Cisco Takes Aim at the Virtual Desktop

by Sean Michael Kerner

Virtualization Experience Infrastructure is set to deliver a virtual desktop with new partnerships and technologies.

More on the virtual desktop

As enterprise servers move to virtualized cloud infrastructure, Cisco sees a large market opportunity for delivering a virtual desktop to enterprises.

Cisco today announced a new effort called the Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI), which leverages existing and new Cisco hardware and services to enable a fresh generation of endpoints for virtual desktop delivery. As part of the launch, Cisco announced a series of new Virtualization Experience Clients (VXC) that enable virtual desktop delivery on IP phones and mobile devices.

"Workspaces of the future really need to support voice and video communications, independent of the type of device the end user chooses," Barry O'Sullivan, senior vice president, voice technology group at Cisco said during a press conference announcing VXI. "That's what we're trying to deliver with VXI.

VXI supports both Citrix XenDesktop 5 as well as VMware View for virtual desktop serving infrastructure. Cisco did not identify Red Hat's Linux KVM virtualization technology as a supported technology for VXI. Phil Sherburne, vice president Engineering at Cisco, noted that additional capabilities will be included as part of VXI over time.

As part of the VXC client side rollout, Cisco is announcing the VXC 2100 IP phone. Sherburne explained that the VXC 2100's Ethernet port provides network access, voice, virtual desktop delivery as well as power over Ethernet (PoE). The goal is to reduce both management and cabling complexity for virtual desktop deployments.

"So the whole desktop is in a compact space using Power over Ethernet," Sherburne said. "On top of that is Cisco's Energywise power management software, allowing the end user customer to manage their whole environment."

Energywise is Cisco's initiative to provide enterprises with the ability to manage the power of connected devices across their infrastructure.

In addition to the VXC 2100, VXC clients also include the VXC 2200 thin client terminal as well as the previously announced Cisco Cius Android tablet.

Sherburne explained that the Cius can be plugged into an IP phone docking station which can then be connected to a full size keyboard, mouse and external monitor, to create a traditional desktop experience when the user is not mobile.

Cisco is currently scheduling VXC, including the Cius, for general availability in March of 2011.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Tuesday Nov 16th 2010
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