I get this question a lot – What are the different options to deliver Cisco Unified Communication applications with XenDesktop?

Cisco has recently released a VXI 2.6 Cisco Validated Design Guide (CVD) for XenDesktop 5.6 which provides great level of clarity around the different options supported, their design and configuration details, performance results, and intended use cases. I recommend you read it as it also provides the same level of details for all solutions that VXI (Virtualization Experience Infrastructure) offers for XenDesktop.

If you are unfamiliar with VXI and are looking for a quick overview, I encourage you read my previous blogs where I have summarized what a Cisco VXI solution for XenDesktop is (here) and what business use cases the joint solution can potentially solve for your organization (here).

As part of their VXI solution, Cisco was the first vendor to offer optimized delivery of real-time voice and video with XenDesktop with Cisco VXCs (Virtualization Experience Client). Cisco has integrated Citrix XenDesktop Virtual Channel SDKs on their VXC 6215 thin client and on the VXC 4000 softphone appliance for Windows which delivers the media traffic out-of-band. This media termination capability allows the media to be delivered point to point and not within the Citrix ICA virtual channel. Needless to say, this reduces processing in the data center, reduces bandwidth, and this is what makes the performance tick. This solution is unique to Citrix’s hosted virtual desktops (HVD).

With the new VXI 2.6 release, Cisco is including the Cisco Jabber for Windows with XenDesktop – and yes, for the first time this includes hosted shared desktops (HSD/ XenApp based desktops) support in addition to HVD. With this option, Jabber and can be delivered for both HSD and HVD in desk-phone mode. Desk-phone mode uses Cisco Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) to control a separate physical IP phone. In this case the media traffic is controlled by the IP phone and the media path is established between the two IP phones directly while the native interface within the virtual desktop provides the Instant Messaging (IM) and video display functionalities.

Another option is delivery over HDX: This is the method of delivering media traffic within the virtual channels of the ICA protocol and is only recommended as a fallback approach in case the above two options are not available. With the advancements made in HDX such as multi-stream ICA, low latency audio path, client-side jitter buffer and others as discussed here, this option is supported by Citrix.

To summarize, with the release of Cisco VXI 2.6, Cisco Jabber is supported with both delivery methods HVD and HSD in desk-phone mode with physical IP phones controlling the media plane. In addition, CUPC is supported for HVD in soft-phone mode with VXC 6215 and VXC 4000 endpoints.

I hope this provides you insights to the latest release of Cisco VXI with XenDesktop. Please provide your comments and questions here for further discussions.