The mobile-cloud era. That's the next major phase for the IT industry, according to Cisco and Citrix, who announced Wednesday a "significant expansion" of their desktop virtualization partnership.

The companies said the expanded partnership would include a variety of initiatives designed to help enterprise Relevant Products/Services and service-provider customers with leveraging the transition. The announcement was made at the Citrix Synergy conference, now taking place in Barcelona.

'Fundamental Transformation'

We asked Greg Smith, Citrix's director of product management, what is driving the expansion of the partnership. He replied that, "at the high level, we're seeing that the cloud era is leading to a radical redesign of data Relevant Products/Services centers," propelled by "greater enterprise workforce mobility."

A year ago, the companies unveiled a five-year strategic agreement that was intended to accelerate the adoption of desktop virtualization.

On the Cisco corporate blog, Vice President Rick Snyder wrote Tuesday that the past year has resulted in a doubling of their joint business Relevant Products/Services, the deployment of tens of thousands of new virtual desktops, and the positioning of Citrix XenDesktop as the "cornerstone" of Cisco's Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI) solution.

Snyder told us that while the "initial relationship was focused on XenDesktop working with VXI," the companies are now expanding the partnership to focus on mobile workstyles in an integrated cloud solution.

On the same blog, Senior Director of Market Management Shashi Kiran wrote that the expanded partnership with Citrix will include the integration of the Citrix NetScaler application delivery controller into Cisco's Cloud Network Services. Those services include the Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance and its Wide Area Application Services.

Kiran said that the continuing Cisco-Citrix partnership "couples Cisco's leadership in data center and cloud infrastructure with Citrix's strength in application delivery controllers."

Mobile Workstyle, BYOD Solutions

In cloud networking, Cisco said it will expand its L4-L7 Cloud Network Services for data centers and cloud infrastructure into an integrated, multi-services architecture that offers "true cloud service automation " with additional network- and application-level intelligence Relevant Products/Services. The companies said they would develop an integrated cloud solution for enterprise and server providers, utilizing Cisco's Unified Computing System, Nexus Series switching and Open Network Environment, as well as Citrix's Cloud Platform.

Securely managing mobile devices in the age of "bring your down device" is consistently rated as one of IT's main challenges. Cisco and Citrix said they would develop mobile workstyle and BYOD solutions that provide a unified way to securely access apps, data, voice and collaboration services from any device.

The idea is that the joint solution will more tightly integrate Cisco collaboration technology with its Jabber client, its Receiver self-service mobile access client and Citrix's Sharefile.

Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, said desktop virtualization "is a trend we've been seeing from a number of players" to deliver applications to any kind of device, with the "virtualization cloud platform as a single conduit."

The idea, he told us, is to have "a single management platform for all devices, rather than a management platform for each device or vendor."

King noted that Citrix is "ambitious" in trying to improve its virtualization position against VMware and Microsoft, and the way it can win "is through partnerships" such as this expanding one with Cisco.