Cisco, Citrix Unveil Joint VDI Offering To Partners

Citrix and Cisco have teamed up to provide a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) offering based on the two vendors' technology and aimed specifically at solution providers. And, in doing so, Cisco continues to show that it is opening its UCS platform.

The two companies on Wednesday said they have developed pre-configured solutions consisting of Citrix's XenDesktop virtual desktop technology and Cisco's UCS (Unified Computing System) technology, and will take those solutions through their common solution providers.

Cisco is working with best-of-breed partners like Citrix to provide validated solutions for customers such as the new VDI offering, said Ralph Nimergood, vice president of worldwide partner organizations for Cisco.

"For partners, this 'de-risks' this solution in a very real way, and allows them to focus on their professional services," Nimergood said. "It provides them a cookbook to provide validated services."

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Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) combines networking, blade servers, and storage in a single architecture, as well as all Cisco core switching and routing products, security, and voice over IP (VoIP) into a single architecture.

Cisco's main virtualization partner on UCS has been VMware, and so this new relationship with Citrix gives credence to Cisco's assertions that its UCS platform is open to technology from multiple partners.

Such a multi-partner strategy on UCS also became apparent in January when NetApp inked a technology pact with Cisco and VMware to jointly develop solutions. Prior to that, EMC was Cisco's primary storage partner for UCS.

Citrix and Cisco starting Wednesday are offering starter bundles that are pre-configured to make it easy for solution providers to sell and deploy VDI solutions. The initial starter kits are pre-configured for up to 300 users, but can be expanded to thousands of users, Nimergood said.

For storage, the solution has been validated to work with NetApp technology, Nimergood said. "But we're an open ecosystem partner," he said. "It's likely over time that we'll see other solutions come to market."

Next: Pre-bundled And Ready For Full Support

Cisco and Citrix are also collaborating on a set of pre-bundled services that partners can offer, along with a technical framework for deploying the solution and pre-sales and post-sales support, Nimergood said.

The two have identified an initial group of 36 systems integrators and enterprise solution providers who will take the joint VDI solution to market, but will expand its offering to several hundred partners over the next couple months, Nimergood said.

About 70 percent of Cisco's Advanced Technology Program (ATP) partners are also qualified to offer the Citrix VDI solution; thus, there is a lot of partner overlap, Nimergood said.

Eventually, the joint solutions will be available to a full range of solution providers who will not be expected to get any new certifications above what they already have in terms of UCS and XenDesktop, said Craig Stilwell, vice president of Americas channel at Citrix.

"We started with a smaller set of partners that we could go fast with," Stilwell said.

The joint Cisco-Citrix VDI solutions come at a time when the virtual desktop market is poised for growth, Stilwell said.

Citrix currently has over 100 customers who have individually deployed at least 1,000 virtual desktops into production, with one customer already having deployed a VDI solution with over 20,000 seats, he said.

The technology is being driven in part by pent-up demand for Windows 7 caused by the current economic slowdown as well as increased user mobility and the fact that younger workers seem to have been born mobile, Stilwell said.

"More people are being remote and on the road and needing access to their corporate desktop," he said.

Stilwell also cited Gartner estimates that as many as 60 percent of corporate desktops will be virtualized by 2012.