IMG_2356I just got back from another blockbuster of an event that was VMworld Barcelona.  If you’re VMworld Alumni, you know the drill – long days turn into nights, meetings, convention hall food, and before you know it, you’re at the customer reception and Taio Cruz is there.  I also scored a really nice plastic tumbler (the drinking kind, not the Batman kind) when leaving the conference – which my family is probably going to steal from me in the near future.

This year was no different, and there’s been plenty to talk about especially as it pertains to the Cisco / VMware relationship (if you’re following the whole ACI vs. NSX thing) – I’ll get there in a minute, but before I do…

I spent a ton of time chatting with folks in the Solutions Exchange, re: their VDI implementations.  Taking inventory of the most frequently asked questions, here’s what became discussion fodder in ranked order for those of you dying to know:

  • Solutions for graphics-intensive use cases using NVIDIA GRID
  • Persistent VDI with Cisco’s On-Board architecture (server-side flash caching)
  • Cisco Validated Designs for FlexPod and Reference Architectures for VSPEX
  • Desktone (now “Desktone by VMware”)

If one had to “connect-the-dots” across these topics, two common themes readily emerge.  This year, no doubt, has been all about:

  • Making VDI address a wider array of use cases with “equivalent-to-physical” levels of performance and,
  • Simplifying how organizations implement and manage it.

It’s no surprise then, that folks are looking to bring graphics intensive workstations into the fold, and wanting to finally break away from non-persistent desktops, and deliver stateful, dedicated 1:1 desktop images that don’t break the bank.  Enter our joint solutions with NVIDIA and Fusion-io as proof points of where we’re focusing to address these imperatives.  Back at VMworld US, Fusion-io announced their solution for persistent desktops, and you may be familiar with the Atlantis ILIO solution as well.  These are indicative of a consensus in the industry that virtual desktops need to behave akin to physical desktops, if VDI market adoption is to grow.

When it comes to the implementation and manageability of VDI, our customers increasingly expect either fully baked CVD’s or reference architectures for VMware and Citrix that eliminate the guesswork of putting the multiple solution components together, or they’ve made that strategic decision to outsource the implementation and operations, and turn to a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solution and procure their virtual desktops from the cloud.

From a Cisco perspective we embrace both approaches, recognizing that each organization resonates with an IT consumption model that fits them best, and no doubt, cloud / XaaS is the way to go for an increasing portion of the population.  As such, we’ve been partnering with industry leaders in the DaaS space, and Desktone is a good example of this (we actuallyScreen Shot 2013-10-22 at 3.44.58 PM have a DaaS with Desktone CVD which you can find here).

To wrap things up, VMware’s Bhumik Patel and I did a Cisco/VMware VDI “roundup” of sorts, discussing the Desktone announcement and other items in a short video you can find here.

Now back to the whole Cisco vs. VMware thing.  Clearly the relationship between our companies is an evolving and complex one, but at the same time, one that’s founded on an extensive track record of joint solution innovation and outstanding integration and management interworking.  If you’re not familiar with how Cisco and VMware are “better together”, you need to check out this webinar with Cisco’s Roger Barlow.  This was also a central message to marketplace during VMworld San Francisco last month.

Clearly Cisco and VMware have an important, trusted advisor relationship with our customers, and as such, they expect us to help them navigate a path to a more application-driven architecture for their data centers.  Cisco and VMware offer competing visions (ACI vs. NSX) of how to get there and our customer’s IT “DNA” will probably cause them to naturally align with one vision vs. the other.  However, amidst this evolutionary process, one thing is clear – organizations everywhere will continue to benefit from Cisco+VMware solutions that deliver real business benefits TODAY.  Desktop Virtualization is a great proof point of this.

As data center architects make strategic bets around how best to deliver simplified, network-aware, programmable infrastructure, they will continue to look to our two companies to provide implementable solutions that address mission-critical workloads like virtualized desktops and applications with greater performance, reduced cost, and an uncompromised user experience.

I like the word co-opetition.  I’m not sure if it’s really a word, but Cisco’s Wendy Mars (our EMEA Region Leader for Data Center) offers her insights on the Cisco / VMware evolving relationship and how co-opetition is now the new normal.