It’s the week before VMworld Copenhagen, and there’s already a lot of buzz around the big VXI news that came out today. If you missed it, you can get access to the web event via the Cisco Collaboration Launch Experience page here. I’ll get back to Copenhagen in a minute, but let’s take a moment to discuss why these announcements have such a significant impact on delivering what we call the next-generation virtual workspace…
Last fall, we introduced VXI, delivering a groundbreaking system-level approach for simplifying and optimizing the delivery of virtual desktops to any end point, leveraging the industry’s fastest growing compute infrastructure purpose-built for large scale, high-performance virtualization, the Cisco Unified Computing System. We also announced our new portfolio of Virtualization Experience Clients (VXC’s) providing new device form factors and capabilities not previously seen in the marketplace, underpinned by an end-to-end validated design that takes the guesswork out of moving from a small pilot to full-scale production.
Here is a quick video summary that my wife, Beth Dooley, helped me record a few hours after returning home (Silicon Valley, San Francisco Bay Area, California) from my VXI Experience Tour in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. The video was shot from our backyard deck. The original was 10 mins in length but we cut it down to just the first 3 mins:
During this VXI tour in APAC, I delivered our message to 10 sessions, 3 countries (Singapore, Japan, Korea) with hundreds of customers, partners, and internal Cisco teams. Siva Mandalam (Director, Cisco Enterprise Architecture & Systems) delivered our message in India the week before. PJ Barber (Director, Cisco Desktop Virtualization) delivers our message in Australia this week.
Prior to this trip, the Cisco team was expecting the vast majority of its near-term revenue, partner activity and customer interest for VXI to be concentrated in North America and Europe. After this APAC tour, it’s obvious there are some big things happening in Asia. Many could argue that the most mature countries in the APAC region for desktop virtualization adoption would be Australia and India. However, we’re seeing early signs of positive growth in Korea, Japan, and parts of China and SouthEast Asia as well.
In Japan, the attendance and interest exceeded everyone’s expectation with sessions in the hundreds leaving standing room only. In Korea, the teams were not only enthusiastic but they could see beyond just hosted virtual desktops and how this architecture applied to their overall “cloud” initiatives. In recent years, Korea has taken an innovation leadership role in areas such as automobiles, home appliances, consumer electronics, Internet broadband delivery, mobile handsets, and a variety of Post-PC devices from companies like Samsung and LG. Also, Korea’s modern culture is a strikingly unique blend of old tradition and new innovation. You can see this blending of old and new not only in their technology landscape but it extends into their music, fashion, and films. Cisco VXI is in many ways a blending of old (Windows PCs and legacy applications) and new (virtual workspaces using collaborative networking and cloud-based computing).
In my opinion, Korea is a country to watch for the next 12-18 months in this area. I could see at least one or two of Korea’s leading industries emerge as a guiding light for how businesses can move into the Post-PC area, deliver unique collaboration services, and embrace cloud computing in a way that we have not seen before.
Overall: the APAC region leveraging Cisco VXI has all the ingredients to be a significant portion of “first-mover” Enterprises and Service Providers in the Post-PC era. The proliferation of next generation devices are well suited for VXI when combined with rich collaboration services using high-performance networks and clouds. We just need to help convert this beaming enthusiasm into action. Amazing new developments are sure to come out of Asia, yet again.
In my role as Cisco’s Director of Product Management for Desktop Virtualization, I am in constant communication with industry analysts and customers. In the video below, I share insights I’ve learned from these conversations and answer two questions:
1) What are key trends are we seeing in the industry around desktop virtualization and why is this important to collaboration?
2) Where are we in the journey to providing a rich collaborative experience in an enterprise-class virtualized desktop environment to customers today?
Last week the Cisco team embarked on VMworld 2011 event in Las Vegas. For me, it was fun catching up with many of my friends from VMware, Wyse, Citrix (Kaviza, RingCube), and Atlantis Computing while building new connections with folks from AppSense, RES Software, and Teradici just to name a few. The virtualization ecosystem seems strong and healthy. And with a record-breaking +24,000 attendees, its apparent that this ”virtualization stuff” is still top of mind for many IT professionals. Now that the dust has settled from all the Vegas activities and announcements, I want to share some thoughts on some of the big trends and themes that jumped out at me during the conference.
Focus on the “User Experience”
Whether it’s Projects AppBlast, Octopus, or Unified Communication (UC) announcements, the virtualization industry is moving beyond just enabling flexible backend infrastructure toward what business executives and end-users often care about most -- technologies that enrich their professional lives:
Prior to VMworld, Gartner’s Mark Margevicius and Chris Wolf (twitter @cswolf) both received early previews of Cisco’s next generation Virtualization Experience Client (VXC) portfolio strategy and vision. Building off their guidance and encouragement, the Cisco VXI team decided to start an active outreach campaign to solicit more feedback from the market on where we are headed and how we can do better. Cisco, VMware and Wyse agreed to partner up for VMworld to host a NDA, invitation-only VXI Whisper Suite to an influential group of customers, partners, and industry insiders. note: VXI = Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (think VDI++)
Unfortunately, I am unable to publicly discuss the “secrets” that were “whispered” in the VXI Whisper Suite but what I can say is the Cisco VXI team remains focused on delivering the best possible “User Experience” that unifies the worlds of virtualization, voice, video, telepresence, and collaboration in a way that’s unique and immersive.
