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Changing the Economics of Desktop and App Virtualization at the Enterprise Edge

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 3.21.53 PMIn my last post I discussed how Cisco UCS Mini is helping us expand beyond the traditional confines of the data center, to deliver desktop and app virtualization with exceptional user experience, manageability and TCO savings – at the enterprise edge.

We’re only going to see more investment and focus in this space, thanks to the general trend towards making VDI and app virtualization more tenable in a wider array of use cases across the enterprise, pushing from data center to enterprise edge.  This week, I want to offer a proof point I alluded to in my last post, enabled by our partners Nimble Storage and VMware.

Let’s take a look at the Nimble Storage SmartStack for ROBO (Remote Office / Branch Office) Desktop Virtualization.  As you know, we’ve seen incredible traction with our friends at Nimble.  Their CS array has seen wide market acceptance, and is now offered as an Integrated Infrastructure solution in the form of SmartStack, delivering the modularity, scale and manageability that IT demands.

I’m pleased to highlight that SmartStack now offers a solution optimized for ROBO.  In case you missed it, check out Nimble Storage’s announcement.   Bringing together best-of-breed components including VMware Horizon 6, Nimble’s CS300 array, and UCS Mini, this offering delivers on the key attributes critical to the enterprise edge:

  •  ­­Greater Consolidation: dense storage, compute and expansive I/O capacity of the Nimble + Cisco UCS solution, allows for hundreds of users in a small footprint, 50% of what traditional solutions might occupy.
  • Simplified Management: anchored on UCS Manager, this platform enables centralized IT to remotely spin up desktop and application virtualization capacity at remote/branch offices, without the error-prone, manual intervention required by traditional compute platforms.
  • High Performance: the combination of Nimble’s large IOPS footprint, low latency and Cisco UCS processing power delivers adaptive, exceptional performance in a compact form factor. This, along with VMware Horizon, allows IT to maintain an exceptional user experience through heavy application use and periods such as boot/login storms, patch operations and upgrades.

For more information on the Nimble SmartStack for ROBO Desktop Virtualization, please check out Sheldon D’Paiva’s blog on SmartStack ROBO.

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Taking Desktop Virtualization Beyond the Data Center – with the Next Wave of Unified Computing

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 3.46.26 PM If you look back at the Cisco UCS launch on September 4th, and VMworld SF just prior, the last 4 weeks have been a tsunami of solution innovation milestones in unified computing, ie: where the next wave of Unified Computing is taking us.  If you haven’t already seen the launch event “Powering Applications at Every Scale – the Next Wave of Unified Computing Innovation”, please check it out!

Desktop Virtualization Beyond the Data CenterScreen Shot 2014-09-23 at 3.48.07 PM

A much anticipated part of this launch was the introduction of UCS Mini.  This is all about expanding our presence / penetration of where we can offer the unified computing value proposition.  With the economic disruption UCS has brought to the data center, it’s now time to extend that value beyond the traditional limits of the data center – check out this presentation to get an idea of the TCO impact alone, when considered next to HP DL360p Gen8 ’s.

With this economic advantage, comes the opportunity to address a growing array of desktop virtualization use cases that depend on footprint-friendly form factor without sacrificing performance or simplified, stateless, centralized manageability.  Think of use cases that include:

  • the enterprise-edge where you likely don’t have IT resources in place
  • retail/point-of-sale environments, or
  • small/medium-sized businesses that need fewer servers

In these scenarios, traditional centralized VDI implementation is hampered by WAN latency, security and business continuity concerns.  Being able to deploy a local solution that integrates compute, software and storage, that’s still centrally managed, could be just the solution for your branch office.  Look for new solutions from Cisco and our ecosystem partners that address these scenarios with compelling new offers, which brings us to VMworld Barcelona.

VMworld Barcelona and Integrated Infrastructure solutions for Desktop and App Virtualization

In just a few weeks, we’ll be at VMworld Barcelona, and I’m pleased to once again have the opportunity to kick off the week with a breakout session co-delivered with VMware’s Bhumik Patel, covering “Best in Class Desktop Virtualization with Horizon 6 and Cisco UCS”.  If you didn’t join us in the room in San Francisco, and you’ll be in Barcelona, please attend this second offering of TEX2516

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 3.55.00 PMI love opening these things up with a simple poll of i) how many folks in the room have implemented UCS, and ii) how many have done so in support of VDI or app virtualization.  In San Francisco, from the show of hands, it was obvious that over 90% of the room (of 200+ session attendees) had deployed VMware Horizon on UCS.  It was also telling that many attendees expressed interest in solutions for graphics/NVIDIA, flash storage, and our new VDI Pilot Accelerator configurations that are optimal for getting one’s feet wet in desktop as well as app virtualization.Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 3.59.02 PM

