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Cisco Live, VXI, and the Challenge of Monday 8:55am

So here we are, Monday at Cisco Live…  Most likely you cut your weekend short to get here on time, or… you fought some insane TSA line-ups and a full-body x-ray scan this morning to squeeze onto an oversold flight.  Regardless, you’re hopefully reading this from the comfort of a quiet, convenient spot you’ve staked out in the Mandalay Bay with a vodka-tonic within arms-reach (well maybe not).

For many non-traveling folks however, this Monday morning was like any other.  They logged into their PC at work, fired up Outlook, grabbed a coffee, came back and found 50+ new emails waiting for them in what used to be a clean inbox on Friday night.  Oh well.  But for some folks, unbeknownst to them, today might have marked “Day 1” of their transition from desktop virtualization pilot to full-scale production.  It could very well be that at exactly 8:55am, what used to be a simple matter of authenticating and logging into Windows, and having their trusty desktop pop into existence, became something quite different.  It could be that somewhere inside their corporate data center, was a cluster of virtualized hosts running virtual desktops, getting hammered with a tsunami of user logins and sky-high storage IOPS.  The result for some unlucky individuals could be that the IT Help Line lit up like the 4th of July, as multitudes of over-caffeinated users found that the desktop they left on Friday, is not where they left it!

Now, that’s a little dramatic, but it’s not too far off in many situations.  It’s no secret that it’s fairly easy to do a small pilot of virtual desktop users and get great results.  It’s also no secret that many organizations struggle with taking such projects “prime time” and scaling to a large production environment supporting thousands of users.  Many times the system they’ve implemented yields drastically poorer performance when it hits the reality of the Monday 8:55am scenario, and inevitably the initiative is stalled in Pilot/POC-land.  But there is a way to build the right infrastructure for Day 1, without fearing Day 301.  And it’s founded on Cisco UCS, supplemented with Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) for Desktop Virtualization.

With Cisco Validated Designs, we are attempting to reduce the complexity, time and investment required to deploy scalable end-to-end desktop virtualization.  These resources obviously face 2 important requirements to be useful -- 1.) providing validated designs that ensure broad choice of vendors and technologies, and 2.) ensuring ongoing updates as technologies evolve and or new technologies are introduced. Over the last 9 months we have introduced CVD’s that address both of these dimensions.  For example delivering CVD’s that support multiple different ecosystem partners in the areas of desktop brokers, hypervisors, display protocols, storage, end-points etc.  We’ve continued to update these resources, to reflect the latest software releases for View and XenDesktop.  And as we expand the desktop virtualization solution to capture the end-to-end VXI system, we’ve released a second wave of complete VXI end-to-end design guides.  We continue to expand in both directions moving forward, as this is a critical key to our customers’ success.

Clearly our partners are thinking along these same lines, and have produced some great assets that speak to the system-level scalability and performance that “infrastructure packages” can provide as a deployment approach for accelerating the move to hosting virtual desktops with confidence.  Check out this scalability study covering a 50,000 seat VDI deployment on FlexPod, done in partnership with NetApp, VMware, Cisco, and Wyse .  VCE has developed reference architectures for Vblocks, covering both task and knowledge workers, that demonstrate consistent performance as the system scales.  These resources are hugely helpful in reducing the complexity, time and investment in deploying the right infrastructure from Day1.

Many of these solutions are conveniently on display at Cisco Live, so I’d highly recommend spending some time kicking the tires, and learning more about them.  Here’s a summary of some  great VXI-related demos:

  • Cisco Data Center Booth – VXI Demo with VXC’s, CUPC, View, XenDesktop, Virtual Security Gateway, and UCS-Manager
  • Cisco Collaboration Booth – VXC 2100 and 2200’s, Cius with Docking Station
  • VMware Booth (#1169) – End User Computing / VXI with View Demo
  • Citrix Booth (#1383) – VXI with XenDesktop Demo
  • EMC Booth (#1671) – Desktop Virtualization Solutions with Cisco + VNX and Iomega storage
  • NetApp Booth (#939) – VXI on FlexPod Demo
  • VCE Booth (#1571) – View on Vblock
  • Wyse Booth (#1139) -- Cisco Unified Communications & XenDesktop on FlexPod hosted by MTM Technologies
  • WWT Booth (#1971) - VXI Demo

DID YOU KNOW:  According to a Gartner report, the number of Hosted Virtual Desktops will grow to 70 million by the end of 2014, which represents 15% of the overall desktop population.

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