Cisco to boost voice, video virtualization

Networking company hopes to fill gap in current desktop virtualization technology with own architecture, which will enable virtualization of voice and video to help in enterprise collaboration, says exec.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Current virtualization technology lacks support for video and voice, said a Cisco executive who said his company has launched a virtualization architecture that can solve this issue.

In a telepresence session Tuesday from Cisco's Bangalore office, Dinesh Malkani, managing director of collaboration in Asia-Pacific, said the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has been an industry standard for a long time. However, VDI has been "constrained" to the virtualization of data and applications and is not very effective for collaboration applications such as voice or video, he said.

Cisco hopes to fill this gap with the virtualization experience infrastructure (VXI). Malkani explained that VXI will sit on top of VDI and be able to provide a rich media experience for videoconferencing and voice communications over a fully virtualized environment.

The company is partnering with virtualization vendors Citrix and VMware, said Malkani.

With virtualization, enterprises will have better return on investment (ROI) as there is no need to purchase "heavy desktops" for users, he said. Users will also be able to access the information in the data center on any device, at any time, he added.

Changing face of collaboration
According to Malkani, collaboration tools in the enterprise are moving away from text-based communication such as e-mail and instant messaging, to other tools such as videoconferencing, social media, blogs, and voice messages.

"Users choose the way they want to collaborate...You cannot dictate to a user the way he needs to collaborate. Every CIO has to figure out how to put [different collaboration tools] together," he said.

Malkani believes video will usurp voice as the collaboration channel of choice. Echoing Cisco CEO John Chambers' statement that "video is the new voice", Malkani said users will choose video over voice for collaboration once making a video call becomes as simple as that for a voice call.

In anticipation of video becoming pervasive, future products shipped by Cisco will all have video functionality, he added. With this, it will be possible for users to have videoconferences for collaboration on any device, at any location, and at any time, he said.

Company to tap on experience
Malkani deflected queries on whether the company views Microsoft Lync--Redmond's rebranded unified communications suite--as a competitor. Instead, he pointed out Cisco's "decades" of experience in voice communication and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), as well as the products' ability to run on different operating systems.

He added that networks play an important part in promoting the use of collaboration tools, as users are unlikely to use the tools if they have a bad experience.

Malkani also emphasized that collaboration is moving toward video and not just text-based communications. With broadband being ubiquitous and 4G networks just around the corner, videoconferencing will also be moving to mobile devices, he added.

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