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Unified Workspaces That Go Beyond VDI: Built on Cisco Unified Data Center

Today we introduced release 2.6 of the Cisco VXI Smart Solution, offering enhanced performance user experience and faster ROI,  with unified workspaces that go beyond VDI. VXI 2.6 offers new capabilities and enhancements to the underlying platform, spanning Cisco Unified Data Center, Borderless Network, and Collaboration pillars.  I invite you to check out posts from Phil Sherburne and Brian Dal Bello to learn more.  For now, let me turn your attention to the data center pillar, specifically the advancements that are part of this release, and as amply illustrated  in the Cisco Validated Design for VXI.

Reducing the TCO of virtual desktops

With VXI 2.6 we focused significant attention on improving performance, and driving down the cost of deploying end-to-end desktop virtualization through a combination of data center enhancements that are now part of the Cisco Validated Design (CVD) for VXI 2.6.  These include:

  • The Cisco UCS B200 M3 server blade, based on the Intel Romley- platform delivers continued leadership in virtual desktop  density.  We recently commissioned a study with  Principled Technologies to evaluate  B200 M3 performance with virtual desktop workloads – check the results we published for VMware and Citrix based platforms.  We’ve also added the UCS VIC 1240 (mezzanine LOM)  to the CVD, offering up to 80 Gbps aggregate bandwidth per Blade Server.  Bandwidth management capabilities of the VIC 1240 and its effect on delivering QoS in a mixed workload scenario of  virtual desktops and other workload types is covered in detail here.  The CVD also includes the Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnect, 6296UP, that provides up to 2 Tbps throughput, thereby offering enhanced workload scalability and overall performance
  • Support for published shared desktops with XenApp 6.5, including Jabber for Windows.  With this feature, we deliver much greater scalability while also extending our industry-leading Jabber solution support to this popular application delivery approach, resulting in a more scalable, cost-effective, superior collaboration user-experience
  • Optimizing storage costs is also a key focus area for the release, and VXI2.6 introduces support for a number of capabilities that help reduce storage costs.  With VMware vSphere 5, we have Content Based Read Caching (CBRC) addressing performance bottlenecks associated with the high read IOPS found during O/S boot and AV scans.  CBRC offers host RAM-based caching to reduce read IOPS to back-end shared storage, improving scalability and overall storage performance and end-user experience.
  • With B200 M 3 servers, we support “Tier-0” Solid State Disk (SSD) which enables the storage of Desktop images internally on the server while user data and personalization can be stored on back end shared storage, allowing for better overall performance and reduced dependency and costs associated with  back-end shared disks  We  have also included validated testing of the WhipTail Flash silicon storage array (SSA) offering  up to 12TB of flash with 250k IOPS in a 2U array.

Want to learn more about VXI Release 2.6?  Check out the following:

And visit our website at www.cisco.com/go/vxi

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The Optimized Secure Network for Cisco VXI

Today, Cisco announced the new release of the Cisco VXI Smart Solution. Part of the announcement is, of course, enhancements in our Borderless Networks architecture to enable our customers to deploy a secure, reliable, and fast virtual desktop infrastructure.

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Business Process Outsourcing Made Better with Unified Workspaces

Just imagine.  It’s HR benefits enrollment season.  And you’ve left your annual selections to the last possible minute.  And it’s the last day of the enrollment period.  You find yourself feverishly dialing the support line, hoping that by some stroke of luck there’s still an HR analyst around to help you wade through an employee guide (that you were supposed to have read two weeks ago but didn’t).  Read More »

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Putting VDI Security Concerns to Bed and……….


………..New Cisco Data Center Security Enhancements

The workplace is changing fast. Workers are becoming increasingly mobile. The introduction of employee-owned consumer devices like tablets, is becoming the norm; in fact, the average number of devices used by knowledge workers is between 3 and 4 and rising. While IT organizations acknowledge the productivity, business agility and cost benefits these developments can bring, they are also concerned by the associated challenges. Not surprisingly, numerous industry research papers point to device, application and data security, and regulatory compliance as the biggest challenges for mobility and BYOD projects.

To address these security concerns many IT organizations are applying desktop virtualization or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technologies to ensure management and protection of the applications, data and content centrally in the data center, regardless of which device is used. But how can IT ensure that VDI deployments themselves are secure?

