • The Cisco Virtualization Experience Clients  and Cisco Cius are scheduled to be generally available in March 2011. At that time Cisco Cius which uses the Android OS will support Citrix Receiver TM, VMware View, and Wyse PocketCloud.

Snapshot analysis

At first glance, this announcement appears to be a packaging of previously available technology with a few new things from Cisco along with Cisco's systems and being presented as something really new. This partnership follows a long line of others trying to popularize a virtualized environment for client or desktop workloads. It is true that one could demonstrate that this form of virtualization has its benefits. The problem often seen is that in the world of IT, good enough is good enough.

Centralizing data, improving security and making it possible for many to use a much simplified environment would certainly help reduce overall costs. The problem is that today's solution is something people know and they're about to get along well enough without totally revamping their desktop solutions