ACE Network: Testing Desktop Virtualization for Mobile Employees
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI is getting a lot of attention these days. It allows companies to replace high-cost laptops with a lower-cost, secure device. It also allows employees to access a secure, cloud-based desktop from any device across the Internet.
Desktop virtualization has been popular among the Cisco salespeople who are ACE users because they can access the same centrally stored applications and content wherever they have an Internet connection and whether they are using a laptop or tablet. The faster startup time for the tablet client compared to booting-up a laptop may be one reason for this popularity, because it helps salespeople get information quickly, especially when they are talking with a customer.
VDI is being used in production in selected areas within Cisco and it’s use is growing. However, some applications—particularly latency-sensitive voice and video applications—don’t work well in the cloud. That’s why Cisco IT has been piloting the Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI) in our ACE network. VXI uses an intelligent network connection client, either hardware or software, to route voice and video across a shorter path through the network. Although the hardware and software clients may be doing the same thing, we found in our pilots that the choice made a world of difference based on the user’s preferred work style. The difference is mobility.
Some of our employees work directly from their desks, while others are used to being mobile. In Cisco IT’s first VXI deployments, we gave the hardware client to partners in a software development environment, where mobility was not an issue. In our ACE network testing of VXI, we’ve been looking at how to integrate the virtual desktop and mobile voice and video capabilities with Cisco’s bring your own device (BYOD) program for employees. In addition to supporting the Cisco VXC hardware thin client,
Cisco IT supports the Cisco VXC software client on the personally-owned laptops and digital tablets of about 900 ACE network users. The client provides access to the user’s virtualized desktop and stored content, and coexists with other clients on the device such as Cisco Jabber for IM, presence, and voice and video calls.
One of our users in the Cisco ACE VXI pilot reported: “I don’t need to worry anymore about ensuring that all my devices have all the applications that I need to do my work… they are all just there and accessible from anywhere,” says Paulo Jorge Correia, Cisco technical solutions lead architect. “Also, I no longer have to worry if my backups were done correctly, because I can access my data from any device and it is always updated.”
We’ve learned that it’s essential to identify the right use cases in order to get relevant information from VXI testing. These use cases will also help you identify the right IT architecture, make sure enough network bandwidth is in place, and verify that IT will be able to deliver the applications and services needed for a high-quality VXI user experience.
The Cisco IT production teams are now rolling out the VXI production service. We expect this service will produce a significant financial benefit for Cisco, based on the data reported by the 39 percent of ACE salespeople users who signed up for VXI accounts. If the same ratio of highly mobile salespeople adopt the VXI production service, we expect Cisco will gain employee productivity worth US $28 million per year from just over five minutes saved by each user each day.
This post is part of a series about the Cisco IT ACE Service Introduction Network. You’ll find more information in these related posts: