IT managers are in an interesting situation – all the developments in virtualization, compute, and mobility are bringing new opportunities for architecting an efficient IT infrastructure. They are looking for ways to do more with less infrastructure. These developments are accelerating resource centralization, with more and more critical assets moving into the enterprise headquarters and data center and this is creating a ripple effect on branch and remote offices. To meet regulatory compliance and cost-control requirements, many organizations are optimizing resources and reducing complexity in the branch office.

Although centralizing branch resources and increasing access brings great benefits, it can also pose security, latency, business continuity and performance challenges.  Optimal business productivity is achieved only when the same level of services is available in the branch office as in the corporate headquarters. Branch-office networks need to be highly secure, available, remotely manageable, and extensible – and they must deliver application performance and quality of experience that is as good as in the main offices.

As organizations ride through the new wave of technology proliferation – increasing number of employees are using their own devices in corporate networks. Many organizations are looking at delivering virtual desktops to their employees so that employees can connect to corporate and branch resources securely and at the same time efficiently use the shared resources. Many IT managers have started with a centralized VDI architecture – providing virtual desktops from the companies’ headquarters or data center. The model has met with good success for users who are at the headquarter or campus environment as these locations tend to have a big , reliable WAN pipe to the virtualized environment. But when IT managers are trying to take the same model downstream to the branch employees – they are facing multiple challenges:

  1. Resiliency of the WAN link – outage will shutdown business at the branch as the branch employees cannot have access to their desktops
  2. Latency introduced by the WAN link – user experience is compromised at the branch. VDI rollouts to branch would fail miserably if user experience is not the same as what the users were used to before on their dedicated workstations or laptops.
  3. Bandwidth Congestion – multiple desktops and applications compete for bandwidth.

A few months back, Cisco and VMware introduced a unique solution called the “Office in a Box” http://blogs.cisco.com/borderless/cisco-office-in-a-box-cisco-ucs-e-series-with-vmware-view/. This solution provided IT Managers to provide VDI solutions on the Cisco UCS E-Series server built within the Cisco Integrated Services Router G2.

With the new release of VMware View 5.2, Cisco and VMware has built a Distributed VDI architecture which provides the benefits of a centralized management but virtualized desktops local to the branch. VMware vCenter and Broker would be located at the company data center and the virtual desktops can be hosted at the branch on the Cisco UCS E-Series server running in the ISR G2.

The key benefits with this Distributed VDI architecture are:

  1. Since the virtual desktops are local to the branch, the user experience is very superior.
  2. WAN outages do not affect users who are already working on their local desktops
  3. Management of the desktops is still centralized so that image management and patch updates can still be done centrally.

More details about the Distributed VDI architecture can be found at http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps12629/prod_white_papers_list.html

Check out this video which provides details around this joint solution 

IT Managers can now design the optimal IT infrastructure that leverages the benefits of the new virtualized era across the organization.



Jay Chokshi

Director Product Management

Enterprise Networking