Citrix and Cisco partner on desktop virtualization

Citrix Systems (NASDAQ: CTXS) and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) are partnering on a combined desktop virtualization solution that includes storage from NetApp and offers a validated design to help partners deliver virtualization solutions more efficiently and affordably.

The solution combines the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and XenDesktop from Citrix. While partners will still source the components separately from each vendor, they’ll be aided in deployment by preconfigured service profiles, customized kits for user scenarios, a tested and validated reference design architecture backed by extensive testing, combined support from a join Cisco-Citrix support line, and an open architecture validated with Citrix XenServer and VMware Sphere, so existing customer investment can be protected. Support for Microsoft Hyper-V is expected to follow.

While the architecture has been tested and validated today with NetApp storage, additional storage vendors are expected to be certified soon.

Craig Stilwell, vice-president of Americas channels for Citrix, said the combined offering promises users significant usability improvements as well as cost savings.

“It’s no secret desktop virtualization is growing at a tremendous pace. We’ve got a lot of momentum right now,” said Stilwell. “One of the things driving adoption is the pent-up demand for Windows 7, and there’s no better of faster way to deploy Windows 7 than through a virtualized desktop like Citrix Xen Desktop.”

Partners will need specific skillsets to be eligible to sell the joint solution. In addition to services-oriented selling expertise in desktop virtualization, they’ll need Cisco UCS ATP certification, they’ll need to be a Citrix reseller with selling and technical expertise in XenDesktop, and they’ll need to be a NetApp Star or Platinum partner with selling and technical expertise.

Today, that profile includes about 36 partners, including several in Canada. Stilwell said they’re starting with this group they know they can grow fast and build momentum with, and they plan to bring in more partners soon.

“Cisco has been a strategic partner to Softchoice in the growth of our data center business,” said Frank Ball, director, communications infrastructure for Toronto-based partner Softchoice Corp. “Our relationships with Cisco, NetApp and Citrix are incredibly strong and the partnership these three vendors bring to the table with this validated design gives us the ability to offer up another set of great options for our customers as they go down the path of desktop virtualization”

Cisco UCS is the ideal platform from which to host and deploy virtual desktops in a highly dense form factor, using less real estate but hosting more virtual machines, said Ralph Nimergood, vice-president of the worldwide partner organization for Cisco.

“What this means to our partners is we’re extending our open-ecosystem approach. We’re trying to provide the most open platform for all ISVs and vendors, and we’re working with best-in-breed partners to bring together validated solutions,” said Nimergood. “We’re taking an end-to-end architecture approach from the data centre to the desktop, and validating all the devices in between.”

For the channel, Nimergood said the combined and validated offering really de-risks desktop virtualization, allowing the partner to focus on assessment services and other, more value-add pieces of the deployment, rather than validating the architecture.

“This has been a much-anticipated launch and release because the opportunity is there, not just for desktop virtualization but for a Cisco/Citrix solution for desktop virtualization,” said Nimergood. “It’s the right solution at the right time.”

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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