This blog post promises to avoid telling you about all the fantabulous (I know that’s not a woUCSrd) growth expected in the number of hosted virtual desktops to be deployed by 2016.  What I do want to share, is how Cisco is ramping up our investments in accelerating your path to virtual desktop success, and how we’re tapping into the fundamentals of our Unified Computing System (UCS) to deliver new VDI efficiencies; the same efficiencies that have made Cisco the 2nd most preferred x86  blade server vendor* worldwide, in just 4 years!  So why are so many organizations moving away from their legacy compute solution, and choosing UCS for VDI workloads and more?

Differentiated capabilities that address VDI pain points: TCO and Manageability

It’s no secret to anyone that VDI is not simple to deploy.  You essentially have to bring together multiple seemingly disparate solution elements (server, storage, virtualization, broker, network, security, etc.) and make them work in a cohesive manner, and then be certain that your implementation will scale from a small pilot of 50 users to hundreds, thousands, or more!  Clearly with such complexity, the last thing you need is a complex compute infrastructure underneath it all.  There are 3 key things at the heart of this, that speak to why UCS is better for VDI:on-board

1.)    Server-resident flash.  Our “On-Board” Architecture for VDI intercepts the rapidly proliferating use of flash based storage solutions that offer expansive IOPS capacity and huge performance.  UCS takes it a step further by offering an integrated solution leveraging our partner Fusion-io.  We’ve additionally delivered reference architectures that extend the use cases and attractiveness of flash-based solutions with appliance approaches (that direct-connect the storage array to our fabric interconnect) as well as more traditional multi-tiered architectures.  More on that in a moment…

service profile2.)    We’ve made it easier to provision and manage the hosts for your virtual desktop deployments.  UCS Service Profile Templates enable rapid deployment from bare metal, creating a zero-touch, mistake-proof, stateless operations model.  Now, when you add the On-Board, server-resident flash to the configuration, you extend the reach of this management model to include high-performance, economical storage, completely provisioned and managed as part of the blade configuration/profile!  No SAN or associated expertise required!  Perfect for floating, non-persistent desktops.VIC

3.)    Granular visibility across the virtualized infrastructure.  With user desktops now running amidst other mission-critical workloads in the data center, there’s more reason than ever to ensure that you can impart QoS, security and manageability across the multitude of virtual machine traffic flows traversing the data center.  Cisco Virtual Machine Fabric Extender (VM-FEX) and Cisco Nexus 1000v provide the visibility and controls that make this possible, extending physical world policy and administration to virtual.

A Comprehensive Approach to Architectures and Ecosystem

In my recent post “Wristwatches, Bicycle Helmets, and VDI” I talked a little about how the days of One-Size-Fits-All are long gone, and how organizations like yours, need, demand… solution approaches for VDI that are tailor made to your specific IT environment’s scale, embedded resources, budget, etc.  As Cisco moves from a number 2 global position to the market share leader, it’s clear we’ll need to speak to customers of all sizes.  And that means having the solution set and ecosystem to matchecosystem

1.)    We’ve introduced an expanded suite of solution architectures for VDI, that introduce not only the On-Board approach I mentioned earlier, but also the “Simplified” architecture (UCS Fabric direct-connected to storage appliance) and the “Scalable” architecture (traditional multi-tiered, with Cisco Nexus 5000 as intermediating switch fabric between storage and server).  Additionally we have our Converged Infrastructure models leveraging VCE vBlock and FlexPod that offer convenient, modularized packaging of the complete infrastructure needed to rapidly deploy VDI.

2.)    The architecture suite mentioned above would not be possible without a comprehensive portfolio of technology partners, especially where storage is concerned.  Cisco enjoys a strategic relationship with industry leaders Citrix, VMware, NetApp and EMC, and together we’ve made VDI one of the top workloads deployed on UCS with over 1,200 VDI customers in place thus far.  As we expand our market reach, we’ve converged on a select group of technology partners who help us expand our value proposition, offering new exciting capabilities that intercept the flash-based trend, and with whom our customers have sought validated design guidance based on Cisco.  This group currently includes: Atlantis Computing, Fusion-io, Nexenta, Nimble Storage, Tegile, and more on the way!

Clearly there’s a lot going on here with Cisco UCS and VDI…  and with our commitment to anticipate and intersect meaningful technology trends, and the leading solution capabilities of our strategic partner ecosystem, we’re refusing to take our eyes off the VDI-ball, regardless of whether this is the Year of VDI, next year, or the year after that.

Lastly – are you going to Cisco Live at the end of the month?  If so, we’ll have some great news on desktop virtualization content to be had at the event, and how you can connect with helpful demos, sessions and expertise.  Stay tuned!

*Source:  IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, Q1 2013 Revenue Share, May 2013