Another hot topic was Integrated Infrastructure solutions for VDI.  If you’re already familiar with FlexPod or Vblock, you already know how rapidly this IT consumption model is growing (to the tune of $3B in FlexPod alone) and how Cisco and its ecosystem partners are enabling organizations of all sizes to

  • dramatically reduce the time to deploy new services,
  • using modularized infrastructure approaches that integrated compute, network and storage,
  • supported with unified, single pane of glass management
  • backed by validated performance testing / documented results

The Nimble Storage SmartStack is another great example in this space, offering pre-validated solutions for organizations of all sizes, wanting to take the guesswork out of getting into desktop or server virtualization.  Imagine the possibilities with a SmartStack built on UCS-Mini…  Speaking of which, check out this article about VCPro, a service provider in the Asia Pacific region, offering DaaS on SmartStack built on UCS Mini.

Look for more news in the coming weeks regarding these and other new solutions that expand the use cases for desktop and app virtualization -- see you at VMworld Barcelona!

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Cisco and Citrix: Delivering the Unified Platform for Desktop and Application Virtualization

Today Citrix announced the latest advancements for XenApp and XenDesktop, built on the fourth release of their FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA).  With this evolution come significant improvements in Citrix Provisioning Services, Citrix Receiver, FIPS compliance, single console manageability across hybrid cloud environments, Workspace Suite, user experience, and much more.

Cisco UCS: The Optimal Foundation for XenDesktop and XenApp

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 9.52.47 PMCisco is pleased to be a leading technology and infrastructure partner to Citrix, providing the optimal foundation of this unified platform for desktop and app virtualization, benefitting organizations everywhere that seek to evolve their traditional desktop environments into mobile, virtualized workspaces.  At the core of this foundation is the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).  Check out this animated whiteboard if you’re not already familiar with how UCS has rapidly become the preferred x86 compute platform for XenDesktop and XenApp deployments.

Proof Points!

We believe that the latest features of XenDesktop and XenApp will continue to drive exceptional end user experience and accelerate the pace at which organizations embrace desktop transformation initiatives.  The benefits of this best of breed joint solution are evident in the customer success stories exposed in the following infographic.

Citrix Infographic_06 (final)

In addition to our joint integrated solutions supporting desktop and app virtualization, we also share a common vision of cloud architectures and services.  As demonstrated in today’s announcement we see the end user computing landscape evolving to embrace customer choice and flexibility as organizations seek a “portfolio approach” in how workspaces are delivered, whether that be via on-premise solutions, public cloud or a hybridized approach.  This is a key benefit of the FMA platform combined with Cisco Intercloud, enabling customers to derive the maximum benefit from cloud economics.  And don’t forget, as part of Cisco’s Cloud Network Services portfolio we offer the Citrix NetScaler 1000V application delivery controller, integrating virtual applications to Cisco Unified Fabric, delivering scalable, reliable application services to users.

Transforming Desktops into Mobile Workspaces

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our joint workspace mobility solution.  With this announcement comes Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 providing enhanced support for Citrix Workspace Suite.  You may recall that back on May 6th, we announced the Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution with Citrix -- bringing together the technologies of two mobility leaders as a complete and validated business to employee (B2E) mobility solution.  This groundbreaking solution allows organizations to deploy mobility at their own pace with a modular approach that builds on the Cisco Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) and Desktop Virtualization Solutions.  It combines all the essential hardware and software technologies, services, and support needed to embark on mobility projects with confidence, speed, and reduced risk.  Together, Cisco and Citrix are delivering a complete, unified solution for mobile, Windows, web and SaaS-based apps.

How to Get Started…

Before I close, I want to share one more solution for your consideration.  The Citrix Pilot Accelerator is a great way to get one’s feet wet with desktop and app virtualization.  This 200 seat configuration provides all the infrastructure and software elements needed to deploy a pilot environment, or outfit a small office/branch.  It employs a UCS C240 rack server, equipped with on-board flash storage and SAS drives in an extremely economical bundle, with ample performance, and ability to scale.  If you’re wondering how to get started with Citrix and Cisco, this is a great solution that neatly fits in just 2 RU.  And, if you weren’t aware, Cisco offers XenDesktop 7.6 software and other new products as part of our resale program with Citrix.  A great way to build the perfect bundle!

