Cisco: VMware, Citrix VDI Reseller Partnerships 'All Upside' For VARs

Cisco is now a reseller of two prominent virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platforms, VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop, as part of tightened channel agreements between the companies that were announced this week. Cisco, VMware and Citrix partners have no cause for concern, however -- if anything, Cisco can now more easily fold VDI into data center deals that solution providers are a part of, Cisco says.

"It means partners are getting one throat to choke in terms of accountability," said Brian Alison, director, data center solutions in Cisco's Worldwide Partner Organization (WWPO). "There are also benefits such as integrated support for the whole solution, and access to the Cisco Capital engine. We're seeing a lot of positive feedback from this -- this is all upside for partners."

Cisco will now resell VMware View 5 or Citrix XenDesktop software as part of an integrated VDI solution based on Cisco's own Unified Computing System (UCS) that uses either VDI product as a module in Cisco's Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI), the platform Cisco developed for unifying virtual desktop with voice and video securely.

Cisco expects the VMware bundled solutions to be available in March, with the XenDesktop ones next quarter. It will sell them both direct and through Cisco solution providers and distributors, and also provide deployment playbooks and toolkits specific to the offering. Cisco customers will be able to use Cisco Capital financing options for the solutions bundle to spread out the cost of acquisition.

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Though other companies such as Hewlett-Packard offer reference architectures for their data center products with various VDI platforms, reselling was a logical next step for Cisco, said Alison -- particularly with VMware, whose vSphere Cisco already resells. The bundled VDI solution can also be part of preconfigured UCS deals such as VCE's Vblock packages or the NetApp-oriented FlexPod architecture, he said.

"The value we're delivering here is something we see as going above and beyond the VDI vernacular," Alison said, discussing Cisco's VXI play. "VDI is much more narrow in terms of what it is solving, but we're solving for the virtual desktop inclusive of our data center components and our Borderless Networks strategy. Candidly, no one else can do that."

Allson declined to say whether Cisco would pursue similar reseller relationships with other VDI platforms such as Microsoft Virtual Desktop.