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Cisco announces virtual desktops for video collaboration

Also upgrades videoconferencing endpoints and capabilities

November 15, 2010 05:08 AM ET

Computerworld - Cisco today announced two new virtual desktop devices, more efficient virtualization software and more affordable videoconferencing endpoints, building on its line of video collaboration tools and capabilities for companies.

Both of the new small desktop devices will support VMware View 4.5 and Citrix XenDesktop and are expected to be available in March 2011. Each will be priced below $500, including a USB keyboard, mouse and client license.

In addition, Cisco said its previously-announced Cius tablet computer will support VMware View, Citrix Receiver and Wyse Pocket Cloud virtualization software and will interact with a Windows desktop in a data center. The Cius is also due out in March.

Desktop virtualization and thin client computers have been around for years and give IT shops greater control over data and security by centralizing computing functions, data and applications on data center servers instead of allowing end users to do so with desktops or mobile devices.

Cisco officials said that the growing use of video and videoconferencing in business collaboration required the vendor to offer virtualization products under a new virtualization architecture (called VXI, for Virtualization Experience Infrastructure) that effectively and more efficiently stores data and applications on data center servers to be called up to virtual desktops and mobile devices.

"Voice and video doesn't [traditionally] work well if running [over virtualization] in the data center," Cisco senior vice president of voice technology Barry O'Sullivan said. "We believe we've solved this with VXI."

One of the new virtual desktop devices is a standalone tower called the VXC 2200 that is less than 5 inches high. Cisco showed in one illustration that it can be placed next to a desk phone and a telepresence monitor, O'Sullivan said. The VXC 2200 has four USB ports and two video ports.

The other is an even smaller device called the VXC 2100. It fits on the back of a Cisco IP phone, which Cisco showed can be set up to work with a traditional desktop monitor and keyboard. It can be connected to two monitors and has four USB ports.

Each has a small embedded processor for decoding virtualization protocols, meaning that companies can keep data on data center servers, instead of a desktop or mobile computer, O'Sullivan said. Both are powered by Power over Ethernet.

Cisco introduced the virtualization client devices and the VXI architecture for thin clients from Wyse and others to support a range of collaboration technologies, including videoconferencing. Cisco designed the VXI to improve the density of virtual desktops on a server by 60%, he said.

VXI is available immediately, but Cisco didn't offer other details.



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