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Today, Cisco announced a strategic alliance with Citrix focused on helping customers simplify and accelerate large-scale desktop virtualization deployments—which means the companies will work across a broad range of technology areas, including datacenter, networking, devices, multimedia to deliver more integrated desktop virtualizations solutions.

Sounds nice, but I wanted to know than just vision, so I met with Gary Borad, Cisco’s the partner manager supporting the Citrix relationship to hear how Cisco and Citrix actually hope to deliver on this vision.  Here is what he said…

Pam: So, Gary what is this Strategic Alliance Agreement really all about?

Gary: It’s about helping our customers quickly gain the benefits of desktop virtualization and cloud computing.  The alliance will focus on four primary technology areas of collaboration including:

Also as you probably are aware Cisco is a leader in enterprise networking, compute, and end points.  Citrix is a leader in desktop virtualization software. Combining our technology and go to market assets together to create fully tested solutions (Cisco Validated Designs) we believe will provide the confidence and clarity that customers are looking for in order to make the to move to virtual desktops.

A key data point for this is our first product -- the new Cisco Wide Area Application Service (WAAS).  Cisco will release a new revision of WAAS optimized for Citrix XenDesktop. This is the first third-party WAN optimization solution that Citrix has validated, supported, tested, and certified as Citrix Ready.

Pam: Sounds great, but specifically how will customers benefit?

Gary: Good question.  By bringing our technologies together to help our customers reap the rewards of desktop virtualization. So for example with the WAAS that will ship later this year, customers will be able to more deeply view the Citrix HDX protocol across our their Cisco network to optimize the bandwidth across the WAN.  Ultimately the result is virtual desktop users get a LAN-like experience over the WAN.    There of course will be more to come in the future.

Pam: What’s this Desktop Virtualization all about?

Gary: Another good question Pam.  You see a number of things have happened over the past few years that enterprises have had to address.  These include managing desktop refreshes in the enterprise, security of information on laptops, mobility, and simply managing new OS’s and applications.  With desktop virtualization all the operating systems and applications are managed and maintained securely in the data center.  That means if a laptop is misplaced or stolen no data is lost – just pick up another device, log in and your ready to go!

Also, for the IT team, OS’s and applications are centralized – no need to run around the enterprise to assure all devices are up to the latest version of software. This means more secure and easier to manage.  Finally, with  Citrix and Receiver you can access your desktop from any device, anywhere, any time.  As an enterprise user you’re free to buy that new laptop or mobile device without having to be concerned about IT support – just load Citrix Receiver and you’re ready. Couple that with Cisco’s networking leadership and our new WAAS product, which accelerates and optimizes in the enterprise, and you’ve got a high performance virtual workspace from the two market leaders in desktop virtualization!

Pam: Yes, but what about performance?  How will this improve performance of Desktop Virtualization from my PC or whatever device I want to use?

Gary: With this strategic alliance announcement we have Wan Optimization to accelerate and optimize the performance of the desktop giving users LAN-like experience over the WAN. Taken all together users will have a more consistent application experience regardless of device; a thin client; a PC; or business tablet and regardless of location.  That is why this is so cool. The key here is that Cisco brings amazing things to the story that will accelerate adoption of desktop virtualization. First, we have UCS with its extended memory and unified fabric – enabling industry leading density and performance.  We also have purpose built enterprise class end points- VXC and Cius -- with Power Over Ethernet – all built to be Receiver Ready.  These are truly unique devices.

Pam: Okay I am convinced this is pretty cool stuff.

Gary: Yes, and we’re not stopping here.  Over the next 5 years the Cisco/Citrix alliance will continue to deliver more cool stuff in the area of desktop virtualization as we continue to work together.  This is all about helping our customers become more innovative and cost effective.  Desktop virtualization and cloud computing are two growing trends are customers are needing help to simplify; and Cisco is doing that with all of our strategic alliance partners…not just Citrix, but VMware, EMC, NetApp, and others as well.

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