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Experience the Virtual Desktop

January 6, 2011 - 7 Comments

The primary goal for desktop virtualization is a noble one:  to reduce total cost of ownership while enhancing security and increasing business agility without compromising the quality of the user experience.

How hard can it be?  That is of course the focus of our latest Data Center episode ‘Raising the Bar on Desktop Virtualization’

Read on for the shownotes!

Add this one to our growing list of old technologies re-cast as new innovation – virtual desktop. I do think we make a good argument for what is being done differently this go round.

There are number of innovations that have lead to this point where we now find ourselves – the ability to deliver truly ‘Centralized Desktop Virtualization’ which takes the user’s desktop experience and moves it into the Virtualized Data Center and does it in such a way – that the user only notices what they do now – that they could not do before.  In other words, if I notice anything different as a user, its ideally only because I have new flexibility or other benefits perhaps.

Most of the benefits for doing this fall within the organization itself:

– Dramatic simplification of the computing devices being managed

– Endpoints are easier to maintain and deploy

– Purchase of new endpoints is lower

– Endpoints can last longer

– Asset tracking, software licensing, backup, failure recovery….all better

– Much more control from a security standpoint

The user benefits become icing on the cake:

– Platform independence – the ability to work from any device you choose based on your location, the actual work at hand, etc – becomes a very easy thing to offer users.

Example: nice big desktop monitor for most of the workday but by late day the user shifts to a tablet or other ‘laid back’ device yet still has access to all the same work in progress and other applications available. (one of my favs)

So what are the challenges?

– The obvious challenge is we are talking about very large fundamental infrastructure changes that will ultimately succeed or fail based on user perception.

– The users IT environment is not limited to the desktop. This is a rich media game

– The collaboration needs and habits that have become mainstream now dictate that this experience must replicated as well.   This places endpoint communication with this virtualized desktop on par with IP telephony for the sensitive nature of the traffic.  Video is not a stretch goal here…its being touted as a baseline expectation.

– Visibility. Control. Intelligence.  IT administrator requirements that must be present from end to end.


This one is is about defining the edges – the requirements for delivering on these promises with a deep dive into Cisco VXI – Virtualization Experience Infrastructure.  Not desktop as an endpoint software but the entire conversation needed here – the reality of what it takes to fully realize these high expectations.

Segment 1 – The Virtual Desktop Experience

Cisco’s move into this space has been covered through the normal set of articles one would expect:

Siva Mandalam, The Virtual Desktop Experience

Siva Mandalam was our special guest for the ‘keynote’ section of the show to help us understand Cisco’s unique positioning here.

Segment 2 – Display Protocol Shootout

Quick.  Can you name the three Video Display protocols critical to your resource usage?  As my neighbor Nick will tell you, just ‘owning the tools’ is nuthin – you gotta know how to use them.   Mark Dittmer has this and more covered as he joined Jimmy Ray in the lab.

Mark Dittmer

– ICA , PCoIP (Teradici) and RDP

– Packet deep dive into what makes each different/same

– QoS on the stream

– WAN Considerations

– Windows XP vs Windows 7 bandwidth/memory

MMR – Multimedia Redirection (works with PCOIP, RDP)

HDX – for ICA

These were built to handle the request for video

Bonus Reading: White Paper from the Catalyst 4500 team on Network Considerations in play here.

Segment 3 – New Zero Clients

Brian Dal Bello

From think to thin…now to zero. This area of the show was of particular interest to me given that Cisco had new products in a space we have never played in before.  Brian Dal Bello was our guest on this one and now I agree there are multiple good reasons for us to be making end points here even I feel like it may end up being about how we seed the market more than anything else.  The ‘backpack’ client we have is especially intriguing (VXC 2100 on the back of a 9971 phone)

Look desktop!

Two new Small Desktop Devices –

  • VXC 2200 – standalone tower less than 5 inches high, shown in demo as next to a desk phone and telepresence monitor, four USB ports and two video ports
  • VXC 2100 – fits on the back of a Cisco IP phone (8900 or 9900 series), connect up to two monitors, has four USB ports


Segment 4 – Server Load Balancing with VXI

Mark Dittmer, levity for the load

The always available network becomes even more important as the data center gets extended to the desktop.  Network design and the technologies needed get addressed with guest Mark Dittmer.

Application Control Engine

Virtualized ACE

Virtualized ACE

ACE Deployment


Segment 5 – vmware View 4.5

Mike Coleman, vmware

Special Guest Mike Coleman from VMware joins us to explore View 4.5 hosted on Cisco UCS and running on the new zero client desktops from Cisco


What do you think?

Thank you for watching and supporting the show.   We have gotten lots of questions on this one and the opinions are the to be expected variety.  The story will continue to evolve – in fact, we covered Cisco’s VXI story not too long ago within episode 75 ‘Beyond the Virtualized Data Center’ – check it out if you still want more.

Where do you stand on all this?   Have experience to share – opinions to vent?  Use the comment fields below…

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  2. I like desktop computers but you cant take it wit you everywhere like laptops that is the downfall of desktop computer even though they are built to last longer

  3. I am very please to read your post . very informative. Keep posting like this. Now i aware about viral Destop. thanks

  4. good analysis about the fundamental analysis.

  5. tanks for nice post

  6. virtual desktop is cool, thanks for the review

  7. Yes, virtual desktop, I think it will be in demand even more, but later.