As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous blogs, we have a very strong strategic alliance with Cisco.  And now looking at the past three weeks – Wow! –it has been a whirlwind of Cisco-related activity for the Strategic Alliances team here at Citrix.  Aligned visions are the foundation for any successful relationship. Our collaboration with Cisco has grown tremendously over the past year and a half.  Now that growth is being showcased in the expanding breadth and depth of our business and technology relationship.

For example, we kicked off the New Year by supporting two strategic announcements made at CiscoLive! in Milan.  At Cisco’s showcase event for customers across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia (EMEAR) Citrix played a prominent role in supporting both of Cisco’s big announcements – the Cisco APIC Enterprise Module (APIC EM) and Cisco InterCloud.

With the introduction of its Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), Cisco announced the next phase of its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) strategy — a holistic data center and network architecture with centralized automation and policy-driven application profiles.  Citrix supported the initial ACI launch in November 2013 where, once again, we were excited to weigh-in with our perspective as Cisco extended ACI to the enterprise branch and campus networking space.  Klaus Oestermann, VP/GM of our Cloud Networking Group, joined Rob Lloyd and Chris Dedicoat on the press panel to showcase Citrix’s work with APIC EM and ACI, and share our mutual vision.   Klaus discussed how we are big believers in the power that automation will bring to enterprise IT. It’s a core area of investment for Cisco as we drive our entire product line to be fully instrumented and ready for integration with technologies like Cisco’s APIC EM.

Cisco also announced a hybrid cloud solution, dubbed “Cisco InterCloud,” which paves the way for interoperable and highly secure public, private and hybrid clouds.   Yet again Citrix provided support for Cisco InterCloud as one of the key orchestration partners in Cisco’s ecosystem, with Krishna Subramanian, VP Product Marketing of Citrix’s Cloud Platform Group, joining Cisco and BT on a media panel.  (If you want to read Krishna’s perspective click here)

Then, during the Cisco Partner Summit in late March, Citrix helped Cisco celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Unified Computing System (UCS).  In those five years Cisco has grown from unknown to powerhouse in the x86 blade server market. For Cisco and Citrix, Desktop Virtualization was our first joint solution, based on Cisco UCS and Citrix XenDesktop. Today the solution has enjoyed widespread global adoption and we continue to focus on next-generation solutions (Cisco Validated Designs or CVDs) and even tighter technology integration. We are now building upon our joint success in desktop virtualization to build a common Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) architecture with UCS as the foundation, which was also announced recently by Cisco.  Also at Cisco Partner Summit, Cisco announced plans for cloud-based virtual desktops (vDaaS) with Citrix as part of Cisco’s revolutionary new global Intercloud.

Next, and to keep us busy the following week at Interop, Citrix was again front and center as a key partner to help Cisco roll out OpFlex, a new standards-based protocol for their Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).  Citrix and Cisco share a common vision around our joint business solutions and OpFlex is no exception… this time it’s about the direction of an application-driven datacenter where infrastructure is highly elastic and can quickly respond to an application’s needs.  We here at Citrix believe that this Cisco announcement of an open approach with OpFlex will pave the way to a truly application centric data center.  This transformational operational model will bring something that customers really need — multi-vendor innovation, greater agility, simplicity, and scalability to the data center.  Opening the ACI policy engine (APIC) to multi-vendor infrastructure is a logical next step to open source data center operations, and aligns very nicely with Citrix’s open-standards strategy.

Because of the strategic nature of our relationship, Citrix is often involved very early with Cisco as it develops new technologies.  And that is why Citrix is joining Cisco as one of the co-authors for submission of the OpFlex protocol to the IETF standards body.  We believe that OpFlex will be an influential protocol for SDN clouds and Citrix is proud to be involved from the beginning with our NetScaler ADC, XenServer hypervisor, and XenMobile MDM solutions.  To see Cisco’s product announcement from Interop, click here.  For a more detailed perspective of OpFlex and what Citrix CIO, Abhishek Chauhan, thinks about it, click on his blog link and also see his video on the Cisco product announcement page.

I have spoken before about our tight integration in cloud networking with the Cisco NetScaler 1000V solution.  And I’m excited again to highlight Citrix’s role as a critical partner for the next big innovation with in virtual networking – the recently announced Cisco Remote Integrated Services Engine (RISE).  As noted in the Citrix press release on April 8th,  RISE is yet another example of Citrix and Cisco joining forces to roll out some cool new networking capabilities for the Cisco Nexus 7000 series switch. This unique integration of Citrix NetScaler with the Nexus 7000 has been jointly developed between the two companies using the RISE networking technology.  As detailed in this Citrix article and this Cisco blog, NetScaler now appears to network and datacenter administrators as a native element woven into Nexus 7000 management enabling automated control, simplified deployment and an overall lower cost of operations while still delivering the standalone performance, availability and reliability of a best-in-class advanced delivery controller.

Sound interesting?  Watching this video will also help you to understand why this technology is so interesting.  Customers, partners and analysts have given us nothing but positive feedback with this innovation.  Most believe this is a very unique and valuable innovation from the alliance they are eager to deploy. No one else in the marketplace is doing this level of RISE integration at this time… another good example of the depth of relationship between Cisco and Citrix.

Phew, now that it’s April, we have a bit of time to catch our breath.   But we won’t rest – as many of you have commented, there are so many more things this Strategic Alliance can do – and with Citrix Synergy and Cisco LIVE coming up in May…well…stay tuned!