In case you missed it, today Citrix and Cisco announced a desktop virtualization solution called the Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solution with Citrix XenDesktop. This solution will make it easier and more cost effective for businesses to deploy high-definition virtual desktops to all users enterprise-wide. While this solution will be very exciting for large customers looking to truly embrace desktop virtualization, that is not what excites me.
First of all, my responsibility at Citrix is to build key product specific (XenDesktop) alliances. So, when Cisco came to us saying that their customers were asking them to support Citrix XenDesktop on Cisco UCS, I will admit that I was surprised (as was my colleague Harry) and even a bit skeptical – not because customers wanted XenDesktop, but because I always saw VMware as the major virtualization partner for Cisco. Anyway, in our first conversation with Cisco, I needed to make sure that Cisco, a networking company, even understood the desktop market. To my surprise, our visions were perfectly aligned: users should be able to work from anywhere, anytime, using any device, while getting the same rich experience they would in the office. Fast forward a couple of months…we are together today.
On the surface, this is a fairly standard announcement. You’ve probably seen a dozen vendors announce joint solutions with reference architectures. I’d argue this one is different. It goes one step further and provides a single support number to call for support. But I digress. The big deal here is under the surface. The more savvy readers won’t see a joint solution. They’ll recognize Cisco doing what Cisco does best – identifying the market trends and then working with leaders to drive them mainstream. Don’t believe me? Then consider this…
Cisco has an amazing history of catching market trends right before they take off. Let’s take a quick look at their track record:
1. From connectivity to communications – Cisco caught the voice transition as it went from analog to IP
2. From communications to collaboration – Cisco then capitalized on unified communications as the voice market transitioned
3. From collaboration to telepresence – Arguably its new hallmark, Cisco is now the king of video and high-def conferencing
And those are just the obvious ones. Cisco has also dominated transitions around security, wireless, and mobility. It’s arguably the largest vendor in every one of these categories. Most recently, their entrance into the converged infrastructure market, going toe to toe with the largest players in that market – and doing well! When Cisco decides to enter a market, they do it with the goal of becoming No. 1. So far, my hat goes off to them.
But, the desktop market is different as every enterprise has a unique set of users that have very unique computing needs – as we all know, it is not a market where a one-size-fits-all solution will work. Simply entering the desktop virtualization market with a VDI offering was not going to cut it. Cisco knew this because their customers were not telling them to just create a desktop virtualization solution, but instead to partner with Citrix to create an integrated solution that brought together Cisco UCS and Citrix XenDesktop. To us, this is a big deal. Why? Because as I said above, Cisco catches trends as they are about to take off and partners with the best providers to capitalize on the new market. To be the chosen solution that Cisco goes to market with for desktop virtualization says two key things to me:
1. That desktop virtualization is hitting mainstream…and fast
2. Citrix has the market leading solution to transform the enterprise computing market
We expect our joint solution – which combines the Cisco Unified Computing Systems (UCS) platform with Citrix XenDesktop software to provide the desktop and application virtualization technologies – to help customers looking for a turnkey desktop virtualization solution get up and running quickly. But more is coming, both with Cisco and with our other partners. Together, we all have two things in common: 1) the desire to make enterprise computing more flexible and 2) the belief that the desktop virtualization market transition is the key.