Citrix, Cisco update virtual desktop "experience"

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

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Most analysts say virtual-desktop projects break even at best, and many cost more to install or run than standalone PCs. The Citrine I spoke to was Natalie Lambert, who directs product marketing for XenDesktop after a high-profile career as an analyst at Forrester, who didn't mention the questionable stat, but did talk about how efficiently the integrated hardware/software package could be rolled out, in modular chunks able to support 300 or 400 end users via any of the seven delivery methods XenDesktop claims.

Unfortunately, while the software and hardware are designed to work well together, Citrix supplies templates to make it easy to create users for either VDI or shared-hosted-OS sessions, the two are not so tightly packaged or integrated that you can get them as one easily installed units.

If you buy direct you have to buy one from Citrix, the other from Cisco, though VARs and resellers will to the install or configuration for you.

One innovative twist is the integration of Cisco's VXC2100 thin-client with its 8900 and 9900 VoIP phones, which handle audio and video more effectively than typical thin clients, making the whole package a "package for virtual desktop video" as some news outlets described it.

Not really. The better thing is support for Receiver, which could support iPhones, iPads and even the Cisco pad that's due in March.

Like the last edition, the XVI doesn't sound like a drop-in solution for virtual desktops, but it is more efficient for many companies to buy the networking and server components in one package so they can both use the same high-bandwidth fabric and manipulate performance by jacking up memory on the servers and bandwidth and I/O on the network connections. It's a bit of a cheat compared to virtual desktop infrastructures that can support multimedia virtual desktops without being juiced and goosed, but it's a lot better than installing the same thing without being able to jack up -- er -- optimize the networking solution for optimum performance.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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