Desktop virtualization is a technology with loads of potential. It aims to free users from their PCs and lets them access their “desktops” – applications, software, data and processes – from anywhere using almost any device. Businesses and IT departments can potentially reduce costs and simplify management because data and applications are housed centrally in the data center rather than on individual PCs.
Trouble is, it hasn’t always worked that way. For users, rich-media and video-collaboration experiences have been less-than-optimal.
For businesses, some of the expected ROI hasn’t yet been realized, and deploying desktop virtualization has required a somewhat complex process of integrating components from multiple vendors.
Enter Phil Sherburne. A former engineer at the famed Bell Labs, Sherburne is now vice president for Cisco’s enterprise architecture and systems team. Grounded in voice technology and unified communications, he led the technical team for what is now Cisco’s desktop virtualization system, Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI).
Work on VXI got started about a year ago after Sherburne spent time talking with sales teams and customers. He and others realized that Cisco had what was needed to tackle the problems in existing desktop virtualization systems.
Why Cisco? “If you separate the physical device from the logical desktop, what you have in between is the network,” Sherburne explains.
Sherburne figured that if engineers could combine the company’s networking expertise with technical strengths in areas like video, collaboration and unified communications, they just might come up with the answer.
Anywhere on Any Device
That answer was VXI. The system, which will be delivered as a series of releases, ties together elements from Cisco’s three enterprise technology architectures – data center/virtualization, Borderless Networks and collaboration – to address current desktop virtualization issues.
Cisco’s Unified Computing System, for example, helps reduce costs because it significantly increases the number of virtual desktops that can be hosted on each server. VXI also integrates rich media and video collaboration capabilities – without compromising user experiences.
Engineers also developed two simple and compact end-point devices – one that that neatly fits into the back of Cisco’s 8900/9900 series phones and a second that looks like an ultra-miniature desktop computer. Known as Virtualization Experience Client (VXC) 2100 and 2200, these are the first such devices powered by Ethernet.
For his part, Sherburne is excited about the possibilities.
“You’ll have this simple experience of being able to access your desktop wherever you are from whatever device you’re on,” he says. “For IT, it simplifies management, reduces cost and improves data security.”
Cisco (2010) Innovators: Phil Sherburne on Cisco Desktop Virtualization. Available at http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/2010/ts_121410.html [Accessed on: 15/12/2010]