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Your Workspace – Your Way

As you may have seen in the announcement on December 17th, Cisco along with its partners Citrix and Desktone by VMware, are announcing our joint solutions for Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS).  Clearly our customers demand choice and flexibility in how they choose to implement desktop virtualization, not just in terms of the delivery technology, but also in terms of the ownership model.  You’ve told us you want virtual desktops and apps that fit your business and IT consumption models.  You want it “your way”.  And for a growing constituency, it just makes sense to shift the burden of designing, implementing and managing the solution to an affordable OPEX model, outsourced to a Cisco-powered Service Provider.  Cisco DaaS offers our customers the choice and flexibility they expect.

What you may have also noticed with this announcement is that Cisco and its partners are continuing to bolster the underlying infrastructure/fabric of our desktop virtualization platform, to the benefit of both our premises-based and cloud-based (DaaS) clientele.  To that end, we’re sharing some important enhancements we think make the overall platform an optimal underpinning for virtualized desktops and apps.

Raising the CPU Performance Bar

The Cisco UCS B200 M3 Series Blade Server continues to be our flagship VDI workhorse delivering industry-leading performance for virtual desktops and apps.  We’ve updated this server to incorporate the latest Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 Series Processors (Ivy Bridge), and with that we’ve delivered unprecedented performance gains.  For example, based on single-blade characterization testing conducted by Cisco, and using the industry-recognized LoginVSI for workload testing, we’ve successfully deployed 252 VMware Horizon View desktops on a single blade (based on LoginVSI Max threshold).  This represents a 31% increase in server hosting density over the previous CPU.

VMwareIvyBridge

CitrixIvyBridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Economics of Flash

Nowhere is the benefit of flash technology seen so forcefully as with VDI workloads where the IOPS bottleneck has traditionally driven the up front CAPEX hurdle of desktop virtualization, out of reach for many environments, especially smaller ones.  Cisco has worked extensively with our portfolio of industry-leading storage technology partners to continue to offer prescriptive design guidance on how to tap into the benefits of the flash and hybrid-flash arrays.

Nimble Storage has been a featured joint solution on which many of our customers have experienced the economics of this hybrid-flash solution first-hand.  Many organizations are increasingly tapping into the efficiencies of this solution in conjunction with Hosted Shared Desktops (ie: Citrix XenApp), for which we’re announcing a brand new reference architecture based on Nimble’s CS240G-X4 with Cisco UCS, Citrix XenApp 6.5 on Microsoft Hyper-V.  The Citrix Validated Solution supports 1,000 hosted shared desktops running on the Nimble array.  The compact 3U solution provides cost-effective performance and capacity through its flash-optimized hybrid storage architecture, that combines the exceptional performance of flash with the favorable economics of high-capacity disk.  The validated architecture allows customers to eliminate risk, speed time to deployment, and scale as needed using the modular design.

Making Physical and Virtual Indistinguishable: Immersive Graphics

You may have caught my blog in support of the Citrix/NVIDIA/Cisco joint solution announcement on Dec. 11th.  Similarly, customers like SSOE are reaping the benefits of our joint solution with VMware and NVIDIA.  It’s no surprise that end users need (no, demand) that their virtual environment behaves akin to the physical one they left behind.  Just talk to any designer, healthcare clinician or researcher in an academic setting.  This has been one of the stumbling blocks around expanding the number of use cases that can be targeted by VDI, specifically where graphics-intensive applications are used..  I encourage you to learn more about our joint solutions with VMware and Citrix

Accelerating the ROI of VDI and App Virtualization – It’s All in the Bundles

To close this out, I want to shift focus to the “last mile” problem of the journey to virtual desktops.  No, not the “networking” last mile, but rather that point at which you’ve made the determination to implement a solution, to get your feet wet, ie: how to get started.

Earlier this month, Cisco released brand new Solution Accelerator Paks for Desktop Virtualization with VMware and Citrix.  These bundles offer attractive discounting, along with single-SKU ordering simplicity.  Organizations seeking to get into desktop virtualization can take advantage of Solution Accelerator Paks to deploy small pilot or proof-of-concept environments that offer great scalability when the need arises.

