Systems Inc. is moving into desktop virtualization, further extending its attempt to offer enterprises solutions running from data centres to end users.
Early next year it will start selling two so-called zero-client desktop appliances as part of what it calls its newly-created Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI).
“The future we see is that we’ll be shipping millions of virtutally-enabled devices over the next few years,” Barry O’Sullivan, senior vice-president and general manager of Cisco’s voice technology group told a Webcast on Monday for industry analysts and reporters. That, he said, will help push the cost of the devices down,
“We want to be able to deliver rich media in the same form and capability as on the thick client,” added Manny Rivelo, Cisco’s senior vice-president for systems and architectures.
VXI is a group of products and integrated solutions from partners virtual desktops from Citrix Systems Inc. and VMware Inc. aimed at assuring organizations they can run rich media collaboration applications over a fully virtualized environment. Compatibility with hypervisors from these companies and Microsoft Corp. is also assured.
One of the Cisco clients, the VXC 2200 is a small standalone device, while the VXC 2100 plugs into Cisco’s 8900 and 9900 series IP phones.
Both can be used as the heart of a desktop computing system with Power over Ethernet connection to the network plus plugs for two monitors, a keyboard and a mouse.
Also certified under VXI are thin client endpoints from Wyse Technology, DevonIT Inc. and IGEL Technology
Prices haven’t been firmed up yet, but Cisco says they’re trying to keep the hardware under US$500.
Cisco also said its soon to be released Cius tablet will be part of the system through a docking station that offers similar connectivity.
“This is the first phase of a multi-pronged architecture that we will be announcing and continue to build to over the coming years,” said Rivelo. It will be an open ecosystem, in that customers have their choice of virtual machines.
Initially, however, VXI is only certified for Microsoft desktops. Support for Linux at some point in the future is expected.
Cisco’s hope is that for thousands of VXI-approved devices in enterprises will be fed by its Unified Computing blade servers – and through its routers switches and media gateways.
According to Zeus Kerravala, a senior vice-president of research at Yankee Group, it’s a vision that might come to pass because unlike server virtualization, desktop virtualization hasn’t caught on yet with IT managers.