Today, Cisco announced new data center security enhancements that further protect VDI deployments. These new innovations enable more scalable, secure access to hosted virtual desktops and more robust protection of data center resources. These innovations also ensure that business critical applications and virtual desktops hosted within the data center can be better protected from other virtual desktops that have become compromised or infected. (Read also today’s blog from John N. Stewart , Cisco Sr.VP, Chief Security Officer  “Does Virtualization Improve Security ? “)

Deploying a data center infrastructure that has the built-in security capabilities to address these challenges needs to be an integral part of any VDI design. The Cisco VXI Smart Solution  is a comprehensive, secure desktop virtualization solution that addresses these security concerns in both Citrix XenDesktop and VMWare View deployments; you can find more information on the designs here.

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VMworld and… Customer Experiences with the Business Value of VXI

Are you making last minute plans for VMworld?  Filling out your agenda, and realizing there just isn’t enough time to take it all in?  This year like last, will be packed with valuable sessions, labs, keynotes, and the like, but before we get to the shenanigans taking place there, let me share something hot off the presses.

Just this week, we posted a brand new study, conducted by Cisco’s Customer Business Transformation Team, sharing their analyses of two customers who’ve deployed the Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI) Smart Solution.  More specifically, they looked at the savings associated with the migration of user workspace (traditional desktop along with a traditional TDM phone) to a fully virtualized workspace delivered via Cisco VXC endpoints (phone replaced with VXC 6215 delivering unified voice, video and virtual desktop), underpinned by Cisco Unified Data Center.

The tangible impacts are progressively revealed in incremental stages of implementation as customers go from:

Incremental Savings Derived from Implementing VXI at Various Stages

 A big contributor to the cost savings is not just the evolution of the telephony and video solution, but also the underlying data center infrastructure leveraging Cisco Unified Data Center, built on Cisco Unified Computing System.

I was going to paste a nice graphic from the analysis here, but that would be a spoiler, and I’m so not about spoiling stuff, so download the full document >> here <<

Now onto the shenanigans, I mean, VMworld…

If you’re exploring desktop virtualization, and more closely thinking about specific use cases you’re trying to address, like mobile power users, or business process outsourcing, this year’s event will be especially valuable to your organization.

Cisco and VMware have teamed up to deliver an holistic solution approach for organizations seeking to better empower mobile users to become truly untethered from the confines of their brick and mortar office.  These users are not solely defined by the need to access apps and data on a myriad of device options, but on the ability to collaborate with peers, partners, and customers, using enterprise-grade real-time communications media.  I blogged about it here.  Similarly we’ve plowed considerable focus into the use case of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), one which bears increasing relevancy as businesses seek to leverage a global talent pool to handle functions like customer service, tech support, payroll, etc.  These environments depend on an extensive WAN infrastructure and uncompromised collaboration and communications, delivered securely.

So, what’s being served up at VMworld this year, from VMware and Cisco that will help you navigate these opportunities?  Here’s what:

Monday! 

2:30pm – SPO3336, “A Healthcare Provider’s Perspectives on Going Beyond VDI with Unified Workspaces, Moscone West, Level 3, Room 3007 – check this session out to hear from a major regional healthcare provider who’s implemented Virtual Workspaces, reducing IT OPEX, while improving clinician workflow

Tuesday!

Are you going to the Steve Herrod keynote?  I can’t reveal details here, but if you’re not familiar with the Cisco UCS Express Solution for virtual desktops and simplified branch office infrastructure, you don’t want to miss this!  Not only that, but our own TechWise TV Guys (Jimmy Ray Purser and Robb Boyd) will be there, and to call it entertaining would be an understatement!  FYI – there’s a specially prepared music video involved, way better than Carly Rae Jepsen, so please vote for them!

All week long!

Visit Cisco at Booth 1213 – why you ask?  Well like last year I’m sure we’ll be in excellent proximity to the afternoon drinks/food reception, but besides that:

  • See the Business Process Desktop and Mobile Secure Desktop with VMware View, built on Cisco VXI, in action!
  • Learn about how Cisco Unified Data Center delivers a simplified, more scalable solution with consistent performance, for virtual desktop workloads
  • Attend our theater presentations on Cisco VXI, as well as our Ask-the-Experts whiteboarding area where you can fire-off your questions (of course with drinks and food from the reception in hand).

If you’re going to be at VMworld, definitely stop by and say hi.  (If not, it will likely be a very quiet, productive week at the office for you – so it’s a win-win either way I guess)

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