Citrix, Cisco update virtual desktop "experience"

Silly name, slightly updated hardware, VoIP phones for thin clients.

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Cisco and Citrix have updated the "end-to-end" virtual-desktop package they rolled out in early September. The new version has some of the same problems of the old and -- at least in the press materials and background many customers use to cost-justify purchases -- introduces some new ones.

The original paired Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) with Citrix' XenDesktop to provide what the companies estimated was 300 users' worth of servers, networking fabric, storage and virtual-desktop software.

Other than couple of new pieces of hardware, it's the name that gets the most work, but not necessarily for the better.

Rather than having to drag around a name like Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solution with Citrix XenDesktop, the updated version debuts as the Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI), which is shorter but also much more annoying because the long version doesn't tell you what the product is supposed to do, and the short version (XVI -- pronounced as the letters X, V and I) has hardly anything to do with the long name.

Cisco added two new thin clients and a tablet called the Cisco Cius (due to ship in March), all of which will work with XVI implementations that use the Citrix Receiver thin-client virtual-desktop client.

The release cites a Gartner study showing the TCO of a virtualized laptop should "reduce support costs by 51 percent, an item that accounts for 67 percent of PC-related IT expenses." Which, I think, means you take the total TCO of a laptop, subtract 33 percent, then take half the cost of the remainder, and that's the chunk virtualizing the laptop could potentially save by keeping users from installing bad software.

That's a third the TCO of the whole notebook, but there's no way virtualizing the notebook is going to keep the whole thing from needing any support (Ever dropped one? Ever washed a dirty one? ).

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