By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated February 13, 2012.
Recognizing the rising tide of the mobile workforce, Cisco on Monday announced plans to resell Citrix XenDesktop as part of an integrated desktop virtualization solution based on its Unified Computing System, or UCS.
Cisco wants to make it easier to deploy high-definition virtual desktops and applications to users across the enterprise as part of a complete virtual workspace. The new solution is one of the core modules of Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure, or VEI, which includes voice and video to offer a flexible, secure, virtual work environment.
The Cisco UCS and Citrix XenDesktop solution aims to help desktop and data center IT managers accelerate desktop virtualization, while lowering costs with a simplified, secure and scalable solution. IT admins will get access to customized kits for Citrix XenDesktop user scenarios that work to speed up deployment times.
Tapping the BYOD Trend
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, said the Citrix partnership makes good sense for Cisco, in part, because of the explosion of the Bring Your Own Device trend. BYOD is one of the hottest topics among CIOs -- and Cisco needs a solution, Kerravala said.
"One could look at the world and say, 'If every app was in the cloud maybe you wouldn't need VEI. But the fact remains that it's probably a decade or more before that happens," Kerravala said. "You can use it now and 'cloudify' the apps that you can and for the rest of the apps use VEI. VEI is almost a bridge to the cloud."
A Mobile Workforce
With the Citrix partnership, Cisco has the present -- and the near future -- in mind. By 2015, IDC predicts 37.2 percent of the total workforce will be mobile. The Americas region, which includes the United States, Canada, and Latin America, will see the number of mobile workers grow from 182.5 million in 2010 to 212.1 million in 2015.
North America has the largest number of mobile workers. But the most significant gains will again be in the emerging economies of the Asia/Pacific region thanks to continued strong economic growth in this region, with 75 percent of the workforce mobile in 2010.
"Despite recent market turmoil, mobility continues to be a critical part of the global workforce and we expect to see healthy growth in the number of mobile workers," said Stacy Crook, senior research analyst for IDC's Mobile Enterprise Research program. "Our forecast shows that the worldwide mobile worker population will increase from just over 1 billion in 2010 to more than 1.3 billion by 2015."
Will Cisco Acquire Citrix?
Cisco is clearly making a strong push, rolling out VEI and VXI endpoints and partnering with Citrix on the HDX side for multimedia quality. Kerravala said the Citrix partnership gives Cisco an end-to-end solution that's attractive for companies that want a one-stop shop.
"Citrix would make a great acquisition for Cisco because Citrix deals with app infrastructure and it's becoming closely tied to the network," Kerravala said. "VEI is almost like having a mainframe except instead of using dedicated terminals that are connected over cables, you are using different endpoints and a combination of wired and wireless networking passing multimedia traffic. So the network has a big role in the performance of VEI. It's a very natural market for Cisco to play in."