These bundles also offer expansion and upgrade options for adding more users, tier-0 flash storage from Fusion-io and LSI, as well as GPU options based on NVIDIA GRID K1, and K2.  Check out our brochures for VMware and Citrix as well as the ordering guides if you want more detail (VMware , Citrix )

January 12-14: Citrix Summit

Let me conclude by pointing out that next week is Citrix Summit, and for our channel partners attending the event, you’re encouraged to stop by the Cisco booth, and also check out the following:

Monday:

  • Cisco’s Frank Palumbo, SVP Worldwide Data Center Sales takes the stage for the keynote at 9am ET
  • Cisco’s breakout session, SUM 142 “Driving Success with Mobile Workspaces: the Citrix and Cisco Go-To-Market Framework” is at 3pm ET
  • And I’ll be in the Citrix Booth Theater at 1pm covering the Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solution with Citrix

Tuesday: Cisco’s Ram Appalaraju, VP Data Center Business Group delivers breakout session SUM 111 “NetScaler Roadmap and Vision” at 10am ET

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Speak With Our Experts

Delivering unified management for converged infrastructure solutions, Cisco UCS Director is an award-winning choice for managing your vBlock, FlexPod or other converged infrastructure solution.  In previous blogs, I have mentioned the benefits of Cisco UCS Director:

  • How it abstracts the virtualization, compute, network and storage layers into a single pane of glass that reduces the complexity of managing your data center infrastructure
  • Speaking fluently to Cisco UCS, Cisco Nexus and EMC or NetApp storage, how your organization receives the full functionality and benefits of the compute, network and storage layers.  As a stocking stuff, the hypervisor layer is included as well.  
  • Lastly, comprehensive management across physical, virtual and bare metal environments from a single pane of glass

Have you ever wondered if there was a way to see Cisco UCS Director in action — live with no strings attached?   

Well Virgina, there is a way for you to do just that.   I am not talking a canned demo or pre-recorded session available for replay.  A real, honest live demo —  and you can speak with our technical experts.     

Numerous sessions are scheduled over the next few months but the next two showings are:  December 17, 2013 and January 14, 2014.  We have two sessions each day to accommodate different time zones — choose the one that best meets your schedule. 

As work begins to slow down in preparation for the holidays, now is the perfect time to take an hour out of your day and learn more about Cisco UCS Director’s centralized automation and management capabilities. It will be an hour well spent.

To reserve your seat, register at:  http://bit.ly/I8Vhr3.    You can also learn more about Cisco UCS Director by going to:   http://buildprice.cisco.com/software/ucs-director

 

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Accelerating the Performance of Graphics-Intensive VDI

The VDI landscape is increasingly evolving to embrace virtual desktops that look, perform, and respond like their physical predecessors.  Whether it’s application responsiveness with low latency across the network, or high-performance storage with expansive IOPS capacity that mirrors  the native experience on one’s desktop/laptop, implementers and users expect their virtual desktops to behave akin to physical.

These technological achievements have led to increasingly successful virtual desktop deployments for knowledge workers and task workers, but not so much so for users of 3D graphics applications traditionally running on high-end dedicated graphics workstations.  Across many industries and verticals like Manufacturing/Design, Higher Ed, and Healthcare, you’ll find end users needing access to immersive 3D graphics applications.

Cisco, Citrix and NVIDIA are pleased to be at the forefront of extending the applicability of VDI for graphics-intensive use cases, enabled by our jointly validated solution architectures based on Cisco Unified Computing, NVIDIA GRID™ vGPU™ and Citrix XenDesktop.  This joint solution offers affordable, scalable performance for graphics-intensive VDI use cases, built on an optimized computing infrastructure from Cisco.  Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) is the foundation of Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solutions. Cisco UCS provides an end-to-end, service-and-application optimized platform for mobile, virtual workspaces.  The embedded NVIDIA GRID solution enables GPU sharing without sacrificing application compatibility or the user experience. Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp deliver desktops and applications as on demand services that tap into the benefits of GPU resources.  With our combined desktop virtualization solution, we’re expanding the utility, reach and performance of VDI.

Learn more about Cisco, Citrix and NVIDIA joint solutions for immersive 3D graphics in virtualized environments by checking out this helpful Solution Overview

For more information on NVIDIA GRID™:

NVIDIA GRID™ vGPU™ – www.nvidia.com/vgpu
NVIDIA GRID™ main website – www.nvidia.com/vdi
NVIDIA GRID™ K1 & K2 boards -http://www.nvidia.com/object/grid-boards.html

For more information on Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solutions with Citrix:  www.cisco.com/go/citrix

 

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#EngineersUnplugged S4|Ep6: Closing the Management Gap!

December 4, 2013 at 1:54 pm PST

Welcome back to Engineers Unplugged. In this week’s episode, we geek out with Cisco’s Roger Barlow and VMware’s Bhumik Patel (@bhumikp). The topic--how to close the management gap, featuring UCS and vSphere. They cover a variety of use cases and offer practical how-to:

**The next shoot is last week of January at Cisco Live in Milan! If you want to be internet-famous, contact me ASAP to talk about being on the show.**

This is Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

Join the behind the scenes by liking Engineers Unplugged on Facebook.

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Cisco: Your Strategic Cloud Partner

Cisco’s cloud software is a hot topic.  First Cisco UCS Director was voted the SVC award winner for best virtualization management software.  Then Forrester released a new Private Cloud Wave and both Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) and UCS Director combined garnered Cisco the highest ranking for cloud vision and strategy as well as a top three ranking for currently shipping product. Customer input was behind this success.
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