Cisco Clarifies Virtual Desktop Strategy with VXI Package

Cisco is now calling the VDI package the Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI) so people can ask for it by name.

A couple of weeks after Cisco Systems and its virtual desktop/data center business partners VMware and EMC announced new support for their Vblock cloud systems, lead mover Cisco clarified its VDI strategy Nov. 16 by productizing its wide-ranging product set and giving the reference architecture a name that resembles a misordered Roman numeral.

Cisco is now calling the VDI package the Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI) and adding it to the catalog so people can ask for it by name.

Virtually all the components -- including load balancing and application delivery, wide area application acceleration software, security appliances, VPN client, data center switches, SAN switches, routers -- you name it -- are required to be Cisco-made.

However, the VXI will work with Citrix XenDesktop 5 and VMware View 4.5 desktops.

Cisco is repositioning itself in a trend most IT analysts believe will finally start to take off in 2011, thanks largely to major improvements in bandwidth, software performance and I/O routing.

The VXI is a comprehensive offering. Likewise, it will be a matter of serious comprehension for IT architects to get through the 729-page VXI Configuration Guide (PDF) that Cisco published with the launch.

Complicated it is. The VXI system supports a wide variety of endpoint devices, including Cisco Unified IP Phones, laptops, business tablets including Cisco Cius, and smart phones.

Cisco also said that its Cius business tablet will be enabled to run virtualized desktop environments at launch thanks to the introduction of newly designed client applications from Citrix, VMware and Wyse.

In the data center, the VXI package will work natively with Cisco's Unified Computing System and its Vblocks cloud computing packages. Vblocks are modular, preconfigured rack systems consisting of servers and networkware from Cisco, storage/security/system management from EMC, and the ESX hypervisor from VMware.

Resulting cloud computing blocks can range in size from hundreds of virtual machines to more than 6,000 virtual machines, depending on the customer's needs. The number of endpoints in a VXI deployment could range in the thousands, depending upon requirements.

Vblocks use end-to-end Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCOE) connectivity only.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...