Additional Resources:

Cisco Validated Design (CVD): Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution with Citrix -- includes XenMobile, Unified App Store, WorxHome, Receiver, XenDesktop and ShareFile

www.cisco.com/go/citrix

www.cisco.com/go/vdi

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The #1 x86 Blade Server Is Also Your Best Choice for VMware Horizon

Cisco VMware infographic-v4In case you missed it, last week Cisco partners, ecosystem, and customers everywhere applauded the latest IDC worldwide server tracker report citing Cisco UCS as the revenue market share leader in North America, eclipsing HP for the top spot in x86 blades.

Cisco VP/GM Paul Perez said it best: “Customers are adopting UCS because our innovation drives positive business outcomes for them.”  That’s a sentiment echoed in every case study highlighting the tangible business impacts our customers have experienced when deploying mission-critical workloads on UCS.  Nowhere is this more evident, than with desktop virtualization, where organizations are transforming end-user computing to unleash greater employee mobility, productivity, business continuity and agility.  Check out this infographic if you want to see a nice snapshot of what real Cisco customers have done with VMware Horizon on UCS.

It should therefore be no surprise when industry luminaries like VMware’s Sanjay Poonen (EVP/GM of VMware End User Computing) highlights the importance of Cisco UCS in helping his team gain market traction in end user computing.  This Business Insider interview is an insightful read – especially if you’ve only heardSanjay Poonen the competitive narrative between Cisco and VMware, and were not aware that our two companies actually have a differentiated, compelling joint offer around desktop virtualization built on VMware Horizon deployed on UCS.

Is your organization in the midst of transforming your desktops into mobile workspaces?  Do you want to learn more about how organizations just like yours are turning to the market leader in x86 blades for their VDI deployment?  Next week VMware is hosting an online virtual event (think of it aVMW_EUCInsightBanner_240x96s a free virtual tradeshow) – VMware EUC Insights.  From the convenience of your office (or home, or coffee shop, etc.) you can listen in on keynotes, breakout sessions, and engage desktop virtualization experts from Cisco and VMware.  I encourage you to check out Cisco UCS at VMware EUC Insights on June 17th!

PS: if you visit our booth and complete a short survey, you’ll have a chance to win an iPad Air!

 

 

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Breaking through Performance Barriers: Desktop Virtualization at Cisco Live

We’re halfway into Cisco Live!  Each year I find more and more attendees are coming to talk to us about running various desktop delivery models on UCS.  Some observations from folks I’ve chatted with:

More and more of you are asking about NVIDIA GRID solutions for graphics intensive use-cases.  I had several in fact, from the oil and gas industry who were especially interested in our C240 M3 solution with GRID – which conveniently we’ve been demo-ing here, remoted out of our San Jose lab.  If you’re not familiar with it, check out our solutions for both Citrix and VMware.

CAPEX-friendliness with great performance, for small seat count environments is key.  Lot’s of folks asking about solutions that are optimized for 100-200 seats of Horizon or XenDesktop, that are completely self-contained, including compute, storage, broker and the infrastructure assets.  I’ve shared this brand new whitepaper on our C240 200 seat config with everyone I talk to – just a single rack footprint that includes the LSI Nytro MegaRAID Controller with 200 GB of flash for write-caching, plus 12 x 600GB SAS drives.  Here’s what’s been tested:

Hardware Components:

  • Cisco UCS C240-M3 Rack Server (2 X Intel Xeon processor E5-2697 v2 @ 2.70 GHz) with 384GB of memory (16 GB X 24 DIMMS @ 1866 MHz), hypervisor host
  • Cisco UCS VIC1225 Converged Network Adapter/Rack Server (Optional for 10GB Connectivity)
  • 2 x Cisco Nexus 5548UP Access Switches
  • 12 x 600GB SAS disks @ 10000 RPM
  • LSI Nytro MegaRAID Controller 8110-4i

The infrastructure/user file volumes are on the 1st 4 drives set up in a RAID 5 config, and the 2nd and 3rd groups of 4 drives (combined in RAID 10) are for XenDesktop MCS (Citrix) or Floating Assignment / Linked Clones (VMware).  Extremely cost-effective for 200 seats with great performance that doesn’t max out the system and has plenty of room to breathe.  Check out the Citrix and VMware configs of this “in-a-box” solution.

Flash – Flash and more Flash.  It’s hard to move around SF without seeing a Cisco UCS / Flash-Forward advertisement promoting UCS Invicta Solid State Systems.  Invicta is changing the economics of desktop virtualization with industry-leading wear life rating, expansive write-IOPS capacity, and superior manageability within the UCS fabric with UCS Director.  We’ve got a nice demo of 600 XenDesktop seats booting off an Invicta appliance, in under 9 minutes.

There you have it – great performance that goes beyond the traditional barriers associated with cost-effectively delivering desktop virtualization.  Definitely check out these three solutions if you have some time remaining at Cisco Live this week.

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