Also, without revealing any specific names of customers who attended, I can say it was an impressive group of some of the top IT executives from several Fortune 500/ Global 2000 companies. The audience members in general were open, honest and candid about what they saw and we greatly appreciate all the feedback we received. Overall, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and supportive.
Below are 3 short video clips from some of the top industry thought-leaders, partners, and customers just minutes after leaving our VXI Whisper Suite. Their feedback was consistent to what we heard all week — thanks to Alex Van Deusen for conducting these quick interviews:
Ruben Spruijt (twitter @rspruijt) reaction to Cisco VXI Whisper Suite
Steve Kaplan (twitter @roidude) reaction to VXI Whisper Suite
Large Enterprise customers (Financial & Healthcare) reaction to VXI Whisper Suite
Apps, Data… and the Cloud
VMware’s new project AppBlast was clearly the “buzz” of the entire event. Scott Davis, VMware CTO for EUC, introduced AppBlast as part of his 2013 and beyond roadmap. With AppBlast, VMware has introduced a tech preview of a new product offering that allows customers to take their “fat applications” particularly on Windows and make them accessible from any modern browser by “automagically” wrapping those legacy applications with HTML5 (no rewrite required). If this works as well as the demonstration showed, this could dramatically ease the transition to a cloud-computing approach where any app on any device using any modern browser becomes a more tangible reality. Kudos to VMware for making this bold move -- you have every virtualization enthusiasts’ attention and many of us want to see this materialize into a real product soon.
VMware’s project Octopus was a close second as the highlight of the event. VMware describes this as “Dropbox for the Enterprise” which is not as impressive in concept as AppBlast since there are several startups offering variants of a “Dropbox” type product with greater degrees of central IT control, security enforcement, auditing, and policy management. Without a doubt, this is something that the IT industry wants a more established leader to deliver upon. If VMware can pull it off and gain wide adoption, this could be a significant achievement.
Storage, storage, storage – not done yet
Virtualization has fundamentally changed the way we architect and build our datacenters. The combination of x86 server computing and virtualization is like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate — “two great tastes that taste great together”
However, far too often a sour lemon taste spoils the datacenter fun for workloads like desktop virtualization. And that lemon is legacy storage particularly in the form of Fiber Channel based SAN. As more customers get comfortable with desktop virtualization, they often remind us… “yes, we want to move more aggressively with desktop virtualization but going from a regular PC with the cheapest storage in the world into the datacenter with the most expensive storage in the world, those basic economics slow us down.”
So it was not a big surprise that the expo floor was booming with new storage startups to address this market need. Further, this year’s Best of VMworld Desktop Virtualization Winner was given to a hardware startup, Nutanix, which brings together commodity storage and x86 compute in a scale out fashion with a logo and motto reminiscent of Wyse’s “No PC” except it’s “No SAN”:
Personally, I think it’s interesting but taking a dual-prong approach of competing against x86 server vendors and SAN storage vendors will be a delicate tightrope for that team to cross. I wish them the best.
The storage startup at VMworld that seemed most promising and innovative to folks like Manny Rivelo (EVP, Cisco) and I was Coraid, a new SAN scale-out company not using FC, FCoE, or iSCSI. Instead, Coraid let’s customers mix-n-match any combination of SSD (Flash), SATA, and SAS drives attaching via Raw Ethernet. The Coraid founder is Brantley Coile who invented a new protocol called ATA over Ethernet (AoE). This isn’t the first time Brantley has created something groundbreaking. He also holds the key patent for NAT (Network Address Translation) and built the company that gave Cisco’s its first stateful firewall and load-balancer back in the late 1990s. It’s still early days for this startup but Coraid is one company to watch because they already have over 1500 customers, several impressive public Cloud deployments and very unique technology. According to Gartner, 40-60% of today’s VDI budgets are spent on storage but does anyone believe 40-60% of the solution value reside in that storage? If new innovations like AoE become pervasive in virtualized datacenters, those days of 40-60% of VDI spending toward storage may come to an end and more explosive adoption of virtual desktops will become a new reality.
Healthy ecosystem = experimentation and innovation
With so many new start-ups in the market and a robust virtualization ecosystem, I believe we will look back on this era as a healthy time for both experimentation and innovation. Personally, I’m ecstatic about how our industry is trying to improve the user experience for corporate computing, ease the transition to cloud applications and data delivery, and fundamentally change the way we architect storage in a virtualized datacenter and the public cloud.
What do you think of the “signal to noise” ratio in virtualization today? Is all this experimentation just too much “noise” and not enough “signal” (innovation)? Do you think this year’s VMworld was about a lot more than apps, data, and rich collaborative experiences delivered from the cloud?
The Digital Revolution is Upon Us (watch it below):
So VMworld Las Vegas is now in the rear-view mirror, and VMworld Copenhagen looms in the distance. Were you there? Did you get a chance to check out our VXI demo? If your calendar was packed, but missed the VXI breakout session on Monday, I’d encourage you to check out the online replay of #SPO3989 (Cisco VXI: Optimized Infrastructure for Scaling View Desktops) once it’s available. We also had some important announcements speaking to our joint innovation with VMware, captured here. Read More »